Is This The Year Of The Dragic?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For NBA players who reside outside of the superstar city limits of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and their kind, the chance for stardom is more complex than just strapping on a jersey and someone turning the arena lights on.

Taking that step from player to star player requires not only the desire to be great but also the space and opportunity to do so, the right team at the right time, etc.

(See Jeremy Lin for further reference …)

Those roads will intersect for many during the 2012-13 season. Some will seize the moment and embrace their revised roles and others will miss the opportunity to move up the league food chain. It’s a seemingly never-ending cycle that we love to observe, if only to see which budding stars rise to the occasion.

One player with all of the pieces in place for that breakout season is Suns point guard Goran Dragic, who has a window between the end of the Steve Nash era and rookie Kendall Marshall‘s formative years, to make the case that the flashes of greatness we’ve seen from him in the past are more than just momentary bursts of greatness.

Dragic has clearly done the hard work (check the video, above … and yes, we’ll talk with him about getting us a pair of those shorts later) necessary to become the sort of player he, and so many other who have championed his cause over the years, believe he can be. Opportunity is banging on his door something fierce.

We’ll find out soon if he’s as ready as he appears to be, because if not …. there are plenty of other guys willing and waiting for their chance to pounce.

FIVE GUYS TO WATCH IN 2012-13

In addition to Dragic, these are the other guys on HT’s list of potential breakout stars this season:

MarShon Brooks, Brooklyn Nets

Brooks will have the benefit of playing in the shadow of much bigger stars — All-Stars Deron Williams, Joe Johnson in the backcourt alone — while also having a clearly defined role as the Nets’ sixth man. He could be the Eastern Conference’s version of James Harden — a sub capable of taking games over with his scoring when called upon.

Avoiding the sophomore slump should be no problem for this young star in training.

Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns

Dragic is just 26 and entering what should be the prime of his career. At 6-foot-4 and roughly 190 pounds, he’s a much more physically imposing matchup for some point guards than you might realize. And, finally, instead of working as someone’s understudy or fill-in (as he often did in Houston and in his last stint with Phoenix), he gets the reins of the team from the start of a season.

The Suns will go as far as he and Luis Scola (his partner last season in Houston) can lead them this season.

Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets

It took Faried a little over a month to make Nene expendable in Denver. And you saw his work last season and during the playoffs (10.4 points and 10.0 rebounds), when his motor and refusal to surrender an inch to taller and longer frontcourt foes made him an instant hit with Nuggets fans and basketball purists everywhere. “The Manimal” nickname is simply a perfect fit.

The Nuggets’ know they have three young gems in Faried, Timofey Mozgov and JaVale McGee.

Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz

We wondered how long it would take Favors, who was a raw-but-super-talented teenager when he entered the league after one season at Georgia Tech, to mature into his massive frame and become a consistent factor for a loaded Jazz frontcourt. He answered that question for us, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, during the playoffs (11.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks).

A 6-foot-10, 250-pound behemoth in training, Favors, just 21, has perhaps the highest ceiling of any player on this list. And he’s already clamoring for more playing time this season.

Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons

Knight’s rookie year accomplishments (12.8 points, 3.8 assists, 38 percent from 3-point range) were obscured by the Pistons’ struggles and the fact that he was playing alongside another young point/combo guard in Rodney Stuckey. But Knight’s focused on becoming not only a better player but a better leader in his second season.

He has the smarts and skills to join Kyrie Irving as one of the elite point guards in their draft class.

We gave you our five.

Now we need to hear from you. Cast your vote (write-in candidates are welcome)!

91 Comments

  1. EARCH says:

    And also watch out for Ersan Ilyasova, in my opinion the real MIP of the 2011/2012 season. He is a rebounding machine and he seem to have found his confidence and his shooting touch.
    They didn´t run any plays for him, so he had to get offensive boards to score.
    Plus he won´t “fake the air” anymore ;-) he plays out of pure hustle, just like Kenneth Faried does but Ersan can shoot from everywhere while Kenneth has to be in the paint to be effective.

  2. EARCH says:

    WTF ??? No one talks about my man Steph Curry? Now that he´s handed the keys and is healthy, he is going to show everyone why trading away Monta Ellis wasn´t a bad mistake or accident. He s quick, has the handles and the vision and his shot is pure money. He will even benefit much more from Boguts low post game.
    If Bogut and Curry stay healthy, watch out for the Warriors.
    I´m not saying they will make the playoffs or anything like that but i´m pretty sure they (especially Curry) will put up huge numbers.

  3. hanif says:

    i don’t agree with the idea that sophomores having a great season a ‘breakout’. I thought Dragic had his break out in the second half of last season.
    my five guys to watch out for are:
    OJ Mayo
    Michael Beasley
    Derrick Favors
    Evan Turner
    Javale Mcgee

  4. how about.. says:

    Derrick Williams
    Andrew Bynum

  5. SUN says:

    this year is definately the year of the DRAGON!!!!!!!!!!! Goran Dragic will lead the Suns and put up big numbers the whoooole season!!!!! GO SUNS

  6. SUN says:

    klay thompson is a bust wont be any good as for lin i dont believe he can play as good as he did for those 3 weeks in new york

  7. roman jordan says:

    ah and evan turner as well, for sure

  8. roman jordan says:

    paol george and goran dragic will shine brigther than anyone else next season..but wach out darren collison, klay thompson and king’s triad thomas, cousin and evans

  9. The NBARulezz says:

    yo i tellin you guys it is not groan dradgic cause micheal and luis also wesley r there and itis not kenneth it will probably be araon affalo

  10. Dieter says:

    Mayo, Batum and Wall are gonna be stars or busts this year.

  11. JrGreens says:

    Klay Thompson, buddy..

  12. PK says:

    Now that frye is out: break out season for markief morris!!!!!

  13. Golden State Warriors says:

    5. Kenneth Faried (DEN)
    4. Landry Fields (TOR)
    3. Goran Dragic (PHX)
    2. Aaron Afflalo (ORL)
    1. Avery Bradley (BOS)

  14. Rich says:

    OJ Mayo !

  15. DHAM says:

    5.DERRICK FAVORS
    4.JAVALE MCGEE
    3.ANDREW BYNUM- WILL HAVE A MONSTER YEAR IN PHILLY
    2.DANILO GALLINARI- HE’S STAY’S HEALTHLY HE’S AN ALL-STAR.
    1.ROYCE WHITE- ALL AROUND LEBRON-LIKE GAME WILL BE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR.

  16. Merc says:

    EVAN TURNER plz believe oh yea and my dude Brandon Roy 2nd coming!!!!!

  17. Sam says:

    Man, I love that Goran Dragic is finally getting some publicity. I’ve been watching him since his first stint in Phoenix, since he single handedly scorched San Antonio in that fourth quarter. I was hoping the Lakers could have had landed him, but he’ll do well in Phoenix. I’m predicting an All Star berth for the other giant of Ljubljana in the next two to three seasons.

  18. SensibleScot says:

    I know he’s been in the league for a few years, but OJ Mayo will prove he’s not a good player but a great player this season and will be on the all star team.

    Afflalo will have a ‘breakout’ season, but really it will just be because he sees more of the ball. He’s already a good player, it just doesn’t get recognised enough.

    P.S. Jazz stop messing about and play Jefferson at PF and Favors at C.

  19. Rockets Fan says:

    Paul George? Evan Turner? Jeremy Lin? Anthony Davis? JaVale McGee? (After workouts with Hakeem).

  20. Mino says:

    I dont think Gordon Hayward will be a pure star but I think he could become one of the best all around players pretty soon

  21. armill227 says:

    Jon Wall! No doubt. wizaeds in playoffs this year. plus ROY will be kidd-gilchrist!

  22. ... says:

    players that will b makin an all star game or just missed it would b paul george, andrea bargnani, ricky rubio, kyle lowry, kawhi leonard, jeremy lin, john wall, kyrie irving, monte ellis

  23. Prlp says:

    Linas Kleiza? He is finally healthy and proved what he is capable for in olympics.
    Kemba Walker anyone? After DJ is gone, he can get the minutes he deserved.
    Greg Monroe? Not a big competition between bigmans in Detroit. He and Andre Drummond can be a future General and Fundamentals.

    • ... says:

      im a raps fan i even think lineas kleiza is a stretch he always plays good in the olympics but when nba time comes its like he vanishes

  24. dan83 says:

    i really hope its gonna be batum. dragic also. lin overrated. and of course, i hope that andre miller will keep doing he does previous seasons. that is some smart player

  25. lockheart14 says:

    Aaron Afflalo? A really solid player, and with nothing much going on in Orlando this year and no pressure to succeed right away I feel he can grow into a very good player. His attitude is great as well, saying in an interview a little while back how he felt Orlando was the best place for him to be right now. So going to put his name out there.

  26. CPD says:

    Klay Thompson??

  27. NBAfan says:

    Jan Vesely

  28. Guard-ian says:

    Josh Selby is gonna open a lot mouths in the upcoming season…

    Cheers! ;-)

  29. Sam says:

    OJ Mayo all day- we gonna see the real Juice

  30. Anonymous says:

    GET IT RIGHT, DIONTE CHRISTMAS WILL WIN ROOKIE OF THE YEAR!!! 20ppg, 5apg, 4.5rpg and 1spg!! HE’S GONNA KILL IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. the biz says:

    MarShon Brooks?? lol

  32. AI says:

    I’d say Andrew Bynum. This could be his breakout season as he is capable of being the focal point in phily’s offence and defence, not to mention he’s in contract year. Finally has a good pg feeding him the ball so I wouldn’t be surprised he posts shaq-like numbers to be a legit all star.

  33. Bob Bub says:

    John Wall will rise above all.

  34. Lhanz says:

    I go for Kenneth Faried and MarShon Brooks. They are really a big factor on their respective team and has so much room to improve.

  35. FAVORS WILL HAVE A SUPER SHOW THIS SEASON….HIS A PROMISING STAR FROM HIS ROOKIE SEASON

  36. bg20 says:

    the shorts are frome slovenian national team….

  37. kobefan1 says:

    kenneth faried sorta looks like my mom but with hair

  38. wawaweewa says:

    GORANE JEBI IM MAMU U PICKU AMERICKU KOMERCIJALNU

  39. bob says:

    HEAT are going to burn everyone this year. Screw the Lakers, OKC will still beat them!

  40. ant says:

    kyrie irving should be on the list HE WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT SEASON

  41. Bryan says:

    I like DeMarcus Cousins, but I think this could be the year Brandon Jennings reaches his full potential as well.

  42. Flea J says:

    DeMarcus Cousins. No question about it.

    • Merc says:

      I approve this but man coach can you plz put Tyreke back at the 2. Like wtf is smart thinking Tyreke is not a small forward…..oh yea and watch for John Wall plz believe!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. d-real says:

    darren collison its his year

    • D Town says:

      collison is terrible. no jumper, not great court vision, just a quick guard. he doesnt finish well. he was worse last year than his time with New orleans

  44. tgmetsfan says:

    as a knicks fan, i prefer to bash the nets than support them, but where is the love for marshon brooks? The guys was tremendous last year as a rook(i think he was a rookie). I think that with all the fanfare that comes with the move to brooklyn, the arrival of joe johnson, and the big contracts given to lopez williams and wallace, that brooks and gerald green will be the unsung heroes that really give the nets life off their weak bench

  45. J says:

    Demar derozan,kawhi leonard, john wall and klay thompson (Boy can SHOOT it!!!!)

  46. D Town says:

    Happy to see Brandon Knight get some love as my Pistons have gone unnoticed by the league and fans. Expect big things from rookie Kim English. I agree that Klay Thompson, Favors, Paul George are three future all stars that need some love

  47. merryhairyfish says:

    Mario Chalmers is entering his prime

  48. Miha says:

    Those shorts are his national team’s shorts… A real patriot! Let’s hope he can lead Slovenia to a medal next year. After taking the Suns to the semis, of course.

  49. justin says:

    what about arron afflalo and glen davis they could have a break out season this year sent dwight howard left

  50. Mikey says:

    Those were some sissy pushups, Goran.

  51. Jeff says:

    markieff morris, demar derozan, bismack biyombo

  52. Belizeboy says:

    Sekou it doesn’t require the right team. How in the world was Lebron on the right team lol. To become a star you have to elevate your game above the norm, which is not easy. Also you have to stay relatively injury free.

    Also what about Gordan Hayward? I think he’s someone to really watch for this coming season.

  53. aj says:

    Its Lin time this year.

    • tgmetsfan says:

      Yeah, i hope he has a great future in store as i wish the best for him. just… not against the knicks

  54. Patrickmarc says:

    Faried favors and dragic, faster and faster.

  55. jos says:

    kawhi leonard anyone?

    • Boogie Man says:

      Leonard absolutely. If Bogut can stay healthy – top 5 center in the league this year!!!

    • damon says:

      Yup! Leonards a beast. Im a Jazz fan, so maybe Leonard second to Favors but those 2 should top this list for sure. Dragic has had a little more time than them to prove himself.

  56. Blah says:

    What? Recognition for Brandon Knight at last? The NBA actually showing some spotlight on the Pistons for once?!? What is going on???

  57. MGT says:

    Dragon will burn some peple this year! Respect to all !

  58. steppx says:

    EXCELLENT……finally faried, favors and Dragic. Im so sick of hype about rivers and barnes and busts who keep getting hype because they got picked high. These three are gonna help their teams WIN.

  59. Nets Fan says:

    Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner?

  60. steppx says:

    EXCELLENT….Faried and Dragic and Favors…FOR SURE: nice to see them get some ink, and people can stop hyping barnes and rivers and klay thompson and whatever..—- Id add Lowry and Hayward and maybe one or two others…………maybe, but this was a great list. Those three in particular.

  61. Raptors Fan says:

    Kyle Lowry ANyone??

    • QuestionMark says:

      Not just Lowry, I think the Raptors as a team can have a big year considering everyone stays healthy. Lowry, Fields, Derozan, Bargnani, Valanciunas, Ross, Calderon. Depending on how well Fields, Valanciunas and Ross play, the Raptors could reach the Playoffs. We all know Bargnani is going to keep averaging 20+ and hopefully get 5+ boards, Derozan hopefully will bring his FG% up and of course Lowry will play better in Toronto.

      • yup says:

        A.Bargnani,P.George,Ty lawsom,K. Lowry, n im prob gona get alot for this but i c Mcgee being much better as well lookin at wat he has done against the lakers

  62. Sixers Fan says:

    Paul George?