Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets against the LA Lakers
Of the many freakishly talented players in the NBA, a few are set to have breakout seasons and emerge as stars. Last year, we witnessed Linsanity and this year we can guarantee there will be other players who will set the league ablaze.
It's safe to assume that NBA athletes spend a lot of time preparing for their big moment. They train and practice consistently in hopes that their hard work will finally pay off. For many players, the bitter taste of failure is all the motivation they need to push harder. For others, it's the criticism that they can't do it that pushes them further. They crave the chance to silence their critics and exceed expectations.
Now that the summer has ended and the preseason is soon to come to a close, NBA athletes are gearing up for another 82 game journey to the finals. Of course, basketball fans expect the usual suspects to replicate last season's success, but don't count out the many others who are on the rise.
As we await the start of the 2012-13 NBA season on October 30th, here are four players you can expect to have a breakout season.
Kenneth Faried shoots the ball as Pau Gasol looks on
The second year power forward for the Denver Nuggets didn't see much playing time as a rookie last year; he only played an average of 22.5 minutes. However, in the 46 games he played, Faried started in 39 of them, which is remarkable for a rookie.
His high-energy athleticism on the court earned him the nickname, "the Manimal," and rightly so.
In the regular season, Faried averaged 10.2 points a game on 58.6 percent shooting, in addition to a whopping 7.7 rebounds.
From December to April, Faried consistently improved his stats. In observing his month-to-month splits, we see that Faried's efficiency increased each month, with April being the most efficient of them all. Faried nearly averaged a double-double in the first month of the NBA playoffs, with 11.6 points and 9.1 rebounds a game.
Due to his fantastic numbers towards the end of the season last year, look for Faried to see a significant bump in minutes.
Andrew Bynum against Serge Ibaka of the OKC Thunder
It may seem weird to state that Andrew Bynum will have a breakout season since he is set to begin his eighth year in the league. But after never fully living up to expectations, oftentimes as a result of his immaturity, while with the Lakers, Bynum is poised to redeem himself.
Bynum's capabilities on the court were often overshadowed by his lack of discipline. His many mishaps included taking unnecessary 3-pointers, driving without a license and laughing after a loss, amongst many others.
As a new member of the 76ers, he is undoubtedly the leader of the team. With veteran Andre Iguodala no longer a Sixer and a team full of youngsters, it is Bynum's job to step up and lead his teammates. With this new responsibility, expect Bynum to completely change his demeanor and be the player he was always meant to be.
In his tenure with the Lakers, Bynum was always the third option, right behind Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Now that he's no longer in LA, Bynum will finally be the top dog on the team.
If the Sixers can find a way to give Bynum space on the court, in addition to getting him involved in the pick-and-roll, he will establish his dominance and produce big numbers for the team. But he can only do so if he's willing to work with his teammates.
This is something Bynum wasn't able to do with the Lakers.
Hopefully a change of scenery and a leadership position will finally be the catalyst that helps Bynum rise to his full potential.
Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets
You won't find a single sports league where rookies aren't hyped up before they even play a single professional game. When you dominate in college, it's only logical that people would expect you to do the same as a pro. But history has shown that not everyone will be able to translate their success once they join the big leagues.
Anthony Davis however, will.
The Hornets center is definitely in the conversation for the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year. Moreover, he won't just be a star among the rookies, he'll be a notable player throughout the entire league.
Davis' stats speak for themselves, but what really sets him apart from the other rookies is his experience in the Olympics. Though he didn't play as much as his more seasoned teammates did, the experience of playing with and against professional players will be an advantage for Davis once the season starts.
He is already comfortable playing against guys at the highest level, so look for him to have a breakout season this year.
Bradley Beal at NBA Rookie photoshoot
Bradley Beal is one of many outstanding rookies in the heavily talented class of 2012. Drafting him with the third overall pick, the Washington Wizards fulfilled a need in gaining a shooter. Beal's collegiate basketball career at the University of Florida though short, was thrilling.
In 37 games as a Gator, Beal was impressive on the court. The 6'3" shooting guard made history as the first Gator to be named first-team All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman in the same season. He led the team in rebounds and minutes, logging in 6.7 and 34.2 respectively, in addition to scoring 14.8 points a game.
Billy Donovan, Beal's former coach at Florida, believes Beal can be similar to Ray Allen because of his great shooting abilities. Though 14.8 points a game is not exactly on par with the sharp shooter, if he improves his shooting, it's very likely that Beal will be mentioned amongst the top shooters in the league.
In his preseason debut on October 7th against the New Orleans Hornets, Beal posted up 18 points, making seven of his 17 shots, including making two of four from 3-point range. In addition, he finished with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and one turnover.
Pretty impressive for his first game.
Beal is a strong shooter, great at defending and outstanding when it comes to rebounding. He has all the intangibles that make him a valuable and versatile player and is sure to be in the spotlight next season.