There’s only one week left before the season starts, and that means it’s time to look ahead. There were a lot of talented rookies last season and some of them are bound to have their breakout season next year. These players already made a good impression in the time they got in the league, and hopefully will get the opportunity to be even better.
Collins managed to start 26 games in his rookie season, and made a good impression on the Hawks team, even though they ended up on the last place in the Eastern Conference. Collins on the other hand, slowly improved throughout the season and already showed his potential. His pre-breakout already came in this year’s Summer League, as he scored 24 points, and got 8.5 rebounds, a steal and a block per game, before the Hawks shut him down after only playing four games. This proves he can be of great value in the upcoming season, but it all depends on the quality of the rest of the Hawks’ players.
The Knicks have offered him a lot of opportunities to improve himself throughout the entire season, so this is his chance to prove them he was worth it. In the Summer League, Ntilikina showed he could be more aggressive offensively than he was last year, and therefore he should be able to give the Knicks a spark on offense. Now, he’ll have to work on being more steady on offense, as well as improving his three-point shot.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Smith Jr. had a decent first year and showed the Mavericks that he was definitely NBA worthy, but he couldn’t really make an impact in the league as the Mavs were in the middle of one of their ‘rebuilding’ years. Now, the Mavericks will get another spark on offense in Luka Doncic, and this will also help Smith creating opportunities on offense. Furthermore, Smith was already a good contributor in both points and assists, and that is only bound to get better in his sophomore year.
Anunoby got a lot of chances last year with the Raptors as a small forward, but his role is about to change now that the Raptors have acquired Kawhi Leonard. The Raptors do know that they have a very talented player in Anunoby on their roster, so they let him try his hand on the power forward position in the Summer League. Anunoby definitely didn’t disappoint and was one of the standouts. He’ll probably get a lot of opportunities, as the Raptors have lost Poetl, their back-up center, in the Leonard trade, which means Ibaka will have to play center minutes as well. This way, Anunoby is bound to have more minutes as power forward.
Fultz didn’t really get a fair chance to show his skills and potential in the league this season, as his shoulder made him sit out most of the games. He did get the chance to show some of his potential late in the season, when he even managed to score a triple-double of the bench. We’ll have to see if Fultz is able to play together with Ben Simmons, but if he can, and is actually able to use his shot, he can to make a real impact in the league, and prove his worth as the 2017 NO.1 pick.