It seems as if the impossible is upon us!
The NBA season is set to begin in just a few weeks. Before an agreement was reached, many fans were becoming less optimistic on whether there was going to be an NBA season. Nonetheless, the Basketball Gods have answered our prayers, and the start of the season is just around the corner.
Of course, the start of the season does usher in the next wave of breakout athletes. Last year, Kevin Love became the breakout star, as he was awarded not only his first All-Star appearance, but the NBA Most Improved Player Award.
Due to the proximity of the NBA season, I thought I would share my Top 10 candidates for breakout seasons.
Now that Glen Davis is a member of the Orlando Magic, "Big Baby" will have an opportunity to compete for a starting job. Not only will he receive a huge spike in minutes, but the offense may run through him at times.
Plus, Davis has the perfect skill set for the Orlando Magic. He can alleviate the pressure placed on Dwight Howard to rebound, and he can hit the mid-range jumper.
The former LSU Tiger has the capability to put up respectable stats, as he will thrive in his new role.
Last Season: 11.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.2 APG
Projection for this Season: 13.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.4 APG
After a remarkable rookie season filling in for the injured Chris Paul, Darren Collison's sophomore season was somewhat of a disappointment.
He did not break out like experts expected with the Pacers, but I believe that this is the season Collison will have a huge impact.
After all, what point guard would not be successful with options Danny Granger, David West, Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough, Paul George, Brandon Rush and George Hill to pass to?
He may not be a star, but Collison will solidify himself as the future at point guard for the Indiana Pacers.
Last Season: 13.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 5.1 APG
Projection for this Season: 15.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 7.4 APG
Since the departures of Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton, D.J. Augustin has had little help from teammates to alleviate the pressure opposing teams place on him.
Despite teams honing down on the young guard from Texas, Augustin has still thrived as the starting point guard for the Charlotte Bobcats.
However, the draft acquisition of former UCONN star Kemba Walker will immediately effect the stat line of Augustin. Not only will he have a skilled scorer to acquire assists from, but Walker will help alleviate the aforementioned pressure.
Watch out for Augustin this year, as he is a serious threat to win the NBA Most Improved Player Award.
Last Season: 14.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 6.1 APG
Projection for this Season: 19.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 6.9 APG
Teague is athletic, talented, and a perfect complement to All-Star Joe Johnson. Plus, he adds another sharp-shooter to a team with relatively few quality marksmen.
Look for Teague to be the starter on opening day, as Kirk Hinrich is recovering from shoulder surgery.
Last Season: 5.2 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 2.0 APG
Projection for this Season: 9.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 5.6 APG
Since being drafted in 2008, the Portland Trail Blazers have been waiting for the small forward from France to finally have his breakout season. However, I truly believe that this is the year that the Frenchman will capitalize on the potential he possesses.
First of all, he will have the opportunity to play alongside talented point guard Raymond Felton. Felton's presence should not be overlooked, as he is a premier talent in the NBA and should help Batum progress as a player.
The main reason for my prediction, however, is the departure of Brandon Roy and injuries to Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Blazers have lost tons of production with the loss of these three, but this is a perfect situation for Batum to show the NBA world that he is capable of being a star.
Last Season: 12.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.5 APG
Projection for this Season: 17.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.7 APG
The Clippers' decision to match the offer sheet presented to DeAndre Jordan from the Warriors may be the best thing to happen to this young center's career. If you don't think Chris Paul is going to have a huge impact on Jordan's stats, than I want to take you on a trip down memory lane.
Back in 2006, when center Tyson Chandler teamed up with Chris Paul, Chandler arguably had the best season of his career. He had a huge spike in points and had an All-Star caliber season. This duo went on to have two more fantastic seasons before Chandler was shipped off to Charlotte.
Not only do I think DeAndre Jordan will have a rise in production, but he will solidify himself as a top center in the Western Conference.
Last Season: 7.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, .5 APG
Projection for this Season: 11.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.2 APG
There are three reasons why I believe Kendrick Perkins will have a breakout season for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The first reason is that he has gained chemistry with his Thunder teammates after being traded from the Celtics mid-season of last year.
The second reason is Kendrick Perkins has shed 32 pounds and looks like a whole new player. It has been reported that he looks quicker and more explosive.
However, the most important reason is that Perkins is a year and a half removed from tearing both his MCL and PCL in Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals.
If you add all these factors up, I think it is pretty safe to say that Perkins is a definite candidate for the NBA Most Improved Player Award.
Last Season: 6.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, .9 APG
Projection for this Season: 9.6 PPG, 11.4 RPG, .5 APG
After having a fantastic rookie season, Brandon Jennings's sophomore season was hampered by a broken left foot. However, even with the mid-season injury, Jennings still increased production in both points and assists per game.
Now that this phenomenal guard is fully healthy, we will truly see if Jennings has the capability to become a star in this league. If Jennings wants to become an All-Star, he will have to prove he is more than just a scorer.
With the additions of Stephen Jackson and Mike Dunleavy, Jennings will definitely have the opportunity to increase his assists total from last season.
Last Season: 16.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.8 APG
Projection for this Season: 19.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 6.2 APG
With the departure of Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum should see a huge spike in minutes. However, that is not the only factor working in Bynum's favor.
With Gasol and Bryant not being able to contribute the way they used to earlier in their careers, the Lakers will look for their starting center to shoulder some of the load.
We all know that he is capable of putting up big numbers when healthy, but Lakers fans know never to bank of the health of Bynum.
Last Season: 11.3 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
Projection for this Season: 14.2 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.2 APG
If there is one thing that has kept Josh Smith from being elite it is his attitude. He has been labeled everything from grumpy to lazy. However, this season Smith looks to rebuild his image, as he has lost 25 pounds and changed his attitude towards the game.
Coach Larry Drew exclaimed that, "He’s getting off his feet a lot quicker, getting to the rim and exploding, even more than he has in the past."
If that is not good news for Atlanta, then I don't know what is.
Drew went on to say, "I’m seeing and hearing a passion I haven’t seen before."
There is no doubt in my mind that Josh Smith will find himself in the All-Star game next year.
Last Season: 16.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.3 APG
Projection for this Season: 19.9 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 4.6 APG