Mar 2, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors (15) is guarded by Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Revisiting players poised for a breakout season predictions


Before this current season, I made a list of five guys I thought were poised for a breakout season. Let’s see how I did.

You can read my original post here.

The first guy I mentioned was Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls. Here’s a little of what I was thinking:

You really saw him in action against the Miami Heat. So, while Butler averaged only 8.6 points with 4 rebounds and 1.4 assists, I think he’s ready to breakout. Rumors keep swirling that, with the emergence of Butler, Deng is expendable since they both play SF.

Sure enough, Deng ended up being traded. It was in the middle of the season though, so we can’t say Butler had all season for a breakout. Still, with the help of Basketball-Reference, let’s take a look at the stats:

 

Season G GS MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2012-13 82 20 26.0 .467 .381 .489 .803 1.7 2.3 4.0 1.4 1.0 0.4 0.8 1.2 8.6
2013-14 46 46 37.2 .394 .261 .457 .754 1.4 3.6 5.0 2.3 2.0 0.6 1.6 1.5 12.9
Alright, so…yeah…Butler’s role has clearly expanded. He’s started each game he’s played in, and has 11.2 extra minutes of playing time. And yet, his stats don’t scream “I’m a star”. In fact, his advanced stats show a backslide. Almost all of his stats are worse. Why? Well, for one thing, injuries have appeared for him. The Bulls have played 62 games as I write this. So, Jimmy won’t have a full season under his belt. Looks like my prediction was off on this one. There’s always the rest of the season as well as the playoffs. We’ll see.
Next player I mentioned was Blake Griffin.
As much as people think he’s overrated (not as much as a couple of years ago though) I actually think Blake is ready to make a leap into being an elite PF. He’s got a great PG in Chris Paul, and now, he’s got a great coach in Doc Rivers.
It’s interesting because Chris Paul went down with the injury. Now, I also mentioned that, while he’s already a star, he’s not ready to be in the league of Duncan and Garnett and Webber and the rest of the past decade. He still needs to get there. Looking at his stats, he didn’t make any major jumps in per game or advanced. And yet, the fact that the team held on without Paul says something about Griffin. Blake’s averaging a career high in points. Other than that, the stats are identical. But, that’s fine. That doesn’t mean he didn’t make a leap. I am a guy that believes that stats don’t tell the whole story. Only part. In my opinion, while I can’t say it was a breakout I was looking for, he’s that much closer. The playoffs should be interesting. He might make the leap there.
Season G GS MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2012-13 ★ 80 80 32.5 .538 .179 .548 .660 2.3 6.0 8.3 3.7 1.2 0.6 2.3 2.9 18.0
2013-14 ★ 63 63 36.0 .533 .289 .542 .696 2.4 7.3 9.7 3.6 1.1 0.6 2.7 3.4 24.1
His rebounding per game this season and last are lower than his double digit numbers from the first two years of his career. Not a concern. DeAndre Jordan is a machine on the boards. That’s an example of how the stats don’t tell the whole story.
Next guy is Derrick Favors. I loved talking about him:
Last season, he was tangled in a rotation web with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Both of these guys are gone and Derrick is all alone to start at PF. With only 23 minutes per game of playing time last season, he’ll be asked to play starter minutes this season. Not to mention his points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks have improved in each of his first three seasons.
Yeah, Favors has been on an upward trend his entire career. And, with the frontcourt of the Jazz all to himself, I had reasonable faith he’d put some big numbers. So, did he?
Season G GS MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2012-13 77 8 23.2 .482 .000 .487 .688 2.4 4.7 7.1 1.0 0.9 1.7 1.7 3.2 9.4
2013-14 52 52 30.1 .510 .000 .511 .665 2.5 6.1 8.6 1.1 0.9 1.5 1.8 3.1 12.7
Alright, so, his numbers did continue to climb a bit. Sort of like Griffin, the only real jump/change is points per game. And Favors is averaging a career high. His advanced stats are calm. All in all, he continues to climb.
What’s next? I went with Eric Bledsoe. His Suns have been a pleasant surprise, especially in the beginning of the season.
Bledsoe was behind a good pair of guards in LA and, while he did show flashes of something special, the Clippers had holes to fill and sent Bledsoe off to a rebuilding Phoenix Suns.
So, that was the scenario before the season. His team made quite a leap. Did he join? The players so far on this list have been okay, but nothing major.
Season Tm G GS MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2012-13 LAC 76 12 20.4 .445 .397 .453 .791 1.0 1.9 3.0 3.1 1.4 0.7 1.8 1.5 8.5
2013-14 PHO 24 22 33.5 .486 .350 .532 .789 0.4 3.8 4.3 5.8 1.5 0.3 3.3 2.5 18.0
So sad. Bledsoe was on his way. But, injuries have taken their toll, including a recent one where he’ll miss the rest of the season. Just look at his line. He was a beast. If he can stay healthy and bounce back next year, the Suns are in great shape.
Last guy I touched was a “gut feeling” type of scenario. It was based on what he said. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist said:
“I was disappointed in myself,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I set goals and I didn’t reach none of my goals that I set. All my life, I did that, and I didn’t reach not one goal last year.”
So I took his word for it. Sort of like Bledsoe, his team seemed to be playing better than expected to start the season. the Bobcats also have a rookie head coach leading the way. So, let’s see if he was able to take on his challenges:
Season G GS MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2012-13 78 77 26.0 .458 .222 .462 .749 1.7 4.2 5.8 1.5 0.7 0.9 1.3 2.1 9.0
2013-14 41 41 25.2 .461 .111 .474 .609 1.6 3.4 5.0 0.9 0.7 0.6 1.1 2.7 7.4
Oh dear. Oh my. Mike went the other way this season. One has to wonder what this means. He was a 19 year old rookie in 2013-14. So, he’s 20 now. I mean, he’s still young. He could still need time. But yeah, he clearly hasn’t been much better in terms of stats.
So now what? Out of my five players, Favors and Griffin saw significant improvement. Bledsoe and maybe even Butler had injury problems, although Bledsoe was performing like a star before is ultimate fall. And Kidd-Gilchrist went backwards. It’s safe to say none of these guys will be in serious talks for a Most Improved Player award. And yet, I would imagine that the future is still bright for all of these guys.

Tags: Blake Griffin Chicago Bulls Derrick Favors Eric Bledsoe Featured Jimmy Butler Los Angeles Clippers Michael Kidd-Gilchrist NBA Phoenix Suns Popular Utah Jazz