Updated: Oct 2, 2019
The Kevin Durant’s, Stephen Curry’s, LeBron James’ and James Harden’s of the league will continue to etch their names in the history books, but before they could do so, they were young players dripping in potential.
Young players up and down the league have their sights on one day reaching stardom. This past season we saw guys like Pascal Siakam (Raptors) and De’Aaron Fox (Kings) take huge steps individually, which of course translated into major improvements for their team as well.
The NBA may be younger now than ever before, and these five guys are ready to break out this upcoming season.
1. Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Sacramento Kings
In one of the most crowded rookie classes in recent years, Sacramento King's budding star Marvin Bagley quietly had a stellar season. If the league was paying attention, they may have seen a glimpse of the future damage Bagley will ensue for years to come.
The Kings can count on a breakout season from Marvin Bagley for two reasons.
The first is situational. This past season Bagley came off the bench in all but four games, averaging about 25 minutes per game. He is currently slated to take over for Nemanja Bjelica in the Sacramento Kings frontcourt and playing 30 plus minutes a night alone will bring a big uptick in numbers. The second reason is the improved shooting. Post-all-star break in 2019, the 19-year-old posted 18.5 points and nine rebounds in just 28 minutes a night.
This improvement is partially due to his three-point percentage rising from 25.5% to an astounding 39%. The increase in minutes, advanced shooting success and a summer training with Team USA will make Marvin Bagley a danger to front courts across the nation this upcoming season.
2. Trae Young, PG, Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks wasted no time throwing Trae Young into the fire. The NBA Rookie of the Year runner up started all 81 games he played while logging almost 31 minutes a night.
All things considered, Young had an efficient season shooting the ball which, of course, is his notorious talent and the main reason for his high selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. Just under 42% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc are not eye-popping, but doing so as a 20-year-old rookie holding the keys to an NBA offense leaves plenty of room for optimism in Atlanta.
Only one other rookie hoisted up six three-pointers a game last year, and that was Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic. For Young, months like the one he had in February, where for 12 games he shot 43.7% from beyond the arc, prove he has what it takes to be an elite shooter in the NBA.
3. Terry Rozier, PG, Charlotte Hornets
After the world learned that Kyrie Irving would miss the 2018 playoffs due to a surgical procedure on his left knee, all hope of a deep run for the Celtics was lost-Cue Terry Rozier.
Rozier burst on the scene and led the Celtics in minutes playing almost 37 a night in the playoffs. After an exciting game seven victory in the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Celtics would open up the second round at home against the feared Philadelphia 76ers.
Cue "Scary Terry."
The former G-league player, now Boston hero, torched the Sixers for 29 points and went 7-9 from the three-point line, leading the team. “Scary Terry” shirts would fill TD Garden for the rest of the postseason.
After a 2018-19 season filled with turmoil for the Celtics, Rozier was traded to the Charlotte Hornets and signed a 3-year, $56.7 million contract.
He should start every game for the Hornets, and while the team may not see the playoffs, the point guard is set up for the biggest year of his career. The former back up, chomping at the bit, is now the leader of the pack.
4. Mitchell Robinson, C, New York Knicks
Most of the talk surrounding the Knicks this summer has been about Dennis Smith Jr., Julius Randle, and the fact that they struck out on both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
However, the Knicks have a hidden gem that seemingly no one is talking about. Let me introduce you to the man who averaged more blocks per game in 2018-19 than Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid, Hassan Whiteside and Andre Drummond.
His name is Mitchell Robinson, and he accomplished that feat in his rookie season while coming off the bench.
In 20.6 minutes, Robinson’s 2.4 blocks per game were good for second-best in the entire NBA. His offensive repertoire is somewhat limited, but he has shown that he has the capabilities to be an elite rim runner in the modern NBA, a role proven very impactful by Clint Capela and Rudy Gobert.
With DeAndre Jordan signing across town with the Brooklyn Nets, Robinson becomes the center of the future for the Knicks and a possible future all-star.
5. Kyle Kuzma, F, Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers chaotic shift from Kobe Bryant's retirement to Lebron James' rebuild has brought plenty of inconsistency to Staples Center.
The exception has been Kyle Kuzma, who has proved to be an absolute steal in the 2017 NBA draft. His second year in the NBA brought more minutes, more volume, and more production.
His three-point shooting took a big hit, but his jump shot passes the eye test giving reason to believe he can return to the 36.6% long ball shooter he was as a rookie.
After missing on Kawhi Leonard and other big free agents, the Lakers will count on Kuzma to be a force all year long. He is set to round out their big three consisting of Anthony Davis and Lebron James. While opposing coaches have sleepless nights about those two, they should not forget about Kyle Kuzma.
Don't miss the return of the BLS Podcast!
Follow Us on Social Media
#NBA #basketball #news #media #opinion #sports #summerleague #trainingcamp #SacramentoKings #SACKings #MarvinBagleyIII #MarvinBagley #AtlantaHawks #ATL #TraeYoung #forward #powerforward #pointguard #threepointer #shooting #ball #pass #rebounds #Hawks #TerryRozier #ScaryTerry #BostonCeltics #KyrieIrving #CharlotteHornets #Hornets #MitchellRobinson #NewYorkKnicks #JuliusRandle #NYK #Knicks #KevinDurant #BrooklynNets #DennisSmithJr #KyleKuzma #LosAngelesLakers #Lakers #LALakers #LeBronJames #AnthonyDavis #DeMarcusCousins #BoogieCousins