Tuesday, September 8, 2009

20+ ppg scoring breakouts

Aron Phillips from Dimemag put out an article on dimemag.com about 5 players that will average 20+ points this season and i decided to put my take on paper (err... digital paper at least). Here goes...

First, I agree with the Monta, D-Will, and Arenas except those are all easy calls. By virtue of being healthy they will all be scoring option numero uno.

There are a lot of notable mentions that i think would make the highest ppg under 20.0 list:
Iguodala - not every player was meant to continually progress especially with thadeus, brand, and williams all looking to improve on last years outing.

Nate Robinson - love this kid, would love for him to break 20 ppg, but he's a defensive liability and knicks would more likely have him be the offensive spark plug off the bench... easily candidate for 6th man of the year.

Scola - as popular a choice as he may be, he won't even be close. T-Mac is ahead of schedule on rehab and i think brooks is more likely to be houston's break out performer (though he won't average 20 ppg for the season). If T-Mac goes down (I should say, "when T-Mac goes down..."), look for Brooks, Ariza and the rest of the rocket bench to pick up the scoring slack, but no one person on that squad will be talented enough to support a 20+ avg. Maybe the Rockets should consider picking up AI (anyone know what rocket salary cap is at right now?)

Bargnani - I like, I like, he'll be a fantasy stud but not b/c his scoring will increase, but b/c he'll be consistent this year. You can expect roughly the same production from Bargnani, post the O'Neal trade (17/18 ppg, 1.5 treys, 6 rebounds, 1.5 blks) but having Turkoglu for a full season, derozan and bellini working for PT, and Bosh playing at his peak prior to the 2010 free agency market, Bargnani at 20 ppg is a tough sell.

Rose/Deng - Actually how about Salmons??? Rose will improve dramatically especially with Gordon out of the way, but Salmons is the heir apparent, and Deng's game isn't good enough to support 20+ ppg (he doesn't shoot threes, he doesn't slash to the basket) and he's coming off injury.

Hedo - no way. The atmosphere is different in Toronto - He won't have the inside presence that Dwight draws, or the attention that Lewis and Nelson draw. He may be looked on for scoring production, but it will be behind Bargnani and Bosh (as mentioned he will be playing for a big time contract come the 2010 free agency market). Jarret Jack and even Calderon will have their nights, enough to disrupt Hedo from gaining any offensive consistency.

Jeff Green/Westbrook - Green maybe, Westbrook unlikely. Westbrook will be sharing the pg responsibilities with Livingston and Watson, and unless Westbrook improves his shot he'll be a better version of Chalmers. Green is much more experienced and has a good offensive game, but an improving Durant averages over 25 ppg and tell me how many teams do you see have 2, let alone 3 players that average more than 20 ppg? Wizards (Butler, Jamison, Arenas), Warriors 07/08 (Monta, Davis, Jackson), Nuggets (AI, Melo)...

The new 20+ ppg performers i agree with:

JR Smith - He'll average at least 20 and maybe up to 21/22... Dahntay is out, AI is out, and everyone knows by now Carter shouldn't be in a nuggets starting lineup. With AI and Dahntay's contributions gone that's around 10+ ppg up for grabs (most of the slack picked up by Billups' arrival and Nene's improvement. Melo should return to superstar form at about 26/27 ppg. That's 4 ppg out of the 10+ and with Smith getting the starting gig, he's almost a lock to add 5 points to his average. I disagree with Dimemag on the Celtics comparison... Nene is no KG. He's not capable of 20+ ppg, at least not with Melo on the team and Smith is in the perfect storm to get more minutes to support 20+.

Aldridge - I like this pick. The Blazers have a well defined team, playoff experience, and are shaping into the NBA's newest top contender. Aldridge is going to step up his game along with the rest of the Blazers squad. He averaged close to 20 ppg for the second half of the season and should be poised to hit that mark with Miller feeding him the ball.

Rudy Gay/OJ Mayo - both will improve their scoring averages above 20 ppg. Gay was a standout at the US Olympics try outs and he's made it a goal to be an All Star this season. Mayo has all the offensive weapons and he's on a young Grizz squad that trusts the rock in his hands. Of course i take it all back if the Grizz pick up Iverson. Then all bets are off.

Eric Gordon - Gordon got his break with all the injuries the Clipps suffered last season. No Zach Randolph this year and assuming Bdiddy distributes the rock instead of jacking up the ill-advised 3, Gordon should be on track to break 20 ppg. Griffin should not impact the scoring distribution too much considering he will be inconsistent his first year, and Thornton should improve but not as dramatic as Gordon will.

Josh Howard - This guy is a beast. Although not tracked as a stat, he's one of the top players (maybe second only to Lebron/Wade) when it comes to first quarter scoring. Assuming he stays healthy (and can get past the national anthem... ahem) then look for Howard to take some of the scoring load off the Jet's shoulders. I don't think Marion should disrupt his PT since the Matrix's offense does not match up with Howard's ability to create shots for himself. This is a bit premature to say but i think Dirk is getting old and quite possibly nearing the downward slope of his career. Dirk has seen many playoff series, has stayed relatively healthy to play near complete seasons every year throughout his nba career, and played many games with his national team. Even more of an indication is Cuban's decision to not let Dirk play on the national team this summer. Howard is the future of that squad and was on pace to break 20 ppg had he not suffered an injury last year.

John Salmons - As mentioned this guy is the heir apparent to Ben Gordon and should pick up enough of the scoring slack to average 20+. Rose will improve but his number one priority is to distribute the ball and he will have plenty of offensive weapons to choose from - Salmons, Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Brad Miller, Hinrich.

Hoopsworld offers their take on breakout performers of the year - http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=13753

Also a link back to dimemag.com where this post was inspired from - http://dimemag.com/2009/09/5-new-players-that-will-average-20-points-this-season/

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