Young NBA Players on Pace for a Monster 2013-14

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIApril 6, 2013

Young NBA Players on Pace for a Monster 2013-14

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    Oftentimes, we allow season averages to dictate whom we deem as stars on the rise. The truth of the matter is that a cumulative average does not always display how much momentum a player has built towards furthering his career.

    For that reason, we must focus on the young players who have set the stage for monstrous 2013-14 seasons.

    Some players have built reputations that supersede the numbers we see on their stat sheets. Others have progressively improved throughout the 2012-13 season, thus performing at levels higher than their averages would suggest.

    Regardless of how they're doing it, the following players have set the stage for dominant 2013-14 campaigns.

Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 23

    Experience: 3rd Season

    2012-13 Season Averages

    18.33 PER, 20.7 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 3.2 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG

    Regardless of age or playing time, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe is one of the most dynamic players in the NBA. Not only is Bledsoe an elite athlete, but he's averaging 0.8 blocks per game in 20.7 minutes.

    At 6'1".

    One can't help but assume that Bledsoe will receive an increase in minutes during the 2013-14 season. Not only is he a key reserve on a championship contender, but Bledsoe has proven to be capable of handling the duties of a starting point guard.

    Both as a scorer and as a facilitator.

    Whether he remains with the Clippers or is traded for value come the offseason, Bledsoe will be turned to for significantly more minutes next year. On the defensive end, his production will rise and thrust him into the category of the defensive elite.

    You know, if he's not there already.

Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

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    Position: Center

    Age: 19

    Experience: Rookie

    2012-13 Season Averages

    22.25 PER, 19.8 MPG, 7.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 0.9 SPG

    Thus far in 2012-13, Andre Drummond has 17 double-digit rebounding performances in 54 games. As for why that's of importance, note that Drummond is averaging just 19.8 minutes per contest.

    This young man is on par for stardom.

    Drummond has proven to be a dominant force on the defensive end of the floor. Despite playing less than 20 minutes a night, Drummond is averaging 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 0.9 steals per contest.

    For those keeping track, Drummond ranks 12th in the NBA in rebounds per 48 minutes and 13th in blocks per game—even with his limited playing time.

    During his sophomore season, one can only imagine that the Pistons will give Drummond extended run alongside Greg Monroe. In that time, we're inclined to believe that Drummond's mind-boggling numbers will translate.

    A monster 2013-14 season is on the horizon.

Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz

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    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 21

    Experience: 3rd Season

    2012-13 Season Averages

    17.65 PER, 22.8 MPG, 9.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.6 BPG

    Two of the most notable names on the 2013 open market will be pending free agents Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson of the Utah Jazz. Not only will those players be in line for major pay days, but they'll be in position to sign with championship contenders.

    That may just open the door for 21-year-old prodigy Derrick Favors to step in as the starting power forward.

    Favors has proven capable of handling the burden, as he's been as dominant a power forward as you'll find in his limited run. Despite playing just 22.8 minutes per game, Favors is presently averaging 9.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

    With a developing offensive game and a borderline elite defensive game, Favors is an All-Star waiting to erupt. The 2013-14 season will give him the opportunity to do just that.

    Expect big things from Favors.

Jeff Green, Boston Celtics

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    Position: Small Forward

    Age: 26

    Experience: 5th Season

    2012-13 Season Averages

    15.07 PER, 27.5 MPG, 12.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 37.7% 3PT

    More times than not, we wouldn't refer to Jeff Green, 26, as a "young player." With that being said, Green lost an entire year of his career when he received and recovered from heart surgery.

    Coming off of a life-threatening injury and in his first full year with the Boston Celtics, Green might as well be a rookie.

    During the first three months of the season, Green played as if he were. The former Georgetown Hoya struggled to find his role within the offense and thus failed to perform at an adequate level on either end.

    The past two months have told a different story.

    During the month of February, Green displayed a significant improvement on both ends of the floor. He finished with averages of 15.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 blocks on a slash line of .512/.414/.863.

    The following month, Green continued his progression with averages of 17.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 blocks on a slash line of .488/.426/.787.

    In other words, Green has found a permanent level of play that represents a form of stardom on Boston's deep roster. With stars such as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the numbers are certain to be limited.

    Green has still found a way to make a giant leap towards stardom—one that will continue into 2013-14.

Tobias Harris, Orlando Magic

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    Position: Forward

    Age: 20

    Experience: 2nd Season

    2012-13 Season Averages

    15.10 PER, 9.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.8 BPG

    During the first half of the 2012-13 regular season, Tobias Harris averaged 4.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 11.6 minutes per game. Since being traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Orlando Magic, however, Harris has been outstanding.

    As a member of the Magic, Harris is averaging 16.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 blocks and 0.9 steals per game.

    As the numbers suggest, Harris has been one of the most improved players in the NBA since making the jump to Orlando. Although the wins haven't piled up, Harris has been one of the most marvelous individual performers of the second half of the season.

    Thus far, Harris has six double-doubles since joining Orlando—as a 6'8" hybrid forward.

    The truth of the matter is that Harris' contributions have gone far beyond the stat sheet. Instead, he has delivered on both ends of the floor with poise and maturity.

    Contrary to what his time with the Bucks suggested, Harris is a budding star.

Maurice Harkless, Orlando Magic

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    Position: Guard/Forward

    Age: 19

    Experience: Rookie

    2012-13 Season Averages

    13.40 PER, 25.1 MPG, 8.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.8 BPG

    Due to his season averages, Maurice Harkless is unlikely to receive any rookie-of-the-year votes. Per his recent production, however, Harkless has been one of the most productive rookies in the league.

    Prior to his minor knee injury against the Chicago Bulls (via Joshua Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel), Harkless was averaging 17.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks over the span of his past 10 games.

    To put it simply, Harkless has been one of the best players to come out of his draft class. Not only has he been an offensive power, but he's crashing the boards at an extraordinary clip and playing opportunistic defense, too.

    Under head coach Jacque Vaughn, Harkless has also improved his defensive base.

    Due to the longevity of his recent string of success, we're inclined to believe that Harkless is capable of performing at this level on a consistent basis. For those who doubt that to be true, note this.

    Harkless has topped double-digit scoring in 21 of his past 25 games.