Which NBA players are on the verge of a breakout season?

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It’s hard to be under the radar these days.

A wise man (someone I scrolled past) once tweeted, “The internet used to be a break from the real world. Now, the real world is a break from the internet.”

If you’re a basketball fan, you probably follow about 100 basketball-related Twitter accounts, you’ve probably seen snarky tweets about athletes and social issues, you’ve got the Bleacher Report app buzzing every time there’s any kind of update, you’ve seen all of the player-specific highlights on Instagram, and you can search anything that crosses your path of consciousness at any point in the day, just by going to Google.

Related: Who’s got the best odds for NBA MVP?

Fans today can dive deep into what’s going on in their sport, 60/60/24/7/365–even outside of NBA arenas, from Summer League to the Drew League and even Rucker Park.

So, how’s anybody supposed to find sleepers for their fantasy team??

Here at Roundball Daily, we pride ourselves on focusing on what’s coming next. Who’s on the come-up? Who’s getting ready for a breakout year? Who should you take with the last pick in the 15th round of your draft?

Here are just a few candidates:

We think D’Angelo Russell will have a much better chance to succeed in Brooklyn.

D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets: After being exiled from L.A. because no one could trust him with a cell phone, Russell now has a real chance to develop on his own.

He’s only 21, and as the best player on a roster that might not be good enough to win the Big Ten, it’s safe to assume that he’ll have the chance to put up big numbers.

The Nets are giving him the keys to the offense, which is kind of like a father giving his screwup son the keys to grandma’s run-down Chrysler, which she recently stopped driving after being moved into a nursing home against her will. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride, I guess is what we’re saying.

Russell will have to show improvement in his jumper (40.5% FG, 35.2% from 3) to garner consideration for the award, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to rack up points and assists totals.

Jamal Murray has shown flashes of brilliance in Denver. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets: The sharp-shooting kid from Kentucky had a solid rookie year (9.9 points in 21.5 minutes per game), but was hot-and-cold, and only shot 33.4% from three-point range for the season. Though he won’t turn 21 until February, we’d bet on him having a bigger impact with the Nuggs this season, especially if he can improve on D.  You know Michael Malone won’t let him see the floor unless he does. He might actually blindfold him.

Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers: People are going to know this kid’s name by the end of this season–and not just because Paul George went Big-Time on everybody and bailed on Indianapolis for the bright lights of Oklahoma City.

Turner is the real deal–and after a season in which he made leaps in minutes (22.8 to 31.4), field goal percentage (.498 to .511), three-point percentage (.214 to .348–he’s J’ing 3’s now), free throw percentage (72.7 to 80.9), points (10.3 to 14.5), rebounds (5.5 to  7.3) and blocks (1.4 to 2.1), we think he’s in for more of the same.

Plus, you know, we have him in fantasy so…we’re counting on you, big fella.

Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers: The big Bosnian basically entered a Frankenstein-like quantum entanglement with Nikola Jokic when they were both with the Nuggets last season; they both improved so rapidly and with such similar skill sets that Denver panicked and traded Nurkic to Portland, just so they didn’t destroy each other.

Nurkic was a revelation for a while last season with the Nuggets, and continued his run of success once he got to Portland.

With the Blazers, he averaged a double-double (15.2 points and 10.4 boards) and blocked nearly 2 shots in 29.2 minutes per game. At just 23 years old, Nurkic should just continue to improve until the natural limits of physical biology prevent him from doing so.

Dante Exum, Utah Jazz: It seems like the Australian point guard is a grizzled veteran who never quite reached his potential, but Exum is just 22 years old and already has two years’ experience in the league under his belt. With Gordon Hayward and George Hill gone, there are minutes–and points and assists–to be had here. Now seems like an ideal time for Exum to step up and start showing some of the reasons he was a lottery pick back in ’14. We also like Jazz rookie guard Donovan Mitchell, who was outstanding in Summer League.

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: The 22-year-old three-year vet averaged a career-high 18.9 points in 37.2 minutes per game last season, and shot a career-best 46% from the field. While he had plenty of touches with the youthful Wolves last season, he’ll be a grizzled veteran on the even-younger Bulls this year, and very likely, the focal point of their offense. This is LaVine’s chance to show that he’s more than just an incredible dunker. You should grab him if you’ve got a guard spot open late in your fantasy draft.

Avery Bradley, Detroit Pistons: After being shipped away from a crowded Celtics backcourt, the 26-year-old now has a chance to shine on his own in Detroit, where he’ll share touches with Reggie Jackson. Bradley finished second on the team in scoring in Boston last season, putting up a career-best 16.3 points per game as opposed to Isaiah Thomas’ 28.9. Without having to share the ball with IT, expect Bradley’s numbers to soar even higher. Now that he’s a focal point in Detroit, expect to see his game rise to the next level.

More to come soon. 

Also see: 

Former lottery pick Trey Burke is tearing up the G League

James Harden’s rejuvenation is the most refreshing thing about the NBA 

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  1. Pingback: 2017 NBA Awards Predictions: Rookie of the Year, MVP

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