The 2011-12 NBA season played host to a number of unexpected performances, but as we prepare ourselves for the beginning of the new year, we must accept the notion that not all of these players will return as superstars in 2013.
Having a breakout season in the NBA is great for confidence, but it in no way predicts the future.
If momentum slips and production fades from the previous year, any breakout player could prove to be no more than an average—or below-average—competitor.
Like the music industry, 15 minutes of fame can come and go more quickly than some imagine, and if duration is the true test of greatness, those who can’t keep up are simply forgotten.
Ryan Anderson stepped up his game in 2012, and with the kind of production he showed on the court, he was a landslide pick for the league’s Most Improved Player award.
Anderson increased his three-point attempts nearly two per game and still managed to post a career-high 39.3 percent from beyond the arc.
The 6’10” power forward has always been a good shooter, but his career-high 7.7 rebounds—3.7 on the offensive end—was an element that had rarely been seen in the past.
The problem for 2013? Anderson is joining a new organization with its star players already in mind.
With Eric Gordon—and potentially Austin Rivers—dominating the ball, and Anthony Davis as the face of the franchise, the opportunities are going to be far less prominent in 2013 than they were with the Orlando Magic.
The New Orleans Hornets have an idea of where they’re going, and while Anderson is surely a part of that vision, he’s further down the list than he was on a direction-less Magic squad in 2012.
Nikola Pekovic posted career-highs all over the board in 2012. He scored 13.9 points a game, pulled down 7.4 rebounds, recorded .7 blocks and shot 56.4 percent from the field.
There’s no real reason to believe Pekovic will lose his abilities in 2013, but the fact is, the Minnesota Timberwolves did a lot this offseason to change the dynamic of the team.
Bringing in Andrei Kirilenko was a good move, since he’ll be a good rebounder at the small forward position. Greg Stiemsma won’t threaten much on offense, but he’s a better defensive presence than Pekovic, which could result in a few more minutes going his way.
The biggest move, however, that could shift this team’s style of play is the acquisition of the once-retired All-Star shooting guard, Brandon Roy.
Nobody knows exactly what Roy is capable of at this point in his career, but if he comes in and slows down the game with isolation basketball, the Wolves’ pace will take a hit, and so will the stats of the team’s secondary options.
Ersan Ilyasova was second in line for the 2012 Most Improved Player award. He posted career-highs all over the stat sheet, having had the opportunity to start in 41 games.
Ilyasova earned himself a new contract this offseason, but the question is, can he keep up the production in 2013?
With Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings occupying the backcourt for the Milwaukee Bucks, the two of them are going to hoist shots like there’s no tomorrow, leaving Ilyasova fewer opportunities to maintain his point-per-game average.
The other problem is that, at this point, ESPN doesn’t even have the 6’10” forward in the Bucks’ starting lineup.
If Ilyasova can crack the starting lineup, either at the small forward or power forward spot in 2013, he’ll have a chance to carry his momentum forward into the new year.
Steve Novak was by no means a star for the New York Knicks in 2012, but he did show an impressive turnaround boosting his stats to a career-high 8.8 points per game.
The problem for the Knicks? Novak’s production seemingly increased as a direct byproduct of Jeremy Lin’s success and Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony being out of the lineup.
With Lin gone and the stars healthy, Novak’s chances to shine aren’t going to be nearly as prominent as they once were.
The guy is a great shooter; nobody can deny that. At 6’10, Novak has shot 43.6 percent from the three-point line for his career, including 47.2 percent on 5.2 attempts per game in 2012.
His shot isn’t going anywhere, but with virtually no other true element to his game, he’s likely to get lost in the shuffle without a point guard drawing the attention away from the perimeter.
Linsanity took the league by storm in 2012, but you have to wonder if he’ll keep the momentum going following the knee surgery that ended his magical season.
During the brief yet incredible stretch where Lin shocked the world, he looked as if he could be a superstar point guard. Having averaged 20.9 points, 8.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals in February 2012, Lin looked unstoppable.
A big-time offer from the Houston Rockets scared the New York Knicks away from the luxury tax, but the question remains, can Lin live up to the performance he posted—and the paycheck he earned—following his breakout season?
The Rockets play at a slower pace than the Knicks, they’re not riddled with injuries and turnovers proved to be a problem for Lin when healthy.
This isn’t to say that Lin’s going to be a flop; just that we may not experience Linsanity in the same capacity we once did.
Of everybody on this List, Lin has the best chance of being a truly solid player, but with the hype and the expectations that surround him, it will be difficult to improve upon his 2012 performance.