2010-2011 NBA Preview: Redick, Felton and Others Set To Break Out This Year
Every season in the NBA brings new hope and opportunities. There are always players who "break out" or show a great deal of improvement.
This offseason featured a lot of player movement and many of those moves opened doors for others to step through.
Who will make the biggest strides this season?
This past April, Shaun Livingston averaged 15.5 points, 6.3 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game while shooting 63 percent from the field. He started 18 of the 26 games he played for the Washington Wizards down the stretch last season. The Wizards gave Livingston his first real opportunity to shine since his horrific knee injury in 2007.
Now, Livingston is competing for the starting job in Charlotte. I expect him to continue to improve and put up good numbers for the Bobcats.
Under the tutelage of Larry Brown and Michael Jordan, we may finally see Livingston start to live up to his fourth overall draft pick status.
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Pau Gasol's younger brother is very quietly becoming a solid NBA center. He was more productive than expected his rookie year, and he made solid improvement in every statistical category his sophomore season.
If Marc can improve his game at the same rate this year, he'll be considered one of the best centers in the league.
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Steve Nash's stats prior to joining Mike D'Antoni and Amar'e Stoudemire: 12.5 points, 6 assists, and 0.8 steals per game.
Raymond Felton's stats prior to joining Mike D'Antoni and Amar'e Stoudemire: 13.3 points, 6.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
D'Antoni's uptempo system did wonders for Steve Nash's career. Felton is more athletic than Nash. He is also a better defender.
He is going to love playing in this run and gun offense and passing to guys who can really score like Stoudemire and Danilo Gallinari.
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You can't average 20 points per game over four years in the ACC without having some talent. J.J. Redick has always been a gifted scorer, and last year Stan Van Gundy finally gave him a few minutes a game to prove it.
The Magic will be desperate to keep up with the Heat in the Southeast Division and should look to move Vince Carter's expiring contract before the trade deadline. They can get Gilbert Arenas in return and move J.J. Redick into the starting lineup.
This actually isn't much of a downgrade at the shooting guard position as Redick averaged nearly 16 points per 36 minutes last season.
He'll begin to showcase his ability to score (mostly with jumpshots) later in the year and his average will steadily climb. He will show his recent contract was warranted by averaging 12 to 14 points a game.
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Steve Nash needs a new pick and roll buddy after the departure of Amar'e Stoudemire. Robin Lopez could be that guy, and he provides something down low for Phoenix that Amar'e never did...defense.
Phoenix caught fire once it inserted Lopez into the starting lineup last year. He had a few 20 point games and even went off for 30 one night. He can set a mean pick with his wide frame and finishes well on the roll.
Phoenix will miss Amar'e less than people think.
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Kleiza may be rated as a 55 in NBA 2K11 right now but he will play much better than that.
During the 2010 FIBA World Championships Kleiza averaged 19 points per game on 58 percent shooting (including 37 percent from three-point range). His scoring will be put to use immediately in Toronto. With Bosh gone, others will have to step up.
Kleiza will get a lot more than the 6.5 shots a game he took in Denver.
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Like I mentioned in the Kleiza slide, Bosh's points will have to be replaced. DeRozan is going to take on much of the load left behind.
During summer league this past offseason, DeRozan averaged 21 points a game. He is a super athlete and has a great opportunity in Toronto.
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Yi is another player who looked good in this year's world championships. He averaged 20 points a game on 54 percent shooting.
He'll likely start his career in Washington behind Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee, but he is more athletic and versatile than both of those players so I would not be surprised to see him inserted into the starting lineup at some point.
If he continues to improve his post game (which was frequently on display this summer) he could do a lot of damage for his new team.
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Cleveland is going to be bad this year. I don't know how they're going to find a way to replace Delonte West.
Enter J.J. Hickson. The athletic forward is rumored to be the frontrunner for the starting power forward position this year. He could double his point production from last year.
Houston's starting small forward from last year is now on the New Orleans Hornets. The Rockets won't miss Trevor Ariza too much with Shane Battier and Chase Budinger still at that position for them.
Budinger averaged nine points a game as a rookie. He shot better than Ariza from the field and from three-point range.
He also might be more athletic than Ariza. Don't believe me? Watch the video.
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Collison's production during Chris Paul's absence last season was pretty well publicized. He averaged 19 points and nine assists while filling in.
Barring injury, he should start every game in Indiana and his numbers will jump up dramatically from where they were last year.
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The Michael Scott of NBA general managers is Minnesota's David Kahn. He has assembled perhaps the most random collection of players in the league. The only sure thing on the roster is Kevin Love.
He was inexplicably held out of the starting lineup for two-thirds of the games he played in last year and still averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds a game.
Now that Al Jefferson is gone, Love has to start...right? Right? In the bizarro world of Minnesota basketball...who knows?
If he does start and get the 30 plus minutes a game he deserves, his numbers will be right up there with the NBA's elite power forwards.
Every year there are players who make their presence known after spending their first few years in relative obscurity.
Who do you think will break out this year?