Every season, there’s a handful of players that not only live up to expectations, but shatter them.
And afterwards, we all look back and realize that the breakout player had shown glimpses of how could he could be, but only now put everything together.
We’ve compiled a list of NBA players poised for a breakout season in 2016-17′.
At one point, Joel Embiid looked like the consensus #1 pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014 draft.
His quickness, good footwork, vertical explosiveness and soft touch around the rim were drawing comparisons to the likes of Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon.
But two years later, Embiid still hasn’t stepped foot on a basketball court at the professional level due to various injuries.
All that said, he’s aiming to be 100% by the start of training camp. And despite the cluttered frontcourt of the Sixers, Embiid is clearly the most talented of the bunch, and if he can stay healthy, then expect Embiid to be a pleasant surprise this NBA season.
2015-16′ stats (points/rebounds/assists/FG%): N/A
2016-17′ projected stats: 12.8/7.6/2.2/53%
For most 22-year olds, a 17 point, 8 rebound, 4 assist season qualifies as a “breakout year”.
But when you’re a 7-foot point guard, different rules apply.
The Greek Freak started getting his feet wet at the point guard position at the back end of last season, and his eye-popping statline of 19 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists post-All Star break leads us to believe that an even bigger season is in the cards.
2015-16′ stats: 16.9/7.7/4.3/51%
2016-17′ projected stats: 20.1/8.2/6.6/50%
On the surface, Devin Booker’s rookie campaign doesn’t look all that impressive. He put up 14 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists on an appalling 42% from the field.
But over his final 21 games, Booker averaged 21 points, and shot a cool 34% from distance. And that was without Eric Bledsoe.
With Bledsoe returning from injury this season, and Booker with a season under his belt, expect a much more productive, efficient year start to finish from the second year man.
2015-16′ stats: 13.8/2.5/2.6/42%
2016-17′ projected stats: 16.1/3.2/3.8/45%
Already proven to be a two-way stud, Andrew Wiggins’ game took leaps and bounds in his second season in the league.
He scored with much more frequency and efficiency in his sophmore campaign, and the Wolves improved by 13 games from the previous season.
Wiggins’ freakish athletic ability and improving jumpshot will be amplified while fellow prodigy Karl-Anthony Towns demands double teams in the post, giving Wiggins more room to do his thing.
With a weakened West and extraordinary young talent, a Minnesota playoff appearance in 2016-17′ isn’t out of the question.
2015-16′ stats: 20.7/3.6/2.0/46%
2016-17′ projected stats: 22.8/4.1/3.2/47%
Mentored by Kevin Garnett, Towns already had a rookie season for the ages.
His post-moves are constantly improving and his footwork is textbook. He’s also a fantastic passer with great vision, never panics when double-teamed, and can step out and hit a jumper when need be.
He’s also as good as it gets on the defensive end, with his nimble feet allowing him to stay stride-for-stride with players like Steph Curry.
He’s as complete a big man as we’ve seen since Duncan, and could potentially form a Kobe/Shaq-esque relationship with Andrew Wiggins.
2015-16′ stats: 18.3/10.5/2.0/54%
2016-17′ projected stats: 22.3/12.1/2.8/54%