By Matthew Laczko | October 21, 2015
It’s officially almost the start of the NBA season as we approach the first game of the regular season with the tip off being a clash of teams with young talent with the Atlanta Hawks against the Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers against the Chicago Bulls, and the New Orleans Pelicans against the World Champion Golden State Warriors. In 2015, I predict that we will see the biggest rise of young players turned All-Stars since the late 1990’s and early 2000’s with Iverson, Kobe, Shaq, and LeBron all coming in to the league around that time. For the start of the regular season here are the young stars to look out for in each game:
In the Detroit Pistons at the Atlanta Hawks watch out for two players on the Hawks who look to be big contributors as veterans of a deep playoff team and one who looks to break out his mold as a bench player. Dennis Schroeder was drafted as the future of the point guard position for the Atlanta Hawks as Jeff Teague played mediocre until his first All-Star performance last year. Schroeder has been coming off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks since his rookie season but as a third year player he looks to try and overtake Teague as the starting point guard as the season progresses even if it is as a splitting time role for the Hawks. Schroeder improved his playing this offseason as the star for his home country Germany in EuroBasket Tournament as he lead the older German team as the starting point guard against the best players in Europe.
The other player to come off the bench to produce as a starter this year will be Kent Bazemore, the SG/SF out of Old Dominium, who has been a threat off the bench backing up DeMarre Carrol. With Carrol in Toronto, Bazemore looks to have a breakout year being a premier wing defender with explosive rim rocking power and will be guarding a barrage of players like Luol Deng, Justise Winslow, Tobias Harris, and Otto Porter Jr. in the Southeast Division of the NBA. In his first year with the Hawks, Bazemore averaged 5.2 PPG, 3 RPG, and all while doing this with an average of 17 minutes a game off the bench.
For Detroit look out for one of the biggest and toughest big men in the league as Andre Drummond looks to assert himself as one the league’s best centers in the Motor City. Drummond averaged a double-double in his 3rd season in the NBA and thrived in Stan Van Gundy’s offense as well as blocking almost 2 shots a game as the big man in the middle for the Pistons. Also for the Pistons comes a young man with as much talent as the starting SF but will be limited due to lack of experience in the NBA as Stanley Johnson was drafted by the Pistons out of Arizona this past summer and will look to contribute off the bench as a rookie in the NBA.
For the Cavaliers and Chicago game be on the lookout for three young players who will take the court in this season opener for both teams. On the Chicago Bulls, Jimmy Butler is coming off another All-Star performance, Most Improved Player of the Year Award winner, NBA All-Defensive Second Team, and of course a major contract from the Chicago Bulls. At 26 years old, Butler is far from being done and with Derrick Rose’s injury history Jimmy might be the only Bull to lead his team to the playoffs besides another All-Star performance from a declining Pau Gasol. For the Cavaliers there is one name who has always been a key component for the Cavaliers and if he is healthy, could lead the team to an NBA Championship alongside LeBron. Kyrie Irving is only 23 years old (!!) and has had a great career with a scoring line of 21 PPG, 5 APG, and 3 RPG at the point guard position for the Cavaliers. As he paired with LeBron James he averaged pretty much the same stat line last year and hopes to improve on his season without as many turnovers he’s had his entire career with his career low stat line being 2.5 per game in 2014-2015. The final player to watch in this game will be coming off the bench and is a second year pro out of Creighton named Doug “McBuckets” McDermott. McDermott averaged a mere 3 PPG last year while battling injuries and riding the pine as Tony Snell and Mike Dunleavy platooned the small forward position. McDermott will thrive this year as the 6th or 7th man off the bench as Fred Hoiberg loves big men who can shoot threes (enter McBuckets) and the fact that Hoiberg brings a fast-paced oriented offense that emphasizing moving the ball in space which McDermott thrived in during his college days under his father at Creighton.
The final game of the evening is between the up and coming New Orleans Pelicans and the Golden State Warriors who face each other with a bit of youth in several positions. For the Pelicans, MVP candidate and 22 year old power forward Anthony Davis is the talk of the town and will be looking to log in more minutes and play a faster tempo offense under new Head Coach Alvin Gentry who was the Assistant Coach for Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors last year. Davis might be leaned on heavily in this game as Tyreke Evans is recovering from a knee injury and Jrue Holiday is the only real offense weapon that might be open in this game due to Klay Thompson locking down Eric Gordon. Another young name in this game is James Michael McAdoo out of the University of North Carolina and was a contributor in some situations off the bench for the defending champs. McAdoo doesn’t scream out breakout player on the stat sheet as he barely averaged anything behind a veteran front line of Draymond Green, David Lee, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, and Andrew Bogut, but as a starter in the D-League for the Santa Cruz Warriors, McAdoo was a beast. McAdoo nearly average 20 points per game alongside a beefy 2 BPG and 9 RPG so he has shown his ability to be a featured SF/PF in the Warriors system that Kerr has asked his staff in Santa Cruz to develop players with.
As a final note I will say that this season as you watch these games and see names unfamiliar just remember these are the up and coming, the nameless, the restless, the non-complacent players who work hard each and every day and now have a chance to prove themselves. This is the year of the new generation of players and the year we see a guy under 25 try and earn himself the honors of being the Most Valuable Player in the greatest league for Basketball on this planet.