Blog Entry

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

Posted on: September 13, 2010 12:06 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2010 12:08 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

What player makes a Durant-like leap into a new stratosphere?

Everyone wants to crown the next great NBA player. But going from solid star player on your team, to recognized NBA wide superstar is a different story.

Kevin Durant won the Rookie of the Year award, then followed that season up with a quality second season. Most folks thought he'd be the next big thing, they just weren't sure when. But his third season was a leap of another kind.

Durant became the NBA's youngest scoring champion at 21 years old, took his previous 23-win team to 50, got his group to the playoffs, pushed the eventual champions as hard as anyone and also finished second in the MVP voting. Durant in 2009-10 appeared on national TV only four times (not including the playoffs). Going into this season, he's rapidly becoming one of the faces of the league as he's slated to be on the big stage 26 times.

And after this summer's performance in Turkey, well, some are even elevating Durant to the top of the heap. But that's a whole other story.

We're asking what player could be next. Not the next Durant, but the next player to go from borderline star to the next level. Maybe he's already an All-Star. But is he a superstar? Who could be the next guy mentioned along with the top players in the league? Five candidates:

Tyreke Evans, Kings
- Last season's Rookie of the Year definitely had his moments. He averaged 20.1 ppg (odd, that's exactly what Durant averaged when he won Rookie of the Year...), shot 46 percent from the floor and dished out nearly six assists a game. Evans blew people away with his ability to get to the rim and with a reportedly improved jumper, he might be unguardable .

Now his hangup is that he doesn't officially have a position. Most can't figure out if he's a point guard, a shooting guard or something that we don't even know about. No bother though, because Evans is going to get points wherever he plays.

Now can he get to the next level? He absolutely has the ability to. But what really began to take Durant up was how his elevated play improved his team. That will be crucial for Evans. If the Kings are in the basement again this year, it doesn't really matter what Evans is doing. But if he plays well and the Kings win, he could certainly be an All-Star.

Derrick Rose, Bulls - The world is waiting. Waiting on Derrick Rose to become what we know he can be. He's the kind of player that reveals glimpses, flashes, small tastes of just how ridiculously good he can be.

But he hasn't been able to put it together for a consistent period of time.

Now however, Rose has the best supporting cast he's had yet. He no longer has to be point guard, creator and scorer all wrapped into one. He can relax and pass off to Carlos Boozer. He can penetrate and kick to Kyle Korver . Or his still can take games over all by himself.

Greatness awaits Derrick Rose. It's just a matter of when he breaks out. And I'm guessing this year.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder
- Before you dismiss, consider Westbrook's stats: 16.1 ppg , 8.0 apg and 4.9 rpg . Only one other player in the league averaged at least 16-8-5. His name? LeBron James.

Westbrook had a case to make the All-Star team last season with Chris Paul out and Deron Williams pulling out at the last minute. Jason Kidd got the hometown bid, but Westbrook was right there. His game has steadily improved since he came into the league two seasons ago without a position. He has a jumpshot that's improved, he handles the game like a legit point man and he's probably the fastest end-to-end player in the league.

No matter what, Westbrook will be overshadowed by Durant, but with Durant's high profile, his teammates' rise as well. Durant's not the only guy getting all those appearances on national TV. Westbrook impressed people that hadn't seen him much in Turkey with his athletic ability and his lack of fear. The more people see him, the more blown away they'll be.

Rudy Gay, Grizzlies - Sometimes big money can make a guy complacent. Sometimes though, it can motivate him to prove people wrong.

A lot of fans, media and heck, even Rudy Gay himself, were shocked with his massive contract extension. And Gay has had to hear how he wasn't worthy of the big payday. Either he can be satisfied and just cash his checks and put up 19 and 8, or he can use it as a little extra to push him and his Memphis squad to a different level.

The Grizzlies weren't far off last season. Behind Gay's improved play, Memphis made a small playoff push for a time. The talent is there for Rudy. Actually, he's got more than enough talent. His issue is that on some nights, he disappears. He goes from dropping 25 on Tuesday to 10 on Wednesday. When he starts to put it all together, he has the makings of a star. It's easy to forget that he's just 24.

Danny Granger, Pacers - Over the past two seasons, Granger has averaged 25.8 ppg and 24.1 ppg . He shot over 44 percent from the field and over 36 percent from 3. He also averaged over five rebounds just as an extra.

Yet in the world of small forward talk, Granger gets left out. He's one of the top scorers in the league, yet most forget about him. That to me, is the definition of a breakout player waiting to happen.

Much like these other guys, Granger has been playing for a team that's not winning. Tough to be a recognized star when your team stinks. The Pacers might not be good this year, but they certainly should be better. And if Granger is the man leading that charge, maybe he starts to get a bit more recognition. The points are there. He scores at basically the same clip Carmelo Anthony has during his career. Now it's just about people seeing it.

Since: Oct 18, 2008
Posted on: September 22, 2010 5:13 pm

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

Ski, it's funny that one of those stupid redneck hillbillies outsmarted the smart coffee drinkers and did in a couple of years what they couldn't do in decades. OKC is being built to be a contender for years to come.

Since: Mar 31, 2010
Posted on: September 22, 2010 4:08 pm

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

Whoosh Evans is not setting out the whole season my man just a game or 2.  That's hardly enough for anyone to "have a step on him early."  Many people don't or can't wathch Kings games so they don't know what Evans did on this team.  Therer were times games when Evans could've had 10-15 assists but because of his teammates inability to knock them down he didn't get the numbers he could've gotten.  With that said 20, 5, 5 is still a phenominal feat and I don't care how bad the team is.  Only 3 people LBJ, D-Wade and Evans had at least 20 ppg, 5 apg, and 5 rpg. 

As far as sitting out year after year.  If you look at their roster they are an up and coming team and soon, if not this year, will be in the playoffs.

Chew on that whoosh.

Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: September 20, 2010 10:18 am

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

While Evans sits due to his suspension, I'd say Jennings and Rose will have a step on him early.  Also, Landry is a great ballplayer and was consistent for the Kings.  Omir is also a great player.  Evans had a decent cast but couldn't win games.  Sometimes PGs gotta find something other than shooting; if they want to win.  Like involve their teammates more.  Evans might want to do more of that if he wants to sniff the playoffs.  So while Evans is sitting out year after year, Jennings and Rose will continue to get playoff experience.  So I'd venture to guess that Evans will be the least likely to be successful between the three.  Chew on that jhunna.

Since: Sep 20, 2010
Posted on: September 20, 2010 12:51 am

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

I think all the biased Jennings fans should just stop now, he didn't win ROY cause he wasn't the best rookie overall. It's not the MVP award where the teams record matters. Also it wasn't just stats he put it up, it was the two game winners (against the bucks and nuggets) and the clutch play at the end of games. Did anyone even watched this kings team last year? The only reason they won the games they did is because of his talent. While everyone else on the team would be inconsistent or unproductive, he would be there to save the game or at least give them a shot at it. Evans overall potential is greater than Rose or Jennings because of his size, defensive skills, and ability to pass and get to the rim.

Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: September 16, 2010 1:04 pm

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

Gallinari is a nice pick as well.  Although I'm thinking Amare will be takin alot of shots; he'll also be opening the floor givin other players open shots.  I'm also thinkin Mason will get pleny of shots and he may have a better season than Gallinari.

As for Jennings vs Rose or Evans.  They may have shot a better percentage for the year (and only at FG% 37%; Jennings was better at 3pt shots (37%) and FTs(82%).  And Evans doesn't have the pressure Jennings has.  Nor did Rose his rookie year.  They were not asked to be the PG and scorer cause other guys were out.  We can all shoot well when we are not pressured.  Even rookies.  But what Jennings did well was his PG duties (which should not include high scoring or a high shooting percentage; look at Jason Kidd; unless necessary).  Unlike Evans; Jennings helped bring his team to the playoffs and they finished a higher seed than Rose's Bulls.  So maybe the PG duties that Jennings did; helped their team succeed.  And isn't that what a PG is all about?  Making your team better.....

Too many folks focus on scoring.  For a PG; that is the least of their concerns.

Jennings also had a few 50ppg early on if I recall correctly before the Salmons trade and before Bogut got healthy.  His percentage was fine then.  Usually is with rookies and volume.  But when they came back; he happily dished the ball out instead of taking those shots; realizing it was in the best interest of the team.

And I'm certain his percentage will go up this year; which is one of the reasons I'm picking him to break out. 

Since: Aug 27, 2008
Posted on: September 15, 2010 9:34 am

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

Danilo Gallinari.  Already compares favorably to Nowitzki at this point in his career.  Bound to be prolific in D'Antoni's offense as well.  No one would dare mention him though due to his association with the laughing stock of the Eastern Conference and the NBA for that matter.  If you don't know the name, you will.

Since: Sep 8, 2007
Posted on: September 15, 2010 12:47 am

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

Hey haggz, on your entire poor-me, crybaby rant you never once mentioned the high school gym the Sonics were forced to play in, which was the entire reason why the Sonics moved. The arena caused the team to lose money, which is why former owner Howard Schultz dumped the team on whoever willing to buy it. No one in Seattle wanted it for the same arena fiasco, and David Stern helped broker the Bennett deal to actually force Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and the Washington Legislature to actually step up and build a new arena. Howard Schultz sealed Seattle's fate by selling to an out-of-state ownership group. He is the real villian here. Without a seller, there can be no buyer. 

After Schultz sold Seattle out, Nickels and the Legislature did nothing even with the very real and legitimate threat of relocation, ignored Stern, ignored Bennett, and ignored the fans such as you who were deeply hurt in this transaction. 

Professional sports teams are not charitable organizations.  A sports team is not a right. It's a privilege. If Seattle wants to play ball and get a good arena, then perhaps they will get a team. Bennett was cool enough to leave the green and gold and the name Sonics in Seattle, and, of course, you give him no credit for that.

Once again, in case you missed it, haggz: The team was never "ripped away" - It was sold... by Seattle resident & Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to an ownership group from Oklahoma! Without Howard Schultz selling, there can be no buyer. That is where your blame should be cast. 

Oh, one more thing, haggz. David Stern is not a "filthy villian," he's a businessman. He made the NBA stronger by facilitating the move. Look at how great the franchise is in Oklahoma City. Seattle will get a team if they are willing to build an arena commensurate with NBA standards. The fact is there was too much voter apathy in Seattle after recently funding a new stadium for the Seahawks and Mariners, so the Sonics were down that famous creek without a paddle. If you guys build a real arena, you will possibly get a team. I disagree with other posters here saying that the Sonics did not have fan support. They did. They simply did not have support from the politicos. They laughed at the notion of the Sonics ever moving to some "hillbilly town" like Oklahoma City, and lost in a huge game of chicken with David Stern. 



Since: Jun 12, 2009
Posted on: September 14, 2010 11:36 pm

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

skibum2007:  Your analysis is right on the money.  And that is coming from a Lakers fan.  Westbrook's play against the Lakers almost got them the upset.  He made DFish look pretty old. 

Watching that series I could see a young team growing up.  As a Lakers fan I observed the gap closing rapidly between the Lakers and Thunder.  I believe over the next couple of seasons that this will turn into a good rivalry.  Personally, I think the Thunder are one big man away from really being able to compete deep into the playoffs.  Still, they are fun to watch and the fans are raucous.

Since: Nov 29, 2009
Posted on: September 14, 2010 8:44 pm

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

Stephan Curry can fill it up from anywhere on the court. Quick release, smooth shot, nothing but net. Give him the minutes and he will be a top 10 scorer.

Since: Sep 14, 2010
Posted on: September 14, 2010 5:55 pm

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

Jennings will have to shoot the ball a lot better than he has show so far, you do realize he only shot .374 from the field last season. While Rose shot .498 and Evans shot .458 while playing the same position. Thats probably why he didn't make the list. 

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