Blake Griffin, John Wall and the 15 Future NBA Superstars
A few years from now, the NBA as we know it will change. Kobe Bryant and Manu Ginobli, though they might be machines, are going to retire sooner or later. LeBron's athleticism will only take him but so far, and a lot of the All-Stars and superstars of today's NBA will fall off. Who's going to pick up the slack in the NBA after all these athletes leave?
15. F Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets/New York Knicks)
The Stats: Gallo is averaging 15.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. He shoots 37.4 percent from downtown.
Notable Performance: In his second game as a Nugget, Gallinari scored 30 points, shooting 7-of-14 from the field and 15-of-17 from the free throw line. He grabbed nine rebounds and dished out two assists in their loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in late February.
Danilo Gallinari in a shooter. He is deadly from three, deadly from mid range, and deadly from the foul line. He can also put the ball on the ground and attack the basket. Gallo could end up being the next Detlef Schrempf if he continues to work on his game. He just needs to work on his defense and finishing at the rim.
14. F Dorell Wright (Golden State Warriors)
The Stats: Wright is averaging 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, three assists, and 1.4 steals per game. He is also shooting 39.2 percent from downtown.
Notable Performance: In a home win over the Orlando Magic, Wright scored 32 points on 8-of-11 shooting from downtown. He also grabbed six rebounds.
If Dorell Wright doesn't win the Most Improved Player Award, the NBA is rigged. As a member of the Miami Heat, Wright was looked at as mainly a defensive stopper who could finish at the rim. This season, he's become a deadly shooter, as he was chosen to be in the Three-Point Shootout at All-Star Weekend.
Wright has become part of a Big Four in the Warriors' organization. He spreads the floor with his shooting ability, but can also finish strongly at the rim. If he continues to work on his game like he has been, Dorell Wright can take the NBA by storm. He just needs to work on creating his own shot and developing a mid range game.
13. C Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers)
The Stats: Hibbert is averaging 12.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game.
Notable Performance: Hibbert tied a season-high with 29 points in a one-point victory over Charlotte Bobcats. He also had 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Roy Hibbert is 7'2". What more do you need to know?
Not only is he a defensive presence, but he also spreads the floor with his touch from mid range. Hibbert could be a great center in the league some day, but he would have to be part of an inside-out offense. Overall, I see him becoming a better center than he is now. He just needs to work on his post offense a little bit more, and he has it.
12. G Wesley Matthews (Portland Trail Blazers)
The Stats: Matthews is averaging 16.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. He is shooting 41.2 percent from downtown and 83.5 percent from the foul line.
Notable Performance: Matthews scored 36 points in a 10-point win against Minnesota. He shot 10-of-18 from the field, including 7-of-10 from deep, and 9-of-9 from the line. He also grabbed five boards.
When Brandon Roy declared that he was undergoing dual arthroscopic knee surgery, somebody on the bench had to step up. That person was Wes Matthews.
Matthews filled in his position and, alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, helped keep the Portland Trail Blazers afloat in the Western Conference playoff hunt. His game varies from attacking the basket to being an assassin from beyond the arc. He is an incredible defender and is extremely athletic. Once he develops a mid range game, Wes Matthews could easily become one of the more unstoppable guards in the NBA.
11. G James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder)
The Stats: Harden averages 11.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. He shoots 36 percent from behind the arc.
Notable Performance: Harden scored a season-high 26 points in a four-point victory over the Phoenix Suns in early March. He also had six rebounds, four assists, and two steals, while shooting 8-of-12 from the field and 8-of-9 from the line.
James Harden is that sixth man for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Known for that grizzly beard on his chin, Harden provides that spark off the bench that OKC needs when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant take a seat. He's dangerous from downtown and finishes strong at the rim. When he makes his way to the starting lineup, Harden will be part of a Big Three in OKC.
10. G Landry Fields (New York Knicks)
The Stats: Fields leads all guards in the NBA in rebounds. He averages 10.1 points and 6.7 rebounds, along with two assists and one steal per game.
Notable Performance: Fields had 25 points, 10 rebounds and two steals in a 117-103 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in early January. He shot 10-of-13 from the field, including 5-of-7 from downtown.
Spike Lee gave Landry Fields the nickname "Muddy Fields" for his fear of not getting down and dirty on the basketball court.
The name suits his play style.
Landry Fields is one of those glue guys. He makes or breaks the Knicks. And you see it now, more than ever, as the Knicks are losing when he gets less and less playing time. Fields isn't scared to grab that tough rebound, or dive for that loose ball. He puts his body on the line, and that's what makes him such a great player. He can shoot the three and finish at the rim. He does it all. Fields is going to be a great player in the NBA. It's just a matter of time and coaching.
9. F/C Andray Blatche (Washington Wizards)
The Stats: Blatche is averaging 15.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Notable Performance: Blatche had 22 points and 11 rebounds in a 14-point win over the Indiana Pacers in late December.
Andray Blatche took the NBA by storm last season. After Gilbert Arenas' season-long suspension for bringing guns into the locker room, Blatche put the team on his back and became the No.1 scoring option for the Washington Wizards; something like LaMarcus Aldridge for the Portland Trail Blazers. His numbers have dropped now that John Wall is on the team, but Blatche still has game. He has a great mid range jumper and grabs rebounds efficiently. He could be a great player down the line.
8. G Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
The Stats: Stephen Curry averages 18.3 points, 5.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He shoots 43.2 percent from downtown and 92.7 percent from the free throw line.
Notable Performance: Curry had 32 points, eight assists, and six rebounds in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in late January.
Stephen Curry is a pure shooter; it's in his blood. The son of Dell Curry, Stephen has the ability to shoot from almost anywhere on the court. He might not be an All-Star, but he will be a definite difference maker on whatever team he's with. If he can improve on his defense, he could become a complete player.
7. F/C DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
The Stats: DeMarcus Cousins averages 14.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game.
The Facts: Cousins had 25 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists in a six-point victory over the New Orleans Hornets; he shot 50 percent from the field.
That was the one thing many critics claimed Cousins didn't possess when the NBA Draft drew closer. He didn't prove these critics wrong, but he's been playing decent basketball. In December, Cousins averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He's slowed down a little bit, but he's got the potential to be one of the better big men in the NBA in the future. We just don't know how long we'll have to wait until that day comes.
6. G/F DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
The Stats: DeMar DeRozan is averaging 16.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 0.9 spg.
The Facts: DeRozan scored 37 in a losing effort against the Houston Rockets on New Years Eve.
DeMar DeRozan is a super-athlete. His leaping ability and athleticism are only paralleled to Blake Griffin, and he finishes at the rim as good as anyone in the league. DeRozan also plays stifling defense, something he's made his name with since his first days in the NBA.
Where am I going with this?
DeMar DeRozan could be a great player in the NBA. And he's got the time to develop his game. Who does he remind you of? Not his game, but his body. Think about it.
Yes, you're right.
He's built like Kobe Bryant! Sure he's not going to be the next Kobe, but he definitely can come close to it. If he can develop a mid range and three-point jumper, he'll be inching closer to him. DeRozan's already got the speed and the finishing ability. A couple more years worth of hard work and dedication, and DeMar DeRozan could be one of the more prolific players in the NBA.
5. G Nick Young (Washington Wizards)
The Stats: Young averages 17.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
The Facts: On Tuesday, January 11, Nick Young scored a career-high 43 points in 45 minutes, helping his team capture a three-point overtime victory over the Sacramento Kings. He also has eight other 30+ point performances.
Nick Young has to be the most underrated scorer in the NBA. He can shoot, slash, finish, everything. His ball handling skills are second to none, and he can get to the rim as easy as anyone. If you don't know about him, here is a play that can help you become a little bit more familiar with his play style.
Young is going to be a great player in the future. He's got all the qualities of a great scorer. He, like many other players, just needs to work on his defense. And once he learns to take better shots, he could definitely become a problem in the league.
4. G John Wall (Washington Wizards)
The Stats: Wall averages 15.9 points, 8.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game.
Notable Performance: Wall had 17 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals in a loss against the Chicago Bulls in mid-February. He also had seven turnovers.
After a rocky start in both the Summer League and the first few game of the regular season, John Wall has emerged as one of the premier Point Guards in the NBA. Wall is one of the most electrifying guards in the game, attacking the basket with ease, and finishing with authority. A definite future All-Star, Wall will be one of the best PGs in the NBA sometime soon. So long as he can continue to keep his turnovers down, John Wall is going to be a star.
3. G Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Surprised? You shouldn't be.
Russell Westbrook is an incredible point guard on the rise. A soon-to-be All-Star, Westbrook averages 22.4 points, 8.4 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game. The only part of his game left to develop is a consistent jumper and he'll be another un-guardable PG in the NBA.
And the craziest part? He's only 22 years old.
With so much upside and potential, expect to hear Russell Westbrook as a household name very soon.
2. G Marcus Thornton (Sacramento Kings)
The Stats: Before the trade, Thornton averaged 7.8 points for the Hornets. Afterwards, his averages skyrocketed; As a Sacramento King, Thornton averages 21.4 points, 1.9 steals, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists, all in 35 minutes per game.
Notable Performance: Thornton scored 42 points in 41 minutes in a 10-point victory over the Golden State Warriors in mid-February. He shot 65 percent from the field (13-20), 4-of-7 from three, and 12-of-14 from the foul line.
One of the biggest mishaps during the trade deadline this season was the moving of Marcus Thornton from the New Orleans Hornets to the Sacramento Kings for Carl Landry. Thornton is a deadly scorer. In his games as a Hornet, Thornton's talents were being misused, to say the least. He was given barely 16 minutes per game, coming off the bench to score about seven points each night. In his new home in Sacramento, Thornton has received double the playing time, and his averages have picked up remarkably. And to cap it all off, he's shooting 48 percent from the field, 42 percent from downtown, and 80 percent from the line.
Marcus Thornton is definitely going to be an All-Star someday. If the Kings can somehow pull off a winning record, and Thornton can keep his productivity up, next season might be it.
Then again... As long as Kobe's here in the West, All-Star voting for the 2-guard will be very competitive.
1. F Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)
Come on! You didn't think it would be anyone else, did you?
Blake "The Poster Child" Griffin is a MONSTER. Dunking on everything that steps in his path, Griffin has instilled fear into any and every defender that crosses his path. And now that he's developing a mid range and three-point jumper, Blake is becoming unstoppable.
Griffin averages 22 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field. There's not too much I can say about him. He's just a monster. The only areas of his game that need improvement are his defense and his post game. A good mentor, like Patrick Ewing for Dwight Howard, can easily instill a working post game into him. If he can turn his 0.6 blocks per game into 2.0, Griffin would be the second best big man in the NBA, only behind Superman himself.
By the way, if you don't know about Blake Griffin's reckless abandonment when it comes to dunking, here's a few dunks that will keep you up to speed. They're listed by victims: