2010-2011 NBA Season Predictions:10 Players Who Will Greatly Exceed Expectations

Ryan VirginCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2010

2010-2011 NBA Season Predictions:10 Players Who Will Greatly Exceed Expectations

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    PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 24:  Brandon Roy #7 of the Portland Trail Blazers catches a pass against Leandro Barbosa #10 of the Phoenix Suns during Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2010 at the Rose Garden in Port
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

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    Every year there are players and teams a like that exceed the national expectations. whether that is something caused by a lack of exposure to these players is beyond me, but it always seems like there is always at least one player that explodes onto the stage and declares that his time has come as an NBA player.

    Will we see one of those next season? I think we could.

    So here are 10 players that I think could exceed expectations next season.

    Thanks For Reading.

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Wesley Matthews

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Carlos Boozer #5 of the Utah Jazz reacts with teammate Wesley Matthews #23 while taking on the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2010 in
    Harry How/Getty Images

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    When the Portland Trial Blazers fired a $32.5 million dollar contract at a second year guard that went undrafted out of Marquette, everyone had their speculations.

    And when I say everyone, I really do mean everyone.

    First reactions were often negative, maybe followed with negative optimism ('The Blazers have really done well in the past, but I hope they didn't screw this one up'.)

    Yeah, it was quite a shocker everyone.

    But I will be the first to say that Wesley Matthews is worth every last penny... and some.

    For a second year player, he is years ahead of where he should be at in terms of defensive and offensive awareness, intangibles, and just about everything you can think of on the basketball court.

    Wesley Matthews is a stud and now that I have gotten the chance to watch him play, I'd feel fine in paying him another $5 million.

    The dude is just that good.

    Sure, the only moments we have been able to see him play were in scrimmages and preseason games. But even then, you can just tell that he is the type of player that never says never.

    He has the confidence of a 10 year veteran, the awareness of a Kobe Bryant type player, the drive that has made so many other players great, and the attitude that will allow him to become a fan favorite.

    To put things in perspective, after this season (When Andre Millers contract expires), I would feel very comfortable with this starting lineup:

    PG Matthews/ Roy

    SG Roy/ Matthews

    SF Nic Batum

    PF LaMarcus Aldridge

    C Greg Oden

    Matthews can play point guard. Yeah, that's not a typo.

    And so can Roy for that matter, making them both viable options at point guard for the future.

    The guy has added so much to his game: off the dribble shooting, quickness, better shooting touch, a consistent midrange jumper, better ball handling, he seems to be a more vocal leader on the floor, and the trust of his new coach within the first three weeks of practice.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see Matthews in a very prominent role come October or December and an even greater one come June (If the Blazers are able to make it there).

    Matthews is the kind of guy that can bring together a championship team, he is the kind of talent that cooks the pie, finishes the puzzle, solves the riddle.

    Wesley may have been a rookie last season, but you wouldn't be able to tell if you didn't already know.

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Steve Blake

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07:  Steve Blake #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers in action during the NBA Europe Live match between Los Angeles Lakers and Regal FC Barcelona at the at Palau Blaugrana on October 7, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/
    David Ramos/Getty Images

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    The Los Angeles Lakers signing of Steve Blake is, in my eyes, the best overall acquisition of the summer for the amount of money included. Not only do the Lakers get a guy that was made for the Triangle offense, they get a guy who has had experience running an elite level team.

    Steve Blake has the experience and he has the skillset, but Steve also has a history of winning dating all the way back to high school.

    Not only did Blake's high school team win a state championship, his Collegiate team, Maryland, won an NCAA Title as well.

    And How special would it be for Steve Blake to win a high school, college, and an NBA title? I mean, how many players have been able to accomplish that feat?

    Corliss Williamson, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson,Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Russell are the only players to win an NCAA Title and an NBA title.

    So how many players, if any, do you think have won all three? I'll call it Basketball's triple Crown.

    Now that we have covered Steve Blakes ability to win at every level and that is skill sets point towards the same with the Lakers, I think it would be fair to say that Steve Blake is only going to make $4 million over four years (Only).

    That makes it the the best signing of the offseason in terms of talent received versus money paid out.

    Steve Blake adds so much to the Los Angeles Lakers, but chances are that most people think he will be used sparingly.

    My bet is on Steve Blake playing a prominent role in another championship run, especially if Derek Fischer breaks down.

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Kevin Love

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
    1. Kevin Love has impressed many people over the summer with his play at the FIBA Worlds. Not only has he shown that he can be that energy guy off the bench, he has proven to the Timberwolves fans and the rest of the NBA community that he can be a very good rebounder.

    As an Oregonian, I may be a little bias. Sure, Kevin Love did graduate from Lake Oswego High about 30 minutes from where I live and he has been a fun player to watch, but I say this with all sincerity.

    Kevin Love is ready for the big show and he is ready to make that leap from being a mediocre player on a bad team to an above average player (on a bad team).

    Last season Kevin Love gave the Timberwolves 14 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes. But that was while playing mostly behind Al Jefferson, a player who recently departed for the mountains to the west (Utah).

    Jefferson leaving town will open up minutes with the first unit and will allow Love to play consistent shifts at power forward.

    Loves success at the FIBA worlds could be a stepping stone to bigger and better things. The confidence he has gained from this summer could end up being the catalyst for his career.

    He has the skill set, he just needs to put it all on the floor.

DeJuan Blair/ George Hill/ Alonzo Gee/ Tiago Splitter

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    SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 25:  Center DeJuan Blair #45 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts during a 92-89 win against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 25, 2010 in San Anto
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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    With Tim Duncan Getting older, the likelyhood of Popovich slowly making the transition from veteran to youth, is growing.

    Dejuan Blair, George Hill, Alonzo Gee, James Anderson, and Tiago Splitter will all begin to see more playing time, and I feel that one of these Spurs have the chance to break out.

    Dejuan at 7.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes, Blair was hardly stellar. Albeit, he was seeing very limited minutes behind one of the greatest players of all time, but he wasn't getting the numbers.

    He is getting dangerously close to a double double on a nightly basis, something that could happen as soon as next season.

    George Hill is one of the most underrated prospects in the league. After just two years, Hill has already shown he might be able to provide stability at the point guard position in the long term . He averaged 12.4 points and 3 assists in 29 minutes last season, but I feel that we could see a spike in production if he gets the minutes.

    With Gee and Splitter, we need to first see that they will be given the chance to prove themselves. But if they are, I could see them surprising a few people.

    More News, Notes, and Commentary at Rip City Report

Robin Lopez

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    PHOENIX - MAY 29:  Robin Lopez #15 of the Phoenix Suns tips the ball off against Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first quarter of Game Six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on May 29, 2010
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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    With A'mare Stoudemire gone, Lopez will be look to provide rebounding and points in the paint.

    Not only will he be the default go to starter, but he will be expected to provide production in every minute he plays at the center position.

    I mean, the stakes are high for every one in the Suns organization and one of the biggest questions heading into the season will be how they will replace A'mare's production.

    Well Robin Lopez may be that guy.

    We'll have to wait and see.

    More News, Notes, and Commentary at Rip City Report

Mario Chalmers

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    BOSTON - APRIL 27:  Glen Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics triest to keep the ball from Dwyane Wade #3 and Mario Chalmers #6 of the Miami Heat during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at the TD Garden on April 27, 20
    Elsa/Getty Images

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    What happens when you surround a young, talented point guard that may be slightly below average with superstar talent and good coaching? 

    Well... I don't know.

    But i'm sure it can't have a negative impact.

    I mean, can you really see Chalmers not getting wide open shots or easy assists to a cutting LeBron James?

    Chalmers is going to produce at a higher level next season and almost all of that will be due to the Heats top heavy roster.

    Right now, Chalmers just needs to get healthy.

    More News, Notes, and Commentary at Rip City Report

LaMarcus Aldridge

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    PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 29:  LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on against the Phoenix Suns during Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the NBA Playoffs on April 29, 2010 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO U
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

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    After an offseason in which LaMarcus took his failure to bang in the post and his inability to post up and drive to the rim against bigger defenders to the gym, Aldridge is showing that he has what it takes mentally and physically to become a great player.

    That offseason, a time in which LaMarcus spent much of his time with Portland Trail Blazers coaches, working on his left handed hook shot. Something that really hampered him last season when teams doubled him on the baseline and forced him to throw up an awkward left.

    Not only has Aldridge added a left hand to his game, he has also added 20 pounds of muscle. Those 20 pounds put him in the same weight category as Carlos Boozer, Duncan, A'mare...

    Next season could end up being a huge eye opener for the National fans, they could look at the Portland Trail Blazers and finally see a true power forward playing alongside Greg Oden (knock on wood).

    I see an All-Star appearance in LaMarcus' future, i'm just not sure how soon that time will come.

    More News, Notes, and Commentary at Rip City Report

Rajon Rondo

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    LAS VEGAS - JULY 24:  Rajon Rondo #7 of the 2010 USA Basketball Men's National Team looks to pass during a USA Basketball showcase at the Thomas & Mack Center July 24, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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    Yeah, I know.

    Rajon Rondo is a very, very good point guard already. 

    He has the passing ability, the speed, the court vision, and the scoring ability to be a great player when it is all said and done, but I think that Rajon is going to have to step up his game another notch if the Celtics want to be contenders while Pierce, Garnett, and Allen continue to decline.

    Rondo, correct me if i'm wrong, has a non-existent mid-range jumper. 

    It just isn't a threat and that is something that will have to be added to his game before he can be the best player on a very good team.

    I'd expect Rondo to increase his production next season as he continues to take on a more prominent role in the Celtics offense.

    But can that be done? I don't know.

    I guess we'll see.

    More News, Notes, and Commentary at Rip City Report

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

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    The Raptors are going to be a really bad team next season. I don't care where you are from, the Toronto Raptors have zero offense as it stands right now.


    And their defense may very well be just as bad.

    But in the darkest of times, it always seems that you find a light.

    And I think that light could be DeMar DeRozan for the Raptors.

    After just one year in the NBA, Rozan averaged 8.6 points on just about 50 percent shooting. The team would like to see him in a more prominent role and I really don't see any other options.

    DeRozan may not ever be the Raptors savior, but he has the chance to give Toronto fans something to cheer about.

    Maybe he could give the national fans something to cheer about as well.

    More News, Notes, and Commentary at Rip City Report

Hedo Turkoglu

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Hedo Turkoglu has found a new home with the Phoenix Suns after an abismal season with the Toronto Raptors.

    And to think that he was once the Golden boy of the 2009 free agency...

    Man, thank God my Portland Trail Blazers didn't waste their money on Hedo. But that is an argument for another day.

    Right now Hedo has a chance go restore his image in the basketball community. With one good season he would go from a one and done player to being a very good role player in the eyes of most NBA fans.

    The shift would go from Hedo and to the Toronto Raptors.

    Instead of asking why Hedo couldn't do it, we would be scrutinizing the Raptors on why they suck so much.

    The Phoenix Suns aren't an ideal situation, but Hedo could find himself in a very limited role with one more sub-par season.

    Either that or he could find himself in a very prominent role for the rest of his career.

    Take your pick Hedo.

    Go big or go home.

    I'll put my money on Hedo becoming a big part of what the Suns do next season. He will surprise people because so many have forgotten about what he did with the Magic.

    Simply put, I think he is ready to rekindle those flames.


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