- CLUTCH Summary: Every NBA season players seemingly come out of nowhere to have breakout campaigns. The upcoming voyage will be no different.
- Not every breakout player is a former NBA Draft lottery selection or some talent who was always projected to eventually get to this point.
- There are, however, former top picks turned perceived busts who are on the precipitous of breaking out.
Here are five players poised for breakout seasons in the 2019-20 NBA season.
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Adebayo spent the first two seasons of his NBA career playing behind Hassan Whiteside. With the Heat trading Whiteside to the Portland Trail Blazers this offseason, Adebayo is going to come into his own as a pillar in the paint next season.
Last season was a continuation of Adebayo’s efficient rookie season. Averaging 8.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 23.3 minutes per game, he was one of the few bright spots in a playoff-deprived season for the Heat. Adebayo makes an impact on both ends of the floor. He hits the boards at a high rate, finishes in the paint, is a nifty passer, and a dependable defender.
The Heat are going to run their offense through Jimmy Butler, but they need other offensive outlets, as well as someone to throw the ball to inside. In all likelihood, Abebayo will get the starting nod and, at the very least, get a large boost in playing time. He moves around the floor well, can play in the post, and is a steady two-way center. At season’s end, he’ll be in the conversation for being one of the best centers in the NBA.
Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs
In a robust Western Conference, teams near the bottom of the playoff picture need to find savvy ways to utilize their players. For the Spurs’ sake, they’re going to get such a jolt from an improved White.
Averaging 9.9 points, 3.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and one steal per game, White served as a sneaky source of offense in his first full season in the NBA. He also averaged an impressive 15.1 points per game on 54.7 percent shooting in the playoffs. He can get inside off the dribble, find the open man, and make an impact on both ends. He doesn’t force shots, creates separation, and provided the Spurs offense with a different dimension by means of his task-oriented offensive skill set.
Of course, the Spurs offense will revolve around DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, but without more offensive threats, they become predictable. White showcased an ability to chime in offensively last season, and with a more definitive role in their rotation, as well as another training camp soon-to-be under his belt, he’s going to have a breakout season — one that gives the Spurs a third legitimate scoring option.
Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker now plays for the Boston Celtics, and the Hornets have little to no chance of making the playoffs next season. However, one bright spot in the star point guard’s free agent departure is that the Hornets get to see what their younger players are capable of doing in prominent roles, such as Monk.
Monk has endured an up and down first two seasons in the NBA. He showed some promise early on in his rookie season, but was later sent to the team’s G-League affiliate and has yet to start a game for the Hornets. But in a year where head coach James Borrego has a lot to experiment with, it would make sense to give Monk a chance to be a starting fixture.
The results haven’t shown as such in the NBA, but Monk is a capable spot-up shooter, as well as someone who can shoot off the dribble and defend at a high level. He’s not afraid to hoist up open shots, or take contested ones, if need be. The Hornets have a roster of lottery picks which includes Monk, Miles Bridges, and PJ Washington. They’re going to play big minutes, and leaders have to emerge on their roster. Monk is playing with a chip on his shoulder and will likely be relied upon to score at a high level.
Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic
There’s a lot of pressure on the Magic after their trade deadline acquisition of Fultz, but he’s in line to have a massive season; it’s a matter of execution and decisiveness.
Fultz is inheriting an offense that needs a scoring point guard. Nikola Vucevic is an inside force, Aaron Gordon is a crafty scorer, and Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross are outside threats, but the Magic don’t have a bonafide backcourt scorer. Fultz was drafted as a scoring point guard. He plays with aggression and finishes through contact. Now he has to become more adept at not forcing shots and finding the open man.
No one has seen the prolific scoring point guard that Fultz was drafted to become. It’s going to take some time if he aspires to be among the elite floor generals in the sport, but Fultz has the skill set to make an enormous difference in Orlando and help get them back to the playoffs. He gives them a player with everything to gain, as well as a player who fills a void and, as a result, will have an encouraging season.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
The Celtics lost some prominent players this offseason and are enduring a drastic point guard change — though it’s one that should make them better as a team — but they still have the talent to compete in the Eastern Conference.
Tatum is an enormous reason for that being the case.
Last season was a disappointing stretch for Tatum, as the NBA world largely expected the Duke product to breakout after an impressive run as the team’s go-to scorer in the 2018 playoffs. Now he’s truly in a situation where he will blossom. Yes, Walker will have the keys to the Celtics offense, but Tatum is a perimeter scorer who plays with athleticism. He’s a career 40 percent shooter from beyond the arc, still averaged 15.7 points per game in the midst of a chaotic season for the Celtics, and does damage off the dribble.
Tatum is also a stout defender. He disrupts ball handlers with his wingspan and defends isolation sets well. He has the talent to be a two-way star, and the Celtics are going to be heavily leaning on him for offense. The former number three pick has shown an ability to excel as a primary, or secondary source of offense and is their core’s most proven scorer. By the way, Tatum is only 21.