Last season, Indiana Pacers forward Paul George defined the term breakout player in the NBA.
George averaged 17.4 points and 7.6 rebounds and was named Most Improved Player, guiding the Pacers to the Eastern Conference finals where he waged bucket-for-bucket battles with LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
George did not necessarily come from nowhere -- the former first-round pick has a complete skill set and Danny Granger's injury opened more opportunities for the pure shooter. George was also the NBA's only player with at least 140 steals and 50 blocks.
There might not be another George in the bunch, but there are many candidates to emerge as breakout players in the 2013-14 NBA season. Just ask George, who picked 2012 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans.
"Anthony Davis. He's only a second-year player, and what he's doing here right now and what he did in the preseason is scary," George said. "Once he fully gets it, he's going to be incredible. He's in great hands with (coach) Monty (Williams).
"It's going to be scary once he fully gets it and he gets that 'grown-man' strength. His game might be that much tougher. To me, he's so athletic. He's Timmy (Duncan) when Timmy was young. Timmy was athletic. Davis can run the floor, he can handle the ball. he's our modern-day Tim Duncan."
Correspondents for The Sports Xchange grilled players, coaches and front-office personnel to get their take on breakout player candidates.
Starting with many of the peers who witnessed George's emergence, our version of full-court press resulted in strong backing for Davis as well as Bradley Beal, the Washington Wizards' sharpshooter. Also receiving multiple mentions were Houston Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons and Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, last season's NBA Rookie of the Year with averages of 19.0 points, 6.5 assists and 38.6 minutes per outing.
Here is a look at some of the responses:
--Channing Frye, Phoenix Suns forward, selected DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings:
"I think from what I've seen in preseason and I was watching him again (Wednesday) night, he's really focused this season. And I think that's what everyone else in the league didn't want. He's one of the most talented guys in the game but everyone always had the book on him: 'Just get him emotional and he'll breakdown.' But he's a good player who has all the talent in the world and it looks like he's putting it together."
--David Joerger, Memphis Grizzlies coach:
"Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard are both guys that I've seen that look like they're taking their game to the next level so far."
--Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers coach:
"How about this kid (Anthony Davis)? He's an elite talent, and he seems to be just playing like his rookie season is behind him and he's ready to take the big step. He's shooting the ball well, driving the ball well, making good plays, defending and he's all over the glass. I would say he's probably going to have a great season for these guys. You look at his numbers, and he can shoot the ball."
--Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers center:
"I've been hearing a lot about Andre Drummond (of the Detroit Pistons) and how he worked during the summer. He's another bug guy, and I wish him well, except against us. I think he's poised for a great year."
--Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets small forward, who was with his team in preseason overseas, had a limited perspective of other teams. However, he pointed out Philadelphia 76ers rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who had 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds in a 114-110 victory over two-time champion Miami Heat:
"I haven't been able to watch a lot of preseason games," Parsons said. "I just saw that (Carter-Williams) almost had a quadruple-double. That's impressive. There's so much young talent in this league."
--Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons center, said Beal is his candidate as breakout player:
"I think Bradley Beal is really going to have a great year. He's just a pure scorer, a pure shooter, so he's definitely one of those younger guys who's going to have a great year. (Beal and point guard John Wall), those are two very talented guys, maybe the two most important players on their team right now. Them being healthy this year, it changes the dynamic of their team. He was at the USA camp (this summer), so I got to see him play there. He's one of those guys who just knows how to play, how to score and he's good defensively, too."
--Xavier Henry, Los Angeles Lakers guard:
"It's all about the situation. You have to be put in a position to succeed. If he gets healthy, I think Greivis Vasquez could have a great year in Sacramento."
--David Lee, Golden State Warriors forward:
"I'd say Bradley Beal. He's got a good all-around game. He didn't have much of a chance last year because of all the injuries (among the Wizards). Now that they have more of a full team, he could be a breakout player."
--Flip Saunders, Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations:
"I think it will be Bradley Beal. I love the ability he has. He's young. He's going to be very improved. He's got a great work ethic and he's a Ray Allen-type shooter."
Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors coach, suggests Parsons:
"Chandler Parsons has shown that in preseason. You don't know if that's a product of Dwight Howard being there to take some of the pressure off but he's had a good preseason, he's playing well. That's a tough question because there are so many players who are on the verge of taking the next step, I think Chandler Parsons is one guy. I think Howard will take a lot of pressure off a lot of players on that team. He balances that team out a lot. Derrick Favors from Utah is another one, they're expecting good things from him and he can take that next step and take that team on his back."
--Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz center, believes a former teammate from Kentucky, Orlando Magic shooting guard Doron Lamb, is on the verge of busting out in Orlando. Lamb, a second-round pick in 2012, averaged 3.2 points and hit 47.6 percent from 3-point range for the Magic last season after being traded from the Milwaukee Bucks:
"I hope it will be him," Kanter said. "He can shoot from everywhere. He has really soft hands. He can make 3-pointers. He's got the tear drop (shot). I think he's going to be really good this year."
--Brandon Rush, Jazz guard, who may have a breakout himself after missing 2012-13 for the Golden State Warriors with a knee injury, named Lillard:
"He already had a good season last year. I think Damian Lillard's going to have a monster season up there in Portland. I think he's going to be more comfortable. I think he knows the pace of the game, and he's able to get shots he wants. I think he's going to have a crazy season."
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- Indiana Pacers
- Bradley Beal
- Paul George
- Anthony Davis
- Damian Lillard
- Chandler Parsons
- Miami Heat