NBA Players Ready to Break Out in the 2020-21 Season
The 2020 NBA Draft is in the books, and we’re past the first wave of NBA free agency moves.
In less than a month, the NBA is back on the hardwood, and one of the shortest offseasons ever could give way to a truly unique regular season for The Association.
It’s been wild to this point, but the league is surely just getting started. There could be numerous players to benefit from the odd season, and that may mean some players are gearing up for big breakouts.
Some players got the party started when the league was in the bubble in Orlando, and others are simply ready to take things to the next level now.
I won’t include rookies or fully established stars here, but with the NBA on the brain, I thought about which NBA players are about to break out in 2020-21.
Here are the players that seem closest to making a big leap and may impact how you bet on the NBA this year.
Coby White, PG, Bulls
One NBA player read to break out is Chicago Bulls guard Coby White. The former North Carolina product’s rookie season didn’t blow anyone away (13.2 points and 2.7 assists per game), but he was rock solid as a whole and displayed his immense upside as a scorer.
That was most evident in a three-game stretch where he scored 101 points.
The 17th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, White came on strong to close out the year, where he produced 20+ points in eight of his last 10 games.
On top of that, White also chipped in at least five assists in each of his last five games to close out the year.
The sample size is small, but the early signs point to a creative scorer who can get his own shot and set up teammates consistently. White’s role should only be increasing from here, too, as the team let free agent Kris Dunn walk this offseason.
Free agent guard Kris Dunn has agreed to a two-year, $10M deal with the Atlanta Hawks, sources tell ESPN. Player option on the second year.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 21, 2020
Now set up as the point guard of the future, White could see a huge uptick in scoring and playmaking production. At just 20 years old, he could quickly become one of the best young guards in the game.
Christian Wood, C, Rockets
When you look at how good players actually are, two things that tend to stand out are PER (player efficiency rating) and TS% (true shooting percentage).
In both areas, big man Christian Wood is very interesting. He tied for the 19th best PER a year ago and also tied for 16th in TS%.
The sample size isn’t massive for a guy who started just 12 games last year, but the efficiency is very intriguing.
Has Wood already enjoyed a bit of a breakout? Sure, but he’s yet to prove it’s sustainable. He blew up for the New Orleans Pelicans in eight appearances in 2018-19, and last year he showed it wasn’t so flukey.
Then the Rockets signed him to a big deal this offseason.
There should be a little hesitance on a team with so many question marks, of course. Both Russell Westbrook and James Harden seemingly want out of town, and Houston may complicate matters down low after bringing in DeMarcus Cousins.
But Wood is just 25 years old and can clearly hoop. His PER-36 production translates to 22 points and 10.6 rebounds a year ago. In fact, his PER-36 in each of the last four years tops 20 and 10 each time.
It’s obviously possible he’s just a nice bench scorer who maximized his opportunity, but if there is any chance an increased role is met with consistency, the NBA could be looking at a star.
Tyler Herro, SG, Heat
To be fair, Herro has already made an impression on NBA fans. He was a fantastic scorer off the bench as a rookie for Miami, and he played a key role for the Heat en route to the 2020 NBA Finals.
During the regular season, Herro was surprisingly reliable for a rookie, pitching in 13.5 points per game while shooting 38% from long range.
As he gained more experience, he also displayed playmaking ability and even made some nice defensive players.
Herro’s calling card will always be his ability to fill it up offensively, of course.
He showcased that ability on a big stage in the NBA’s bubble, contributing double figures in scoring in 20 of 21 playoff appearances.
That type of reliable scoring projects quite well for Herro’s future, especially when you note how effective he was in the league’s title series. I mean, this moment isn’t one anyone will soon forget.
Man, that snarl.
But really, Herro has a feathery shooting touch, swagger for days, an array of offensive moves, the handle, and playmaking of a legit superstar.
He’s tentatively held back on a pretty loaded Heat squad, but there’s little doubt he elevates to the starting five going into next year.
When you consider the unselfish play of guys like Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler, that just might give way to a 20+ point per game season. This is another potential NBA breakout player at just 20 years old, as his offensive game simply cannot be denied.
Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Bucks
This is a weird one, as DiVincenzo flashed brilliant ability at both ends of the floor last year, and for a large chunk of last season, was a huge part of Milwaukee’s success.
An electrifying bench player, DiVincenzo has the ability to push the pace with remarkable control, he can hit spot-up jumpers, he attacks the rim relentlessly, and he also knows how to create for his teammates.
And that’s just his offensive impact.
A blur in the open court that can slow things down and execute as needed, DiVincenzo has also been quite the asset on defense.
The easiest way to see that is his 1.2 steals per game, but he also sported a 101 defensive net rating and has the length and athleticism to give opponents serious issues.
Despite being a complete player and extremely useful, DiVincenzo did fade in the playoffs, and it likely played into the Bucks attempting to trade their emerging star.
Breaking: Milwaukee is landing Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic in a sign-and-trade deal.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 17, 2020
The Bucks are trading Donte Divincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova and DJ Wilson in the deal to the Kings, sources tell @wojespn. pic.twitter.com/35Xf4h5fZ7
That trade embarrassingly fell through, of course, and now DiVincenzo is staring at a future where he either needs to get dealt somewhere else, or he can try to prove Milwaukee wrong.
Either way, DiVincenzo could be looking at an expanded role.
As things stand, he could end up starting now that Wesley Matthews and George Hill skipped town, and if he lands that gig, he could be looking at a major statistical vault.
A player this talented playing with a huge chip on his shoulder is good for the Bucks and great for fans of professional basketball.
Michael Porter Jr., SF, Nuggets
If you’re wondering what other NBA breakout players you should be watching for, make sure MPJ is high on your list.
Admittedly, I should have discussed him a bit sooner, but I pushed him down this list to allow my readers to sweat a bit.
All jokes aside, Porter flexed his offensive muscle in flashes last year, displaying nice scoring ability, excellent rebounding, and an elite outside stroke (42%).
Much like most of these NBA breakout candidates, the sample size is absurdly small. MPJ only started eight games during the regular season, and he had a back issue rendering his rookie campaign useless the year prior.
But when talking pure upside, Porter Jr. has the ability to pour in 20+ points and hit 40% of his long balls on a nightly basis. His rebounding chops could put him in rare company in that department, as well.
Aiding his cause is the departure of Jerami Grant.
While the more accomplished defender and an underrated linchpin to Denver’s strong defense, Grant’s departure opens up a starting role and loads of minutes.
Porter Jr. is destined for superstardom, and it really isn’t that wild to think it comes as soon as the 2020-21 NBA season.
Thomas Bryant, C, Wizards
Another big man I can see blowing up this year is Wizards center Thomas Bryant. He’s really not the normal breakout star I’d get excited about, but he’s worked his way into a massive role with Washington, and I don’t see it going away anytime soon.
The return of a healthy John Wall could balance things out for Washington, and it may just mean easier buckets for Bryant inside.
The floor is pretty nice for Bryant. We saw that based on last year when he averaged 13.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game in just 24.9 minutes per contest.
Efficiency stands out here, as Bryant ranked 22nd in the NBA in TS%, and he even stretched the floor with a surprisingly elite 40% three-point shooting percentage.
The question may be just how much better Bryant can get. But at least statistically, the ceiling appears to be reasonably high.
Bryant hasn’t been a plus defender on the surface, but he’s a solid shot-blocker, he rebounds fairly well, and he’s clearly a respectable shooter and scorer.
This looks like a complete player to me, and the 23-year old should only see a bigger role moving forward. He does have some other guys on the depth chart to worry about, but he’s the best big man Washington has.
If the Wizards give him more run, it’s possible the quality production we saw last year was merely the beginning of a strong career.
This is a collection of NBA players that could break out from varying levels across the league. I’m sure there are countless others that will pop up due to trades, free agency moves, and injuries, as well.
But you’re looking at potential title threats like Miami, Denver, and Milwaukee with guys who could progress and help them take things to the next level.
Then there are players from the Wiz, Bulls, and Cavs that could improve to the point where they help make a bottom feeder a realistic playoff threat.
Expectations can be turned on their side when betting on pro basketball. And when individuals take it upon themselves to better their game to help their team, it can change how we wager.
If you agree with any of the above, consider how it might change how you bet on these players and their respective teams the next time you bet on sports online.
To feed your interest in the NBA, check out a few more basketball posts we’ve cooked up.