7 NBA Training Camp Stars Fans Must Know Before 2012-13 Season Begins

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 22, 2012

7 NBA Training Camp Stars Fans Must Know Before 2012-13 Season Begins

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    The 2012 NBA regular season is just one week away. Anticipation is high, expectations have begun to form and the injured stars are beginning to return to their teams and put forth a concerted effort at establishing momentum.

    Lost amidst the hype, however, has been the breakout performances of a select few unproven players with dreams of a slot in the rotation.

    Some players have put forth star-quality performances. Others have provided consistency that is worth our attention. Regardless of who the players are and what respective teams they play for, each has proven themselves worthy of our admiration.

    As we enter the regular season, prepare to see these names quite often as the year progresses.

Nando de Colo, San Antonio Spurs

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    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 25

    Experience: Rookie

     

    Quietly but surely, Nando de Colo is proving to be the most promising European import of the 2012-13 season. Through his first five preseason games, de Colo is averaging 5.2 points, 4.4 assists and 1.2 steals in just 20.6 minutes of playing time.

    With his crafty ball handling and flashy playmaking ability, some have begun to compare the French guard to teammate Manu Ginobili.

    De Colo's signature performance came against the Atlanta Hawks when he put up 11 points, nine assists and two steals. It also doesn't hurt that de Colo hit the game-winning jump shot with 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock.

    Clutch and creative? Sure sounds like Ginobili to me.

    Standing at 6'5", it isn't farfetched to believe that de Colo will find playing time during the regular season. Patty Mills and Gary Neal have garnered head coach Gregg Popovich's respect, but keep one important factor in mind.

    Nando de Colo and Tony Parker are teammates on the French national basketball team. If the Spurs' franchise point guard wants to see him in the rotation, he has built enough clout that it may just happen.

    Expect Popovich to have a field day with de Colo's versatility during the regular season.

     

    2012-13 Preseason Averages

    20.6 MPG, 5.2 PPG, 4.4 APG, 1.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG

Chris Copeland, New York Knicks

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    Position: Small Forward

    Age: 28

    Experience: Rookie

     

    There is a 28-year-old small forward that is taking New York City by storm with his uncanny ability to score the basketball. He stands at 6'8", spent multiple years playing basketball in the state of Colorado and is a killer with his jump shot when on his game.

    And no, I'm not talking about Carmelo Anthony.

    It truly is scary how closely Chris Copeland and 'Melo resemble each other in terms of back story. It's also rather confusing when you see a player pour in 34 points and suddenly realize that it isn't Anthony that just stole the show.

    It was Copeland.

    The former Colorado Buffalo burst onto the scene when he put up 21 points, four rebounds, one steal and a block against the Boston Celtics. What was most impressive of all is the fact that Copeland did all of this in just 19 minutes of action.

    The following game brought him back to reality, thus tempering the cries of Copeland-sanity. As fate would have it, the only premature action was writing it off as a one-time performance.

    Copeland was marvelous in his second showdown of the preseason with the Celtics. He led all scorers with 34 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the floor, 3-of-4 from distance and a perfect 9-of-9 from the charity stripe.

    Adding six rebounds, two steals and a block only further pads what was a magnificent stat line.

    For those unfamiliar, get familiar. Chris Copeland has arrived in a major.

     

    2012-13 Preseason Averages

    21.5 MPG, 15.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.8 SPG, .526/.333/.818

E'Twaun Moore, Orlando Magic

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    Position: Guard

    Age: 23

    Experience: 1 Season

     

    If you're looking for this year's Most Improved Player of the Year award winner, look no further than E'Twaun Moore of the Orlando Magic.

    Moore has been absolutely phenomenal. With his poor performance against the Philadelphia 76ers aside, Moore has averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds on 53.7 percent shooting from the floor and 42.8 sniping from beyond the arc.

    As for that weak performance, five points, five rebounds, four assists and a three-pointer is what we classify as "poor." Even when his shooting touch was off, Moore found a way to contribute in ways that most other players have not.

    Jameer Nelson's starting job is in severe danger.

    Although Moore is listed as a 2, he's a natural point guard. He ran the position with efficiency while attending Purdue, which suggests that he could carry this preseason success into the regular season. After all, he only ran the 2 because Rajon Rondo was at the point in Boston.

    Expect big things from the four-time All-Big Ten member.

     

    2012-13 Preseason Averages

    28.3 MPG, 12.0 PPG, 6.0 APG, 2.8 RPG, .478/.412/.600

A.J. Price, Washington Wizards

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    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 26

    Experience: 3 Seasons

     

    Entering the 2012-13 season, A.J. Price was nothing more than a bench warmer who brings a quality personality to the locker room. In his past six preseason games, the former Connecticut Husky may be capable of more than what meets the eye. 

    Over the past two games, Price is averaging 12.5 points, 9.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 steal per contest. He's made nine of his past 12 field-goal attempts and 5-of-6 three-pointers, which suggests that the upside is beginning to be realized.

    With John Wall sidelined for eight weeks, expect the regular season to present further opportunities for high-caliber play (via Washington Post).

    What Price has done to separate himself from the other Wizards point guards is play with a sense of mixed responsibility and urgency. Price is constantly looking to create, but he does not make the mistake of rushing himself or his teammates.

    This is the most significant improvement Price has made to his game since entering the league in 2009. It is also the primary reason that Price will win the starting job and produce accordingly in Wall's absence.

     

    2012-13 Preseason Averages

    19.2 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 4.0 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.0 SPG, .461/.500/.750

Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic

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    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 22

    Experience: Rookie

     

    Over his past two games, rookie Andrew Nicholson is averaging 0.9 points per minute. That includes an 18-point outing against the San Antonio Spurs in which he played a full 18 minutes and shot 7-of-8 from the floor.

    Now if that isn't efficiency as a scorer, someone needs to explain what is.

    Nicholson's signature performance came against the Cleveland Cavaliers, when the former St. Bonaventure standout put up 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Although he's lacked in the rebounding department during his other preseason appearances, Nicholson has established himself as something all players should strive to become.

    A reliable scoring option.

    Nicholson is only taking the shots that make sense. While many young players will force their shots in hopes of proving their star power to their coaches and peers, Nicholson has proven to be a selfless player with the team's best interest in mind.

    The rookie is a young player beyond his years. For that reason, he should be expected to make some noise in the Rookie of the Year competition, regardless of how his team fares.

    A very promising start to a potentially elite career.

     

    2012-13 Preseason Averages

    20.6 MPG, 12.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 51.9% FG

Brian Roberts, New Orleans Hornets

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    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 26

    Experience: Rookie

     

    Austin Rivers and Greivis Vasquez are expected to compete to become the New Orleans Hornets' starting point guard. According to what we've seen this preseason, however, neither man is the best option for the job.

    That honor would belong to 26-year-old rookie Brian Roberts.

    Roberts has been excellent this preseason, averaging 9.8 points, 4.6 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game. He's also shooting 44.4 percent from beyond the arc despite putting up 16 three-point attempts thus far.

    That's equivalent to taking 219 three-point field goals in the regular season and making 97.

    For a team that is moving in a sharpshooting direction, this makes Roberts a perfect fit. Alongside the likes of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, Roberts could fit into a three-point shooting rotation that looks to light up the scoreboard.

    At 26, the former Dayton Flyer may have just fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a consistent rotational option for an NBA franchise. A feel-good story, a phenomenal talent and the potential starter if the chips fall as they should.

    That last bit might be an uphill battle, but crazier things have happened. Right Jeremy Lin?

     

    2012-13 Preseason Averages

    25.8 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, 2.6 RPG, 0.8 SPG, .428/.444/.778

Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 23

    Experience: 2 Seasons

     

    Lost in the Milwaukee Bucks' decision to select John Henson in the 2012 NBA Draft has been Larry Sanders' incredible upside. As of this preseason, it appears that the promise of tomorrow is becoming the production of today.

    And it couldn't have come at a better time.

    Sanders has been very consistent thus far, averaging 7.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks on 19.2 minutes per game. Sanders is shooting an even 50.0 percent from the floor and beginning to expand his offensive game.

    With Sanders still just 23 years old, the Bucks may have found their frontcourt of the future with he and Henson.

    While this production is impressive, keep in mind that Sanders has long been a shot-blocking phenomenon. During the final month of the season, Sanders swatted 2.4 shots per game despite playing just 16.4 minutes per contest.

    During the final three games of the year, Sanders averaged 4.0 blocks while playing the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers.

    Minutes may be hard to come by for Sanders this season as Ersan Ilyasova and Samuel Dalembert have solidified their status as starters. For he and John Henson, however, such quality preseasons may have helped to carve out roles as quality reserves.

    Sanders' development just took a major leap forward.

     

    2012-13 Preseason Averages

    19.2 MPG, 7.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.2 BPG, 50.0 FG%