PG: Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
The NBA’s youngest player in the league last season now has a year of experience in his back pocket heading into the upcoming year. Last year Jrue Holiday’s immediate, first year production turned a lot of heads and Holiday was the biggest bright spot on the Sixers 2009-2010 season. In Orlando Summer League, Holiday was a first team selection at the conclusion of the league, leading all scorers with 19.3 point per outing. There’s little to no doubt Holiday will be the 76ers’ starting point guard next season under the supervision of new head coach Doug Collins.
Last Year: 8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.1 spg
’10-’11 Projection: 13 ppg, 4 rpg, 7 apg, 1.5 spg
SG: Terrence Williams, New Jersey Nets
The second year man out of Louisville is on the verge of making the Nets’ Travis Outlaw signing look silly. Sadly, Travis Outlaw became the Nets’ biggest free agent signee this historic offseason, signing a 5-year $35 million dollar deal with the club. Adding Outlaw to the roster for that kind of money of course means he’ll get the starting job at the small forward position. But that’s not a concern to Terrence Williams who’ll be the ultimate sixth man for the Nets next season. Williams is a very rare point forward who’s capable of legitimately playing three positions: point guard, shooting guard, and small forward. With that type of ability along with the talent and potential that Williams possesses, he’ll be one to watch out for next season. His 2010 Summer League performance in Orlando was clear indication that he has in fact made strides in his overall game. Along with Holiday, Williams was also named to the league’s first team averaging 18.8 ppg and 5 apg.
Last Year: 8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.9 apg
’10-’11 Projections: 11 ppg, 6 rpg, 4 apg
SF: Anthony Randolph, New York Knicks
If you’re a member of the Golden State Warriors and you’re not named Stephen Curry the best thing for your career would to be dealt elsewhere. Finally, that time came for Mr. Randolph, a player who has always been just a trade away from having the opportunity to fulfill his potential. There wasn’t any better of a fit than New York for Randolph where he’ll immediately become a big piece of next year’s Knicks squad. Not only will Mike D’Antoni’s system naturally inflate his numbers, but Randolph stands as a great complimentary piece to Amare Stoudemire. If Randolph is as effective as I project, he very well could become the NBA’s Most Improved Player next season.
Last Year: 11.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.6 bpg
’10-’11 Projections: 17 ppg, 8 rpg, 4 apg, 1 spg, 2 bpg
PF: JaVale McGee, Washington Wizards
It’s hard to argue anybody had a more productive summer than McGee. Not only did he continue to make giant strides in his Las Vegas Summer League games, but he also impressed many on lookers at Team USA camp. Heading into next season with the Wizards, McGee is expected to be the starting center within a very scary yet very questionable starting five. While his size and length will never be in question, his strength and body type will always be a concern. He’s far from a permanent power forward type player, but he definitely has the offensive ability that some power forwards in this league don’t have. For the next few years, McGee will be an improving young talent that will always have room to grow. No matter how good McGee gets, his unbelievable frame offers his potential limitless abilities though we all know the road must stop somewhere. As far as next year’s production is concerned, there’s no question his numbers will rise in all aspects of his game.
Last Year: 6.4 ppg, 4 rpg, 0.2 apg, 1.7 bpg
’10-’11 Projections: 10 ppg, 7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 2 bpg
C: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
Jordan’s numbers will always suffer as he’s stuck behind one of the Western Conference’s top centers in Chris Kaman. But he’s nothing short of a poor man’s Dwight Howard who’s still very young and able to polish many rusty parts of his game. Whenever I watch Jordan play all I can think of is Dwight’s size, strength, and surprisingly “almost” as athletic. He’s poor in the fact that defensively he’s not nearly as effective nor as good of a rebounder, but he’s actually very close athletically. Jordan is a member of the same club Anthony Randolph just left, “A Trade-Away From Being Good”. One destination that makes perfect sense: Oklahoma City Thunder, if they were to get their hands on him, game over.
Last Year: 4.8 ppg, 5 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.9 bpg
’10-’11 Projections: 6 ppg, 5 ppg, 0.7 apg, 1.1 bpg
This is Part 1 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 2 that’s coming soon! In the mean time, follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.