Rising Up: Which NBA Players Could Break Out this Year?
Every year, multiple players take their game to the next level and become stars in the NBA. Last year, players like Victor Oladipo and Giannis Antetokounmpo made All-NBA teams and showed that they’ll be some of the bigger stars in the NBA going forward. Today we’ll take a look at some players who could take the next step and potentially become all-stars this coming season.
The number 2 overall pick in 2016, Ingram has shown flashes of stardom throughout his first two years in the league. Ingram upped his averages across the board last season (16.1 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, and 3.9 assists per game) and showed the kind of all-around game that could bring him into the league’s elite class of players. Now playing alongside LeBron James, one of the best in the league at making his teammates better, Ingram has plenty of opportunities to take advantage of defenses that are determined to stop James. Many speculated that a second star like Paul George or Kawhi Leonard would join LeBron in LA this offseason. If Ingram makes a star turn, he could end up filling that role well.
Entering the third year of his four-year, $94 million deal with the Mavericks, Barnes has been good in a featured role (averaging 19 points and 5.5 rebounds a game on 46% shooting) but the team has lacked talent surrounding him, going through 33 and 24-win seasons. With another year of development from last year’s number, 9 overall pick Dennis Smith Jr and the addition of number 3 overall pick and potential rookie of the year, Luka Doncic, Barnes should have even easier looks and more support offensively. The Mavs also added DeAndre Jordan to help out defensively. With Doncic projecting to be one of the best rookie passers in NBA history, Barnes could see his scoring and efficiency levels increase this coming season as the Mavs attempt to make a playoff push.
Heading into his NBA career, Murray was viewed by many as a tweener: too turnover prone to be a point guard and too small to be a shooting guard. Regardless of those perceptions, Murray handled point guard duties for the Nuggets last season and is primed to do so again this season. To this point in his career, Murray has been one of the most efficient young players of all time. He’s one of just 23 players to average better than 15-3-3 as a second-year starter while 21 or younger. When you take out the assists qualifier and replace it with a true shooting percentage of over .550 (Murray’s was .576 last season), the list goes down to 14 players. Even more specifically, Jamal Murray is one of only five players to average over 15 points while shooting at least 35% from 3-point range and 85% from the free-throw line. The other four players on that list are Kevin Durant, Ray Allen, Stephen Curry, and Kyrie Irving. Needless to say, Murray’s efficiency has put him in elite company and if he can continue to improve while maintaining his efficiency, the Nuggets could have a truly special player to pair with their All-Star center Nikola Jokic.