The 2010 NBA Draft was said to hold a weak incoming class. It seemed that everybody picked in the first round after John Wall and Even Turner were equal in terms of potential and capability. Teams were looking to trade away their mid-first round pick in return for two late-round picks because of their belief that the talent field was largely relative amongst most of the first round projected players.
With a supposedly "weak" incoming rookie class this year in the NBA, and very little argument for any other player to win Rookie of the Year besides John Wall, I turn my attention to the returning players. Many of these players are actually younger than most of the rookies this year and will be given substantial minutes resulting in break-out seasons. Below is a list of the NBA returnees, all aged below 23, who are primed for breakout seasons.
1. Javale McGee, Center, Washington Wizards
McGee did not have an extraordinary year last year, numbers wise, however his strong summer league play lead to an invite to the USA National team, before McGee eventually being cut. With the Wizards addition of John Wall at the point, and McGee's increasing playing time, expect lots of dishes to the big man and substantially improved numbers, both in points and rebounds.
Projected Stats: 14 PPG, 9 RPG, 30 MPG
2. Anthony Randolph, Forward, New York Knicks
When initially drafted back in 2007, Anthony Randolph was a lottery talent that some believed could turn into a top-10 league player some day. Due to his young age (just turned 21 this summer), his high potential, and his rare physical and athletic attributes (6'11", very athletic, good handle, can run the court) Randolph is believed to be a super-star talent. The New York Knicks Acquired him from Golden State together with Ronny Turiaf and Kellena Azubuike for David Lee back in July.
Projected 2010-11 Stats: 15 PPG, 8 RBG, 29 MPG
3. Nicolas Batum, Small Forward, Portland Blazers
Batum, who is playing for the French National team in the Fiba World Championships this summer, is only 20 years old. The lanky and athletic forward possesses great outside range and a quick move to the basket. With his length and athleticism, he is provided with many ways to score the basketball. This season he will receive many minutes at the three, splitting some time here and there with newly acquired Wesley Mathews.
Projected 2010-11 Stats: 12 PPG, 4 RPG, 3 APG, 25 MPG
4. Darren Collison, Point Guard, Indiana Pacers
Many NBA fans last year saw Darren Collison mature and grow when he was given substantial playing time at the point after Paul went down with an injury. Collison had flashes of brilliance and he is surely a very capable player. This summer, after Chris Paul complained about being on the Hornets, they scrambled to please him and ended up trading Collison away to the Pacers in exchange for Trevor Arizona. Now that Collison will finally have a team to run, his playing time will be consistently high and he will continue to improve.
Projected 2010-11 Stats: 15 PPG, 7 APG, 33 MPG
5. Marcus Thornton, Shooting Guard, New Orleans Hornets
Thornton also benefited from the series of costly injuries to the Hornets last season. Thornton went the final month of the season averaging an impressive 20 PPG. The 6'4" slasher is looking to build on his past success and with the return of Paul to the lineup, expect Thornton to receive many open looks and easy scoring opportunities.
Projected 2010-11 Stats: 16 PPG, 34 MPG
6. Jonas Jerebko, Power Forward, Detroit Pistons
Jerebko, a reigning All-Rookie selection is stuck on a team that has way too many guards. With Ben Gordon, Tracy McGrady, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rodney Stuckey all competing for minutes at the one, two, and three, Jerebko is rest-assured to receive the majority of minutes between the four and the five. The Pistons drafted young big man Greg Monroe this summer, but he is still a work in progress. Expect Jerebko to improve upon his 10 PPG and 6 RPG numbers.
2010-11 Projected Stats: 13 PPG, 8 RPG, 32 MPG
7. Jru Holiday, Point Guard, Philadelphia 76ers
Last season Rookie Jru Holiday put up numbers similar to his single collegiate season at UCLA, avering 8 PPG and 4 APG. However, there is a reason he was a top-10 pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Holiday possesses great upside due to his large frame and good scoring ability. He can shoot the three (39 percent 3-PT last season) and will only continue to build on his numbers with increased minutes and experience. At only age 20, he is far from his prime and the 76ers are looking to give him a bigger role this upcoming season. With young play-makers Andre Iguodala, Thadeus Young, and rookie Evan turner on the wings, Holiday will continue to play without added pressure on needing to be the lone back-court player on the team. Look for his minutes to jump from last years 25 MPG to around the Mid-30s and his numbers to jump as well.
Projected 2010-11 Stats: 14 PPG, 6 APG, 35 MPG
8. Mareesse Speights, Philadelphia 76ers
Speights, a third year player, played surprisingly well last year sharing time with long-time big man Samuel Dalembert. This summer the 76ers decided to ship Dalembert to the Kings for Adres Nocioni, which will cement Speights as their starting Center. The 22-year-old Speights will play alongside Veteran Elton Brand in the low-post, leading to unfocused defensive attention, and with the guard-heavy lineup taking up most of the scoring options, Speights' points will come mostly off offensive rebounds and drive-and kicks.
Projected 2010-11 Stats: 11 PPG, 8 RPG
9. Rodrigue Beaubois, Guard, Dallas Mavericks
High-flying Frenchmen Rodrigue Beaubois saw his French National team playing opportunity slip away when he broke his foot in training this summer. With Jason Kidd and Jason Terry' only getting older and their production and stamina declining, Beaubois is looking at a more prominent role on the Dallas Mavericks this season. Last season in only 12 MPG, Beauboius averaged 7 PPG.
Projected 2010-11 Stats: 13 PPG, 28 MPG
10. J.J Hickson, Power Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
Last year the ex-N.C State Wolfpack came out of nowhere to prove as a providing contributor for the LeBron James Cavaliers. This year, after Lebron's departure for Miami, the Cavaliers are seeking a new identity. The team looks to start Antawn Jamison at the four with Varejoa at the five, but Jamison's age and health may lead to increased playing time for the young Hickson. Last season in a lineup a much better Cavaliers lineup ( LeBron James and Big Z) Hickson averaged 21 MPG while putting up nine points and six rebounds. This year his playing time will be increased as the Cavaliers turn the page and try to rebuild the franchise.
Projected 2010-11 Stats: 15 PPG, 8 RPG, 30 MPG
11. Mario Chalmers- Point Guard- Miami Heat
What more can I say than the fact that Chalmers received a point guards dream this summer by being given the starting point guard job for a team that holds three super-stars in their starting lineup. This is Chalmers opportunity to pull off a "Rondo" and play with the new "Big Three." If Chalmers struggles to keep the stars happy, he could falter, but if the team wins on a consistent basis and gets their rings, Chalmers will have his stock skyrocketing. After all, with D-Wade and Lebron in the lineup, most of the ball handling will be given to those two. However, Chalmers will have ample opportunities to pour on the assists and his shot will be open because of all the defensive attention being given to the other guys.
Projected 2010-11 Stats: 8 PPG, 9 APG, 30 MPG
12. Robin Lopez, Center, Phoenix Suns
The other Lopez, Brook's brother, played aggressive and hungry last season for the Phoenix Suns backing up Superstar Amar'e Stoudemire. Stoudemire now plays in NY and this means increased playing time for Robin. With Steve Nash still manning the point, Lopez will be given many looks as he employs the pick-and-roll with Nash and works the glass.
Projected 2010-11 Stats: 12 PPG, 8 RPG, 30 MPG