For many athletes in the NBA, it is not a lack of talent that stands in the way of their dreams. Instead, it’s the lack of opportunity that prevents some pros from stepping over the threshold into superstardom. In the past, we have seen the power of underutilized players seemingly transform with nothing more than a few tweaks. New scenery and added playing time have proved positive for ballers like Tracy McGrady and Gerald Wallace.
But these guys have innate talent. Would it be fair to say they were transformations? Or were these men just overlooked by the league? When it comes down to it, both of these players had tremendous statistics that could have easily predicted their true potentials. You just had to know where and how to look.
In his rookie season, a 19-year old Gerald Wallace, playing only eight minutes, averaged 3.2 points per game. Tracy McGrady – fresh off his senior season in High School – was slightly more impressive dropping seven points in the 18.4 minutes he played per game. The intrigue however, lies somewhere else. These same statistics are far more interesting if they are expanded into longer and more typical playing times.
Most often, NBA stars log at least 36 minutes per game. This little used statistic is important because it can bring us great insight into the true production of the league’s elite. If we look for example at Wallace’s averages per 36 minutes, we would see 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals – numbers nearly identical to those of his career.
On the other hand, T-Mac’s rookie stats extrapolated out to 13.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, three assists 1.5 steals and 1.9 blocks. Although those numbers don’t resemble the type of production McGrady accomplished throughout his career, they show a glimpse into an 18 year old kid’s raw potential.
Kevin Love’s 11 and nine were dwarfed by the production of teammate Al Jefferson as a rookie, but his 15.8 and 12.9 averaged per 36 are far more indicative of the glass-cleaning phenomenon we see today.
So who is next in line? Which young guns have all-star numbers in bench-warmers’ minutes? Here’s a look at some of the most promising players under the age of 25.