3 NBA Players in Prime Situations to Break Out in 2016
A few days ago I talked about three NBA players that should breakout in 2016 based on their larger roles. Feel free to check it out, but if you're like me you might be crunched for time while preparing for your upcoming fantasy football drafts. In that case, let me sum up it up for you.
All three players are in a position to move up the ladder in terms of usage or minutes based on offseason moves. For two of them, they're likely to be the primary playmaker on their respective teams due to wanted or unwanted departures. As for the third, his role is set to change entirely this season as a result of both a trade and his own work this offseason.
Two of the three players I'm going to talk about here will likely enter similar situations in which they'll pick up more minutes and more touches due to roster additions and subtractions. However, they differ in that they won't be looked at as the guy on their respective squads and that will they see their roles changes quite as drastically (at least as far we can tell in the middle of August).
One of these players, in fact, might see his minutes go down this year -- which could be a good thing. As for the other two, they find themselves in situations where they will surely benefit from an uptick in playing time due to offseason events.
Without further jibber-jabber, let me tell you who they are and why they're primed for breakout seasons in 2016.
Danté Exum Injury Update:
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) August 6, 2015
In a nutshell, this is all you need to see to know that Rodney Hood is in a great position to excel in his sophomore season in Utah. But the numbers tell us why he will indeed take advantage of this prime opportunity.
When we look at the big picture, Hood is just a better player than Dante Exum. In 82 games a year ago, Exum averaged a little over 22 minutes per game and earned himself the seventh-worst nERD rating (-7.4) in the league. While Exum was dragging the Jazz down (by 7.4 wins to be exact), his fellow rookie was doing his best to contribute positively to his squad. Hood, in 32 fewer games and 753 fewer minutes, put up a nERD of 0.2 -- good enough for fifth on the team.
The Duke product also outshined the Australian by tallying 2.2 Win Shares to Exum's -0.1 and securing a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 12.3 to Exum's 5.7. That's impressive.
As we dive in further, however, we see that Hood could take on a lot of the ball handling and playmaking responsibilities that Exum held a year ago. While Trey Burke will likely get most of the run at the true point slot, I'd look for Hood to play some point while handling the ball in high volumes from the wing area. If last year's numbers are any indication, Hood should flourish in that capacity.
With a Usage Rate six percentage points higher than that of Exum, Hood turned the ball over just 9.9% of the time while Exum did so on 21.5% of plays. Now that could be a product of position and the responsibilities that go with it -- Hood played the two-guard 75% of the time and Exum played the point 79% of the time -- but, like I said, Hood had a higher Usage Rate. Plus, he assisted on 13.2% of his teammates' field goals while on the floor. That's a mere 3.4% lower than Exum despite playing the shooting guard position.
So, if in fact Hood absorbs some of Exum's minutes, he could be in for an extremely productive sophomore season.
Some of you might be thinking Otto Porter had a breakout year last year. But did he?
Porter, in 74 regular season games, averaged just 19.4 minutes, 6.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game -- not what I would call a breakout year. Porter did, however, breakout in the playoffs, showing us what should be a sign of things to come in 2016.
In 10 games, Porter played big minutes. And he did so both at his usual small forward spot (where he played 55% of his minutes, according to BasketballReference.com) and as a stretch four (45% of his minutes) in place of a struggling Nene.
Porter didn't provide much value in the regular season as a bench player, where he was just below average earning a nERD of -0.1 and a mere 2.7 Win Shares. He definitely made up for it in the playoffs during which he earned a PER of 14.1 and 1.0 Win Shares in 10 games alone.
With his 2015 playoff success and Paul Pierce's departure for the Los Angeles Clippers, Porter should come into 2016 as a starter for Randy Wittman and the Wiz. Rookie Kelly Oubre likely isn't ready for extended playing time, and Jared Dudley might see a lot of time at the four spot. That leaves plenty of minutes for Porter to pick up where he left off just three months ago.
Coming off an All-Star year in 2013-14, the meter was pointing way up for a 25 year-old DeMar DeRozan in 2014-15. Now on the brink of the 2015-16 NBA season, that meter is still pointing up after a down season.
This past season was a year of struggles for DeRozan as he struggled to stay on the floor with injuries. The former 9th overall pick played in just 60 games this year and, as a result of his inconsistent time on the floor, saw his numbers drop from 2014 to 2015.
DeRozan's 2015 drop-off is evident. It could be in large part due to his injuries, but I think it has a lot to do with his running mate on the wing -- Terrence Ross. In his three years in Toronto, Ross hasn't lived up to the hype of an eighth overall pick. He's been a real weak point in the Raptors' starting lineup, and that's easy to see from his 2015 campaign.
Ross played in all 82 games, starting in 61 of them. In this case, availability did not equal productivity. Ross tallied just 2.4 Win Shares and earned a very below average nERD of -3.9. His nERD was the worst on the team and 2.1 worse than DeRozan's.
So what's going to change this year for DeRozan? His running mate. DeMarre Carroll is set to step in as the team's starting small forward. That means Ross is definitely out of a starter's role and all but ensured a huge reduction in minutes this year. That should be music to DeRozan's ears as he will now be playing alongside Caroll, a player who put up a 5.8 nERD score a year ago -- a whole 9.7 points higher than Ross.
This year could be the start of a great relationship in Toronto for both Carroll and DeRozan, with DeRozan ready to benefit from fresh legs and more so from a new wingman.