The NBA is filled with ballers who are looking to continue to do great by developing each year. Some are automatically good from the start, and others have bunches of potential that spread out as the years go by. For some of these players, playing on a below-average team is good because they have more space to grow and freedom to do more of what they want.
Not all of these players are on bad teams, but still, they can and should be breaking out next year because signs have led us to that conclusion.
1. Harrison Barnes:
It’s not every day you see a lottery pick in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. In fact, Harrison Barnes from the Golden State Warriors was the only lottery pick to play a playoff game this year, and he really shined. At times, he was a huge factor in the regular season, averaging 9.2 points per game (PPG) in 25.4 minutes, but in the postseason, where he averaged 16.2 PPG in 38.4 minutes, he was counted on to produce every night.
Against the Spurs, he would score five possessions in a row in different manners. That’s a superstar level, almost unstoppable.
What Barnes needs now is more experience. Now that we know he can produce when it really matters, so he should do equally as well, if not better, in the regular season, when the games aren’t as important as the playoffs.
2. Mike Conley Jr.:
In the playoffs, the Memphis Grizzlies had a magical run, beating the Los Angeles Clippers after trailing 2-0 and then beating the Oklahoma City Thunder after trailing 1-0. It’s no secret that the Grizzlies are a team with a lot of potential. Many thought that they would be severely damaged on the offensive end after the trade of Rudy Gay, but Mike Conley really stepped up.
In the regular season, Conley averaged 14.3 PPG, and in the playoffs he averaged 17.0 PPG. That’s a pretty big improvement, and he’s showing us that he has the potential to run a fully-equipped Grizzlies squad. His team may have been swept 4-0 by the Spurs, but now that he know his role and is up-and-coming, he be much better in the regular season, waiting to average around 19 PPG.
3. Tobias Harris:
Who’s this? Well, as a non-factor for the Milwaukee Bucks, Harris was traded to the Orlando Magic in the J.J. Redick deal. That’s where he really started to produce and blossom. As a nobody before, he’s found his groove with the Magic, and has showed the NBA that he has superstar potential. He just needs to get his team in order before he can lead them to the playoffs. It may be far away, but he can do it.
In 28 games with the Bucks, Harris averaged 4.9 PPG. After being traded to the Magic, Harris started in 20-27 games while averaging 17.3 PPG. Many of those 27 games included him grabbing 10 or more rebounds for a double-double.
4. DeMar DeRozan:
DeRozan is the one that everybody knows because of the dunk contest. Remember? In the 2011 NBA Dunk Contest, DeRozan faced off against Blake Griffin and Javale McGee, only to not qualify for the final round. Unfortunately for him, he was snubbed. Now, however, he’s not just a dynamic dunker, but he’s a more complete player. Sure, he’s still going to deliver those fierce dunks that everyone loves, but he’s also going to drain a game winner, or grab the most important rebounds
Last season, DeRozan averaged 16.7 PPG. Pretty high considering he has a lot more to go, but this season, he averaged 18.1 PPG, while showing off more of his repertoire. He’s not just a dunker anymore.