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.
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Mikal Bridges is a sure-fire breakout star in my book. The entire Suns' roster is due for a better season due to the acquisition of Chris Paul. Chris historically makes his teammates better by getting them the ball in open space. He is a generational talent at point guard and changes everything for this team. I picked Mikal Bridges because he has the most room to improve. His defensive ability is unquestionably one of the best in the NBA. He also has proven himself an efficient scorer from every level. Over the past two seasons, he has averaged nearly 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. He did so on impressive shooting percentages and while starting less than half of the games. Mikal showed a lot of promise to be one of those two-way stars that dominate the league today. He fits that Kawhi mold of a defensive-minded wing with long arms, efficient shooting, and humble beginnings.
This season he should start every game he plays while increasing his minutes per game by at least four to five minutes. With 32+ minutes per game, the starting spot, and Point God Christ Paul getting him open, he should have no problem becoming a viable player in this league. From what the early signs have shown, his shot-creating has taken a step forward. This ability is something I did not expect him to pick up in just his third year. However, if this is something he can add to his arsenal and do consistently, he will be a top wing in the league. Shot-creating, defense, and knockdown shooting is the combination of a great player. Bridges have all of this. Now he has the opportunity to show it.
Author: Daniel O'Donovan