In the day of one-and-done’s (leaving college after 1 season), there are so many raw players in the NBA who are drafted on their potential. These “project” player take a while to develop, but some of them improve enough to make a serious impact. Here are some of the players who can take the jump this season.
Myles Turner (C)- Indiana Pacers
With Myles Turner entering his 3rd season in the NBA, many are predicting that he has a breakout year. He increased his point total by 4 points a game in between his first (10.3 PPG) and second season (14.5 PPG). The Pacers decided to rebuild in the offseason by trading Paul George, so Myles Turner will be the main target on the Pacers.
Turner took 10 shots a game last season, and with the loss of Jeff Teague, Paul George, and CJ Miles, that should drastically increase. He’s a career 50% shooter (likely to improve), so 8-10 more shots a game could increase his point total by 4-5 points a game. Plus, expect Turner to get to the free throw line more with teams focusing on him more.
Myles Turner shooting 3s pic.twitter.com/07ApALLOLL
— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) September 26, 2017
Jusuf Nurkic (C)- Portland Trail Blazers
Jusuf Nurkic was involved in a center swap last season that sent Mason Plumlee to Denver and Nurkic to Portland. The trade was great for Nurkic, as he averaged 15.2 PPG in 20 games played for Portland, but he only averaged 8 PPG in 45 games for Denver. Nurkic also suffered a leg injury at the end of the regular season.
With Jusuf Nurkic playing in his first full season in Portland, expect him to put up his late season numbers for a full 82 game schedule (assuming he can be healthy). An effective Nurkic is crucial if the Portland Trail Blazers want to take the next step.
— Orlando Sanchez (@orlandokgw) September 25, 2017
Kristaps Porzingis (F/C) – New York Knicks
With all the hype that the New York media gives to Porzingis, it’s easy to overlook his development and look at his present game. But, entering just his 3rd season, Porzingis should be able to put up huge numbers. Porzingis averaged 18.1 PPG last season, but with the departure of Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, Kristaps Porzingis should be able to get more opportunities, especially in the 4th quarter.
Kristaps Porzingis is only 22 years old and has so much development (physically and basketball-wise) that his 18.1 points per game total from last year should increase by at least 5 points per game. Expect Porzingis to put up somewhere close to 23-24 points per game next season and for him to thrive in New York being the main guy.
Brandon Ingram (F)- Los Angeles Lakers
Brandon Ingram could be a candidate for this award for years to come, but if he has a big enough jump, he could win it this season. With Lonzo Ball at point guard, Ingram should get a lot of open looks, especially on the fastbreak. Ingram has a way to go in his development, but expect Ingram to be close for this award in the coming years.
Ingram only averaged 9.4 PPG last season, but he showed signs of improvement in his minimal Summer League playing time. Ingram’s got a lot of improvement ahead of him, it’s just a question of when it happens. If Ingram breaks out this season, the Lakers could make a run for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Almost seems like a footnote, but: The Kristaps Porzingis era just officially began.
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) September 23, 2017
Honorable Mention- Khris Middleton
Middleton should definitely improve his 14 points per game total from last year, as he only played 29 games due to a knee injury. But, Middleton averaged 18 points per game the season before, so he’d have to put up 20+ PPG to get Most Improved Player instead of knowing he made a successful return.
Prediction: Kristaps Porzingis (F/C- New York Knicks)
With Phil Jackson, Carmelo Anthony, and Derrick Rose gone, Porzingis should have no worries about fitting in New York. He will be the main guy this year for the Knicks, and expect him to get a lot more opportunities and capitalize on them.