Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Players On The Rise

It's still early in the season, but I thought I'd highlight some of the young player who look poised for a break-through year.

Trevor Ariza (HOU). He is looking like an offseason steal. His play so far has been outstanding and he is silencing the critics who doubted that he could be a legit go-to-player. Ariza was always known as a defensive stopper. But now he is showcasing his impressive offensive repertoire. If he can keep this up, Houston could be the surprise team in the West. Artest who? They have an exciting future ahead of them.


Aaron Brooks (HOU). With the departure of Artest and the injuries to McGrady and Yao, someone had to pick up that scoring slack. And that someone is Aaron Brooks. He's quick as lightning and is continuing his amazing scoring pace of last postseason. He has a nice outside shot, and gets to the free throw line at a nice clip. And more importantly, he's proven to be a solid play-maker, dropping dimes like they're out of style.


Andrew Bynum (LAL). So far, so good. Bynum is healthy through 4 games and his excellent play from the preseason has carried over. He looks like an all-star out there. Granted, Pau Gasol is out with an injury. It will be interesting to see whether he can keep up this high level of play once their entire squad is healthy. But he's been a force on the boards and in the block. If healthy, the Lakers will be tough to beat.


Chris Douglas-Roberts (NJN). The departure of Vince Carter frees up a lot of shots for this young New Jersey team. CDR was a beast in the preseason, and so far his strong play has carried over to the regular season. He's going to score a lot of points, and make a lot of NBA teams regret passing on him in last year's draft. He has a chip on his shoulder since he dropped into the second round. Watch out for him.


Channing Frye (PHO). Signing with the Phoenix Suns was the best career move that he could have done. He's a perfect fit for their system, where he can launch up as many 3's as he wants. They will utilize his shooting prowess to stretch the defenses and exploit mismatches. He's not a particularly good rebounder or defender; but will be a valuable contributor for this team, who have little depth at the PF and C positions.


Danilo Gallinari (NYK). D'Antoni proclaimed Gallinari the best shooter that he's ever seen. And so far during the season, he has backed up those claims. He's launching and making a ridiculous amount of 3's. He missed most of last season due to injury, but looks every bit of a lottery pick. And in D'Antoni's system, he should get every opportunity to thrive. And don't underrate his contributions on the defensive end.


Marc Gasol (MEM). Not only does Marc look more like his older brother after losing some weight during the offseason, but he is starting to play more like his brother too. I'm not sure if he'll be able to keep up the torrid scoring pace, but he'll have plenty of rebound opportunities with so many chuckers on his squad. He's a solid defender and a smart player, who will find ways to contribute to his team's overall success.


Brandon Jennings (MIL). I did not want to include any rookies on this list, but Jennings has been playing too good not to mention. He looks like a legit star, and could be the Paul Pierce of this season's draft. He nearly had a triple double in his first game. He's adapted quickly to the pace of the NBA game, and can get off his shot whenever he wants with his quickness. And so far, his jumper is better than advertised.


Marreese Speights (PHI). He's been the best big man for the 76ers this season. And has proven to be a valuable contributor off of the bench. In limited minutes, he's contributed two 20+ scoring and one 10+ rebounding game already. If he's able to supplant Dalembert or Brand from the starting lineup, he could be set for a huge season. He's an explosive scorer, and can put up solid rebound and block numbers.


Louis Williams (PHI). So far he's done a solid job of leading this team as the starting Point Guard. He can score at a nice clip, and will contribute a decent amount of assists and steals. He's more of a scorer than a play-maker, but he's the Philly's best option at the Point Guard spot. Iguodala can pick up some of the play-making duties also. He'll need to improve on his jumper for his team to be successful.


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