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 Southwest Division includes the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, and San Antonio Spurs. Currently these teams each hold some of the most impressive young players in the NBA. Stars like Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, and Luka Doncic headline the leagues youth movement all being 21 and under. To boot, the divisions holds some veteran stars from the past decade like John Wall, James Harden, and DeMar DeRozen. It is exciting for fans of all ages. All of these teams are borderline playoff or contending teams and are looking to improve. Some of that growth will come from their breakout players this year.
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Now hear me out. I know it will be hard for a guy as talented and established as Zion to shock anyone this season. However, what I expect out of Zion will turn a lot of heads. Mount Zion is the most incredible athlete the league has seen out of the draft since LeBron in 2003. He is 6'6" and 285 pounds. On top of that ridiculous frame, he has a vertical leap in the 40" range and is just as fast as he is strong. This kid is "box office," as Stephen A. Smith would put it and proved it in his rookie season. He may have joined late, but he averaged over 22 points and six rebounds per game, and if not for Ja Morant, would have won him Rookie of the Year. Williamson did this while shooting 58% from the floor. He was everything the fans expected and more. The stat that pops off the page the most for Zion is his minutes played. He averages these incredible numbers on only 28 minutes per game. His Per 36 numbers are equal to those in the MVP conversation. He did this as a rookie! That is insane!
If he continues his efficiency of last season, he will be a contender for the scoring title and probably average a double-double for the season. His new coach Stan Van Gundy has pledged to play Williamson with no minutes restriction. This restriction lift will allow us to feel the full force of Mount Zion. This kid has been praying for this type of opportunity, and with the roster, they constructed in New Orleans to support him, I can see Zion leading his team to the playoffs on 30 points and over ten rebounds a game. This could put him in the MVP conversation and win him Most Improved Player. I expect big things for this behemoth of a man. Not to be a breakout star as the rest of the guys I write about. But to be a breakout superstar and top ten player in the NBA by the end of the year.
Author: Daniel O'Donovan