Every NBA Team's Most Promising Young Player

Sam CooperCorrespondent IIIFebruary 5, 2012

Every NBA Team's Most Promising Young Player

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    Every NBA superstar has the same thing in common. They were all once prospects. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul and every other NBA star started out as a rookie.

    But all of them were able to grow into great players and become the leaders of their respective teams.

    The upcoming seasons will be no different. Countless new talent is flowing into the NBA, and teams are always analyzing the development of their players to see who will and who won't be the future of the next generation of the NBA. 

    What exactly constitutes a promising young talent? Does it have to be a role player who has not yet started in an NBA game? The answer is no.

    Promising talents are just young players who have not yet reached their extremely high potential. That means that "promising" players could be bench players or already superstars. However, the only limitation is that players must be 25 or younger to qualify.

    With that settled, here is the most promising player on every NBA squad.

Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague

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    Jeff Teague is just 23 and is without a doubt the Hawks' best young talent. 

    Teague is in his third NBA season, and he has finally gotten the opportunity to start for his squad after getting just 13.8 minutes a game last year. 

    The first time Teague showcased his ability was in the second round of last year's playoffs against the Bulls. After playing just nine combined minutes in the whole series against the Magic, Teague took charge in the second round, averaging 14.8 points and 4.2 assists in six starts. 

    Up to that point, Atlanta had never really utilized Teague's skill set. But now he has gotten his chance. 

    As of now, Teague is getting 12.9 points and 5.2 assists per game in 24 games. The point guard also has a very good 49 percent field-goal percentage. As time goes by, expect the Hawks to rely more and more on the play of Jeff Teague. He is a good defender, directs the offense well, and he will continue to grow into a good NBA point guard. 

Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo

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    At 25 years old, Rajon Rondo just makes the cut for the title of Boston's most talented youngster. Jeff Green would be a candidate too, but his heart condition could have an impact on his play in future years. 

    Rondo's name has been brought up in trade talks recently, but whether he is to stay in Boston, there is no doubt that he is an elite talent.

    He is an amazing passer who sets up his teammates perfectly, and he is a great defender who can grab as many steals as he pleases. Last season, he put up 10.6 points and 11.2 assists a game, as well as 2.3 steals an outing.

    So far this year, a whole new element has been added to Rondo's game. People underestimate his scoring abilities and believe that he is not a shooter. But Rondo is proving everyone wrong.

    Besides the 14.4 points a game, his field-goal and three-point percentages are at career highs, and he is shooting the ball more often than last season. He has also been able to get himself to the line a lot more. Rondo had just 1.9 free throw attempts a game last year, but has 5.3 so far this year.

    Whether or not Rondo can maintain a good shooting touch for a full season, he is still a top point guard in the NBA. He has not yet reached his ceiling, and great things await him in the future. 

Charlotte Bobcats: D.J Augustin

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    Although Bobcat fans have something to be excited about in Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, D.J Augustin has a great future in the NBA.

    Augustin is now in his fourth season after originally being drafted ninth overall in the 2008 draft. And in his first opportunity as a starter last year, he shined. 

    Augustin replaced Raymond Felton at starting PG and did more than a decent job, putting up 14.4 points and 6.1 assists. He also accomplished the difficult task of staying healthy and playing all 82 games of the season.

    This year, Augustin looks decent again. He has put together a stat line of 13.6 points and 6.6 assists a game. He continues to shoot the three well and get himself to the line. 

    Although I expect great careers out of Walker and Biyombo, Augustin is taking his first steps in becoming a great player. He has an extremely high ceiling, and he could start getting recognition for good play if he continues to improve in the years to come. 

Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose

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    Did you expect anyone else from the Bulls to top Derrick Rose? He may have won an MVP award, but he is not done growing as a player. The 23-year-old put up great averages of 25 points and 7.7 assists a game last year.

    He also led his team to the Eastern Conference Finals, and will continue to help his team make a deep playoff run for numerous years to come. 

    Rose is one of the best scorers in the game. His driving ability is deadly, and combined with his great mid-range shooting, he is impossible to stop on the defensive end. His three-point shooting is also decent, as he shot 33 percent from behind the arc last season. 

    Derrick Rose isn't even close to being done making his statement in the NBA. He will be a big part of the NBA's future, and that will come with many more All-Star appearances, playoff appearances, and possibly a few more MVP awards. 

Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving

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    Irving only played 11 games in his freshman year at Duke, so he doesn't have much experience since high school. It is almost as if he is stepping onto the court straight out of high school, which really made him a risky pick for the Cavs.

    But, Irving was drafted first in the draft, and so far he has had absolutely no problem adjusting to the NBA. 

    In 22 games so far, Irving is getting 18 points and five assists a game for the Cavs. Also keep in mind that he is playing just 29.6 minutes a game.

    Per 36 minutes, this guy's stat line looks like the play of an elite PG already. And Irving has not struggled to shoot either. He is shooting 50 percent from the field, along with a deadly 40 percent from behind the arc. 

    Look out for this guy, because he could very well be a future face of the NBA. Sometimes number one picks are big busts, but as of now Irving looks to be on track to have a very successful career. 

Dallas Mavericks: Rodrigue Beaubois

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    The Dallas Mavericks don't have many young players on their team. Players under 25 include Yi Jianlian, Ian Mahinmi, Dominique Jones, Rodrigue Beaubois and Brandan Wright.  Of those options, Beaubois has the most potential. 

    Last season, Beaubois started in 26 out of his 28 games played. He put up 8.4 points and had 2.3 assists a game in just about 18 minutes a game, indicating that he could be successful given more minutes.

    This year, that has not been the case. Beaubois is still getting just 18 minutes a game, despite J.J Barea leaving for Minnesota.

    But Beaubois has a future with this team. Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Vince Carter are all over 30 and don't have a long future with this team. Because of that, Beaubois could see his opportunity within a couple years. 

Denver Nuggets: Ty Lawson

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    It was a tough decision deciding between Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari, but I'm going with the 24-year-old point guard on this one.

    Lawson stepped onto the scene after the All-Star break last year, where he started over Felton after the Nuggets made the Carmelo Anthony trade to the Knicks.

    That was when Lawson first showed just how effective he could be in a starting role. Post All-Star break he put up 14.4 points and 6.9 assists a game as well as shooting a deadly accurate 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc.

    This year, Lawson is looking at a breakout year. He has 15.6 points and 6.3 assists a game in twenty one starts, and he continues to improve. His shooting percentage looks better than a lot of elite guards, and he also gets 1.4 steals a game. 

    Lawson is an extremely explosive and quick player who is doing very well at running the offense for the Nuggets. Andre Miller is backing him up to provide veteran presence, and Lawson looks to be locked into a starting spot for the long run. He'll be a very interesting player to watch. 

Detroit Pistons: Greg Monroe

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    Although Brandon Knight has great potential, I predicted a Greg Monroe breakout year and could see he had a great future ahead of him ever since he first stepped onto the court.

    Monroe was drafted seventh overall in the 2010 draft, and although he played well it wasn't until near the All-Star break that he got a chance to start. And after that, he looked amazing.

    Post All-Star break, he put up almost 14 points and 10 rebounds a game. On top of that, he provided 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks a game, and shot an amazing 58 percent from the field.

    Now that he has an opportunity to start a full season, he is having a breakout season. He is getting 16 points and 10 rebounds a game this year, and I expect him to maintain a double-double average throughout the season.

    He is a great player with a very high ceiling and I could see him averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds a game someday. 

Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry

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    Klay Thompson was a good addition to Golden State's roster, but Stephen Curry remains the team's most talented young player.

    Curry averaged 18.6 points, 5.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game in his second NBA season last year. He is also one of the best shooters in the game, with a quick release that allows him to be a 44 percent career three-point shooter.

    In addition, Curry is a good point guard when it comes to running the offense. His court vision is underrated and although he has to watch the turnovers he is a pretty good ball handler. 

    Curry is viewed as the franchise centerpiece, and he is getting his opportunity to shine in Golden State. He is off to a bit of a slow start but should pick up speed and will add another solid season to his career, as well as many more in the future. 

Houston Rockets: Kyle Lowry

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    The Rockets have a talented young point guard trio, but Lowry takes the prize of most promising. He is 25, so he just barely qualifies for this article. He is now in his sixth year in the NBA, so he has experience. 

    Although he has experience, Lowry did not impress enough to start until last year. He started 71 games last year and performed well enough to put up 13.5 points and 6.7 assists. He set up his teammates well and used good court vision to effectively run the offense. 

    Now, Lowry has entered the new season in full force. He is averaging 14.6 points and 8.1 assists a game, and has been excellent for the Rockets.

    His shooting continues to struggle as he is shooting just 39 percent from the field, but Lowry is starting to look like a great player, and although it took him a little while, this is no fluke. I'd expect good performance from him over the next several years, as long as he remains a starter. 

Indiana Pacers: Paul George

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    This was yet another tough decision, as the Pacers possess a large amount of young talent. Many may argue with me and say that Collison or Hibbert show great potential, and although they do, George has a very bright future. 

    In his rookie season last year, George started 19 games and put up 7.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and had a steal a game. He shot a relatively good 45 percent from the field, but was nothing special. He made no significant increase in performance as a starter and showed no improvement after the All-Star break.

    But this season, George is looking great. He has been forced out of his natural position and the 6'8" forward is starting at shooting guard, where he has been excellent.

    He is getting 12.4 points along with 5.5 rebounds, and so far has shot 42-for-90 from behind the arc, good for 47 percent. He is living up to the expectations that come with being a top-10 draft pick, and if he maintains this play then he will have proven his importance to his team and his dominance in the league.

    The only question remaining is whether the Pacers will commit to him or Danny Granger at small forward in the future. 

Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin

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    He is just 22 years old and in his second NBA season, yet he has taken the league by storm. Blake Griffin was truly amazing last year, and with the addition of Chris Paul we expect more open shots and alley-oops for Griffin. 

    If for some reason you aren't aware, Griffin put up 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds a game last year. He played in all 82 games for the Clippers, and was the head of a young core that also included Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan. 

    This season with Paul, Griffin is even more dominant. He's shooting 54 percent from the field to go along with his 22 points and 11 rebounds a game, and he is looking like the one of the most dominant power forwards out there right now. His great play has led him to being an All-Star starter (though Kevin Love may be more deserving).

    If this is what Blake Griffin is capable of early on in his career, then the NBA better watch out. By the time he is done with the NBA, I'd expect the name Blake Griffin to strike fear in every team's hearts.

    The name will be admired by every NBA fan, and possibly hated at the same time as he crushes opponent after opponent. 

Los Angeles Lakers: Andrew Bynum

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    Andrew Bynum has been the top prospect of the Lakers for a few years now, but has failed to succeed due to constant nagging injuries. But that is about to change. 

    The 24-year-old may finally be coming along after not having a season of starting more than 65 games ever in his career. Last year he started 47 games and put up 11.3 points, nine rebounds and two blocks a game.

    He is 7'0" and a huge defensive presence to have in the paint. He was stuck around the same place over the past few seasons, but this year he may be breaking out.

    In twenty starts, Bynum has produced 17 points and 12 rebounds a game, along  with two blocks per game. That is better than any other center except Dwight Howard. If he can put up just two-thirds of those numbers the rest of the season, the Lakers have no reason to chase after Dwight Howard. 

Memphis Grizzlies: Rudy Gay

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    Rudy Gay is another player who is 25 and is just barely young enough to make this list. Gay played just 54 games last season after suffering a season ending injury.

    It is possible that the Grizzlies could have advanced even further into the playoffs if they had Gay, and now that Gay is back they lost Randolph to a serious injury.

    Gay put up 20 points a game and six rebounds a game last year. He also added 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks. Gay is a good all-around player. He can shoot the three as well as penetrate inside, he can rebound or block and he can play defense.

    In the future, Gay could take another step forward. He hasn't made an All-Star squad yet, and although he is likely to be snubbed this year, it looks likely to happen sometime in his career. 

Miami Heat: Norris Cole

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    Personally, I believe that Norris Cole is overrated. He isn't even a starter and has played a handful of games and is immediately viewed as an amazing player by Heat fans.

    But even though he is overrated, he is a player with a lot of potential and he could be a pretty decent player in the future. 

    The 23-year-old rookie is playing 21 minutes a game for the Heat, in which he is averaging over 8 points, 2.5 assists and 0.9 steals a game. Those are decent numbers for a late first-round pick in his rookie season.

    Especially the fact that he scores over 8 points a game off the bench on a team with the Big Three. But don't forget the other point guard.

    If you don't remember his name, I'm sure you can find it by looking it up. That's right, Mario Chalmers can play. Because of that, Cole may have to take a backseat for a little while. 

Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings

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    Brandon Jennings had a good sophomore season, and he definitely is the best young talent on the Bucks

    Jennings averaged 16.9 points, 4.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game in his second season. One amazing thing about him is his ball handling. He is a terrific ball handler and he possesses the ability to dribble through traffic with ease.

    He is also a fairly good shooter, and can score inside or from the midrange. He shot 32 percent from long distance last year and 36 percent so far this year, so his perimeter shooting has clearly improved.

    Jennings also had just 4.8 assists last season despite averaging 2.3 turnovers a game. He has had a similar problem this season.

    He will have to work on his passing and getting his teammates open shots before he is considered to be an elite point guard. But he is definitely improving, and with better passing Jennings could become one of the better point guards the league has to offer. 

Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio

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    Now, the obvious choice here would be Kevin Love right? Love is an absolutely amazing player, why isn't he here? Or if not him, why not throw out Derrick Williams, the No. 2 pick of the NBA draft?

    Well, although both of those guys are great players, Ricky Rubio could immediately step in and be one of the greatest point guards the league has to offer. 

    Ricky Rubio is an absolutely amazing passer. He sets up his teammates with great open looks, and is averaging almost nine assists off the bench this season.

    He has already drawn comparisons to Steve Nash. Keep in mind, Nash didn't have a season with more than 8 assists a game until he was 29 and in his last season with Dallas. Rubio is just 21 and is looking like one of the best passers in the league already, averaging 8.9 assists a game.

    Additionally, Rubio is a good defender. His speed and quickness around the court will allow him to guard even the fastest point guards, from Westbrook to Paul to Rose. 

    Rubio is already a great defender, shooter, and passer. He will be great in the pick and roll with Williams and Love. A couple seasons of experience in the NBA could turn him into a legendary player. This guy is the real deal. 

New Jersey Nets: Brook Lopez

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    Although Lopez is injured, he will get to see some games this season after returning from an injured foot, and he is the clear choice for best young talent on the Nets

    The 7'0" center put up 20 points and six rebounds a game last year along with 1.5 blocks a game. His rebounding was down from his rookie and sophomore seasons, and even then it needed work. Lopez is not a good rebounder, but he can score in both the paint and from a mid range jump shot. 

    What Lopez will have to do is focus on blocking all the Dwight Howard trade talk out of his head. He knows he is the centerpiece for any Howard deal if the Nets make a move, and he just has to work on making a recovery and playing the game as best as he can when he comes back. If he focuses a little more on rebounding, he could have a great season. 

New Orleans Hornets: Eric Gordon

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    Eric Gordon was the main acquisition that the Hornets got in the Chris Paul trade, and although Gordon has only played two games this season due to an injury, acquiring him was a smart move for the future.

    Last season Gordon averaged 22.3 points and 4.4 assists per game. He has the ability to score from both the inside and he has a good perimeter shot which will make the 22-year-old a star within a couple seasons.

    Gordon can penetrate the paint with ease, and his court vision is above average for a shooting guard. Additionally, he is a very good three-point shooter. He is averaging over 37 percent from beyond the arc for his career.

    Gordon is also a capable defender, which he has showed as he averages two steals per game this season and uses his explosive quickness to keep his man from beating him off the dribble.

    Gordon will be a key part in the rebuilding process for the Hornets, and will have some great seasons with them. The All-Star appearance is yet to come, but should come soon. Right now he should just focus on recovering from injury. 

New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert

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    Iman Shumpert was a surprise pick, taken by the Knicks as the 17th pick in the draft. He has played twenty games with the Knicks so far and has already showcased his potential. In 31 minutes a game, he is averaging 10 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists a game.

    Whether Shumpert is a shooting guard or point guard is yet to be determined. For now, he's a combo guard playing both positions, and could have a good future in New York depending on whether or not he is given a chance.

    However, if the Knicks go their recent route and spend on an All-Star guard, Shumpert may not see his opportunity. 

    As much as I love Shumpert, and as much as I think he has great potential, I wouldn't be surprised to see him buried in a bench role for the next few years. 

Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant

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    There are a lot of guys listed so far who are already pretty big and will continue to excel. Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, Rajon Rondo, Andrew Bynum and a lot of other guys.

    But Kevin Durant is the guy I expect to be the next face of the NBA. He has won two scoring titles in a row, and has already managed to make an amazing game-winning shot so far this season. 

    So far this season he is averaging 27 points and eight rebounds a game, along with over a steal and block per outing. His field goal percentage is at 51 percent, a career high, and he is shooting well from behind the arc.

    He has the ability to drain a shot from practically anywhere, and is the best scorer in the NBA. I'll admit he isn't the best all-around player like LeBron is, but Durant should expect some MVP awards thrown his way, if not a few championship rings. 

Orlando Magic: Ryan Anderson

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    The Magic don't have much young talent, but Ryan Anderson comes to mind when you pair the phrases Magic and young talent together. Anderson is now 23 and in his fourth NBA season and he has done a fantastic job replacing Brandon Bass at starting power forward.

    Last year, Anderson showed that he was a capable player. He was getting 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds a game in 22 minutes a game off the bench, and was hitting two three-pointers per game.

    This year, he took over the starting job and has completely caught fire. He has 16 points and 7.2 rebounds a game. He is shooting threes at an all-time high, making 2.9 a game and shooting a deadly 43 percent from behind the arc.

    Anderson is the perfect complement to Dwight Howard. Howard is a threat inside the paint, while Anderson stretches the floor and doesn't hesitate to take the open three. 

    Anderson is a great three-point shooting power forward, something that doesn't come along too often. He can take advantage of this.

    Anderson will draw lots of interest around the league whenever he hits free agency, and could find himself some huge contracts. I don't see him maintaining 20 points a game on a team with Howard, J-Rich and Nelson, but after he develops a little more I would expect him to get 19 or 20 points a game on a team where he is the No. 1 or 2 scoring option. 

Philadelphia 76ers: Jrue Holiday

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    Although Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young are good young talents, Jrue Holiday could evolve into a star point guard and soon.

    Jrue Holiday had a great sophomore season in which he improved in every category across the board. Not only did he put up better stats, but he was one of the most durable players in the league, playing and starting all 82 games of the season.

    So far in his third season he has taken a small step back, but he can still turn into an elite PG and continue to make the 76ers a lot more interesting this year.

    Recently, it has been a pattern for a young PG to become an elite PG in his third season. Deron Williams and Chris Paul did it, and more recently, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. Holiday has the tools to be an amazing player, with great defensive skills and good shooting and court vision, and hopefully he can shake off the rust and evolve into a star. 

Phoenix Suns: Markieff Morris

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    The Suns are one of the oldest teams in the NBA, led by 37-year-old point guard Steve Nash and 39-year-old small forward Grant Hill. The team is very old, and many would argue heading in the wrong direction by keeping Nash, but they do have one promising young talent: Markieff Morris.

    Morris was a surprise pick, as he was picked 13th and before his brother Marcus Morris. But Markieff has been exactly what the Suns have needed.

    He has provided a little bit of everything with 7.4 points and 5 rebounds in just 21 minutes a game. He also shows great potential from behind the arc, shooting 46 percent from behind the arc this season.

    Channing Frye has been struggling with his shot, so we may see Morris get a chance to start in the future. He already had a chance once and it didn’t go well, but if he can adjust to playing in the starting lineup he can be a great player. 

Portland Trailblazers: Nicolas Batum

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    The 23-year-old Batum is looking like a great scoring option for Portland off the bench. Last year, he started 67 games and put up 12.4 points and 4.5 rebounds a game in his third NBA season. This year, he might take a small step back. 

    Batum hasn’t found enough playing time to breakout, considering Jamaal Crawford, Wesley Matthews and Gerald Wallace all take up minutes. But, Batum is still an amazing young talent. He is a great perimeter shooter and is part of Portland's future plans.

    The only problem is, he won't find his opportunity until either Wallace or Matthews leave. 

Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans

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    The 21-year-old Evans averaged 17.8 points, 5.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game last season. This year he is putting up similar stats. His sophomore year indicated a lot of maturing had taken place from what we saw out of him in his rookie season. In his sophomore season, Evans was able to make faster decisions on the court. 

    Additionally, Evans continues to be a force not only on the offensive end, but the defensive end as well, where he averages 1.5 steals per game. Evans is learning how to use his strength and explosiveness that comes with being a 6'6", 220-pound combo guard to exploit the opposition on both ends of the floor.

    Don't expect Evans to slow down or stay where he is in terms of production, but instead we should all prepare to watch this young player become a star within a few years. 

San Antonio Spurs: DeJuan Blair

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    The 6'7" forward Blair has proven to be an amazing offensive and defensive presence for the San Antonio Spurs, and is a surprise considering he was a second-round pick. In his second season in the NBA, Blair started 65 games and put up 8.3 points and seven rebounds a game, as well as snatching more than a steal a game. 

    Blair is an extremely hard worker. He has a long way to go before becoming an amazing player, but he is showing great improvement in his game and is developing rapidly.

    Not before long, Tim Duncan will be too old to start on the team. Blair is undersized, but plays with a toughness and quickness that allows him to be extremely effective at guarding other players who are bigger than him. 

Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan

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    The 22-year-old DeRozan broke out last year when he impressed everyone by doubling his PPG and starting all 82 games of the season. DeRozan has taken a step back this year, but he is still an offensive threat. He is also still a great slam dunk contest candidate and a decent defensive player.

    Hopefully he'll also be able to improve his three-point shot, which is way too low for a shooting guard. He shot 10 percent from behind the arc last year, which was his only unsightly stat.

    This year he is shooting 29 percent, and he shot 25 percent in his rookie year, but even in college was never a good three-point shooter and I don't really expect him to start now.

    Overall though, DeRozan should have some great seasons in his career and hopefully can return to the form he showed last year. 

Utah Jazz: Derrick Favors

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    Derrick Favors is an asset the Utah Jazz acquired in the Deron Williams trade at the trade deadline last year. Favors, 20, averaged 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season.

    The rookie was drafted third overall by the New Jersey Nets in the 2010 NBA draft, however he did not exactly perform up to what was originally expected of him.

    This year, under more favorable circumstances, Favors should really be able to show what he can do. He is known as a great defender, and we saw flashes of his good defense last season as he averaged nearly one bock in in under 20 minutes of play per game. 

    So far this season, Favors is getting 8 points, 6 rebounds and 1.0 block a game off the bench. Utah may be willing to place Jefferson on the trade block in the future and build around the youngsters like Hayward, Burks, Kanter, and Favors. 

    But until then, Favors is stuck on the bench. Favors is a great asset. He has the potential to become dominant on both ends of the floor, and could have a successful career.

Washington Wizards: John Wall

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    John Wall’s great rookie season last year is too often overshadowed by Blake Griffin's fantastic year. Wall shot the ball well, he passed well and he had almost two steals a game.

    He's one of the fastest players with the ball from end-to-end, and he is very explosive and sets up his teammates very well.

    He was also the first rookie to average 16 points and eight assists in 15 years. I think that he'll take it one step further in seasons to come and could be a 20-point,10-assist guy who may be a top 10 point guard by the end of next season.

    And once he picks up that speed and becomes an elite point guard, there is no stopping him. I'm looking forward to watching this guy dominate for the next 10 years or so.