It’s pretty safe to expect some growing pains during the first couple of seasons in the NBA, as making the transition from playing overseas or at NCAA college isn’t easy, having to develop your body and adapt to way more suffocating defense that’s actually expecting you to screw things up.
Still, some of the prospects that struggle early on, still show great flashes of what they’re capable of given the time to develop if they work around the clock to improve their flaws to thrive at an NBA level.
Of course, some of them may take longer than others to blossom, but after a couple or three seasons in the major, you could expect a lot of improvement from those interesting prospects, so tonight, we’ll let you know about our way early top 5 Most Improved Player candidates.
5. Thon Maker
After Giannis Antetokounmpo won the distinction this prior season with that MVP-like campaign he had, we could expect one of his teammates to step up, as Thon Maker really shined over the last passages of the season when he was finally set out of the doghouse.
The African player has a sick upside and given the time and opportunity to play, he can definitely lock down the paint for the young Milwaukee Bucks and be a nightly double double threat with that intriguing skill set he currently owns.
4. Justise Winslow
We all expected a lot out of Justise Winslow out of college and it seemed like a huge steal for Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra when they landed him a couple of seasons ago, but some offensive inconsistency and a lot of nagging pain and injuries have really stalled his development.
Still, there’s absolutely no doubt about his talent, and now that he seems finally fully healthy and with the Miami Heat in need of some firepower, the defensive minded prospect is definitely set for a lot of touches on offense as well, so he’d better live up to the task before being called a major flop.
3. Willie Cauley-Stein
We all thought it was a huge bummer to see Willie Cauley-Stein land in Sacramento considering that he’d have to share frontcourt minutes with Demarcus Cousins, but now that he’s finally set to have his first full season playing as the go-to-guy in the paint alongside Skal Labissiere, we definitely expect him to flourish as the dominant defender it looked like he was going to be.
Of course, we can expect many points or highlights from WCS, but considering how strong he is and his awareness to lock down the paint, he might as well become that DeAndre Jordan type of center and bring a shiny light among those dark days in Sactown.
2. Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn was one of the most hyped prospects coming out of Providence into the NBA, but he didn’t have much chance to prove himself on the Minnesota Timberwolves having to share playmaking duties with Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and Tyus Jones.
But now, given the green light to run the Chicago Bulls’ offense and now that they’re pretty much on tank-mode, he’d have a chance to prove his speed, strength and athleticism, considering he’s a very good defender right now and only has to be more of a reliable scorer at an NBA level.
1. Brandon Ingram
And last but not least, we get Brandon Ingram, a guy that has MVP caliber talent but that struggled a bit before the All-Star break as Luol Deng got most of his minutes, but that showed glances of greatness when given the chance to dominate the Los Angeles Lakers offense.
Ingram is already a quite versatile scorer with a lot of upside on the defensive end, although there are some serious consistency issues when it comes to shooting. Still, having the chance to start from day 1, we expect him to show why he was taken that high in the draft and why he might as well become the team’s franchise player for the future.