Next Boris Diaw a la various writers

They're trying to predict who will be good breakout players in 2010. Interesting read.

Breakout Players of 2010
Click on the full post to read what they said.

I stumbled across this today, they're trying to predict which players will rise from mediocrity and become All-Stars or near All-Stars. Two of them seemed to really pop out at me:  J.R. Smith and Luol Deng.  J.R. Smith is just like every other high school kid with hops, who will always be considered full of "potential" until he reaches college senior age.  Luol Deng isn't mediocre, but I've thought that since he was here he might have the highest ceiling of all our players.  He just plays the game well, and does almost everything better than most.  He just doesn't have that killer instinct yet.

Breakout Players of 2010

J.R. Smith
"Marc J. Spears, The Denver Post: The next Boris Diaw will be Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith. Smith averaged 10.3 points as a rookie during the 2004-05 season and was a two-time Western Conference Rookie of the Month. But during his second NBA season, he struggled with the New Orleans-Oklahoma City Hornets as his scoring average dipped to 7.7 points per game and he didn't see eye to eye with Hornets coach Byron Scott.

In July, Smith was traded twice in six days. The Hornets traded him to Chicago in a trade involving Tyson Chandler and soon afterward the Nuggets acquired Smith in exchange for guard Howard Eisley and a second-round pick. The Nuggets are raving about how Smith, who just turned 21, has performed during pre-training camp workouts. Unless the Nuggets land free agent Bonzi Wells or another marquee shooting guard, Smith will end up starting at shooting guard.

Either way, Smith will be entering this season with a motivational chip on his shoulder after last season. With his talent, shooting ability and upper echelon athleticism, expect Smith eventually to blossom into an NBA star. The key for the New Jersey native will be coming into training camp in shape, being on the same page with coach George Karl, dramatically improving his weak defensive play and taking the ball to the hole more instead of settling on jumpers. Expect NBA teams to compliment the Nuggets in the future for landing Smith for nothing.

Marc J. Spears, who covers the NBA for The Denver Post, is a contributor to"

Luol Deng
"Ian Whittell, The (London) Times: Keeping it close to my roots, I'm going to present you with the Chicago Bulls' British-based forward Luol Deng. Though, he might be viewed as more "average" rather than "mediocre."

There's no doubt that Diaw had to escape a wretched team (Atlanta) and join a great one (Phoenix) for his potential to be realized and, although there is no way the Bulls of the past two seasons are anywhere near as bad as the Hawks, Deng is going to be playing for a very different Chicago team in 2006-07. Think Ben Wallace and P.J. Brown aren't going to make everyone around them better? Think again.

Deng's stats took a big leap in most statistical areas last season from his rookie year (points up 11.7 to 14.3 per game, rebounds from 5.3 to 6.6, minutes from 27.3 to 33.4 per game while turnovers were down from 1.93 to 1.35 per game). Okay, so maybe he's better than "average" but, having followed Deng's career for the past four or five years, I believe there is still a lot of improvement to come.

Plan B, by the way, might yet see him leave the Bulls, a trade oft rumored last season. There were times Scott Skiles seemed to just want Deng to play as a spot-up shooter on the wing and there is far more to his game than that. Maybe another team would bring that full potential out of him.

Ian Whittell covers the NBA for The (London) Times and BSkyB."

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