10 Promising Young NBA Players Ready to Blossom into Stars Next Season
Each and every year in the NBA, young players explode onto the scene and make the ascent up the ladder to stardom.
The 2012-13 season will be no different, and these are the 10 players ready to make that climb.
Here's the catch: I'm not talking about incoming rookies like Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but only players who have already had professional basketball experience.
They also must be 27 years old or younger to be eligible.
Read on to discover which 10 players are ready to blossom.
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Team: Brooklyn Nets
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 12.6 points, 2.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds
MarShon Brooks might not even be a starter for the Brooklyn Nets, but get ready for an offensive explosion if he can stay healthy and put his injury-riddled rookie season behind him.
Playing behind Joe Johnson at shooting guard for the newly-relocated franchise, Brooks should contend for Sixth Man of the Year, especially if he can continue to score in the variety of ways that reminded so many people of a young Kobe Bryant during the 2011 draft process.
Brooks showed off his skills during NBA Summer League, particularly a step-back jumper from mid-range that always seemed to find the bottom of the net.
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Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 9.6 points, 1.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds
Moving from the Houston Rockets to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Chase Budinger is about to make his leaping ability look even more pronounced now that he'll be playing alongside Ricky Rubio.
Budinger's athleticism is absolutely ridiculous and should earn him consistent playing time between the shooting guard and small forward spots for the Timberwolves, who will be competing for a playoff spot throughout the year.
When he's averaging double-digit points and putting up a solid number of SportsCenter highlights, everyone will know this name.
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Team: Utah Jazz
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 7.2 points, 0.9 assists, 2.2 rebounds
Alec Burks is going to be getting a lot more time in the Utah Jazz backcourt during his sophomore season.
The tall shooting guard still needs to improve his long-range jumper, but he's deadly when going to the rim and can rebound as well as anyone at his position. During his final year with the Colorado Buffaloes, Burks averaged 6.5 rebounds per game.
Burks' slashing ability will be on full display during his second year at the professional level.
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Team: Phoenix Suns
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 12.7 points, 1.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds
Jared Dudley no longer has Steve Nash to feed him the ball, but he'll benefit from the defensive attention paid to Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat.
A smart player with a great stroke from the perimeter, Dudley will be the beneficiary of plenty of drive-and-kicks and should challenge for the scoring lead on a near-playoff team.
Dudley's defensive abilities will go a bit unrecognized, but he's going to emerge as a solid two-way player capable of filling almost any role for a team.
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Team: Utah Jazz
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 8.8 points, 0.7 assists, 6.5 rebounds
With both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson set to hit the market next summer as unrestricted free agents, it's time for Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter to get more playing time for the Utah Jazz.
Of the two, Favors is more ready to explode onto the scene.
The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket was one of the best per-minute rebounders in the NBA last season, and his more superficial totals will skyrocket as soon as he receives more run in the Jazz frontcourt.
As soon as he controls his fouling, he'll blossom into a great defender. The post moves will eventually come as well.
Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
Team: Boston Celtics
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 11.4 points, 1.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds
Courtney Lee is no longer going to labor away in the shadow of Kevin Martin.
Now, he'll be playing in a much bigger market and receiving more playing time as he and Jason Terry form a two-headed monster at the shooting guard position for the Boston Celtics.
Lee isn't great at drawing contact when he drives, but he's a solid defender and a great outside shooter.
The Boston fanbase is going to fall in love with this young shooting guard once he proves to be more than just a valuable stopgap for the injured Avery Bradley.
Photo via Yahoo! Sports
Team: Brooklyn Nets
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 17.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists (for Caja Laboral)
I'm making an exception to the "No Rookies Rule" because Mirza Teletovic wasn't drafted and isn't truly in the same boat as Jonas Valanciunas and the other under-the-radar rookies.
Teletovic is going to have a huge impact during his rookie season, but only on offense. He's not a great rebounder, and defense isn't exactly in his repertoire quite yet.
However, this power forward can simply shoot the ball. He'll stretch out the court a lot throughout the game as he drills one three after another and has a pre-Most Improved Player Ryan Anderson-like impact.
Running the pick-and-roll with Deron Williams, Teletovic will be left uncovered on the pop far too often as excess attention is paid to the point guard. The forward will make them pay.
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Team: Golden State Warriors
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 12.5 points, 2.0 assists, 2.4 rebounds
Klay Thompson started to break out at the end of his rookie season, but he didn't quite make it to full-fledged "star" status by the end of the 2011-2012 campaign.
He'll complete the journey with his deadly outside shooting and fundamental offensive game, especially once healthy pieces return and he doesn't draw as much defensive attention.
With Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut making his life easier, Thompson won't remain the No. 1 option for the Golden State Warriors, but he'll become more efficient and remain a great scoring threat.
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Team: Washington Wizards
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 4.7 points, 0.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds
Jan Vesely was almost never healthy during his rookie season with the Washington Wizards, but he'll be a force to be reckoned with during his second year alongside John Wall.
Remember, this guy's two nicknames going into the 2011 NBA draft were "European Blake Griffin" and "The Dunking Ninja." It's fairly clear that he has copious amounts of athleticism.
At 6'11", Vesely is a mismatch, no matter which forward position he lines up at. He, Bradley Beal and Wall are going to form an incredible trio during the upcoming season.
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Team: Charlotte Bobcats
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 12.1 points, 4.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds
Don't bet against Kemba Walker.
That's been my motto for a while now, and I'm convinced that his lackluster rookie campaign was more of an outlier than anything else.
Kemba was plagued by inefficient shooting and a lack of options during his first year, but that will change a little bit now that the Charlotte Bobcats have added a few solid players. If he's not asked to be the No. 1 guy, he'll be able to thrive in the NBA.
There's still a lot of talent here, even if he starts the season behind Ramon Sessions on the depth chart.