As the NBA season approaches the All-Star break, there are some organizations who are on a tear and expected to make some noise in the playoffs. There are others who are in limbo whether they will pursue to be competitive for a play-in spot, while there are squads who are on track to miss even a spot in the top 10 in their respective conferences.
From the franchises in the cellar, they would rather focus on selecting a high draft pick in next year’s draft class or prioritize the development and growth of certain individuals who are part of their long-term plans. Moreover, there are other breakout players who could come from a contending team as they could be instrumental pieces in their deep playoff run.
With all that being said, here are some names who fans must keep an eye on for the remainder of the year.
2021-22 NBA Season Breakout Candidates After All-Star Break
3. Isaiah Stewart
Isaiah Stewart is a massive young man who works exceptionally well on every possession. His offensive arsenal is still very raw and lacking on various components, but the Detroit Pistons have a bright young building block on their team.
Kelly Olynyk and Trey Lyles are two of the main bigs on their roster, but their coaching staff is predicted to focus on enhancing the weaknesses of Stewart’s game.
Playing behind Mason Plumlee last season was tough for Stewart, but coach Dwane Casey gave him a ton of burn toward the last 15 games of the year. Although his offensive moves still need to be heavily polished,his sheer effort on rebounding and defense is what has put himself in position to start every game this season. It looks like another lost season for Detroit, so Stewart is expected to get more run in the final stretch and put his stamp as a starting center in the league.
2. Chris Duarte
With the Indiana Pacers reportedly putting their main guys on the NBA trading block, rookie guard Chris Duarte may find himself getting a bigger role after the trade deadline and All-Star break.
This man is a lethal long-range shooter who could develop into a consistent 40 percent 3-point shooter over the course of his career. In the majority of his games in his first year, he has scored in double digits, highlighted by his 27-point outing in their overtime victory over the Golden State Warriors.
Coach Rick Carlisle will surely give Duarte, Oshae Brisset and Isaiah Jackson more playing time after Indiana’s roster changes by February 10.
1. Devin Vassell
After the San Antonio Spurs decided to unload Bryn Forbes to the Denver Nuggets, this opened up more minutes for Devin Vassell off the bench. Derrick White and Dejounte Murray are still the long-term starting backcourt for the Spurs, but Vassell could be developed into a sixth man who will be included in the closing lineup of San Antonio.
The defense and agility of this trio will be incredible for Gregg Popovich, with the future looking bright in Texas once again. Vassell’s offense is still lacking for a high-level NBA wing, but the Sours’ layer development team is known to expand the repertoire of individuals like Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker.
As Popovich slowly increases the minutes of Vassell to over 25 a game, it will also raise his confidence and help him develop a well-rounded game.
Players like Alex Caruso, Duncan Robinson and Fred VanVleet are prime examples of phenomenal role players who started their career on a tough note. However, they continued persevering and pounced on the opportunity when given. Now, they are being paid a substantial amount of money. With the possible chances being given to these players, it is time for them to shine.