Latest News, NBA / Aug 28, 2009 / 11:15 am

Top 10 Guys That Need To Break Out This Season

Luol Deng

Unlike a tenured professor, once you make it to the NBA, it doesn’t automatically mean you get to stay there. Just ask Jerome Moiso. So with training camp starting in a month, here are ten guys that need to break out this season:

Tony Allen, Boston Celtics – Tony Allen is one of the most frustrating players for me to watch. And being a Celtics fan, I watch him all the time. When he’s good, he’s good. But when he’s not, he could be one of the most insufferable players in the League. If you look at the Celtics off-season though, you can see that Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers still have confidence in the young man, waiving Gabe Pruitt and not adding any other guards to the roster other than drafting Lester Hudson. If the Celtics are going to win it all, they need T.A. to play well.

Tyson Chandler, Charlotte Bobcats – I’ve been a fan of Tyson for a minute and have supported him when guys were saying that he was nothing without Chris Paul and that all he could do was dunk. While CP3 definitely made him look like Amar’e Stoudemire next to Steve Nash, you gotta know that Tyson can still play. Being traded for a former franchise player in Emeka Okafor is big shoes to fill, but the expectations are definitely a lot different in Charlotte than they were in New Orleans. I’d look for a big year out of Chandler now that the pressure is off.

Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls – After signing a monster deal before last season, Deng played in only 49 games and had his worst season across the board since his rookie year. While Derrick Rose may be the man in Chicago, Deng was certainly paid as such. And if the Bulls want to do some damage this year, they’re going to need to have Deng step up – especially with the departure of Ben Gordon.

Brandan Wright, Golden State Warriors – Watch out, but Brandan Wright is en route to being a bigger Carolina bust than Joe Forte. I realize he’s in a tough situation trying to negotiate playing time in Nellie‘s world on a team where everyone seems to be 6-8, but Wright better step up in training camp or fear being benched in favor of The Two Anthonys. After only playing 77 games in his first two years, it’s time to eclipse that mark and go for all 82.

Sasha Vujacic, Los Angeles Lakers – People that have been reading the site all year know that I’m a big fan of “The Machine.” And if he doesn’t step up his game this year for the defending champs, he could be discontinued. The fact that the Lakers re-signed Shannon Brown this summer after only playing 18 games for the Lake Show can’t be encouraging, but that’s why the Slovenian guard needs to step his game up.

James Jones, Miami Heat – When the South Florida native signed with the Heat as a free agent last summer, he signed a five-year deal worth more than $23.2 million with only the first two years guaranteed. That means that after missing the first three months of last season, appearing in only 40 games total, Jones has to prove to Pat Riley that he deserves to stay past 2010. We already know the Heat are trying to make a splash, so if he wants to be part of the future, the time is now.

Yi Jianlian, New Jersey Nets – After a big summer, Yi has over a billion eyes on him this season with Yao on the DL. The time is now.

Darko Milicic, New York Knicks – He could either go down as the biggest bust in NBA history, or finally prove some people wrong that he was simply on teams that didn’t know how to showcase his talents. As some people say about David Lee and his “inflated numbers” playing under Mike D’Antoni, if there’s any team he should be able to flourish on, it’s the Knicks. It will be interesting to see if Darko steps up to the challenge.

Shaun Livingston, Oklahoma City Thunder – After his injury, a lot of people just wanted to give up on Shaun Livingston. But if he can comeback this year and actually play for an exciting, young Thunder squad like he did last April, people will start to remember why the Clippers were ready to get rid of Sam Cassell and pass the reins to the young Magic.

Louis Williams, Philadelphia 76ers – If the Sixers are unwilling to make a play for Allen Iverson, and let Andre Miller walk for nothing, they must have some faith in Louis Williams. While he’s definitely showed improvement in his three years, if he’s going to be the starting point guard this season, he needs to take his gave to the next level.

Who do you think needs to break out this season?

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  • Celts Fan

    I want Tony Allen gone. Why couldn’t that guy from Chicago get him? We have Darrent Williams and Sean Taylor stolen from us, but Tony Allen gets to play on? The world isn’t fair.

    BTW, you had a big typo in there. What you meant to say was, Lif the Celtics are going to win it all, they need Tony Allen to not play.”

  • edlp

    Bargnani after his new deal.

  • L@zYchucK

    Yi – 15.0 PPG 8.0 RPG .. gives you 3s, blocks… my fantasy sleeper…

  • http://dimemag.com/ Aron Phillips

    @Celts Fan

    Haha. Sometimes I agree…

  • AB_40

    vujacic is slovenian yogoslavia doesn’t exist anymore

    I realy hope to see luol deng have a good season. I enjoy wathcin him play for GB, that made me realize how high the level of a true nba player is. here we got francisco elson and well he’s a solid big in B-level europe but not head and sholders above the rest like luol deng last season and zaza pachulia this year who had 34 and 17 vs some team haha.

    and please stop talking about darko. dude has too much issues maybe even more then michael beasley… remember him ripping his shirt in that game?


    hahahahaha where amazing happens

  • LB

    Since when was Emeka Okafor a franchise player? And if that premise is true, wouldnt that bring more pressure for Tyson Chandler to fill his shoes, rather than taking the pressure off? Other than that, gotta say your analysis is pretty much on point. I would add Andrea Bargagni, Randy Foye and Danilo Gallinari to the list tho. Bargagni and Foye have been living in Roy’s shadow, and need to prove that they were worth passing over Roy for. Barganagi needs to prove that he’s more Dirk Nowitzki than Yi Jianlian. Foye needs to prove that he can produce other Flip Saunders’ guard-friendly offense, and that his inconsistent performance in the past may have been due to the overall chaotic situation in Minny. Gallinari needs to prove to the tough NY crowd that his dissapointing rookie season was due to his back injury and not due to a lack of talent. If he dosent step up and produce, especially given that he is playing for Mike D’Antoni’s system, the NY crowd will be out for blood.

  • http://Dime Youngwood

    Tyrus Thomas
    Nick Young
    Dorell Wright
    Amir Jonhson
    Julian Wright
    Shawne Williams
    Adam Morrison

  • Seany T

    Eddy Curry needs to put all the personal turmoil behind him and have a breakout season. He has the ability to elevate or tank the Knicks season. Here’s hoping the reports of weight loss are true. He’s key to 2009 and beyond for the Knicks. Otherwise he’ll just be remembered as a fatboy with bad knees….

  • sh!tfaced

    Tony Allen is and will always be a damn tease.
    Guess it’s official. Everyone is finally giving up on Eddy Curry and Kwame.
    Sasha Vujacic, the Slovenian guard. Yugoslavia was obsolete since 2003.

  • JC

    Dang, you really aren’t lying about Luol. My man went down with shin splints last season, so bogus.

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Sasha Vujacic might break out with a rash or herpes or something and that is about it.

    I have hopes for Shaun but for him just to back in the L period after what happen to him is high point that many won’t and don’t hit.

    Make or break year for Tyson he should have been lobbying to go to Houston.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    There’s no way Darko is/ will be a bigger bust than Michael Olowokandi.

  • http://dimemag.com Dime Magazine


    My bad! I knew that, but looked up where he was born again which was Yugoslavia before it dissolved.


    Emeka Okafor was a franchise player when they gave him franchise player money and built around him. Whether or not he lived up to it, he was. I think less pressure because he was a bust.

  • control

    Sasha Vujacic?

    What does he have to prove? That guy is HORRIBLE, and anyone who likes him is a fucking idiot. Unless you are a faggy hairdresser, there is nothing to admire about him. The only thing he needs to break out is his the comb after he fucks up every play he is involved in.

    Has the guy ever had a GOOD play? All I see him doing is jacking horrible 3s and killing any flow the Lakers get on offense or defense. Did he even play in the playoffs? I think the only reason Lakers won were because he DIDN’T play, he hung out with the cheerleaders exchanging manicure and haircare tips.

  • weezy f

    i lost all respect for you after saying your a fan of sasha

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    @AB_40 that’s a funny ass clip…check out the cat sitting next to him on the bench. I think that’s Quinton Ross. He reminds me of how when your on the subway or the bus and you see a crazy person get on and start yelling at everyone while you pretend you don’t see them.

  • DuckIII IS GAY

    Luol sucks ass. He’s has the worst contract in the league and he’s a pussy.

  • http://www.nukedasouth.net Chicagorilla

    @17, Damn tell us how you really feel!

    I’m okay with Deng’s ability if he doesn’t get paid $70 and can try playing a little defense. Chances are neither will happen so he should be sent back to Duke

  • http://tmz.com Pathological Lier

    No Wilson Chandler??? No Dildo Gallinari??? SMH
    Now that’s downright blasphemous…

  • Franchise Baller

    How about Greg Oden?

  • ejay225

    Shocked to not see Oden on this list… He needs to break out, but not in a massive way… Give me 12 points, 10 boards and 2.5 blocks and I’m happy

  • Arrogant

    tyrus thomas…

    deng can be a caron butler/ josh howard type player… when he is healthy… which is hardly…lol

  • Ashlov

    Dorell Wright of the Heat is on his third last chance with the team. This guy was touted as the next T-Mac, and he’s been nothing but an injured bust. While not as high profile as some of the player you’ve mentioned, he needs to bring his game, or he’s going to be living off minimum contracts for the rest of his career.

    As it stands, he’s going to have a hard time doing that behind Quentin Richardson, James Jones, and Yakouba Diawara ahead of him on the depth chart.

  • Ashlov

    And fucking word to Greg Oden. If he doesn’t show that he’s anything better than a Sam Dalembert, the Thunder are going to laugh their asses off for the next ten years.

  • http://allthatjazzbasketball.blogspot.com/ Amar

    you all heard it here first: C.J. Miles for MIP.

    was an injured starter who missed all of the playoffs, and that (plus memo being injury) was 2 starters gone for the lakers series. that hurt the jazz a lot more than the media would like to admit. (It’s not like the lakers were playing a completely intact jazz team, they were playing one where, again, 40% of the starters were injured and not playing)

    CJ has been working hard all summer long and is ready to be noticed by the L.

  • mellmeister_straightfromShaolin

    Top 10 Guys That Need To Break Out This Season:

    Greg Oden – Yes he can be a formidable big man but expectations “were” high for this 7 footer. Oden should be able to take away some minutes away from pryzbilla in order for him to live up to what’s expected of him. knowing that there’s no pressure on his side since he ain’t the face of the franchise (B-Roy of course, followed up by aldridge.)

    Yi Jian Lian – after a monster performance in Fiba Asia (which doesn’t count since china always dominates this league) Yi should be able to put up decent numbers to compensate on his demanding (i don’t wanna play for milwaukee) act from the last 2 season. reminds me of that fag ricky rubio. oh wait vince carter’s out, so there should be a lot of shots left.

    Paul Milsap – Should prove that he can really start, and is not just one of those players who shine to make their starting PF bad… (wtf, Boozer’s bad as it is… he’s like one of ‘em columbian druglords who have their chesthair out in the open while counting money for duping people for protection money)

    Amare Stoudamire – Now that Shaq’s out of the Suns line up, he should be able to prove that he’s the big man that the suns should keep.

    Darko Milicic – This Serbian should flourish on D’antoni’s system and pull off a ala David Lee Stats, since he’s young, can run, and rebound for the Knicks who has 7 seconds or less system.

    T-Mac – It’s Contract Season, or i’d like to say it as “Play or Pray that you’d still be in the NBA after this” season.

    Hamed Haddadi – who the f*ck is this? hahahaha! well, he needs to break out or else DIME wouldn’t publish whateva it is that he says or even Iran wouldn’t give a F*ck! hahahaha!”A Star?” Lol…

    Trevor Ariza – with his decision to move to houston, hope he gets that star status he’s been aiming… he won’t be squeezing himself in to Kobe Bryant and Co. as one of their stars, and would have an easier way of establishing himself in Houston as “good” player. with his defense and still improving offense, he should be able to showcase that with him competing for shots with Scola, Brooks and other players in his team. and c’mon be worth the drama you placed with the current champs.

    Rudy Gay – should have a breakout season and should put up numbers like brandon roy or else he’s gonna be traded mid-season, he’s about to go to contract year.

    Shawn Marion – Just to prove that he can still play, (knowing that he can only exist with a great point guard. and now he has one in jason kidd) and he’s game ain’t about to go out like the Suns were out of the playoff picture in the west.

  • Razzle

    Here’s a few:

    Andrea Bargnani
    Anthony Randolph
    Michael Beasley

  • Mack Brownee

    Beasley and Oden would be my top two picks; I know they’re both still young but they need a breakout season so disprove the naysayers

  • http://www.bartking.net Bart King

    Sasha was cut from the Slovenian National Team a few days back. This will provide him with valuable time to upgrade his game in order to step up in the 2009-10 season.

  • doc

    Oden is already better than Sammy.I like this list and i would add my homie Thad Young and Elton Brand.

  • the cynic

    Brandan Wright needs to put on muscle ASAP. Guy is going into his third year in the league and he look as rail thin as ever.

    Sasha was killing teams in the playoffs a few years back, but he went back to his true self last year

  • exfranchise

    yo, you forget that the Celts have been trying desperately to unload Tony Allen on the Pacers for Marquis Daniels and they refuse to take him? Nobody wants the guy, he blows and has no idea what he’s doing on the court.

  • mojo

    Forget a break out season…I just wish Calderon would be able to play some mantoman defence without getting burned off the first step! ahhhhhhhhhh

  • Butch James

    Andrew Bynum needs to be on this list. He should prove that he’s worthy of that huge contract he got.

  • adam

    to all you fantasy players out threre, i think anthony randolph will have a big big year. hopefully nelly wises up and plays the kid starters minutes.

    i think darko is really gonna suprise a lot of people in d’antoni’s system. if he can’t prove something playing for mike d and playing in a contract year, then there really is no hope

    i hope galinari can return to health and stay healthy. from what i saw in his brief moments on the court…the kid can definitely play.

    what ever happened to deng? a few years back he was the next big thing, sure hasn’t happened years. i wish all these guys (except for vujicic ) luck for the upcoming season.