Believe it or not, NBA training camp is just around the corner, which means a blank slate for everyone.
Recently our staff discussed the organizations that had the best offseason (and worse), more the most underrated moves of this summer. Now we will turn our attention to individual improvement. Whether this is the result of a free agency or commercial movement leaving a void, or simply having another year under their belt, we asked our staff today:
Which player is ready to go out next season?
Nekias Duncan: No Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam missing the first month or so of the season, plus a solid second half of last season leads me to believe OG Anunoby could be in line for a production bump – as i wrote this weekend.
Jackson Frank: OG Anunoby made tremendous progress offensively last season with his handle, driving skill and overall self-creation. Still, he was beset by various illnesses and only played 43 games, despite averaging 16-5.5-2-1.5 on 60.5% True Shooting. I bet he’ll get an All-Star buzz and continue to grow as part of a fun and funky team of Raptors.
Imman Adan: OG Anunoby is about to have an exceptional year. With Lowry gone, the Raptors enter their next phase. Siakam should be running out of time to readjust after shoulder surgery, so the Raptors should see plenty of offensive possessions going to Anunoby.
Spencer Davies: You know, Darius Garland has had a hell of a summer. He’s grown an inch or two, added some muscle, and looks really ready to take that leap after a successful race with Team USA’s Select team. Before falling with an injury that prematurely ended his season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Garland was on a post-All-Star tear, averaging 19.5 points and 6.5 assists per game on over 40 % long distance. He and Collin Sexton began to develop a strong relationship on the pitch, and based on what Isaac Okoro made in the summer league, we can probably expect these cutting abilities to help Garland’s case as a passer as well; Plus, the third-year point guard is a confident knockout shooter coming out of dribbling and transitioning transfers, and can throw lobs with the best of them. Defensively his efforts are there, and now that he has Evan Mobley with Jarrett Allen behind him, there is enough protection to cover those angles. Year 3 is usually when prospects put what they’ve learned into practice, and Garland just seems to have the right people around him to be successful.
Evan Sidery: I’m going to cheat here, listing two names that are ready for a breakout campaign: Anthony Edwards and OG Anunoby. After the All-Star break, Minnesota’s No. 1 pick averaged nearly 25 points per game. With another year of seasoning, there’s no reason not to believe Edwards can’t be one of the top contenders for the Most Improved Player title in 2021-22. Another name to watch out for is Anunoby. With the departure of Kyle Lowry from Toronto, there are more opportunities for Anunoby to become a primary scoring option. The continued development of Anunoby’s shooting gives me strong indications that he is ready for a massive breakout with an increased workload.
Ethan Fuller: OG Anunoby was already close to breaking through last season after recording career highs in points (15.9), rebounds, (5.5) assists (2.2), steals (1.5), percentage of three points (39.8%) and percentage of real fire (60.5%). That’s not to say he’s one of the Toronto Raptors’ best defensemen. Anunoby is only 24, and as the Raptors look to get back into the playoff hunt, expect him to be a key contributor.
Jesse Blancarte: If you’ve watched Game 6 between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, you’ve got a good idea of why Terance Mann is set to have a breakout season. In this crucial game, Mann recorded 39 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and an assist. Mann shot 15 of 21 from the field, 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and was instrumental in the Clippers’ victory. Mann is athletic, a good defender and pushes himself on both sides of the court. He’s also improving as a playmaker and shooter. With Kawhi Leonard possibly out all season, Mann will play an important role in filling the void left by Leonard.
Drew Maresca: Obi Toppin. In the Summer League, Toppin averaged 21 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and fell to 44.5 / 34.4 / 88.9. Once again, he wowed with his athleticism, had a noticeably more handsome jumper, and made faster decisions with and without the ball. Toppin’s biggest obstacle to coming out continues to be his inability to break an NBA rotation. He’s playing behind Julius Randle, and Randle will likely be a leader in minutes played again next season. But when given the opportunity, Toppin will be ready to prove the skeptics wrong.
Chris Sheridan: Keldon Johnson of the San Antonio Spurs.