By: Louis Prejean
NBA rookies come into the league not knowing what to expect. The pace is faster, the players are stronger, and the games are longer. It takes time for young college stars’ talents to come to fruition. As the seasons pass by, a team can only hope that their once unproven rookies start to become legitimate NBA players. It takes time for young players to get comfortable in their roles in the league. However, there comes a certain point where players get tired of comfortable and decide to strive for greatness.
All NBA players were once bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to make themselves a household name among NBA fans. Only some accomplish such milestones, while others do not live up to their potential.
These NBA players are the ones poised to put it all together this season. They are now familiar with the NBA’s style of basketball and ready to apply everything they have learned throughout their time in the NBA. These NBA players are ready to sell their jerseys and have kids want to play just like them. These are the NBA players ready for a breakout season in the 2015-16 campaign.
Otto Porter Jr.
The third pick from the 2013 NBA draft has not exactly panned out for the Wizards the way they wanted so far in his first two seasons. Otto Porter Jr. has faced many injuries and has been ineffective for Washington. In his rookie season, Porter Jr. only played a total of 37 games with averages of 2.1 points and 1.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36% from the field. In his NBA sophomore season, he did not battle injuries quite as often as he played 74 games out of the 82-game season. His minutes per game also increased from 8.6 as a rookie to 19.4. His stats do not jump off of the page last season either with 6 points per game, 3 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game.
So why is Otto Porter Jr. poised for a breakout season?
The reason for Porter’s limited minutes in his first two years have been due to playing under some talented small forwards, in Trevor Ariza and Paul Pierce. Ariza signed with the Houston Rockets two seasons ago and Paul Pierce has taken his game to the Los Angeles Clippers. So now it is up to Otto Porter Jr. to play a larger role with the Wizards. The question is, how does he play along the sides of John Wall and Bradley Beal? How well does he play with the starting line-up? In last year’s playoffs, Porter Jr. played a huge role in their success. He averaged 33.1 minutes per game in 10 games. He proved he can be the versatile small forward and the glue-guy for the Wizards. In the playoffs last season, he averaged 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game. That is the overall game the Wizards have been looking for in Otto Porter Jr. With another season of experience under his belt and a larger role with Washington, look for Otto Porter Jr. to only improve on his playoff performance and break out this upcoming season.
No one is expecting Clint Capela to steal minutes from Dwight Howard, but he just might emerge as one of the best backup centers in the league. This 25th overall pick for the Houston Rockets did not play in a lot of game last season because he was assigned to the NBA D-League from November 10th to March 27th of his rookie season. Capela played well in the developmental league. He posted averages of 16 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. This 6’10 player from Geneva, Switzerland only played in 12 games for the Rockets last season, but he will make a lot of Rockets fans happy in the 2015-16 season.
Clint Capela showed glimpses of what he is capable of in Houston’s postseason run last season. He only played 7.5 minutes per game and averaged 3.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. However, his performance projected per 36 minutes per game is a little more eye-opening. Per 36 minutes in the playoffs, Capela was projected to average 16.2 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game.
Were the playoffs just a lucky stint for Capela? Nope. So far this preseason, Clint Capela is only showing us more of what he is capable of in this league. His role has increased in a major way. Capela is averaging 24.2 minutes per game and averaging 9 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1 block per game. The impressive statistic is the Rockets are a plus-9.3 with him on the court in four games of preseason action. Clint Capela is growing his game at a rapid pace and could prove to be a starter for a NBA team one day. That journey to being the next great center starts this season, as Clint Capela quietly breaks out as a productive NBA player.
Andre Drummond may have already made his name in the NBA more so than the other players on this list, but he is the scariest player to look out for in the 2015-16 season.
Heavily criticized as the 9th overall pick for the Detroit Pistons in the 2012 NBA draft for his lack of offensive game and poor free-throw shooting, Andre Drummond has proved everyone wrong thus far in his career. In his first three seasons as a pro, Drummond has averaged 12.1 points per game on 57% shooting from the field. Granted, 75% of his shots come from 0-3 feet from the basket. Andre Drummond knows his role in the NBA and is playing beyond expectations. The most impressive part of his game has been his rebounding ability. He has become of the best rebounders in the entire NBA ever since he first stepped on a NBA court. In his last two seasons as a starter for the Pistons, Drummond averages over 13 rebounds per game and is at the top of the league in every rebounding statistic imaginable. He could still improve on his percentages from the free-throw line where he is only shooting 39% in his career.
So how can Andre Drummond break out this season and into the next phase of his career?
All he has to do is continue to grow his offensive skill set and he will be a household name in no time. If Andre Drummond can develop a go-to move in the post, how can anyone stop his combination of size and athleticism? He has increased his scoring per game every season. He went from averaging 7.9 points per game in his rookie season to 13.8 points last year. That trend looks to be true thus far in five preseason games. Andre Drummond is averaging 15.6 points per game in 29 minutes of action this preseason. Everyone should fully expect him to be one of the best rebounders in the NBA next season and a sleeper All-Star pick as he proves to everyone he can also score the ball. Andre Drummond is primed to break out in the 2015-16 season.
Shabazz Muhammad is perhaps the most intriguing player on this list. The only way Muhammad does not break out this season is if he does not get enough minutes to play. Last season, he proved he belongs on a NBA roster and deserves to play a bigger role for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Shabbazz Muhammad was labeled a “bust” after failing to perform at the level he is truly capable of in his rookie season. He averaged just 3.9 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. He came into his first year a little out-of-shape and it clearly had a negative impact to begin his career. After last season, Shabazz Muhammad finally realized what it took to make it into this league. In the 2014-15 season for the Timberwolves, he averaged 13.5 points per game and 4.1 rebounds on 48% shooting in just 22.8 minutes. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) was above the league average of 15, as he posted a 19.9 PER in his sophomore season. Per 36 minutes last season. Shabazz Muhammad was projected to average 21.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Lost among the names of the other young talent in Minnesota, Shabazz Muhammad can make a name for himself this upcoming season by showcasing his offensive abilities and playing in an increased role for the Timberwolves. The reason for his success last season was he learned what it took to be a professional basketball player. He dropped 20 pounds after his rookie season and took this more serious. Nothing will change for Muhammad. He will continue to grow as a NBA players and prove he can score against anyone. All it takes is more minutes and Shabazz Muhammad can put his name next to the other breakout stars in the NBA.
All of these players have put in the work necessary to not only make it in the NBA, but become household names for their respective teams. Otto Porter Jr. will show the Wizards that can be the next great all-around small forward. Clint Capela will give Rockets fans something to be excited about for the young talent on the roster. Andre Drummond will prove to be an All-Star in the NBA if he can keep up this level of play, which he can. Finally, Shabazz Muhammad will only thrive in increased minutes and prove he can score with the best of them. Each of these players have their own skill sets and talents, but all share something in common. They will break out as great NBA players in the 2015-16 season.