Every year, several players around the league make the jump from being basically nobodies to almost overnight sensations. After the jump, here are a few players around the NBA that I think have the chance to become household names this year.
D.J. Augustin: PG (Charlotte Bobcats)- So far appears to be holding down the Bobcats starting gig. Really has the ability to catch fire, but has been a bad fit in Larry's half court sets thus far. Has also looked very good at times in Larry's system. The best period of ball he played happened when he was a starter and playing consistent minutes. Has the potential to be really good or really bad as a starter. I'm banking on D.J. not disappointing this year. As a shooter, he needs the time to get on a roll. If Larry ever trusts him enough, he could really turn into a star.
09 Statistics: 6.4 ppg, 2.4 apg, .6 spg
10 Predictions: 15.2 ppg, 6.1 apg, 1.0 spg
J.J. Hickson: PF (Cleveland Cavaliers)- The Cavs haven't gone full thrust into rebuilding mode, but let's be honest, it's going to come to that eventually. Hickson, who the Cavs refused to part with in a deal that would've netted them Amare Stoudemire, is going to be the focal point of that youth movement whenever it happens. Possessing a rare combination of a having an above average mid-range shot and the ability to still dominate the post, the Cavaliers could very well become "his" team.
09 Statistics: 8.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, .5 bpg
10 Predictions: 18.1 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Terrence Williams: SG/SF (New Jersey Nets)- Williams, who was drafted at #11 out of Louisville last year, was initially looked at as a key piece to New Jersey's future when he was picked. After the opening stages of the debacle that became the Net's season last year though, he was pegged as a bust and a diva for feuding with then coach Lawrence Frank. However, once Frank was let go, Williams started to show why he was a lottery pick, showing the ability to dominate on both ends of the floor. He even recorded a triple double in a win against the Chicago Bulls on April 9th (27pts,13rbs,10ast).He'll likely be given the chance to compete for the starting SG or SF spots with Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow. The Nets should be much improved next year and he'll be a big part of it.
09 Statistics: 8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.9 apg
10 Predictions: 19.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 6.0 apg
Marcus Thornton: SG (New Orleans Hornets)- The Marcus Thornton/Darren Collison combination appeared to be ready to take over the Hornets' future with Chris Paul being on his way out. Instead, it was Collison who was shipped out in exchange for Trevor Ariza with Thornton staying behind to be the starting SG surrounded by Chris Paul, Ariza, David West, and Emeka Okafor. On an injury riddled Hornets squad, Thornton was able to put up over 20 points a game over the last few months of the season. With no real competition at SG and a pass first PG like Paul with him over a full year, he should be able to easily maintain, and probably improve on those numbers.
09 Statistics: 14.5 ppg, 1.6 apg, 2.9 rpg
10 Predictions: 21.3 ppg, 1.9 apg, 3.2 prg
Anthony Randolph: SF/PF (New York Knicks)- I, like a lot of Warrior fans I'm sure, have been waiting for Randolph to explode for a couple of years now. It never happened in Golden State, but now he's in another free flowing offense with the Knicks that will allow him to showcase his talents. Randolph is a phenomenal talent who needs to just get his work ethic together. Although pretty thin for being 6-11, he's reminded a lot of us of Marcus Camby with his ability to change shots on the defensive end. With an exceptional ability to score around the rim and rebound as well, Randolph could turn into a superstar under Mike D'antoni this year if he earns consistent playing time.
09 Statistics: 11.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg
10 Predictions: 18.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.3 bpg
Danilo Gallinari: SF (New York Knicks)- Gaillinari is really going to have the opportunity to turn into a huge star this year. On the big city stage in N.Y., Danilo looks to benefit greatly from the pick and roll game former Bobcat Raymond Felton and Amare Stoudemire are sure to try to exploit on a nightly basis. He's a deadly 3 point shooter and should be open to hit a few threes with those guys attacking the paint. A personal favorite of D'antoni, he's come on slow battling back injuries through the early part of his career, but looks to be one of the focal points of the resurgence of the New York franchise.
09 Statistics: 15.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, .7 bpg
10 Predictions: 19.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, .9 bpg
Omri Casspi: SF (Sacramento Kings)- I admit, I fell in love with Casspi's game only after I seen him dominating us in a game last year. For a full three quarters, Crash could just not hold him. His lankiness is going to cause a lot of problems for teams around the league this year. Though Demarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Jason Thompson are the core of the Kings' future, Casspi could secure the starting SF spot this year with a strong campaign. Looks to have the athletic ability to go along with the toughness to turn out to be the player Andres Nocioni was supposed to turn out to be.
09 Statistics: 10.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 apg
10 Predictions: 15.8, 6.8 rpg, 1.6 apg
Tiago Splitter: C (San Antonio Spurs)- The lone thing that's continued to hold the San Antonio Spurs back since the retirement of David Robinson has been the C position. The Spurs are set at their other spots with Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, and Tim Duncan, but may have finally found their 5. Numerous failed experiments come to mind with Matt Bonner, Theo Ratliff, Nazr Mohammed and others, but Splitter is different from all of those guys. He's been the first bit of youth the Spurs have tried to infuse into their rotation in a while, and could end up playing huge dividends for the rest of the aging Spurs. He could probably end up being a backup PF to Duncan instead, but if given the starting C spot, his shot blocking could really help the rest of the Spurs and he could benefit from playing around 4 great players.
09 Statistics: None
10 Predictions: 9.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.0 bpg
Javale McGee: C (Washington Wizards)- McGee had another dominant showing in the summer league and appears to be making the cut for Team USA. His confidence should be skyrocketing right about now, and that's probably all he needs to become a dominant player in the league. Already blessed with the athletic ability to take over, McGee just needs the tutelage and patience to become great. He and John Wall could end up actually being a better combination then what Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler were to the N.O. Hornets. Well, that's the way the Wizards see it at least. Here's what Lamar Odom had to say about McGee recently, "He’s not here by accident or mistake. He’s one of the most athletic players I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s 7-1, got like a David Robinson build, springs off the floor real quick, goes over the rim. If he can just get his feel for the game together, he can have an impact on a team. Because the game is called basketball, not run and jump."
09 Statistics: 6.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.7 bpg
10 Predictions: 12.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.6 bpg
Andray Blatche: PF (Washington Wizards)- The Wizards have a nice C of the future in McGee, and probably have their PF of the future in Blatche as well. However, unlike McGee, Blatche doesn't seem to be as willing to learn like McGee is. However, if it gets his head on straight in time, it could pay huge dividends for the Wizards this year. He reminds me a lot of Rasheed Wallace with his ability to post up inside but his preference to be around his mid range jump shot instead. If he and Flip Saunders can ever get on the same page, look for him to improve on his numbers last year and benefit from having a true PG running the team in John Wall.
09 Statistics: 14.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, .9 bpg
10 Predictions: 18.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.4 bpg