2012 NBA Preseason All-Breakout Team
Whenever any sports season begins, writers and fans are always looking for which players will suddenly prosper and enjoy the glorious fruits of a successful season. Those players, in our curious vernacular, break out. Of what? Their shells? Of how they were previously perceived? Anyway, I digress from the philosophical to the substantive list of the 12 men who made the cut for the 2012/2013 NBA campaign.
Damian Lillard, Portland- He won’t be your typical distributor. He can score from almost anywhere on the floor, and one Western Conference scout told me that he was the most impressive guard he’s seen coming out of the draft in years. He’s going to fill up stat sheets for a while.
Greivis Vazquez, New Orleans- He’s always had a certain spunky disposition about him, and he’s proven he can run an offense with efficiency to go with his signature flair and panache. Now with Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis in the fold, watch Vazquez flourish.
Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento- The 5’9 spark-plug was given the opportunity to run the offense last year and did so with a great deal of success. Thomas will ultimately supplant and overtake Aaron Brooks and deliver the Kings its best pure point guard since Jason Williams, allowing Tyreke Evans to adjust to small forward.
Avery Bradley, Boston- He proved his defensive worth last season, and will only improve on his 1.9 defensive win shares with his increased playing time once he returns from injury. He’s going to develop into more of a scorer with Ray Allen now in Miami and form a strong backcourt tandem with Rajon Rondo.
Lou Williams, Atlanta- After coming off the bench in Philadelphia last year, Williams is now Joe Johnson’s replacement for the Hawks (along with Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow) and should definitely improve his 14.9 point per game average with his expanded role.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte- Does his offensive game need work? You bet. Is he going to have a significant defensive impact right away? Definitely. The Bobcats finally drafted someone who could actually help his team win rather than a flashy guy destined to toil for a loser his entire career (see Kemba Walker and Adam Morrison).
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio- He plays strong defense for a team that stresses it. He can rebound and he shoots a high percentage from the floor. With Tim Duncan aging, Leonard is going to get more playing time for the Spurs and will be an even larger part of the team’s wonderful success.
Jared Sullinger, Boston- There are other rookies that could break out, but Sullinger will actually have the opportunity to play a major role on a contending club. If he remains healthy, he can use his jump shot to cause matchup problems and become one of the most efficient rookies in the league.
Kenneth Faried, Denver- This guy is the quintessential Nugget. Plays good defense, is incredibly energetic and shot 58.6 percent from the field. He’s only going to get better with more confidence and the liberty to use his Dennis Rodman-like skills to contribute to a major Western Conference dark horse.
Kevin Seraphin, Washington- Why did his minutes double last season? Perhaps because he improved his shooting percentage from 44.9 to 53.1 percent. That’s an enormous jump. With more minutes this season, he’ll improve his scoring and rebound averages and will be a big part of the Wizards’ laborious rebuilding effort.
Omer Asik, Houston- There’s a reason the Rockets paid this guy $25 million. He averaged 17.3 rebounds per 48 minutes for Chicago last season and shot over 50 percent from the floor. His role will grow along with his game, and expect him to contend for the Most Improved Player award.
Jonas Valanciunas, Toront0- He hasn’t played a game in the NBA and he’s already the best player the Raptors have. He’s seven feet tall, only 20 years old and will eventually thrive this season after he adjusts to the grueling NBA schedule. There’s no doubt he’s going to be a star.