Five NBA Players Ready 4 A Breakout 2018-19 SZN
With a new season here, I think it’s best to get all the hype and predictions out of our systems early. This is going to be one of the best seasons in a long time as the MVP, Rookie of the Year, and maybe even the NBA Championship race (fingers crossed) will all be close calls. We’ll get into all of those on another date. But today, I’m here to give y’all my top five guys that I think will have a breakout year, and who should be in that Most Improved Player mix at the end of the year. So get your development charts and your stopwatches ready! Let’s look at who’s been putting in that work in the summer, and who’s going to dominate this winter.
Brooklyn Nets G Caris LeVert
LeVert has been balling in the first few games of the season, so you might think I’m cheating, but trust me, I’ve been excited about LeVert’s season all summer, and so far he’s only given me further justification for that excitement. The third-year wing is averaging career highs in points, assists and rebounds with an incredible 26.85 PER (ESPN.com) so far this year. As much as I love the incredible spike in points per game (25 to 10 for his career), what excites me most is his improved three-point shooting. He’s shooting 40% from the 3-point line this season, up from his 33% clip for his short career. If he can continue to shoot the 3 at a high clip, his game will continue taking a major step forward. The Nets have been high on him and sophomore center Jarrett Allen for quite some time, and so far, both guys are having themselves a season. Breakout start Spencer Dinwiddie was third in the Most Improved Player award last season. Maybe his backcourt mate LeVert can win it all this season.
Minnesota Timberwolves G/F Andrew Wiggins
Call me crazy, but I think all this Jimmy Butler trade nonsense is going to put a fire under Wiggins. That might sound out of character for mild tempered Wiggins, but his name (along with center Karl Anthony Towns) has been the “reason” why Butler wants out. I believe he’s going to take the challenge personally and live up to the can’t-miss prospect hype that dominated the recruiting circuit when he was coming out of high school. We know that he’s talented. As stated before, his potential is otherworldly. If he starts playing better defense, and plays with more fire and passion, I expect him to have that breakout year that we’ve all been waiting for with him.
Miami Heat C Bam Adebayo
I saw Bam workout a couple of times over the summer, and I was impressed. The second-year center (from the great state of New Jersey), looked extremely explosive, and was even making plays on the perimeter. One day, the man was simply unguardable, and players on the other team were frustrated due to the simple fact that he was beating his man like a drum every possession. Now, I don’t put much stock into summer workouts. My mantra has always been “if I see a ‘Lifetime Fitness’ logo or a beach in the background, I don’t care for it.” However, Bam has played well in the first few games of the season so far, further proving to me that those summer runs I saw weren’t a fluke. With the Heat and the Wolves having on-and-off talks about Jimmy Butler, Bam might find himself on a Miami team without Hassan Whiteside, or a Minnesota team alongside Karl Anthony Towns. I can see both situations being great for Bam’s development, and even if a deal isn’t made, Bam should have a great sophomore season on a Heat team desperate to get back to the playoffs and make a run.
Los Angeles Lakers G/F Brandon Ingram
Ingram has superstar potential and playing with LeBron James might be just the thing to bring that out of him earlier than usual. I think we are going to see a monster year from Ingram, as he should transform into a two-way star who could make plays in isolation, defend multiple positions and create for others. He’s probably already the second-best player on this Lakers team, and I think LeBron’s new approach is going to allow him to break free and make a lot of plays. If he can keep his emotions in check and the Stackhouse-esque haymakers from flying, the sky’s the limit.
Cleveland Cavaliers G/F Rodney Hood
I know this is a weird selection, but I think Hood is really going to benefit from LeBron NOT being in Cleveland anymore. Hood now becomes one of the Cavs’ best players, and they will need him to help carry the scoring load along with Kevin Love (who is currently on the shelf for a few weeks) in order for the Cavs to win games. I expect a lot more of the Utah version of Hood to come out this year and because he’s now in a wide open Eastern Conference, Hood should be able to put up insane numbers on a nightly basis.