NBA Predictions: 10 Players Ready for a Breakout Season in 2010-11

John Friel@@JohnFtheheatgodAnalyst IOctober 21, 2010

NBA Predictions: 10 Players Ready for a Breakout Season in 2010-11

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    When it comes to sports, fans most idolize those who have already proven themselves as perennial All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. They contain the talent and expertise that is needed to play the game and play it well at the same time.

    Some other players not so much.

    Other players either need to deal with constant injuries that never let them get off the ground, can't make the transition from the college to the professional level, or just plain don't have the talent to compete at the same level as those who have already proven themselves as elite players.

    It's not to say that they aren't good enough to be in the NBA, but a number of players fail to live up to the expectations that they are expected to play at.

    However, a number of these players that have not yet performed up to expectations could soon be due for a breakout season that could come as soon as next year. These particular players however are young talents that are now set to make the transition from average to near-elite.

    Whether they have been given the opportunity for more minutes, recovering from injuries, or are in a new situation suited to their style play, these 10 players are due for a breakout season and All-Star caliber seasons from here on out. They've obviously been listening to plenty of Jim Morrison as well to get themselves into the right state of mind.

J.J. Hickson

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    CLEVELAND - MAY 03:  J.J. Hickson #21 of the Cleveland Cavaliers tries to get around the defense of Ray Allen #20 and Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Are
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    2009-'10 Statistics

    8.5 points per game, 4.9 rebounds per game, and 0.5 assists per game.

    Needless to say, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a state of limbo.

    The city of Cleveland is probably coming off of their worst summer in recent history and are now without their former idol, role model, and leader in LeBron James who had led the team to consecutive 60 plus win seasons as well the team's first NBA finals appearance in the 2007 season.

    Currently, the Cavs possess two players that have made All-Star games in Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison, but with Jamison aging quickly and Williams far from being able to lead a team of this magnitude, the Cavaliers need a player to step up and lead the team through their reconstruction phase.

    Cue J.J. Hickson.

    Hickson is the type of player that the Cavs desperately need at the moment. J.J. is a player that goes out into every game and gives 110 percent while wearing his emotions on his sleeve, which could come as a problem in the NBA today. The former North Carolina State star greatly improved from his rookie season and nearly double his stats in all categories in his sophomore season.

    LeBron leaving has completely opened the door for J.J. Hickson to emerge as the team leader and to establish himself as the future of Cavaliers basketball. It will take a huge effort from Hickson and the rest of the team to make the city begin to forget about LeBron, but if J.J. can make the Cavaliers into postseason contenders within the next five years, then maybe he can see his likeness plastered against a building.

    Projected 2010-'11 Statistics

    17 points per game, nine rebounds per game, and two assists per game.

Roy Hibbert

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 28:  Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on October 28, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2009-'10 Statistics

    11.7 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game, 2 assists per game, and 1.6 blocks per game.

    At 7'2" and containing the ability to have an offensive game, the Indiana Pacers Roy Hibbert might become one of the more dangerous centers in the Eastern Conference, as well as the entire NBA if he can remain healthy and out of foul trouble.

    That's a big "if" however for Hibbert who has been plagued with foul trouble over his first two seasons in the league. At 3.5 fouls per game last season, Hibbert ranked sixth in the league in personal fouls per game and saw a lot of promise and potential go with it as he only averaged 26 minutes last season in a nearly full season at 81 games.

    The fouls were mostly caused by players either gunning for Hibbert in an attempt to draw fouls on him and eliminate the 7'2" threat, but mostly happened as a result of Roy not being able to contain his body and therefore having unnecessary touch-fouls as the issue more than anything else. Aside from his foul troubles, Hibbert is actually an outstanding post threat for a Pacers team that is on the road to recovery.

    Now that he has a quality point guard as well in Darren Collison, he can expect a number of open looks that he wasn't receving prior to the off season trade of the former New Orleans Hornet. So far in the preseason, Hibbert has still encountered foul trouble, but not as serious as it was last season. In four of the six games he has participated in and received significant minutes, he has recorded four fouls.

    The four fouls in four games might come as an issue when the regular season begins, but the three double-double's, as well as a near triple-double, is everything a Pacer fan wants to see from their third-year All-Star in the making in Hibbert.

    Projected 2010-'11 Statistics

    18 points per game, 11 rebounds per game, three assists per game, and two blocks per game.

Michael Beasley

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    MIAMI - APRIL 23:  Forward Kevin Garnett #5 and Glen Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics defend against forward Michael Beasley #30 of the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    2009-'10 Statistics

    14.8 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game, and 1.3 assists per game.

    As a Miami Heat fan, I am all too familiar with the game play of Michael Beasley. He has the potential to become one of the most volatile, dangerous players to play against and should be a perennial All-Star if he puts his talents to good use and use them to his advantage.

    Unfortunetely, Beasley rarely used his size to his advantage while as a member of the Heat. He would constantly favor long-range jump shots instead of driving for an easier scoring opportunity, when he would drive he would sometimes go too weak and have his shot sent back, and he is a sub-par defender who plays lazy defense.

    All of this could turn around however in a new setting and scenery in Minnesota. If Beasley can take the advice that Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade and the multiple number of players gave him in Miami, then he could be an easy 20-10 player on a nightly basis.

    Michael does contain the ability to drive strong to the hole and has done so on many occassions with positive results in return.

    His jump shot can be inconsistent considering he averaged 41 percent from the three-point line in his rookie season and only 28 percent in his sophomore season, but he is a slasher more than anything and should use it to his advantage if he wants a break out season.

    Coupled with the fact that he will now be in the position he was originally suited for at small forward, Michael is very capable of producing at the level he was expected to as the number two pick taken in the 2008 draft. At small forward in a situation where he will be recognized as one of the team leaders, Beasley has great expectations with his new team.

    Projected 2010-'11 Statistics

    19 points per game, eight rebounds per game, and three assists per game.

Anthony Morrow

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    NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 08:  Anthony Morrow #22 of the Golden State Warriors shoots the ball over Darren Collison #2 of the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena on March 8, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Hornets defeated the Warriors 135-131.  NOTE
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    2009-'10 Statistics

    13 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game, and 1.5 assists per game.

    Anthony Morrow might be joining a team that is coming off of a 12-70 season, but the New Jersey Nets are a team already with a postseason berth on their mind and Morrow is now along for the ride.

    What most NBA fans don't realize is that Anthony is actually one of the NBA's best three-point shooters as he is coming off of a season where he averaged 46 percent from beyond the arc. The two three-pointers per game was good for 13th in the league and the shooting was good enough for fifth in the league.

    He did rank first however in shooting percentage for players who made a minimum of two three-point shots per contest.

    Morrow is going to used greatly on a Nets squad that desperately needs quality shooting from beyond the arc. The team ranked 27th last season in three-pointers at only 4.6 per game. They also ranked 29th in three-point shooting percentage hitting less than 32 percent at a team.

    Calling Morrow valuable to the Nets is the understatement of the century.

    It shouldn't come as a surprise if Anthony ends up shooting upwards of five to six three-point attempts per game because of the fact that the Nets have no other pure three-point shooters on their team aside from Morrow. He has already begun to make his impact felt in the preseason as he has hit 44 precent from beyond the arc over eight games and has three or more three-pointer's in four of the eight games he has started.

    This will no doubt be Morrow's breakout season as he continues to develop as a player and an even more pure shooter with a team that needs a player like him to complement an already budding starting lineup.

    Projected 2010-'11 Statistics

    15 points per game, four rebounds per game, and four assists per game.

Rodrigue Beaubois

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    SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 23:  Guard Rodrigue Beaubois #3 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 23, 2010 in
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2009-'10 Statistics

    7.1 points per game, 1.4 rebounds per game, and 1.3 assists per game.

    When he was taken 25th by the Oklahoma City Thunder and then traded to the Dallas Mavericks shortly after, it was a questionable trade for the Mavs as no one had any idea of the player that the team had just traded for.

    After a productive rookie season, the entire city of Dallas now knows how to correctly pronounce the Frenchman Rodrigue Beaubois' name. Roddy exceeded everybodys expectations by averaging seven points mostly off the bench and having a number of break out games that includes a 40 point explosion in a win against the Golden State Warriors where he hit an unbelievable 9/11 from beyond the arc off the bench.

    The career game for Beaubois came in a stunning March where he hit double-digit's in 11 of 14 games. The scoring outburst's came as a result of the Mavercicks giving Rodrigue a significant amount of minutes as he recorded over 20 minutes in a number of games, including a career high of 34 minutes where he scored 24 points in a win over Chicago.

    By the way he was playing last season, there is no doubt that Beaubois will begin to receive a significant amount of minutes in his sophomore season after impressing as a rookie. The Mavericks are a team that need some help at the shooting guard spot and they can now look towards Beaubois as the player that is set to fill the need and help Jason Terry in the back court as a scorer.

    2010-'11 Projected Statistics

    11 points per game, three rebounds per game, and three assists per game.

Greg Oden

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    OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers dunks over Anthony Randolph #4 of the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game at Oracle Arena on November 20, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    2009-'10 Statistics

    11.1 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, 0.9 assists per game, and 2.3 blocks per game.

    Could this finally be the year we get to see Greg Oden play an actual season? Is the 2010-'11 season where we will finally see Oden stay healthy and become the All-Star caliber center that the Portland Trail Blazers have been waiting three years now for?

    Or could we see Oden suffer another injury and possibly never play the sport of regulation basketball again. Who knows. What we do know is that Greg Oden has the ability and the potential to become an elite center considering that he has the size and talent to become one. Not to mention, he's in the Western Conference where an elite center is always either injured or just non-existent.

    In the time that he actually played, Greg was sometimes special to watch. In the 21 games he played last season, Oden had five double-doubles and appeared ready to begin to develop as he had a 13 points and 20 rebound performance against the Miami Heat before succumbing to an injury the next game that kept him out the rest of the season.

    As an offensive producer, Oden appears to have Dwight Howard syndrome where he has no problem using his power around the rim to flush a dunk or make an easy lay-up, but when it comes down to hook and jump shots, the former Ohio State legend looks like a fish out of water. With proper guidance however, Oden could become one of the top centers in the Western Conference which would give the Trail Blazers an insurmountable advantage over nearly every team in the West.

    He just has to stay healthy and yes it is harder than it looks.

    Projected 2010-'11 Statistics

    16 points per game, 12 rebounds per game, two assists per game, and three blocks per game.

Darren Collison

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    NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 22:  Darren Collison #2 of the New Orleans Hornets drives the ball during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the New Orleans Arena on March 22, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    2009-'10 Statistics

    12.4 points per game, 5.7 assists per game, and 2.5 rebounds per game.

    When Chris Paul went down with an injury mid-way through the 2009-'10 campaign, most New Orleans Hornets saw their postseason hopes go down the drain as they lost their floor general and arguably the best point guard in the league in the process.

    While a postseason didn't occur for the Hornets, they were able to receive a first look at their first round choice in Darren Collison who did more than exceed expectations as CP3's replacement. To put it into perspective at how well Collison replaced Paul, in his first game starting he finished with 17 points, 18 assists, and six rebounds in a win over Memphis where he played all but five minutes and 44 seconds.

    Collison continued to produce as he continued to hit double-figures in assists and even had a triple-double in only his 17th start when he recorded 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists in a win over Indiana. Darren would only progress throughout the season and had a number of statistical oddities including a game against Portland where he would make all 10 of his shots, a win against Golden State where he would record 20 assists, and a career high 32 points in a loss to Sacramento.

    Things were looking up for the city of New Orleans as they now knew they were ready for the worst. The worst being Chris Paul leaving or suffering another season ending injury.

    Then he got traded and now the Indiana Pacers have a new point guard to look forward to.

    Collison will fit very well with the Pacers as the team has been on the search for a point guard for the future. The Pacers not only found someone to complement Roy Hibbert, but they found another scorer alongside Danny Granger as well as a player who can actually pass and find open players.

    2010-'11 Projected Statistics

    17 points per game, 10 assists per game, and five rebounds per game.

DeMar DeRozan

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    DALLAS - FEBRUARY 13:  DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors goes up for a dunk during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center on February 13, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    2009-'10 Statistics

    8.6 points per game, 2.9 rebounds per game, and 0.7 assists per game.

    Much like J.J. Hickson and the Cleveland Cavaliers, DeMar DeRozan represents one of the few shining stars on a team that was left for dead as Chris Bosh also departed for Miami along with LeBron James.

    The nation of Canada is still hurting after the loss of another All-Star, but they do have a future star in DeMar DeRozan who is ready to lead the team and already announced as a rookie that he would never do the Toronto Raptors like Vince Carter did.

    While DeMar's numbers weren't stunning in his rookie season, he did show a great deal of potential in games where he received a significant amount of minutes. DeRozan was taken off the starting lineup late in the season, but responded by posting a career high 24 points in the final game of the season in a win against the New York Knicks.

    DeMar still has a lot to learn as a player and an eventual leader, but he will be given time to evolve as a player as the Raptors begin reconstruction. DeRozan's jump shot can use improvement as well as his range as he only shot 25 percent last season from beyond the arc. He did compensate his poor range with 49 percent shooting overall and became very well-known as a high flyer in the season and in the NBA's dunk contest where he finished second.

    Toronto and the rest of the NBA are looking forward to the development of DeMar DeRozan and are also hoping that he doesn't pull another Vince Carter or Chris Bosh when he becomes the player that the Raptors have longed for.

    2010-'11 Projected Statistics

    14 points per game, four rebounds per game, and three assists per game.

D.J. Augustin

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - APRIL 26: D.J. Augustin #14 of the Charlotte Bobcats dribbles past Jason Williams #44 of the Orlando Magic at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 26, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Magic defeated the Bobcats 99-90 to complete the fou
    Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images

    2009-'10 Statistics

    6.3 points per game, 2.4 assists per game, and 1.2 rebounds per game.

    Following a drop-off in his sophomore season after a very productive rookie campaign, D.J. Augustin is set to take the reins as the Charlotte Bobcat's new starting point guard following the departure of Raymond Felton.

    Augustin saw his minutes drop from 26 to 18 over the past two season and is now ready to play over 30 minutes per game as a starter for the first time. Last season might have been a disappointment for Augustin who shot a dismal 39 percent overall from the field, but he did show promise with his 39 percent three-point shooting and is continuing to show flashes of brilliance in the preseason as he had a number of breakout games including a 19 point against the Miami Heat where he shot 3/3 from beyond the arc.

    D.J. will have no problem working with the team he has now as he has a number of athletic players to look too for assists in Gerald Wallace and Tyrus Thomas. His three-point shot will also complement the team very well as the 'Cats were near the bottom in three-point's made last season at only 5.6 per game. In the preseason, Augustin is shooting an incredible 63 percent from beyond the arc.

    That's not a misprint either, D.J. Augustin is actually shooting 63 percent from three-point land.

    The Bobcats might have a lot on their plate in the Southeast Division, but they do have the athleticism and talent to still surprise some doubters and Augustin will be leading the way for a team just getting their first taste of the postseason.

    2010-'11 Projected Statistics

    12 points per game, eight assists per game, and three rebounds per game.

Austin Daye

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    PHOENIX - NOVEMBER 22:  Austin Daye #5 of the Detroit Pistons handles the ball during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on November 22, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Pistons 117-91.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2009-'10 Statistics

    5.1 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game, and 0.5 assists per game.

    Taysh-I mean Austin Daye might not have had a significant role with the Detroit Pistons last season, but on a team that is currently rebuilding, we should expect to see a lot of Daye on the court of The Palace at Auburn Hills.

    Daye is extremely lengthy and has been using it to his advantage over the course of the preseason thus far. In seven games, four of which he has started, Daye has averaged 15 points and six rebounds over 26 minutes per game. He has also showed a surprising amount of range by hitting at least one three-pointer in all seven games and hitting double-digits in every game as well.

    Austin can also be considered a huge threat in the paint thanks to his length as well as he can go to height's that most opposing defenders cannot reach. It explains his significant three-point shooting numbers, currently at 52% in the preseason, because Daye's lengthy arms makes it nearly impossible for a defender to threaten his shot with a block.

    At 6'11" and 200 pounds, Austin might come off as weak, but much like his teammate in Tayshaun Prince, he can use his size and abnormal wingspan to his advantage by locking down opposing power forwards and forcing them into difficult shots merely because of his length. I'm also sure that if Prince and Daye stood fingertip to fingertip with their arms out, they could at least guard from anywhere within half-court.

    Projected 2010-'11 Statistics

    13 points per game, seven rebounds per game, and two assists per game.