10 NBA Players With Next-Level Talent
10 NBA Players With Next Level Talent
Scouting and evaluating NBA talent is a very difficult challenge to be certain, but it is one that many analysts, prognosticators and bloggers relish around this time of year. We all know the players that are top shelf as far as the NBA brand is concerned, but every season there are a group of young players who sit just on the outside of NBA notoriety. For now they are on the outside, peeking longingly through the portal of respectability. But a season will come in which their names will reign over the Sportcenter, Youtube and social media airwaves as one of the very best.
For some, that newfound fame will last for the rest of their careers, while others will only be flashes in the pan-fading from the All-Star limelight all too soon. For the 10 players on this list, I predict that day of recognition will be in the upcoming year. All posses tremendous talent and upside. Each is either a young player who may have differed to veterans in the past, or who was late acclimating themselves to the league. They each have the requisite talent to be among the league's elite at their respective positions but have only scratched the surface of their potential.
With the new season comes the possibility for a shuffle of the deck of possibilities. I am not saying that every player on this list is of the same caliber, but they are all on the verge of taking their games to a level beyond what they are universally known to play. I must also acknowledge that there are far more than 10 of these types of players in the National Basketball Association. These are the ones that I believe will be the most successful this season.
Ricardo A. Hazell is a freelance Sports Writer for RantSports based in New York City. You may follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.
10. PG Eric Bledsoe
Eric Bledsoe has been playing second fiddle to PG Chris Paul from the day he arrived in Los Angeles, but all that is about to change. He is now with the Phoenix Suns and is a featured component on an offensively barren roster. Explosiveness, athleticism and break-neck speed are all attributes Bledsoe will utilize to the fullest on a team where the historical mantra of the franchise is to push the ball as much as possible. He averaged eight points and three assists in 20 minutes of playing time last year. I expect each of the aforementioned averages to double this season. With no notable small forwards on the roster the Suns may incorporate a three-guard line-up featuring PG Goran Dragic, SG Shannon Brown and Bledsoe. But even if he is the sixth man, head coach Alvin Gentry's tempo will provide Eric with many scoring opportunities.
9. SG Jimmy Butler
Prior to the arrival of SG Jimmy Butler in Chicago, the Bulls were vulnerable at the shooting guard position on a night to night basis-especially on defense. But those days came to an end with the arrival of Jimmy Butler. He is capable of guarding the one, two and three slots and can hit the three-point shot at 40+ percent. He also possesses supreme athleticism and attacks the rim with reckless abandon. Butler's game will flourish with the return of Derrick Rose and his ability to suck in the defense with penetration, which you leave Butler wide open more often than not.
8. C Javale McGee
Denver Nuggets center Javale McGee is the most athletic true center that I have seen in quite some time. He's one of those types of players whose basketball IQ has been called into question at times, but even some of his accidents have positive results. McGee has all the physical tools a player could ask for and, while I am certain more than half my readers would disagree, I feel he is on the verge of a truly amazing breakout season. McGee has been a the punchline to more than his fair share of NBA jokes and has to have heard just about enough of Shaquille O'Neal's quips. Man or mouse, Javale? Man or mouse? There's no way in the world he should be only averaging four rebounds per game. No ... way! I feel like all of that changes this season.
7. SF Chandler Parsons
At 6-foot-9 with a wing span of over seven feet, Houston Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons just keeps getting better year after year. He shot 48 percent from the field while averaging 15 points during the regular season, and upped that average to 18 ppg during the playoffs. Parsons will likely get more open looks than ever with the arrival of C Dwight Howard-the corner three will be wide open. He is athletic, runs like a gazelle and steps up during big games. Those are the makings of a gamer.
6. C-F Anthony Davis
Despite getting off to a slow start during his rookie campaign New Orleans Pelicans PF Anthony Davis came on late-showing fans he can be a force on offense and defense. The lithe big man averaged 13 points, 8 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game in only 28 minutes of action. The mid-range jumpshot often finds its mark and he has shown the ability to put the ball on the deck and drive past slower forwards and centers. Sky is the limit for his upside and this season will go a long way towards proving that.
5. F-G Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard's coming out party occurred in the NBA Finals. Though his team lost in seven games, Leonard's performance was not the reason. On the contrary, they lost in spite of the work he put in defensively against LeBron James and on the offensive and defensive glass. SG Manu Ginobili had a bad year last season -- likely the result of his age. I expect for his contributions on offense to dip even lower than his career-low average of 11 points per game. Expect the Spurs to move some of the proverbial heavy lifting on offense over to Leonard's plate.If San Antonio is to make another deep run in the playoffs it will be because Kawhi Leonard has come out of his shell and played like a star.
4. F-G Paul George
Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George has steadily increased his productivity each season since being drafted in 2010. Last year, he averaged a career best 17 points and nearly eight rebounds per game in leading the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals. He even showed a killer instinct that was largely unseen up until the playoffs. With the return of oft-injured G-F Danny Granger to the line up teams will double George at their own peril. He's a year more confident and even put on some weight in the offseason. The league had better be on notice.
3. PG Damian Lillard
The Portland Trailblazers haven't had much to cheer about for five years, but that changed when Damian Lillard was drafted with the sixth overall pick of the first round in 2012. He shocked everyone by turning in a historical season in route to winning rookie of the year. His 19 points and six assists placed him in company with Allen Iverson and Oscar Robertson as the only rookies to accomplish that feat. I don't see any sophomore slump in store this season as the ever-confident point guard will only get better with another year under his belt.
2. SG Klay Thompson
SG Klay Thompson has steadily improved through his first two years in the NBA and if his performance during the playoffs last year is an indicator then Thompson is well on his way to a great season. Thompson will be far from a surprise this season as teams gear up their defensive game plans, but Thompson will benefit from the notoriety of his back court mate Steph Curry. By the way, Curry is very good passer as well.
1. PG Steph Curry
PG Stephen Curry was projected to be a pretty good player in the NBA when he was drafted seventh overall out of tiny Davidson in North Carolina, but no one projected him to be a superstar yet that is the exact trajectory he is currently on. Curry averaged 22 points and seven assists in only his second season in the NBA and upped his assists to eight in the playoffs. His pure jump shot often belies his deadly ball-handling ability. Many times proficiency in one means deficiency in the other for young players. But the fact that he does both well is indicative of his work ethic.