Every year there are players that rise from obscurity and breakout, i.e. Andray Blatche, Jared Dudley, and Andrea Bargnani in 2010. This year will be no different and I like to think I can predict the future, or give you a better idea of who has the best chance to break out. For a player to “break out” he will see a significant increase in MPG and production. Please feel free to let me know if I missed anyone, as we love all feedback at Razzball.

Jeff Teague – Averaged only 3.2 PPG, and it is never good when your best quality is your FT%, but it is worth mentioning Teague missed only eight FT all season.  He was known as an athletic scoring PG coming out of college, but the Hawks traded for another young combo guard Jordan Crawford, and he might steal some minutes from Teague. The good thing for Teague is Mike Bibby is not very good, and the Hawks would love to hand the keys over to him or Crawford.

J.J. Hickson – Should see a big time increase in production this season, as he will likely see over 30 MPG, and if he stays healthy and out of foul trouble, which he did last season, Hickson will be a very nice fantasy option next year. He put up nearly 15 PPG and 8.5 RPG if you extrapolate (my new favorite word) his numbers to 36 MPG and he is definitely one of Cleveland’s best athletes. Cleveland will run without the Queen and Hickson will be Mo Williams’ new running mate. J.J. does not do much of anything else but he shoots well from the field and he should start to blossom into a pretty good NBA player, as he is only 22 years old on September 4th. Love me some J.J. Hickson … as of right now.

Rodrigue BeauboisJason Kidd averaged a remarkable 36-MPG last season, and this might be the year where Kidd starts to take a back seat to Rodrigue Beaubois. The Mavs are hoping Beaubois can start focusing on the PG duties, because he only showed flashes of scoring brilliance and the jury is still out on his PG abilities. Roddy had a crummy 1.3 APG/1.0 TPG and will need to work on his decision making or risk losing MPG to J.J. Barea, one of my Puerto Rican friends favorite player. His fav? Carlos Arroyo. Duh.

Ty Lawson – With the Nuggets reportedly ready to abandon ship it looks like Ty Lawson might be the starting PG for them by the end of the season. Who knows who will be running with him but Lawson will be a fine NBA PG. He had a phenomenal A/T ratio (3/1) and will definitely see an increase in MPG as Chauncey Billups’ career will start to slow down sooner or later.

Dorell Wright – For the first time in his career Dorell Wright might be able to help your fantasy team. Wright has a real good chance of starting for the Warriors and only Charlie Bell and Reggie Williams have a shot at taking MPG away. Although Nelly can get wild with his rotation it looks like Wright, and his brand spankin’ new three-year deal (!), will get plenty of opportunity in the Golden State.

Chase Budinger – He had a heck of a season for a guy that was drafted in the typically futile second round. Budinger averaged nearly 16 PPG, while grabbing over five RPG, and over two APG per 36 MPG. Budinger can play both guard and forward and is a great athlete who shot the ball extremely well for a rookie. Shane Battier’s act is almost up in Houston and Budinger might be the air apparent.

Darren Collison – By finishing 4th in the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year award, and by snagging a first place vote, Collison had a breakout rookie campaign. But since he moved to the Pacers and might lead the NBA in MPG, Collison will have an even better season in 2011. He has been a stud PG for his entire life and is always over-looked because he is not the strongest player, but DC is the new pace car in Indy. He will see well over 30 MPG and average over 15 PPG and perhaps 8 APG. He does not have the strongest supporting cast but he did not have much in New Orleans last year either. Just ask CP3. Post script: The Pacers might be the worst team in the NBA.

Blake Griffin – Who? Yup, Blake Griffin should have a very good rookie season. It’s really not saying much since he is the 2009 #1 pick, but I feel like people are forgetting how good he really is. BG is already one of the most explosive big men in basketball, but Chris Wilcox also has mesmerizing athleticism. Griffin should be much better than Wilcox but he might be playing his best basketball after the all star break, so stay patient with BG.

Steve Blake – will likely take over the PG duties for the Lakers from venerable vet Derek Fisher, as Blake’s lucrative long term contract suggests. Blake got a 4 year deal worth $4 million per season, and while Fisher will be in at the end of games, the Lake Show did not pay Blake to sit. He is a good NBA PG, much better than Luke Ridnour, who received the same contract from the T’Wolves and sometimes I get upset I did not work hard enough to become a mediocre PG that David Kahn would spend millions on. Blake will average around 10 PPG, with 5 APG, a couple RPG, and will have plenty of productive games this season.

Roy Hibbert – Will definitely benefit from the Darren Collison acquisition but he probably will not see many more MPG. Hibbert averaged 25 MPG, and he might see 30 MPG, but he was not super productive last season, grabbing only 5.7 RPG and scoring 11.7 PPG. He will definitely improve this season and his production will increase but it won’t be because of an increase in minutes, but because Indy’s new pace car Collison. Expect a 13 PPG and hopefully more than 8 RPG this season from Hibbert.

Kevin Love – He should have a monster year, as he is all alone in the Minnesota front court. Love, a rebounding machine, has a very good chance of being the top rebounder in the NBA, and will likely lead the Wolves in MPG and PPG. He averaged a double-double last year and is benefiting from playing with Team USA in the off-season. Look for Love to be an all-star candidate by mid-season.

Marcus Thornton– He had a great rookie year, averaging over 14 PPG, and he should have a better season with Chris Paul in control. Marco Bellinelli was acquired only to back-up, and there is no such thing as a healthy Peja Stojakovic, and look for the sharp shooter from the Bayou to be a top scorer for New Orleans.

Ray Felton – He’s never going to be a great NBA guard and regressed quite a bit last season. He obviously did not get along with Larry Brown in CHA and signed the best deal offered to him, which was only a lucrative two year deal in NYC. Felton should see an increase in production across the board under Mike D’Antoni’s guidance, but he needs to stay away from the post game spread. Felton’s waste continues to grow, hence the two year deal, but he should have a good season in NYC. Expect 15 PPG, 7 APG, and 1.5 SPG, which might be his best NBA season ever.

Anthony Randolph – Everyone’s favorite sleeper has found himself in the middle of the biggest city in the world and is now a part of the world’s biggest hype machine. No matter how bad the Knicks have been and will be, their fans will find a way to get excited about something. Although Randolph is not very good (yet), there is no doubting his immense talents. He will start for the “high-powered” Knickerbocker offense, lead by Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire, and will have a quality game once a week as long as he is not injured, which he tends to be, a lot. Randolph needs to add strength and consistency to his game and until then he will be known as everyone’s favorite sleeper. Randolph will see an increase in MPG and production, but he needs to find consistency and stay out of street clothes before we take him seriously.

James Harden – He plays for a very young and talented team, which could be one of the best teams in the NBA. He was a top 3 pick two years ago, and would have much better numbers on a non-contender, but he is relegated to being a role player on the Thunder. Harden will have a better year across the board, but by how much is the question. He averaged 22.9 MPG and will likely see over 25 MPG this season and Thabo Sefolosha is one of the more overrated players in the NBA. If Harden can improve his defense then he will see more MPG and much better production in 2010.

Serge Ibaka – Will see a substantial increase across the board as his MPG will likely near 30 per game. He only averaged 18 MPG last regular season, but played well against the Lakers at 25 MPG. Ibaka will not score a lot but he will rebound and block shots and he should turn in to a quality NBA player by the end of the season.

J.J. Redick – A few years ago it was laughable to think Redick would be a high quality NBA player worth $21 million over three years, but that is what he has turned into. Redick is a deadly outside shooter and will see an increase in MPG with his new hefty contract. He will average over 10 PPG, with good shooting numbers, and hopefully J.J. can add another element to his game this season, perhaps APG, SPG, or even a few more RPG.

Goran Dragic – It is safe to say this will be the last season Goran Dragic is a backup NBA PG, as he is in the last year of his deal in Phoenix. Dragic’s numbers project to over 15 PPG and over 6 APG per 36 MPG, and broke out in a big way in the 2010 playoffs. He will see over 20 MPG, compared to 18 MPG last year, and although a backup PG, Dragic is worth drafting and probably owning the entire season with Steve Nash not getting younger.

Wesley Matthews -He did not get a boat load of cash from Portland to sit on the bench and he will definitely be a team leader in MPG. It could be a horrible contract by the end of the season, and Matthews was undrafted for a reason, but do not be afraid to spend a late round draft pick on Matthews. With his huge contract he will see every opportunity to succeed on a very good Portland team.

DeMar DeRozan – One of the better young players in the NBA, DeRozan could see a very significant increase in every offensive category. Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu are gone, which opens the door wide for DeRozan to blossom and although he might be the 2nd option on offense behind Andrea Bargnani, DeRozan will average over 15 PPG. We can only hope and pray the high flying DeRozan can add some other elements to his game like APG, RPG, and SPG, but he is still very young and that will come later in his career. Even though DeRozan is only a scorer next year, expect big things from the kid.

Tiago Splitter – Splitter was drafted in 2007 but had an expensive buyout which lead to him coming over three years later. Splitter will likely start for the Spurs alongside Tim Duncan, and will do the dirty work the Spurs love. He will rebound, defend, block shots, and make put backs. He will not be a superstar big man, but he should be good enough for a late round pick.

Amir Johnson – Johnson signed a lucrative long term deal to play significant minutes in Toronto and he is in line for a very good 2011 season. Johnson played 17 MPG last season and his numbers project to nearly 13 PPG and 10 RPG per 36 MPG. Amir does not do much other than rebound and score, but he has never gotten the opportunity he now has in Toronto.

Jarrett Jack – There is no question Jack is the starting PG in Toronto and although his BFF Chris Bosh is gone, the Raptors still have some good parts to their team. We discussed DeRozan, and Bargnani should progress like a #1 pick this season while eclipsing the 20 PPG mark. Jose Calderon has wore out his welcome in Toronto and a trade is inevitable. Do not waste a high pick on Jack, but steal him late.

JaVale McGeeMcGee has only averaged 15.6 MPG in his career and we guarantee he sees more than 25 MPG as long as he stays out of foul trouble. Just read this.

Michael Beasley – Yup, that Michael Beasley. He has not been awful in his career and he is still very talented, but Beez is still very immature, even for a professional basketball player. It is hard to say what he will do this season but he will get ample opportunity to produce. We can only hope he stays out of trouble and will be a big time steal in the later rounds if he does, but he won’t. He’s Michael Beasley.

Martell Webster – Webster played a career high 28.4 MPG and averaged another career high 10.7 PPG two seasons ago in Portland. He was not much of an option while playing behind Brandon Roy, Nic Batum, Rudy Fernandez, and Travis Outlaw and will see a lot more shots in Minnesota. He will turn 24 in early December and still has plenty of room to grow in his game. He is a boom or bust as are most of the T’Wolves.

Nicolas Batum – With Brandon Roy’s propensity for injuries and Rudy Fernandez’s absence, the only thing in front of Batum blossoming this season is the $35 million man Wesley Matthews. Matthews will have every chance to shine in Portland but Batum is still going to be a very good NBA player. Bold statement: Batum will win Most Improved Player.

Eric Gordon – If you are a member of Team Nike *cough* I mean Team USA, on any level (A or B team), you are a stud, especially at the guard position. Gordon looks primed for a breakout season and we would not be surprised if he went for 20 PPG. The Clippers are seemingly always in disarray, and although Vinny D is not the smartest coach in the world, he was hired in Chicago to develop young talent and will be asked to do the same in Anaheim (the Clippers do not play in Los Angeles, the Lakers do). Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson all benefitted from Vinny’s teaching, and the Clippers hired him to help Gordon, Blake Griffin, and Eric Bledsoe grow. Although Gordon digressed last season he has had a great summer and if he starts facilitating and rebounding he is in for a great 2011.

Every night we go to bed and say our basketball prayers and they include two prayers for Hasheem Thabeet and Greg Oden. We pray every night that both big men will be productive this season and we say another two prayers for both of Greg Oden’s knees. Thabeet might take another season of patience but if Oden wants to sign a long term contract he will need to show up every night, stay out of foul trouble, rebound, defend, and stay out of street clothes. That might be a lot to ask for out of a player who has not played much in the last three years, but it is not a lot to ask for from the 2007 #1 pick. We are not sure who will be  the bigger bust but we loved both players in college and still do, although they have been dreadful as professionals.

  1. zk says:

    Hey, long-time Baseball and football reader. Looking to start a 10-team auction keeper hoops league. What stat categories should we use? I prefer leagues that use stat-head type stats over traditional categories. (ie I use K/9 and OPS in baseball and play PPR in football)Any ideas?

  2. ETMcgee says:

    i hate to say it, but i doubt that nicolas batum wins MIP this year. not because he wouldn’t have deserved it, but b/c he plays on the west coast and not for the lakers, so nobody in the media will bother watch him play. Also this award seems to often go to players who make leaps in their scoring averages, and batum is never going to average 20ppg on a loaded blazer team.

    I agree with most of the list, though to varying degrees, but i don’t know if i would consider KLove a “breakout” star given his previous production.

  3. Adam

    Adam says:

    @zk: Basketball doesn’t have anywhere near the advanced stat categories that most baseball leagues have. I’m in one league that accumulates assist/turnover ratio and 3pt% (as opposed to accumulated treys). I like both of those because a) I’m not a fan of negative accumulation stats such as fouls or turnovers. I like counting up, not down – otherwise I’d play fantasy golf and b) in the case of 3pt%, this levels the playing field a bit between PG/SG/SF and PF/C by not making bigs a deficit in yet another category.

  4. brad says:

    What do you mean when you say Wes Matthews will be a team leader in MPG? Top 3 on the team? Top 5? Top 7? I love Matthews, but I think Batum gets minutes over him, and for the part of the season when Roy’s not injured that won’t leave a ton of minutes for Wesley.

  5. Eric C. says:

    IMO– extrapolating Hickson’s numbers is not a good idea as a lot of his 09-10 stats were assisted from Lebron. He basically only scored on wide-open dunks/layups going along the baseline. Even then, he was unreliable.

  6. Matt

    Matt says:

    @ETMcgee: The Batum statement was what I labeled it, a bold one. He should have a very good season and will keep improving. He has a bright future as will be the leader of Team France with Joakim Noah as soon as Tony Parker stops playing international ball. Batum will have a solid all around season, but it will not be close to his best season ever.

    @brad: The Blazers did not spend $35 million on an undrafted 2nd year player to sit on the bench. He will be a top rotation guy in Portland and will likely share the backcourt with Roy and Batum. And when Roy goes down with his perpetual knee tendinitis, the backcourt with be theirs. Roy’s contract is not looking good right now.

    @Eric C.: I can agree on JJ Hickson was only good because LeBron was there, but there is no doubting his potential. He is an athletic big man that can run the court, and player evaluators drool over talent like that. Hickson is a boom or bust, similar to Tyrus Thomas, at this point in his career.

  7. ETMcgee says:

    @Matt: how can you say roy’s contract doesn’t look good? he has some nagging injuries, but still plays as much as possible (even to the team’s detriment in the playoffs vs suns). however, when healthy he is the 3rd best SG in the league (wade/kobe) and a tremendous late game clutch player.

    his $13.5 mil this year is more than reasonable, when compared to others making more money. Melo, who is a comparable overall talent as roy (better in some areas, worse in others), is making $4mil more than BRoy this year. Other SG/SF types like joe johnson ($16 mil), paul pierce ($13.8 mil), Vince Carter and Arenas over $17mil, are all making more than Brandon, who is a better player than any of them. Wade makes $14mil, Kobe almost $25mil, so for the 3rd best SG in the league and a top 10-15 player, i think $13.5 is more than reasonable.

  8. Matt

    Matt says:

    @ETMcgee: Research well done. There are plenty of other contracts that are worse than Brandon Roy’s, but it is not the price that is the bad part, it is the length. 5 years left on a deal for a player that will struggle to play 60 games a season is very scary.

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