Sometimes we see talented guys in the league held back by players in front of them in the depth chart or not being one of the top options on offense. Here are some players to look for as possible most improved candidates next season.
Avery Bradley – Detroit Pistons
Bradley is now out of the stacked lineup in Boston and whether Detroit is a better situation for him or not, his numbers will likely jump. AB has shown time and time again his relentless on-ball defensive ability, but last season and playoffs displayed improved shooting and rebounding at just 6’2″. He’ll likely play along Reggie Jackson in the backcourt, and now should be the offensive go-to in terms of guards. The team of course has center Andre Drummond down low and he and Bradley should be the team’s new little-big duo, rather than Jackson.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 16.3 RPG: 6.1 APG: 2.2 STL: 1.2
Projected 17-18 Stats: PPG: 18.7 RPG: 6.3 APG: 2.9 SPG: 1.6
D’Angelo Russell – Brooklyn Nets
D’Angelo Russell is no longer a Laker. The young guard was traded to the Brooklyn Nets pre-draft after a messy beginning to his career in Los Angeles. Look for major statistical improvement for Russell now that he’s in New York. The Nets are currently in a rebuild and D-Loading is likely now the go-to scorer and biggest centerpiece for the team this year and going forward. A guard combo of Lin-Russell could be one of the best in the East in 17-18.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 15.6 RPG: 3.5 APG: 4.8 SPG: 1.4
Projected 17-18 Stats: PPG: 17.9 RPG: 4.6 APG: 5.3 SPG: 1.4
Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz
With the recent departure of Gordon Hayward from Utah, expect Rudy Gobert’s numbers to jump next season. The Frenchman finished top 3 in DPOY voting last season and has proven his innate ability to protect the rim and grab boards. Though last year was his best offensive season in the league, id look for increased scoring and touches for Gobert in 17-18, as Hayward and Hill will no longer be in Salt Lake shooting in volume.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 14.0 RPG: 12.8 APG: 1.2 BPG: 2.6
Projected 17-18 Stats: PPG: 16.3 RPG: 13.7 APG: 1.1 BPG: 2.8
Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks
I really think Kristaps can put up a double-double this season, assuming Carmelo Anthony is out of the Big Apple by opening night. With Melo gone, Porzingis will have the ball in his hands nearly every possession and will be the new leader of the team. As much as the new Knick front office apparently would love to keep Anthony, It’d be a bad move for Porzingis’ progression. With Kris being the flat out number one option almost always when he’s out on the floor, his numbers could skyrocket in his third year in the league.
16-17 Stats: 18.1 RPG: 7.2 APG: 1.5 BPG: 2.0
Projected 17-18 Stats: 22.3 RPG: 10.7 APG: 2.1 BPG: 2.2
Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers
Turner lost his superstar teammate this summer in Paul George. The big man will be the new face of the Pacers entering his third year in the NBA. Indiana will most likely look to rebuild next season despite the East being wide open for teams. Turner will certainly lead the Pacers now in the Post-PG era. The former Texas C has shown a rare ability for a big guy to shoot from the outside and has also become one of the best young shot blockers in the game. Look for him to be the centerpiece in Indianapolis in 2017-2018.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 14.5 RPG: 7.3 APG: 1.3 BPG: 2.1
Projected 17-18 Stats: PPG: 17.3 RPG: 9.4 APG: 1.7 BPG: 2.6
Dennis Schroeder – Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks lost their starting frontcourt this summer which handled a large load of the offense. With Millsap and Howard out of Atlanta, Dennis Schroeder will now be the top option for the team. He took over starting point guard duties last season for Jeff Teague, having the best year of his NBA career. If the German guard can stay healthy and improve his offensive efficiency and shooting percentages, expect a breakout year from him.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 17.9 RPG: 3.1 APG: 6.3 SPG: 0.9
Projected 17-18 Stats: 20.6 RPG: 4.2 APG: 6.7 SPG: 1.2
Dante Exum – Utah Jazz
The Jazz lost PG George Hill to the Sacramento Kings earlier this summer, though traded for former Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio. Despite the Rubio acquisition, there should be plenty of playing time left for young Australian Dante Exum. Exum is labeled as pretty much a bust at this point in his career, struggling with injuries and not living up to his place on the 2014 draft board. With more opportunity and touches this season, look for Exum to have a solid year.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 6.2 RPG: 2.0 APG: 1.7 SPG: 0.3
Projected 17-18 Stats: PPG: 10.9 RPG: 3.7 APG: 4.1 SPG: 0.6
Brandon Ingram – Los Angeles Lakers
Ingram came off the bench for much of last season but showed great potential and improvement towards the end of the 82. His length and athleticism are astounding and before suffering a minor injury early on, showed quick slashing ability and an improved shot in summer league. Ingram should come right out of the gate as a starter this season over Luol Deng, and I’d look for him to challenge Brook Lopez as the team’s top scorer this year.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 9.4 RPG: 4.0 APG: 2.1 SPG: 0.6
Projected 17-18 Stats: PPG: 15.7 RPG: 6.3 APG: 3.4 SPG: 0.8
Bobby Portis – Chicago Bulls
With Jimmy Butler out of Chicago, the Bulls will likely be starting up a full on rebuild this season. This should give Portis a leg up on other bigs such as Nikola Mirotic and Robin Lopez, and we could even see him start at some points in the year. He’s shown flashes of potential in his first few years with the Bulls, though hasn’t seen enough of the court to turn heads. We’ll see if he gets his chance this season.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 6.8 RPG: 4.6 APG: 0.5 BPG: 0.2
Projected 17-18 Stats: PPG: 10.2 RPG: 6.7 APG: 1.1 BPG: 0.7
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Embiid had a breakout rookie year last year after being riddled with injuries in his previous two seasons in the league. Though he was able to play some, he was on minute restrictions all season and eventually was shut down due to injury. Playing only 25 mins a game last season , Embiid was amazing and had some of the best offensive and defensive efficiency ratings in the league. With presumably more playing time in 17-18, Embiid could put up KAT like numbers.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 20.2 RPG: 7.8 APG: 2.1 BPG: 2.5
Projected 17-18 Stats: PPG: 23.6 RPG: 10.2 APG: 3.3 BPG: 2.8