As the offseason starts winding down, it will soon be training camp time. Several players took a huge leap last year, and for the most part, they were rewarded for it. This summer, Jaylen Brown, Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, and Domantas Sabonis received max extensions. Before we look at the players who can make the same type of progress this season, let’s clarify what “breakout” means.
The term “breakout” has been misused for the past few seasons. Players can have a career-high scoring average for the year, but that still wouldn’t be considered a breakout. For example, Boston Celtics forward Kristaps Porzingis averaged 23.2 points per game last season, the best of his career. As a result of the Washington Wizards’ awful season, he wasn’t considered a breakout player. Furthermore, Haliburton had a breakout year as one of three players to average 20 or more points and ten or more assists per game.
Now that this has been clarified, the players on this list should find success this season, thanks to the situations they find themselves in. These players have new coaches—even a new team for one player on this list. In a sense, all three players have a chip on their shoulders.
NBA Players Poised to Have a Breakout Year in 2023-24
The former number-one overall pick was limited to 12 games last year. Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham averaged almost 20 points a game in that span. In 76 career games, he averaged 17.8 PPG. His scoring prowess should never be in question. New leadership in Detroit has fans optimistic about how far this young squad can go. The backcourt of Cunningham and Jaden Ivy has the potential to be prolific. Cunningham should thrive in new coach Monty Willams’ system. His size and shooting ability makes him a nightmare for defenses. Expect, at the very least, an All-Star selection for Cunningham.
With the definition of breakout stated above, how is Tyrese Maxey on this list if he already had a breakout year? The answer is a simple one. It’s because of Nick Nurse. The former Toronto Raptors coach has proven experience with his players exceeding expectations. His system allows his team to excel at what they do best. His regimen helped Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet become All-Star players. Maxey is at his best when the game moves quickly, playing ahead of the defense. With the departure of James Harden looming, Nurse will look towards Maxey to put up All-NBA numbers.
The big man is yet to have the chance to display his freakish athleticism. Bol Bol has a skill set similar to Kevin Durant. Ironically enough, Durant will be Bol’s teammate this year after the Phoenix Suns gave him the veteran’s minimum on a one-year deal. Bol has only appeared in 123 games over the first four years of his career. The need for depth, size and spacing of the floor was needed in Phoenix, and Bol checks all those boxes. The trade for Durant last season and the recent trade for Bradley Beal should benefit Bol’s success. Big men are widely successful in Frank Vogel’s system. Roy Hibbert was an All-Star under Vogel, and Bol has a better game than him. Barring any setbacks, Bol should be a preseason favorite for Most Improved Player.