The 2013-14 basketball season is now just about one month away. NBA basketball is all about big superstars. There may be no rookies expected to break in as immediate stars from the 2013 NBA draft, but there are a group of recent young former high draft picks who might just be ready to break in as serious stars in this league this season. Basketball Schedule previews Blake Griffin, John Wall and Evan Turner and the prospects that they can emerge as more serious players.
John Wall (Washington Wizards)
Last season: 49 GP, 32.7 MPG, .441 FG%, 4.0 RPG, 7.6 APG and 18.5 PPG
Wall was fully expected to set the NBA alight in 2010-11 after an electric 2009-10 college basketball season with the Kentucky Wildcats. He looked like an elite and athletic guard who should emerge as one of the league’s premier talents. Three seasons into his professional career and it has to be said that Wall has seriously underwhelmed.
Last year’s numbers and performance after coming back from injury were much improved. There were genuine signs that Wall could run an effective offense. He scored more than two points per game better than his previous career high and significantly improved his shooting percentage, an issue that had plagued him during the first two seasons of his career.
The 23-year old also has by far the best supporting cast of his career so far. Bradley Beal provides Wall with great support at shooting -guard while Emeka Okafor, Al Harrington, Nene Hilario, Otto Porter Jr, Martell Webster, Trevor Ariza and Eric Maynor all providing decent back-up.
Of course the 2013-14 season also brings with it much higher expectations. Washington showed a lot of faith in Wall handing him an $80 million, five year extension on July 31 and Wall must now try and live up to that standard. This is also the first season where he will he enters the year with the expectation of playoff basketball. The Wizards haven’t been to the postseason since 2008. It won’t be easy to make it back, but if Wall stays healthy then he has the skill and supporting cast to enjoy a breakout season and return his organization to the playoffs.
Evan Turner (Philadelphia 76ers)
Last season: 82 GP, 35.3 MPG, .419 FG%, 6.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, 13.3 PPG
Some may open their eyes at the second overall pick from 2010 being included on this list. However, it might not be as far-fetched as some might think. Turner showed notable improvement in his all-round game during the 2012-13 season, and while his shooting percentage and scoring ability is still below average, he is a pretty strong spot up shooter.
Turner isn’t likely to break out while playing on what is expected to be an awful 76ers team, but he is likely to be very attractive trade bait for a playoff contender. Philadelphia may elect to hold onto the talented 24-year old, but they may also decide to maximize his value as they hope to make good on their ‘favorite to get Andrew Wiggins’ tag.
If Turner is traded to a team where he is a starter, then it is quite conceivable that he could put up much better numbers and become far better regarded around the league. The talent is definitely there, he just isn’t likely to find success as the go-to offensive player on an NBA ball-club.
Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)
Last season: 80 GP, 32.5 MPG, .538 FG%, 8.3 RPG, 3.7 APG, 18.0 PPG
The way in which Griffin has been promoted and advertised, it feels like he is already a superstar in the NBA. However, while Griffin is undoubtedly a very good player, he has yet to truly live up to the superstar hype given to him in his draft year and the league’s better inside men do not fear him in the way that they probably should be made to.
Griffin’s skill set as a powerful dunker and highlight reel scorer is undeniable. However, there are serious questions about his ability to compete physically on both ends of the floor, and there are still a few concerns about his post-game. Last year’s improved jump shot needs to get better and the 24-year old first overall pick from 2009 needs to truly establish himself as one of the game’s top power forward/centers.
Why should the 2013-14 season be the year where Griffin finally rounds out his game? Well, that’s simple and it’s spelled Doc Rivers. The Clippers new head coach will get Griffin playing tougher basketball and the organization is undoubtedly relying upon Rivers to work his magic as the ‘master motivator’. It remains to be seen, but we’re betting that the combination of last season’s tough, eye opening playoff loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and the arrival of Rivers will help Griffin emerge as a serious NBA star this year.