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 Pacific Division contains the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, and Sacramento Kings. Aside from the recent success from the Warriors, this division has been overruled by the great L.A. Lakers. They even won the championship last season and are looking to repeat. The Warriors and Kings are looking to retool their respective teams for a playoff run. While the Clippers and Suns made moves over the past two seasons to bring star talent to their cities to contend for a title. Though it seems like more of the same Laker dominance, this season should provide some competitors out of this division. The one thing all of these teams could use is some breakout stars to separate themselves from the rest.
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
I know what you're thinking. Who is this guy above? That is Jordan Poole. He is a talented bench player for the Warriors. Even on a team as bad as last year's Warriors, he came off the bench. This was not because of his lack of talent, but just that his position was where the team was best. Scoring from the wing and guard positions was a revolving door of players like Alec Burks, D'Angelo Russell, Glenn Robinson, Andrew Wiggins, and even Steph Curry for five games. With all of that talent ahead of him, he struggled to get minutes. However, in the time he had, he showed a knack for scoring the ball. He did so on below-average shooting splits but still found ways to put the ball in the basket. He is a smaller shooting guard as his shoot-first mentality keeps him from being a point guard. His play, as a first-year guy, reminds me of Lou Williams as a rookie. Poor efficiency, low assist totals, and lack of starts, but he has some plays that show a lot of promise.
I am more confident in a player like Poole having a breakout year because he does not need to start to produce. Many players of similar archetypes succeed off the bench. The small scoring guards contend for sixth man awards yearly, like Lou Williams, Dennis Schröder, and Jamal Crawford. On top of that, he keeps his turnover numbers low. That would be a killer for a player as inefficient as he is, but since he takes care of the ball and hustles on defense, Kerr feels comfortable playing him. With last year in the rearview mirror, and with an extended off-season, hopefully, he's had time for him to work on his jump shot and ability to score as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. The pick-and-roll is an important skill because of how great he could become alongside James Wiseman when Curry exits the game. Poole has a legit chance to break out this season, and I do not plan on watching many Warriors games, but the few I do, I will be sure to keep my eye on this guy.
Author: Daniel O'Donovan