I know, I know the typical list of Break Out Youngsters goes Al Jefferson, Devin Harris, Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum, Rudy Gay, Deron Williams, etc...
All the analysts have predicted the top youngsters, and dissected the league to find the next class of All-Stars.
This list however looks through the "diamond in the rough" guys who have the opportunity to step up and prove their worth in the NBA.
Whether through trades, injuries or good old fashion hard work, these 10 players are ones to keep your eye on for excitement.
In no particular order, here we go:
Sean Williams PF NJ Nets
Laurence Frank consistently refers to Williams as the "game-changer" and after the past few seasons in NJ, that's exactly what their team needs... a change. He's 6'10 with a 7'0 plus wingspan and can defend any shot attempted in the paint. His athleticism is oozing out of every pore of his body. The Bonus... he has the drive to match it. Often times in the NBA, uber-athletic big men don't utilize their talents and end up with broken dreams.(Williams has Stromile Swift at the end of NJ's bench as a constant reminder of that). The package deal bringing Devin Harris to NY only helps his stock on the offensive end. Harris is probably the second fastest player in the NBA (behind Monte Ellis) and with Keyon Dooling, it will open up plenty of opportunities for dishes, dunks, and alley oops. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K82cRehInqA
Danny Granger SF Pacers
I know, he's technically already a big time performer in the league averaging a shade under 20 ppg and 6 rebounds per contest. The off season move of getting rid of J. O'neal coupled with the additions Dunleavy, JJack and Roy Hibbert completely restructured not only the appearance but the attitude of the Pacers. Instead of having the Pacers v. Pistons brawling team, we might have a team with the composure of Reggie, Rick Smitts, and Dale Davis.
Granger is a perfect candidate to take the lead of the team and put up numbers closer to 25 and 10. His scoring should increase with JJack and Tinsley distributing the ball and the inside presence of Hibbert shouldn't hurt either. Hibbert has always been a pass first big man, and Dunleavy can distribute the ball well too. I think the total package of the Pacers, while they might not be a great team, will make Granger a stand out this year.
Chris Duhon PG Knicks
The Knicks HAVE to be better than they were last year. While living in NYC, I went to upwards of 20 of their games and decided that only a hand full of them deserved to be in the league. Then comes D'Antoni with his run and gun offense and his strength on the point guard play.
Duhon has the right type of team first attitude to succeed in NYC with a team full of shoot-first teammates. He could distribute the ball like Mugsy did when he had Alonzo, LJ, Dell Curry, and Hershey Hawkins (Thats a drastic overstatement I know). But his trigger-shy style of play could make him a HUGE benefit to the Knicks who are drastically trying to change their selfish image of last season.
Randy Foye PG Timberwolves Foye is back healthy after an injury-plagued first half of last season and has been the starting PG throughout preseason (over Sebastian Telfair). Similar to Bogut, he scorched the later half of the season averaging 14.3 ppg and 4.8 assists. If he can stay healthy all year he should be able to produce similar numbers.
Martell Webster SG Trailblazers For the past year everyone has been bubbling with the thoughts of how much young, explosive talant the Blazers have - Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, J' Bayless, Rudy Fernandez, Lamarcus Aldridge, Nicholas Batum. For the majority, Webster has been unmentioned. This should work in his favor. The 6th Pick in the 2005 Draft was a heralded three point shooter out of high school with range that extends as soon as he enters the gym. Last season he shot almost 40% from behind the arc (38.8) and averaged a respectable 10.7 ppg (almost three points higher than his career average).
Al Thornton PF Clippers Trade talks and drama surrounded the Clippers this entire summer. Brand is coming, no he's not, Baron Davis is coming... etc. With Brand leaving, Thornton steps up to the #2 option on offense (behind BDavis) which should equal a lot of scoring opportuinties. A healthy Chris Kaman should also free Thornton up to increase his rebounding averages and open looks at the basket. While Thornton won't be floating under many peoples radar this year, like he was last year, his ability to move as a big man should make it extremely tough for defenses to set up against him.
Nick Young SG Wizards Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. I won't beat a dead horse, but with the injury plague going around the Chocolate City, second year Nick Young should reap benefits of more time on the hardwood. While the Wizards originally stated they wanted to take it slow with Young's development on the court, he has the opportunity now.
Robert Swift PF Thunder Remember Swift? The #12 pick in the 2004 draft from Bakersfield who refused to work out for any teams? The pick who has played in less than 50 games in his four year career? Well he's finally back from three seasons of continuous injuries. Im not sure if he has any talent, no one really is. However, he is in the best situation he could hope for. Recently relocated and with a team full of young leadership, the Thunder need a player to fill the hole in the middle. Bad. The competition for Swift? Johan Petro and the undersized Nick Collison who the team publicly stated they will only play at center if they have no other options.
Jason Maxiell PF Pistons