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NBA / Jul 25, 2013 / 2:45 pm

10 NBA Players Ready To Make “The Leap” To Superstar Status

Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio (photo. adidas)

Remember when Steph Curry dropped 54 at MSG? Or when Paul George went head-to-head and shot-for-shot with LeBron? How about when James Harden finally made a name for himself as one of the premier players in the league? Those were all moments when great players made “the leap” to star players.

It can happen at any time, so we at Dime want to prep you readers on who to look out for this upcoming season. With an era of stars beginning to ride off into the sunset — Kobe, Duncan, Garnett, Kidd, Dirk — a new group of studs must fill that void. These are the players most likely to make “The Jump” next season…

[RELATED: 5 NBA Players Who Made “The Leap” This Season]

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JONAS VALANCIUNAS
While Summer League play shouldn’t be read into too much, there’s no question that Valanciunas looks miles further in his development than last year. Taking home MVP honors, the Raptors big man nearly averaged a 20/10 line and dominated inferior competition with his newly-added bulk.

[RELATED: The 5 Biggest Surprises From The NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League]

Defensively, he should be able to bang bodies with the toughest centers the East has to offer. He already showed incredible promise in his rookie season, and his increased size should only add to his interior presence.

At just 21 years old, I think we should temper expectations a little bit on Valanciunas. I do believe, however, that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with sooner rather than later.

KEMBA WALKER
Walker shined on one of the worst teams in the league last season, mainly because there weren’t many other options on the court at any given time. Surrounded by the likes of the inconsistent Byron Mullens, the project that is Bismack Biyombo, and a struggling Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte relied on its point guard to carry the load.

Now, he has a legit center in Al Jefferson, who he can just feed the fall to and watch him go to work in the paint. They also added Cody Zeller through the draft, who lit it up during Summer League and showed much more promise than many Bobcat fans initially thought. With the new weapons around him, Walker should find himself much more at ease than in his prior two seasons. If he can refine his decision-making, then we could see him in New Orleans on All-Star Weekend.

The best young players in Utah? Keep reading…

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  • JackPackage

    I think you’re redefining what the term superstar means. There are maybe 5 superstars in the entire league at any one time. A lot of these players will make that next step and be stars but most of them will never be superstars, that’s not due to a lack of talent but more due to the media and the way NBA players are judged.

    Disagree with two things:

    Greg Monroe is going to suffer in Detroit. I think he’ll actually regress numbers wise, this season. I think it was possibly the worst signing Detroit could have made to acquire Josh Smith, specifically in Monroe and Drummond’s development.

    Comparing Davis & Garnett as though their numbers exist in a vacuum, is really short-sighted and stupid. The NBA in the mid-nineties is almost unrecognisable compared to the NBA today. The 90’s NBA was a far more physical, defence oriented and post-oriented game, compared to today’s soft, run and gun, #YOLOSWAG NBA.

    Those statistics DO NOT favour KG. You put KG age 19 in today’s NBA and he’d put up far better statistics. You put Davis in the 90’s and he’d get eaten alive.

    That’s not to say that I disagree with the notion that Davis is ready to make that leap and become a regular in the All Star lineup for the next 10 years, he clearly is, especially with the great off season that the… Pelicans had.

    It’s just… Davis plays in a league that has done its best to erase the PF & C position. He himself is evidence of this, he plays that light-footed, free safety, no post move, jacked up small forward position and is labelled a center. You really think Davis would be pulling down 8.2 RPG in 1995-96?

  • ablade

    That’s pretty much a list of players you should (have?) aim(ed) to get on NBA2k13!

    I think, given the choice, I’d still take Drummond over Monroe. This stat is a little more unusual than the normal PER, etc metrics, but WPP48 (wins produced per 48), there is a certain predictability about the first 3 names: CP3, Lebron, Durant. The 4th name in the list? Drummond!

    http://www.thenbageek.com/players?direction=desc&sort=%22WP48%22

    It’s a strange metric and produces some strange results (Jeremy Evens as the 7th best player? No? No-one?), but the guy who runs the numbers did an article about him (Drummond) and worked back through the league to see the last time a rookie produced numbers like Drummond did. The last big guy? Howard!

    I’m not sure about looking raw, he was top last year in blocks (per game, not minute adjusted), by a wide margin, with 1.6 per game, Monroe who finished with 0.7 (despite playing far more minutes per game). Monroe picked up a couple more rebounds than Drummond (9.6 compared to 7.6) but played 33 minutes to Drummond’s 20, so Drummond win in rebounds too. TURNOVERS I hear you shout! Drummond is the clear winner here too, with 1 t/o per game, to Monroe’s 3. The two areas Monroe wins, and maybe you’d say probably just nudges the debate, is ppg and assists. He clearly leads in those area’s, even with minutes adjusted, especially assists. Drummond’s assists are so low they aren’t even worth mentioning, Monroe pops up with nearly 4 per game.

    You suspect Detroit will drop one of Monroe or Drummond when they (inevitably) slide Smith into the 4 slot. Whoever they chose it will be a shame, it will hamper their progress and they are both two of the most exciting rookie big fellas in the game. The Pistons problem has, for the past few years, been team balance. They had decent players but they seemed to be top (front) heavy, or vice-versa, nothing they’ve done during this free-agency period has changed that aspect of their squad, if anything they’ve made it worse (maybe not the team as a whole, but the imbalance).

  • douglas blane

    Paul George? He is an All-Star already….he could reach the level of superstar. He is the full package…

  • douglas blane

    And no disrespect to the dude, cause his game is nice, but Kemba Walker ain’t ever gonna be a superstar in the NBA. Solid starter, yes.

  • jonathan

    klay thompson can just flat out shoot it. i don’t see him as a superstar, but i would take him on my team any day,

  • jonathan

    without a doubt. in that series with the heat. he put himself on the map. where he goes from here is truly up to him. i think he will get a lot out of being part of the USA squad just like lbj did.