In a year where so many superstars are injured (Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, etc), many young talents across the league have taken the step forward in the absence of these players. Breakout players under 25 is a huge story in the NBA this year. Many of these players are having career years and the newfound opportunities have lead them to be in All-Star consideration. Let’s get into the top five breakout stars thus far.
Luka Dončić: It is no question on why Luka is on here. The Slovenian 20 year old has not only made his way into an All Star starter (Currently Leads in Fan Votes), but into Most Valuable Player consideration. Currently, the Dallas Mavericks are sixth in the Western Conference at 22-13. Compared to last year at this time, the Mavs were 18-22. Luka’s play has obviously changed that. Luka is averaging 29.4 PPG (3rd), 8.9 APG (3rd) and 9.7 RPG. The scariest thing about Luka is that he is the youngest player on this list, and a triple double threat on any given night.
Brandon Ingram: After being doubted during his first 3 years in the league on the Los Angelus Lakers, BI has transformed into the player he was projected to be. For the New Orleans Pelicans, Ingram has solidified himself as their number one scorer in the absence of Zion Williamson. This season, Ingram is averaging 24.9 PPG (13th) and 6.8 RPG. Last season on the disappointing Lakers, Ingram averaged 18.3 PPG. Questions began to rise about Ingram’s durability and confidence going forward as he suffered from dangerous blood clots. Ingram seems like he is getting better each game this season and his numbers support this.
Jaylen Brown: NBA fans and even Boston Celtics fans (including myself) questioned General Manager Danny Ainge’s decision to give Brown a four year $115 million contract. Brown proved all the haters wrong as in the last 8 games, as Jaylen is averaging 24 PPG on 58% shooting and the Celtics are 7-1 over the course of those games. These past couple games have made Brown the third player on the Celtics to average at least 20 points a game and have launched him into All-Star conversations. Watching Brown play, it is clear he worked hard this offseason especially on ball handling and shooting. Playing for the USA this summer has truly improved his game as he is one of four players to be averaging 20 PPG and shooting 52% from the field.
Bam Adebayo: Bam is an undersized center at 6’9 yet he has been the Miami Heat’s defensive anchor and their rebounding leader at 10.7 RPG. Last year, Bam was a bench player and was hardly seeing the court. After being promoted to starter, all of Bam’s stats increased and has been Jimmy Butler’s number 2 go to guy. Miami is significantly better than last year especially on the defensive side of the ball. Bam has pushed himself into the Most Improved Player conversations and he deserves it.
Devonte’ Graham: Finally, we have Devonte’ Graham. Nobody expected Graham to blow up like this since the Charlotte Hornets were expected to be the worst team in the league; and since Graham fluctuated between the NBA and the G-League. Graham has unbelievably increased his PPG by 14.3 points. The Hornets are ninth in the East and in the playoff hunt. Devonte’ is used to the odds being against him as he is 6’1 and was a second round pick and traded right after being selected by the Atlanta Hawks. Graham, in my opinion, is the clear league MIP.
The future of the NBA is bright, and these young stars will rule the league for the foreseeable future.
(P/C: Boston Globe)