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: Chris Nicoll USA TODAY Sports)
Any basketball fan that keeps track of the prospects for upcoming drafts remembers Marvin Bagley. Bagley was the top prospect through most of his high school career. Sadly, injuries have kept him from meeting those top-tier expectations. He is an incredible talent, but when you don't play, you don't get better. Marvin has slipped into the back of our minds as just another big man in Sacramento. But Bagley is so much more than that. He is a prototypical big man for today's NBA, being extremely athletic, and having active hands on the defensive end. That athleticism allows him to play perimeter and post defense, which coaches love nowadays. He would be best running a small-ball center, but he is also 6'11" and provides size and rim protection inside. There are plenty of defensive aspects he needs to work on, but he shows promise. He missed most of last season with an injury, but over his first two seasons has averaged around 14 points and seven rebounds on 50% shooting from the field. He has displayed talent but has never had an offense catered to him or enough consistent stints without injury to grow.
This year Bagley is as healthy as he has ever been and is looking to bounce back with a breakout season. The best aspect of his offensive game to be excited about is the improvement to his shooting. Marvin has never been a consistent three-point shooter, but he shoots it well from the free-throw line. This typically indicates that a player has the potential to improve outside shooting numbers. For example, Marcus Smart, who always shot well from the free-throw line, went from one of the worst shooters in the NBA to a solid knockdown shooter when open. This floor spacing would be perfect for what the Kings want to do offensively and allows Marvin to play over 30 minutes a night. With the uptick in efficiency from deep, increased minutes, and over 250 days of getting himself healthy, he should be set to take the next step into All-Star caliber play.
Author: Daniel O'Donovan