The term “breakout year” is one of the most commonly misconstrued expressions in fantasy sports. Sports analysts toss the term around like second nature to the point where it often sounds like they’re saying every player in the NBA is on track to have an MVP caliber season; yes that may be a slight exaggeration but you get the point. Now with that being said, I’m on a mission to restore some sanctity to an expression I love to use, “The Breakout Year.” For today’s article, I’m going to uncover the players in the NBA that I believe are ready to step into the next echelon and become stars for their respective franchises and fantasy owners. Although some of the players I’ve listed are undoubtedly already playing at a very high level, I don’t think any of them have peaked yet, which is welcome news for all who pick them on their daily fantasy teams. Now without further ado, I introduce to you five players that are going to be NBA stars after they have there “breakout year(s)” in the 2011-2012 fantasy basketball season.
5. Deandre Jordan, Center, Los Angeles Clippers: The cross-town rivals to the Lakers enjoyed a busy off-season that saw additions of Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups (all solid daily fantasy picks). However the biggest change in Clipper land may be internal, with the rise in play of Deandre Jordan. For a team that will undeniably score in bunches, defense seems to be the key to their success. Well I introduce to you…. Deandre Jordan. Deandre Jordan will be a good fantasy pick because he’s a shot blocking machine (he can also catch the alley pretty well. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFnQlH32d1M). Jordan has come out of the gates swatting this year, averaging 3 blocks a game. The only knock I have on Jordan’s game is his rebounding. His career best of 7.2 rebounds per game (averaging 7.4 this year) is simply not good enough, and may be a turn off to fantasy owners. Although he has Blake Griffin to lessen his load on the boards, a 7 footer has to give you at least 8 to 9 rebounds a game. If Jordan can get more aggressive on the glass I think he’ll become an elite fantasy center because he’ll help you both in the blocks and rebounding categories. He may not be elite offensively but he can be a Mutombo-like center (defensive stopper), and every single team in the NBA would love to have one of those. Deandre Jordan is a great fantasy basketball pick.
4. Stephen Curry, Point Guard, Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry has been on everyone’s radar since his draft day when the Knicks said they really wanted to draft him (Golden State ended up picking him one pick earlier). Curry had a very good year last season averaging 18.6 points and 5.8 assists, but has struggled early this fantasy basketball season mostly due to a series of right ankle sprains (he’s had 3 in just over two weeks and 7 in the past 15 months). Although the injuries are piling up, this could ultimately benefit you fantasy owners because his price will drop, making him easier to pick on your daily fantasy team. If you have a chance to pick him up when he’s healthy you must; he can score, pass and shoot the 3, what else can a fantasy owner ask for? I look for Curry to average 20 points and 8 assists this year because he plays with ball controlling guard Monta Ellis. For Curry to get to the next level, the Warriors front office has to commit to him as their guy and give him the ball and make this his team. If this happens, I fully expect Curry to be an elite fantasy point guard by season’s end and an excellent fantasy pick. He’s a special player with game changing talent. For your daily fantasy team he’s a must own. With the injury bug surrounding him you have a chance to pick Curry on a nightly basis for a favorable price. Get him while he is still affordable. Stephen Curry is a great underrated fantasy basketball pick.
3. John Wall, Point Guard, Washington Wizards: John Wall had what I’ll call an O.K. rookie season last year. Not that he played poorly averaging 16 points and 8 assists, but those just aren’t John Wall numbers. I watched Wall torch opponents with his play-making abilities and quickness at Kentucky and I thought he’d come into the league averaging 20 and 10 (the threshold for elite fantasy point guards in my opinion), but he didn’t. Wall took a year to learn the NBA game and despite not having the best supporting cast, I look for Wall to up his averages to 18 points and 9 assists this fantasy basketball season (currently averaging 15 points and 7 assists). Since his talent was never in doubt and he’s shown uncanny play-making for a struggling Wizards team, I think he’s a lock to become elite if not this season than next season. In fantasy leagues he’s been playing very well of late and seems to be playing like he wants to prove himself to the league, both great signs for John Wall fantasy owners. If you pick him in your daily fantasy basketball league just sit back and enjoy watching a young stud become a top contributor for your team. John Wall is a great fantasy basketball pick.
2. Andrew Bynum, Center, Los Angeles Lakers: Although this guy is probably already a household name, I don’t think anyone considers him elite….yet. I’ve always felt Bynum was in a situation where he could succeed and that his time would ultimately come; hopefully that time is now. He’s started this fantasy basketball season averaging 19.8 points and 15.8 rebounds, both massively eclipsing his previous career bests. Bynum also benefits from how watered down the center position has become. When I watched him play vs. the Rockets a few nights ago, he grabbed 22 rebounds and made it look real easy. Bynum is no SHAQ (the player he’ll always be compared to), but in today’s NBA he can put up SHAQ-type fantasy numbers. Pick him in your daily fantasy leagues and know that he will finish the year (barring injury) as an elite fantasy center. Most people still aren’t sold on Bynum, I am. Andrew Bynum is an excellent fantasy basketball pick.
1. Kevin Love, Power Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves: The UCLA product is a fantasy basketball owner’s dream and has improved each season he’s been in the league. Starting with his rookie season in 08’ where he averaged 11 points and 9 rebounds, he’s raised that to a stellar 20 points and 15 rebounds last season. So how could Kevin Love possibly improve? Well to start this year he’s averaging 25.7 points and 15 rebounds, which is just incredible. At this point no other player gives you elite scoring coupled with absurd rebounding numbers like Love. If anyone saw his 30 and 30 performance last year (the first of its kind in 28 years, yeah 28 years) vs. the Knicks, you already saw him beginning to blossom. In daily fantasy leagues Love is a safe pick and really gives you everything, especially with the improved range he’s shown this season. Kevin Love is a great fantasy basketball pick.
Dark Horse – Evan Turner: A young shooting guard for the Philaphelphia 76ers, but has never put up big numbers in his career. The 7 points a game average he had his rookie season last year raised no eyebrows, and his 10 points and 5.7 rebounds a game averages to start this year have also not helped. But I watched this guy play last postseason vs. the Heat and I came away impressed. The announcers constantly compared him to Andre Igoudala (his teammate) and said he’d ultimately replace him as the go to guy. Although that hasn’t happened yet, I think Turner has the ability to become a go to type guy. He dribbles the ball well, is very aggressive driving to the rack and can create his own shots (the most undervalued attribute a player can have). If the Sixers coaching staff gives Turner more opportunities, I see him becoming a 20 points and 8 to 9 rebounds per game average guy in the near future, which would qualify him as a fantasy sleeper pick. For daily fantasy leagues I’d suggest taking a chance on him, what have you got to lose when the guy is so unsought, meaning you can get him for a very affordable price early on in the fantasy basketball season. He has the talent to be great but his climb to elite status will be a tough path to say the least. Evan Turner is a smart fantasy basketball sleeper pick.
What do you think of these players? Who else is going to be a star? Let Me Know!