The NBA is most exciting when young stars are budding across the league. The talent pool is ridiculous in the Association. Some players are just waiting to sprout into the player they have the potential to be. It is best to take this subject by division since I want to pick a breakout player for every team. The Southeast division teams are the Hornets, Wizards, Hawks, Magic, and Heat. Every team in this division should be better than the year prior. They all, through development or players added in free agency, have bolstered their respective rosters. Fans of these cities should be happy with the direction of their franchises. With some internal growth, playoff hopes should arise or even contention for a title.
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Gordon Hayward is quickly becoming the most disrespected star the game has. His all-around play on both sides of the floor should light up every fan. Due to injury, he has been unable to return to the All-Star caliber play he had on the Jazz. However, Hayward was an exceptional player for the last season on the Celtics. As a fourth option, he averaged an eye-popping 17.5 points per game. That is the highest points per game out of any fourth option this season, and without fact-checking, I would say ever. He did this on top tier shooting splits while also controlling the offense with good distribution numbers. What he did last year was incredibly impressive and flew under the radar. It makes sense since he played with Tatum, Brown, Walker, and even Marcus Smart, who get a lot of praise from Celtics fans.
That is all over now. One four-year 120 million-dollar deal later, and Hayward is now a Hornet. With this, he is now the best player on the roster. We have not seen Hayward as the number one or two option since his days in Utah. In 2016 and averaged nearly 22 points a game for the Jazz and was named an All-Star in the competitive Western Conference. I expect him to get nothing less than 20 per game and possibly be an All-Star this season. He is not so much a breakout player as he will be a re-breakout player. Hayward, if healthy (a big if), is ready to make some noise in this eastern conference. I wish him the best and am excited to watch him flourish.
Author: Daniel O'Donovan