Six Breakout Candidates for the 2021-22 NBA Season
The 2021-22 NBA season is already underway, and we are starting to see the established stars take the court. But what about the diamonds in the rough? Here are six breakout candidates for the current campaign:
Breakout Candidates In The NBA
OG Anunoby, SF (Toronto Raptors)
You could very well argue that OG Anunoby already had his breakout last year, and you may be right. After all, he went from averaging 10.6 points per game in the 2019-20 season to 15.9 last year. However, it looks like he still has an extra gear in him.
With Kyle Lowry in Miami and Pascal Siakam out to start the year, Anunoby will “eat” a lot: he will have the ball in his hands and will be asked to fill the basket. He is eager to show he can score in a variety of ways, including isolation plays and pull-up threes.
Anunoby had a good preseason and seems primed to take another leap for the Raptors.
Kevin Porter Jr., G (Houston Rockets)
Kevin Porter will start at point guard for the young Rockets, and he has a firm goal: average 10 assists per game. He came in at 6.3 last season, although that obviously went up in games John Wall didn’t participate.
Wall won’t be around this time, and Porter Jr. will get a lot of looks as both a scorer and facilitator. He has some specific issues on his game: he is not the deadliest of shooters, at 42.5 percent field goal percentage and 31.1 three-point percentage, but he is 21 years old and could make substantial improvements on both fronts while putting something close to 20 points per game and seven or eight assists. That certainly seems like an NBA breakout candidate profile.
Robert Williams, C (Boston Celtics)
Boston Celtics’ center Robert Williams averaged 8.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game during the 2020-21 season, but he played only 18.9 minutes per contest. This year, every ingredient for a breakout seems to be in place.
Time Lord should become a household name this season and enter the upper-echelon of big men in the league, mainly because he is an excellent per-minute producer who will have more playing time.
The Celtics extended him and showed their faith in him. He had 15.2 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per 36 minutes last year, all with a .721 field goal percentage.
He battled a knee injury during the preseason but should be ready to rock from the go, making him one of the NBA’s breakout candidates.
Terance Mann, SG/SF (Los Angeles Clippers)
Excuse me for the lame joke, but Terance played like a Mann at times during the Clippers’ postseason run last season. His 2020-21 numbers won’t wow anyone (7.0 points per game in 18.9 minutes) but let’s not forget he averaged 10.7 points per contest in 18.1 minutes in the Western Conference semifinals against Utah.
The development that will give Terance Mann the opportunity to fully break out in 2021-22 is the absence of Kawhi Leonard, at least during the first few months of the year. That, and his own improvements – coach Ty Lue said he is “ready to take the next step” and his shot is improved – are good signs of a breakthrough performance even though he probably won’t be among the starters to begin the year.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG/SF (New Orleans Pelicans)
Last season, Nickeil Alexander-Walker averaged 11.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.2 per game in 21.9 minutes. However, we already saw what he is capable of with expanded playing time: his averages in March, April, and May were 14.1/4.6/2.3, 16.0/4.0/2.0, and 17.6/3.6/4.2, respectively. He also made 2.9 triples per contest in his last 15.
The culmination of his breakout could come in the 2021-2022 campaign, however. Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe are no longer with the team, and the 23-year-old will have more on his plate this time. He could even fight for the Most Improved Player award when all is said and done.
Jordan Poole, SG (Golden State Warriors)
Is it possible that we see the Splash Triplets this year? Kidding aside, Jordan Poole is a phenomenal candidate to break out in the 2021-22 campaign, and not just because he finished opening night with 20 points, two rebounds, three assists, and four threes.
Poole had a very strong preseason, and can really score in a variety of ways. Klay Thompson may be out until January, so the 22-year-old shooting guard has a chance to cement his place in the starting lineup with a strong 2021 performance. He has the goods to pull it off, and his statistical profile is similar to Thompson’s.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images