Blogtable: Second-year leaps

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Sophomore strength | Best new fit | A memorable summer

> Which of these second-year players do you expect to take the biggest leap forward this season: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. or Gorgui Dieng? Why?

Gorgui Dieng (David Sherman/NBAE)

Gorgui Dieng (David Sherman/NBAE)

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comGive me Gorgui Dieng. The lively, defensive-minded center from Senegal by way of Louisville was a second-half revelation last season after spending the first four months of 2013-14 buried on Minnesota’s bench. He started 15 games late in the season, averaging 12.2 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, while turning his plus/minus from minus-14.0 to plus-4.5. Chicago already admits privately that passing on Dieng to take Tony Snell one spot earlier in the 2013 draft was a mistake — he would be a perfect complement to Joakim Noah and replacement for Omer Asik in Tom Thibodeau‘s defense. Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders knows what he has in Dieng, who mitigates the disappointing work so far by same-first-rounder Shabazz Muhammad. So Dieng will get a big minutes boost whether Nikola Pekovic stays healthy or, more likely, not.

Fran Blinebury, Trey Burke is in a good position to make the leap, but I’m not sure he’s good the right passing instincts for a point guard yet. Gorgui Deng will get minutes as Nikola Pekovic’s backup, but the Wolves are a team starting over. So I’ll go with Tim Hardaway Jr., who can do one thing — shoot — very well.  If he gets better on defense, he could push for a spot in the starting lineup. Or he lights it up for Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson as a sixth man.

Jeff Caplan, I really like Gorgui Dieng and how strong he came on last season, but since he’s playing behind Nikola Pekovic, I’m just not sure he’s necessarily going to get the impact minutes of the other two guys. Tim Hardaway Jr. should be an exciting player in New York, but my money’s on Trey Burke. First off all, he’s got the ball in his hands so he has an opportunity every time down the floor to make something happen. I think the Jazz will have a fun team under Quin Snyder. Also, he’ll be pushed by rookie Dante Exum, and that kind of competition will drive to Burke to really hone his game.

Trey Burke (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE)

Trey Burke (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE)

Scott Howard-Cooper, All good candidates for forward progress. I’ll go with Dieng because I have been on the bandwagon since he as drafted and, and plus, he followed that up with a very good second half to the rookie season. That momentum could carry over, giving him a chance to play a big role in Minnesota. Burke will definitely have a big role in Utah, but also the most challenging situation of the three because he will be adjusting to the arrival of Dante Exum, who will have the ball in his hands a lot. Burke was smart, mature and made good decisions his first season, so he can contribute in a lot of ways, but  his path is subject to change.

John Schuhmann, Burke has the biggest opportunity of the three to build on his rookie year. He was handed the keys to the Utah offense as soon as he made his late-November debut last season, and Dante Exum probably won’t take too many point-guard minutes from him this year. Hardaway can be an explosive scorer, but is still in a mix with Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith on the wing in New York, where it will be especially crowded if Carmelo Anthony plays most of his minutes at the three. Dieng isn’t talked about enough when discussing the young Wolves, but is still playing behind Thaddeus Young and Nikola Pekovic.

Tim Hardaway Jr. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE)

Tim Hardaway Jr. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE)

Sekou Smith, This is a trick question, right? You stick two Michigan guys in here and think I’m going to ignore my guys. I think Tim Hardaway Jr. has the highest ceiling of the three and the great opportunity in front of him in terms of what role he could potentially play this season. The new system and coach in New York will be an ideal fit for young Hardaway, whose ability to score in bunches and from deep, gives him the edge over two other guys who have a chance to have huge seasons of their own. But Hardaway Jr. is my pick to take flight this year.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: I really like Dieng, and he looked great at Summer League in Vegas. But to me the easier transition path belongs to Burke. After a season of going up against NBA competition at an unfamiliar position, he can build on that experience and move forward. Equally important, the other young Jazz players can take from last year’s rough experience and move forward. And don’t forget Utah has new coach Quin Snyder in place, presumably running some version of the offense used in his previous stops, San Antonio and Atlanta, where point guards Tony Parker and Jeff Teague had plenty of opportunities to flourish.

Aldo Avinante, NBA Philippines: Logically, I think Trey Burke will have the biggest leap because the point guard position has been generally successful the past few years. Burke has all the tools to succeed in his position, although they have the highly touted Dante Exum on their squad, he’s still a raw project compared to Burke. With already one year under his belt, Burke has nowhere to go but up.

Akshay Manwani, NBA India: Tim Hardarway Jr. The New York Knicks guard has potential and was one of the bright sparks from the Knicks’ rough showing last season. Hardaway Jr. has shown that he can create his own shot, shoot on the first touch, moves well without the ball in his hand and can get open while eluding the defense. Then with the changes made by the Knicks, with Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher now around at MSG, Hardaway Jr. will have the right mentoring to help him reach his ceiling.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: I say Gorgui Dieng. He had a very interesting second part of the season, a fantastic World Cup and plays for a rebuilding team in which everybody will get his chance. He’s going to be a double-double machine pretty soon, even coming off the bench behind Pekovic.


  1. dmh says:

    Unfortunately these are unfair comparisons that more speak to the player’s situation than the quality of player that they are.

    Burke- pg, virtually no competition for minutes at this time, gotta get his teammates involved but, essentially will still get plenty of shots too on a lottery team

    Hardaway Jr… sg/sf, 3-way competition for minutes at sg and with Melo wanting to play more of the 3 the minutes aren’t quite there either. Barring a trade, the minutes aren’t there.

    Dieng ..C.. Primary backup to Pekovic, Pekovic has had some injury issues in the past. Some minutes will be there but barring a trade or injury, likely not starters minutes….. Comparing probable minutes at this point (again barring any trades) Dieng’s minutes will most likely fall in the middle of the previous two players given the respective depth charts. Shots too.

    3 different situations on 3 different teams with 3 different depth charts makes it impossible to tell which player has taken the greatest leap or is the best out of the 3. Preseason always gets the armchair fantasy prognosticators going though…

  2. Juliusz says:

    How about young Wiz – Rice or Porter?

  3. Elas says:

    Hardaway Jr for sure man playing behind JR this year as 6th man he gets more minutes and the way he provided last year from the small amount of minutes he played last year hes getting a chance to showcase a lot more. Ive been on the wagon since his draft date and hes been nothing but impressive to me.

  4. LetMeePreachReelQuick says:

    First off I want to speak on Tim Hardaway from personal experience with the guy…. I seen this guy get overlooked by a lot of schools during high school and killing and I mean killing Brandon Knight in a hs championship the guy went for 40 at least… Then of course went on to have a great career at Michigan… Obviously he is a lot more than ya average “soph” everyone on this list took different roads but he stayed at Michigan 3 years and I believe that he understands his opportunity in the league and after a great year last year I see no reason why he wont flourish under the guidance of Melo Fisher and The Zen Master, he is also a step ahead of most of the players on the Knicks in terms of the Triangle being that he came from a motion 2 guard offense in Michigan similar to the triangle that the Bulls/Lakers and also the Spurs made famous… with the free flowing offense look for Hardaway to avg. the most points out of the bunch… No Sophmore slump over here but more so a SuperSoph Superstar in the making… you heard it here first!!!

  5. jdub455 says:

    i think trey burke… he has the skills to be another damon stoudemire type of player

  6. jumppong says:

    Dieng can’t defend Junmar Fajardo LOL

  7. harriethehawk says:

    Trey Burke. Time to blow up sir! Let’s Go!

  8. dustydreamnz says:

    I think Dieng if he gets the minutes.