3 NBA Players Who Should Breakout Given Their Larger Roles in 2016
Here at numberFire, along with just about everywhere else around the sports writing industry, we have done a lot of talking about offseason moves. Recently, we've given you coverage by division, by team and even by player.
Most of this coverage (rightfully) has revolved around summer additions -- whether they be through free agency, the draft or trade -- but we've also talked about additions by subtraction and just flat out subtractions (See Portland Trail Blazers).
Now, rather than look at the offseason and what it's yielded for NBA fans everywhere, I'm here to start moving us forward toward the 2015-16 NBA season.
This article is part one of a three-part series in which I will talk about particular players (of many possible candidates) who look poised to break out this year. Each group of players are breakout candidates for their own reason -- one group bouncing back from injuries, another taking advantage of recently departed teammates and a third group inheriting much larger roles for their respective squads.
Today, I'm talking about the third group. This is a trio of players who should be ready to take on a lot more responsibility for their teams as the new season gets underway.
Who are they and why should we be expecting a breakout year from them?
There's no denying Chandler Parsons is ready and willing to play an increased role for the Dallas Mavericks this season.
Chandler Parsons on point forward role: "That's the reason I came here -- for a bigger role and to be a star. I'm more than ready for that."
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 26, 2015
Will he indeed do so though? And, if so, could he really excel as thee guy in Big D?
Yes and yes.
With Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis now playing elsewhere, Parsons will be the playmaker on the perimeter for the Mavs. With his departure, Ellis took his team-leading Usage Rate of 27.9% with him. As for Rondo, he took his own Usage Rate of 20.3% with him to Sacramento. So that leaves some room for others to handle the ball, particularly on the perimeter.
While it's true that J.J. Barea will handle the ball a lot from the point guard position (he posted a Usage Rate of 21.2% a year ago), it's also true that outside of Dirk (24.9%) at his advanced age, Parsons has the highest usage (20.6%) of any Mavs starter from a year ago. In his first year with Dallas, Parsons saw his Usage Rate jump from 19.3% to 20.6% even with the presence of Rondo and Ellis.
So it appears that Parsons is ready for the heavy workload.
He's also poised to post some breakout numbers.
Parsons, riddled by sporadic injuries, missed 16 games a year ago. That might be the only reason Parsons didn't finish with improved numbers across the board. Parsons topped many of his 2014 numbers with the Rockets last year despite being on and off the court, averaging 15.7 points per game while shooting over 46% from the field and 38% from the three-point line.
More importantly, he thrived in Coach Carlisle's system in terms of efficiency. In spite of playing with two severely inefficient guards, Parsons posted a nERD of 2.4 and a Player Efficiency Rating of 16.3 -- the highest of his career. If healthy, Parsons could produce a breakout year and prove that he belongs with the best young forwards in the game.
Reggie Jackson will also have to do a lot more this year if he wants his team to make a jump this year in the Eastern Conference. After allowing Greg Monroe to sign a max deal with the Bucks, the Pistons are going to need someone to step up their game in order for their young squad to enjoy any kind of success in 2016.
Monroe's departure produced a sizable void in the Piston lineup. Monroe's nERD of 4.9 finished tied (with Andre Drummond) for the best score on the team a year ago. In his last year with Detroit, Monroe also sported a Usage Rate of 23.9% -- the highest of any Piston to start and finish the season with the team -- and ranked second on the team in PER (21.2) and first in Win Shares per 48 (.153).
In steps Reggie Jackson, via a February trade with Oklahoma City. With Brandon Jennings out with a season-ending injury achilles injury, we saw Jackson thrive in his 27 games in Detroit. Take a look for yourself.
Jackson proved that he was more than capable of taking on a huge role for the offense and produced when he was given the opportunity -- something he wasn't given much of in OKC. Look for him to do more of the same this year as he looks to improve upon his overall nERD of -0.4 a year ago.
This isn't the first time I've talked about T.J. Warren this summer. He was a Summer League standout this year, scoring 18.7 points per game on a True Shooting Percentage of 57.6% and an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 54.0%. But that's against Summer League competition, right? Wrong.
That's just what Warren brings to the table for the Phoenix Suns. In limited time (40 games, 15.4 minutes per) as a rookie, Warren had 6.1 points per game on a True Shooting Percentage of 55.1% and an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 54.0%. So as you can see, that's just what Warren is -- an effective scorer.
And if given the opportunity to shine off the bench this year, he could really show off his stuff on the regular season stage. With the exits of Gerald Green and Marcus Morris he might just do it. His per-36 numbers would agree:
As the percentages foretold, Warren shoots over 50% from the field by avoiding his weakness, the three-point line, and taking advantage of his strengths. These strengths -- cutting without the ball and finishing at the rim -- are displayed to the extreme here:
So if and when Warren comes off the bench for 20 to 25 minutes per game this year, look for him to score from close, score quickly, and score in bunches. He could be a surprise Sixth Man of the Year candidate. But one thing I do know is that all signs point to Warren having a breakout year in Phoenix.