This series will feature a player from each team in the league that has the opportunity to either revitalize his career or take the next step in their development during the 20012-2013 NBA season.
Phoenix Suns: Goran Dragic
The 26-year-old Slovenian was a back up point guard for most of his career. Last year Dragic was given the opportunity to start for half of the season and with the increased minutes he saw a jump in production, consistency, and overall effectiveness. This year he will be the starter in a point guard friendly system in Phoenix. I don’t think that it is that unreasonable to expect a jump in production from Goran. Last season he shot a career best 46% from the field and 81% from the line. Despite a down year for 3pt shooting 33.7% (36.4% career average) Goran was able to develop into an effective scorer last season with the Rockets.
With the Suns Dragic will have a good pick and roll partner in Gortat, this coupled with increased playing time will give Dragic an opportunity that he has never had before consistent minutes on a night in night out basis. With more minutes expect Dragic’s numbers to rise this year and him to join the likes of John Wall Steph Curry Brandon Jennings, and Mike Conley as third tier point guards in the league.
Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans
After taking the league by storm in his rookie year, and winning rookie of the year in the process. Evans looked like he was on track to superstardom. These past two years Evans has been limited by injuries and hasn’t really developed. Playing in an awful environment inSacramentowon’t help him but Evans has vast potential. Evans is quick enough to get by anyone in the league gets to the rim at will. Last year he took half of his shots at the rim and converted at an excellent 65.6% (444 shots at rim/900 FGA).
Evans is a downright awful shooting jumpshots. 20% 3pt shooting and Reports are that Evans has been working feverishly to improve his jump shot. Evans is not a ball stopper by any means (22.8% usage rate) and a willing passer. Evans ability to drive creates open opportunities for open shots by his teammates. Evans has the size strength and athleticism to be a lock down perimeter defender. He finished in the top 25% of the league in steals and blocks even though he isn’t a consistent perimeter defender. At 6’6” 220lbs Evans can guard the any position up to small forward.
While the kings have shifted him off of the point guard position last year and will be playing small forward this year Evans should be able to be an effective slasher. If Evans can develop a consistent jumper he could develop into one of the better players in the league. Expect Evans to play with increased motivation this year since he is a restricted free agent after the season.
Golden State Warriors: Andrew Bogut
In 2010 Andrew Bogut was emerging as the second best center in the league behind only Dwight Howard. Then he suffered a gruesome arm injury and he hasn’t been the same since then. Bogut’s offensive game hasn’t developed since then. Bogut’s calling card has always been and still is his defense. Another year removed from elbow surgery he should be more comfortable using his right arm and will be able to return to his 2010 form where he was a dominant defensive presence and an efficient and productive offensive player 20.81 PER in 2010 despite using just 21.9 % of his teams possessions. Bogut’s return to form will be key if the Warriors expect to make the jump to the playoffs this year. Expect Bogut to return to a 15 pts and 10 rebound center that plays excellent defense for the Warriors this year.
Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan
Jordan makes up the other half of the extremely athletic front line for the Clippers. Although Jordan is extremely limited offensively and will probably never be a good offensive player since his poor touch and shooting around the basket limits him to putt backs and alley-oop lobs. Despite not being able to shoot very well Jordan shot had a .626 true shooting % which is actually pretty good. Jordan was still able to score 10.8 points per 40 minutes despite only using 10.6 % of his team’s possessions.
Jordan is an excellent rebounder and has an excellent 13.2 offensive rebound rate. With him catching lobs from Chris Paul, Jordan should be able to increase his points in his second year with the star point guard. Jordan should be able to have a large breakout defensively. Although blessed with excellent size (6’11” 265 lbs) and athleticism Jordanisn’t the defensive player that you would expect him to be. Opposing centers average a 20.92 PER against him which is simply not good since a 20 PER is an all-star caliber player.
Jordan is a very good weak side shot blocker though. His 2.05 blocks per game is last year was good for 4th in the league. Jordan has the potential to anchor the front line for the Clippers this year with a commitment to playing defense. If Jordan can improve on defense while continuing to know his limitations on offense he can be a very valuable player for the Clippers.
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