Second-year NBA stars who can salvage the season

By Yardbarker Contributors  |  Last updated 2/16/17

Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers has a playoff run in his sights which could help push him to the next level in the NBA.  Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Anyone who follows sports knows all about the sophomore slump, but not all second-year players take a step fact. In fact, year two is often a stepping stone toward NBA stardom.

Welcome back to the Yardbarker roundtable, where we look at some of last season's rookies to see how they're doing in their sophomore campaigns. So:

Which second-year players will stand out in the second half?

Alex Wong: Devin Booker. The Suns are the worst team in the West, but don't sleep on the Kentucky guard who is averaging 21.1 points per game this season and just came off a January where he averaged 25.4 points in 14 games. Phoenix is going nowhere fast, but my bet is we'll be hearing about Booker plenty for the remainder of this season.

Sam Greszes: In thinking about the answer to this question, I came upon some knowledge that may be surprising and disturbing to most readers: Kristaps Porzingis is only in his sophomore year in the NBA. How is this possible? Has he just been so good that we forget he was a rookie last year? Have we been blinded by his adorable charisma? Maybe.

But the fact remains that the Knicks are in shambles right now, and it's not the fault of anybody on the floor. Carmelo Anthony is the leader of this team, granted, but Porzingis has a unique chance here in the second half of the season to, through amazing, unicorn-esque play, change the headlines from Dolan-focused hit pieces to fawning profiles on how the players on the floor overcame the hurdles placed in front of them by their front office (and head coach). If anyone can do that, it's Porzingod.

Jason Clinkscales: It feels like the Indiana Pacers are starting to get themselves together despite playing in the same division as the Cavaliers. Because of that, I think Myles Turner is going to get a lot more attention. After a very good but limited rookie campaign, he really took hold of the starting center job this year with per-game averages of 15.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks (the blocks are fourth among all starting centers). Since Turner is one of the few sophomores who is truly in the playoff mix, his profile will have some added luster compared to guys like Karl-Anthony Towns, Booker, Kristaps Porzingis and D'Angelo Russell, who have to rack up more stats with struggling teams.

Daniel Tran: NBA defenses will eventually find a way to weed out one-year wonders from the real stars. One year after Devin Booker's rookie season, and he still has defenses trying to figure him out.

Given nearly seven more minutes, Booker is scoring nearly seven more points per game and showing that he is going to be a real force to be reckoned with. The Suns are likely out of playoff contention, which gives him more opportunity to get game experience and rack up points.

Sean Keane: I think Nikola Jokic will continue to shine, especially after the Nuggets relieved the Balkan tension in the locker room by moving the Bosnian Jusuf Nurkic to Portland. Norman Powell is about to get a lot more consistent minutes in Chicago with Terrence Ross gone. Myles Turner is going to put up numbers as the Pacers make the playoffs in spite of themselves. Your dad is going to love T.J. McConnell's grittiness. And D'Angelo Russell is due to release another secret video any day now.

Shiloh Carder: Hmmm. It could be Kristaps Porzingis, especially if the Knicks can deal Carmelo Anthony away and the franchise becomes his. Devin Booker is having a great season for a bad Suns team. You never know what Jahlil Okafor could turn into if the 76ers end up dealing him.

I'm going with Myles Turner. If the Indiana Pacers are going to be the threat in the East as we thought they'd be, then Turner will be a major part of that. He's already a big deal in Indiana, but most haven't kept up with the Pacers this season. He's averaging 15.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in the first half and is a strong defensive presence.

Demetrius Bell: It feels like a cop-out to say that the Rookie of the Year from last year will be a standout performer in his next season, but I feel like Karl-Anthony Towns could jump back into the spotlight in the second half. Granted, he's had a "weird" year so far, but he hasn't been playing all that bad and I'm sure that any team would take him right now. If he steps it up, then maybe he'll turn some of those same heads that he turned last year.

David Matthews: Besides Towns and Kristaps, I imagine that Willie Cauley-Stein, Myles Turner and Devin Booker should continue on their trajectories. I think Booker's well on his way to being one of the league's next stars. Of the less-heralded players, Willy Hernangómez and Richaun Holmes are doing well as legit second-round finds, though Hernangomez is in just his rookie season despite being drafted in 2015.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
QUIZ: Name the top three picks in the NBA draft since 1985

Since the start of the lottery era, we've seen 96 players get selected as the top three picks of the NBA draft. How many can you name?

Score:
0/96
Time:
12:00
1985-NYK
Patrick Ewing
1985-IND
Wayman Tisdale
1985-LAC
Benoit Benjamin
1986-CLE
Brad Daugherty
1986-BOS
Len Bias
1986-GSW
Chris Washburn
1987-SAS
David Robinson
1987-PHO
Armen Gilliam
1987-NJN
Dennis Hopson
1988-LAC
Danny Manning
1988-IND
Rik Smits
1988-PHI
Charles Smith
1989-SAC
Pervis Ellison
1989-LAC
Danny Ferry
1989-SAS
Sean Elliott
1990-NJN
Derrick Coleman
1990-SEA
Gary Payton
1990-DEN
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
1991-CHH
Larry Johnson
1991-NJN
Kenny Anderson
1991-SAC
Billy Owens
1992-ORL
Shaquille O'Neal
1992-CHH
Alonzo Mourning
1992-MIN
Christian Laettner
1993-ORL
Chris Webber
1993-PHI
Shawn Bradley
1993-GSW
Anfernee Hardaway
1994-MIL
Glenn Robinson
1994-DAL
Jason Kidd
1994-DET
Grant Hill
1995-GSW
Joe Smith
1995-LAC
Antonio McDyess
1995-PHI
Jerry Stackhouse
1996-PHI
Allen Iverson
1996-TOR
Marcus Camby
1996-VAN
Shareef Abdur-Rahim
1997-SAS
Tim Duncan
1997-PHI
Keith Van Horn
1997-BOS
Chauncey Billups
1998-LAC
Michael Olowokandi
1998-VAN
Mike Bibby
1998-DEN
Raef LaFrentz
1999-CHI
Elton Brand
1999-VAN
Steve Francis
1999-CHH
Baron Davis
2000-NJN
Kenyon Martin
2000-VAN
Stromile Swift
2000-LAC
Darius Miles
2001-WAS
Kwame Brown
2001-LAC
Tyson Chandler
2001-ATL
Pau Gasol
2002-HOU
Yao Ming
2002-CHI
Jay Williams
2002-GSW
Mike Dunleavy
2003-CLE
LeBron James
2003-DET
Darko Milicic
2003-DEN
Carmelo Anthony
2004-ORL
Dwight Howard
2004-CHA
Emeka Okafor
2004-CHI
Ben Gordon
2005-MIL
Andrew Bogut
2005-ATL
Marvin Williams
2005-UTA
Deron Williams
2006-TOR
Andrea Bargnani
2006-CHI
LaMarcus Aldridge
2006-CHA
Adam Morrison
2007-POR
Greg Oden
2007-SEA
Kevin Durant
2007-ATL
Al Horford
2008-CHI
Derrick Rose
2008-MIA
Michael Beasley
2008-MIN
O.J. Mayo
2009-LAC
Blake Griffin
2009-MEM
Hasheem Thabeet
2009-OKC
James Harden
2010-WAS
John Wall
2010-PHI
Evan Turner
2010-NJN
Derrick Favors
2011-CLE
Kyrie Irving
2011-MIN
Derrick Williams
2011-UTA
Enes Kanter
2012-NOH
Anthony Davis
2012-CHA
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
2012-WAS
Bradley Beal
2013-CLE
Anthony Bennett
2013-ORL
Victor Oladipo
2013-WAS
Otto Porter
2014-CLE
Andrew Wiggins
2014-MIL
Jabari Parker
2014-PHI
Joel Embiid
2015-MIN
Karl-Anthony Towns
2015-LAL
D'Angelo Russell
2015-PHI
Jahlil Okafor
2016-PHI
Ben Simmons
2016-LAL
Brandon Ingram
2016-BOS
Jaylen Brown
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

DeMarcus Cousins traded to Pelicans for players, picks

West teammates hilariously celebrate Durant and Westbrook oop

Report: Romo willing to rework contract to facilitate trade

Lonzo Ball's father says son is better than Curry right now

Report: Rams could have interest in Cousins if Goff flops

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mike Trout talks about 'frustrating' struggles of Angels

Report: Butler to Celtics talk will loom over All-Star week

Report: Carmelo expects to remain with Knicks

James Harden: ‘For sure’ I’m the best player in the world

Report: Pats expected to make good effort to keep Bennett

Glenn Robinson III dunks over three people to win Slam Dunk Contest

Is the NBA All-Star Game worth saving?

There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki

The Rewind: Michael Jordan's last All-Star Game

Best of Yardbarker: NBA All-Star Games past, present and future

Eat, Drink, Watch: Everything goes better with a side of New Orleans

Box Score 2/17: Happy birthday, Michael Jordan (and welcome to 1000 point club, Sid!)

The 'Michael Jordan might still win the Dunk contest if he entered' quiz

How to reboot NBA All-Star Weekend

Second-year NBA stars who can salvage the season

Observations from a day at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Box Score 2/16: Getting ready for the ASG

Too much to Process: Can Simmons match the Embiid hype?

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of YB: NBA All-Star Games past, present and future

Who will break these NBA All-Star Game records?

Is the NBA All-Star Game worth saving?

There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki

The Rewind: Michael Jordan's last All-Star Game

Eat, Drink, Watch: Everything goes better with a side of New Orleans

How to reboot NBA All-Star Weekend

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Second-year NBA stars who can salvage the season

Observations from a day at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker