Sports

Biggest Breakout Players of the NBA Season

| by Give Me The Rock

Honorable Mentions: Andrew Bogut was always good, but never quite dominated like he did this season before he got hurt (and the 2.5 blocks a game he averaged in 2009-10 is a big reason why); Carl Landry averaged 18 points a game for the Kings after being a key trade piece in the Tracy McGrady/Kevin Martin deal; Darren Collison softened the blow from Chris Paul’s injury for many a fantasy owner; George Hill was way undervalued all season after putting up a better Tony Parker impersonation than Tony Parker himself; and my boy Danilo Gallinari faded a bit as the season went on, but still averaged 2.3 threes a game for the Knicks and led the league in excuses to take his shirt off.

The Top 5:

5. Channing Frye – Demerits for losing his starting job to Robin Lopez mid-way through the season, but even when you include his horrid stretch of play for most of February and March, Frye still ended the season ranked #58 on the GMTR player rater. His defense and rebounding are pathetic for a 6-11 center, but he makes up for it with 2+ threes a game and a ridiculously low amount of turnovers (only 0.9 a game this season). It may require some creative fantasy team building to go to war with someone like Frye, but he clearly took the crown away from Mehmet Okur this season as the King of small ball centers.

4. Andray Blatche – You could make an argument that Blatche doesn’t belong on this list since he was mediocre at best over the first two-thirds of the season. But he went completely nuclear for the Wizards after they sent Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood packing in a post all-star game fire sale. Blatche averaged 22 points and 8.3 rebounds a game after the all-star break and helped drive more than his fair share of teams to a fantasy championship. In addition, the current state of the Wizards roster means that Blatche is definitely a guy to keep on your watch lists for next season.

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3. Aaron Brooks – In his third season in the league, Brooks quietly averaged 19.6 points, 5.3 assists and 2.3 threes a game for the Rockets. Considering the cast of characters that Brooks had to work with this season, it’s surprising he didn’t get more attention for his amazing job running the Rockets’ offense. Add in the fact that he finished the season as the 7th ranked fantasy PG when you factor in games played and that he won the NBA’s most improved player award and you’ve got a case for Brooks as a breakout player that is tighter than Heidi Montag’s face.

2. Stephen Curry – Can a rookie also be a breakout player? Considering the low expectations for Curry going into the year (he was drafted at 123 in the average Yahoo fantasy league and got off to a slow start to the year) I think Curry broke out part way through the season thanks to all those Warrior injury woes. What more can we say about Curry that we haven’t said 10 thousand times already? Not even Don Nelson could keep Curry down. He took home 8 lines of the night this season and finished the year averaging 18 points, 6 assists and 2 threes a game, while hitting 44% of his threes.

1. Marc Gasol – Only a couple years removed from being the younger, chubbier, somehow hairier, but less talented Frank Stallone-like Gasol brother in the wildly criticized Lakers/Grizzlies trade that sent Pau to L.A., Marc dropped 25 pounds before the season started and the result was 14.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game. His season was cut short because of a torn neck muscle, but Marc can bang with any player in the league and going into next season he clearly belongs in the discussion for the top 5 centers in the league.

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