With the NBA Season officially over and the summer about to begin, each team in the league wants to be the next one to have a victory parade and hold up the Larry O’Brien trophy at this time next year. So let’s take a look at one player on each team at the current moment that has to take a major leap in order to get their team one step closer to the championship goal.
- Atlanta Hawks- Kevin Hueter
The Hawks young sharpshooter had an up and down rookie season. He shot over 40% from downtown in odd months and 33% or fewer in even months. Kevin averaged over 14 points a game in April as his season ended on a high note. Shooters are at a premium in this league and Hueter has a special talent for being able to knockdown shots.
With the Hawks adding slashers like Cam Reddish and DeAndre Hunter to a team that already has Trae Young and John Collins, Hueter will have plenty of wide open chances from downtown.
- Charlotte Hornets- Miles Bridges
Miles started to grow in confidence as the season came to a close. Once he entered the starting lineup at the end of February, he averaged 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. With Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb both on new teams, Bridges has a chance to potentially double his production on the scoring end provided he continues to his shooting from downtown.
Already known as a explosive player, Bridges will be part of a newer and younger group that will carry the Hornets into the future. But out of the group (Bridges, Dwayne Bacon, P.J. Washington and Terry Rozier), Bridges has the best chance to be a breakout star.
- Miami Heat- Derrick Jones Jr.
One of the most entertaining players on the Heat roster is the fourth-year forward from UNLV. He’s known more for his high flying dunks and incredible athleticism, Jones has the potential to provide Miami more. He’s a decent outside shooter (He hit 28 three-pointers last season, he had hit 6 total in the previous 2 seasons) but with more work, Jones can become more of a seventh man in Erik Spolestra’s rotation in the upcoming season.
The Heat lost a few key members during the off-season (Josh Richardson, Dwayne Wade and Hassan Whiteside), so Derrick will have every chance to get extended minutes on a consistent basis.
- Orlando Magic- Jonathan Issac
Yes, Magic fans haven’t not seen Markelle Fultz play one minute and he could be a game changer. But in this case, I can’t speak on a player that has not played a game since before thanksgiving of 2018. So my choice for the Magic is the ultra-talented Issac.
Even though he didn’t take the full leap that I was expecting him to take last season, he made major strides in his first full season. He was one of the most impressive players during the Team USA camp in July.
- Washington Wizards- Tony Brown Jr
The second year swing man from Oregon has every chance to take on a bigger role for the Wizards this season. After struggling to find playing time in the early part of the season, Brown was able to find consistent minutes after the team’s trade of Otto Porter Jr to Chicago. He started 10 games in the second half of the season and he showed improvement.
How with the newly acquired CJ Miles expected to miss extended time with a stress fracture in his left foot, Brown has every chance to become a full-time starter. But on Tuesday, Brown strained his calf that could keep him out of the entire preseason. Even with his current injury, if Brown plays up to his potential, the Wizards will be better than the experts preseason predictions.