This year there is a long list of players expected for a breakout in the NBA. Luke Hughes helps narrow down 10 studs to keep on your radar this season.
In every new season, there are a list of players buried deep on your favorite team's depth chart. Whether it be high draft picks that have yet to make a serious impact or late round wonders, who you're hoping the Doc Rivers and Stan Van Gundy's of the world are ready to give a shot at the big time.
Those players always seem to get lost in the shuffle when it comes to fantasy draft night because they haven't yielded much productivity just yet.
Well, for every highly touted draftee that disappoints or underwhelms there is a list of players that unexpectedly emerges from the crowd of obscurity.
The 2010-11 season saw the likes of Raymond Felton, Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry materialize into fantasy relevant ballers and we watched stars such as Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge make the jump from merely serviceable into the elite category.
If you drafted any of these players, or better yet picked them up off the waiver wire, you probably look like some type of fantasy wizard to your buddies. So, who says that you can't do it again?
This year there is a long list of names with high expectations attached to them and unfortunately for many the output won't exactly meet that outlook.
So as you prepare for the upcoming fantasy season, preparing for your draft or readying your roster, keep these names on your radar.
A list of the NBA's 10 best-kept secrets for the upcoming 2011-12 season:
2010-11 Stats: 11.7 ppg, 2.8 apg, 24.5 minutes
Hughes 2012 Projections: 14.2 ppg, 3.4 apg, 29.6 minutes
In his first season in the league, Crawford was witness to the business side of basketball - in a trade from Atlanta to Washington midseason -- before even having a legitimate opportunity to show his skills on the court. The lengthy swingman averaged just over 10 minutes in 18 games with the Hawks, scoring in double digits just three times and averaging a measly 4 points per game.
His time in Washington was much the opposite, as he quickly revived an otherwise disappointing rookie campaign. Crawford averaged 16 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds in 33 minutes of action over his 26 game stint with the Wiz. The 23-year-old even tallied double-digits in 17 straight games with the highlight coming on March 30, as Crawford scored a season-high 39 points on 12-of-24 shooting against eventual NBA Championship runner-up Miami Heat.
Clearly, pairing Crawford with of 2010 number 1 overall pick John Wall increased his ability to produce and display his extreme talent. Crawford absolutely lit it up from everywhere on the floor while at Xavier and has ability to eventually score 20+ a night in the NBA.
2010-11 Stats: 5.2 ppg, 2.0 apg, 13.8 minutes
Hughes 2012 Projections: 11.1 ppg, 5.6 apg, 29.6 minutes
While Kirk Hinrich likely misses close to a month at the start of the season, recovering from shoulder surgery, it could be Teague's time to step up and take control of the starting job.
The former 1st Rounder looked to be a bust after two season of mediocrity in the NBA. But, on the biggest stage of his career, Teague flourished and showed off his ability as a leader, averaging 14 points, 4 assists and 38 minutes of action in the 6-game playoff series against the Bulls.
Now in his third NBA season, the Wake Forest product must prove consistent and that his playoff performance was not but a phenomenon. With a likely changing of the guard in Atlanta this season, all eyes are on Teague to emerge as the future of the franchise.
2010-11 Stats: 8.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 24.0 minutes
Hughes 2012 Projections: 12.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 29.3 minutes
Casspi appeared on his way to fantasy stardom after a brilliant rookie season that yielded averages of better than 10 points and nearly 5 rebounds per game. The sky was the limit for the Israeli wonder but a hard dose of reality was doled out in 2011, as Casspi saw his minutes drop and those high expectations dwindle throughout the season.
Starting fresh in Cleveland could be the best thing for Casspi as he seeks to rebound, both literally and figuratively, from a less than mediocre sophomore campaign. With a firm grip on the starting SF job, Casspi should be given all the time and patience possible to develop and succeed with the Cavs.
2010-11 Stats: 7.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 20.1 minutes
Hughes 2012 Projections: 11.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 28.2 minutes
A top-15 draft pick in 2009, Daye was expected to be a bit of a project. After two seasons of meeting those low expectations, Daye seems primed for a big jump in minutes and an expanded role on the court.
The 6'11" swingman is expected to see a greater workload at the small forward spot in 2012, with incumbent starter Tayshaun Prince likely taking over some of the 2-guard duties in Richard Hamilton's absence. Daye should have the opportunity to shine on the floor and produce at the levels anticipated on draft night.
2010-11 Stats: 9.2 ppg, 3.7 apg, 21.1 minutes
Hughes 2012 Projections: 12.4 ppg, 5.8 apg, 29.1 minutes
The end of the 2010-11 season was full of Bayless highlights that incited a Raptors fan frenzy. The 23-year-old combo guard scored in double digits in each of Toronto's final 8 games, replacing the injured Jose Calderon, averaging 22.5 points and 5.6 assists over that stretch.
The Raptors are hoping for more of the same from Bayless in 2012 and if successful, his presence could make Calderon expendable come the trade deadline.
2010-11 Stats: 7.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 20.7 minutes
Hughes 2012 Projections: 10.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 26.3 minutes
A raw talent all around, George impressed in his first season in the league. Averaging just 8 points and 4 rebounds a night, George's numbers told the story of his developmental deficiencies, although they were often overshadowed by his supreme athleticism.
George began ascerting himself on the offensive end more as the season progressed and at 21-years-old still has plenty of time to develop into his freakishly athletic body. The 6'8" forward also sprouted 2 inches in the offseason and now at 6'10" 215-pounds is an even tougher matchup to defend this year. A combination of he and Danny Granger slashing from the wings could be even more deadly for opposing defenses.
2010-11 Stats: 7.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 23.0 minutes
Hughes 2012 Projections: 10.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 28.6 minutes
Turner had his moments in the limelight in 2011, albeit few and far between. Last year's number 2 overall selection was more a disappointment than anything during his rookie campaign, reaching the 20-point plateau just three times and snagging double digit rebounds just twice all season.
This year has already proven to be a different story. Turner has been a force in both the 76ers wins this preseason, dropping 16 points and 7 boards in the first contest followed by a 13 and 9 performance four nights later. If this is any indication of what is to come this season, Turner owners will be very happy come May.
2010-11 Stats: 8.9 ppg, 2.9 apg, 20.9 minutes
Hughes 2012 Projections: 13.6 ppg, 5.8 apg, 31.5 minutes
CP3 is finally gone from New Orleans and that means longtime backup Jarret Jack should see the majority of the minutes at the point guard spot in Paul's absence. Jack is still just 28-years-old and just two years removed from his best season - 13 points, 4 assists - as a pro.
On a bad Hornets team this season, Jack will have to endure much of the burden left in Paul's absence. Scoring shouldn't be a problem, as Jack could average close to 15 points a night given the floor time but it's the distributing that could be a problem. Keep an eye on Jack and don't be afraid to take a stab at him if he falls to the right spot in your fantasy draft.
2010-11 Stats: 9.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 24.4 minutes
Hughes 2012 Projections: 12.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 31.1 minutes
Michael Jordan is hoping that this is the season that the Bobcats' 2009 first round pick (12th overall) finally lives up to his high billing. After a stellar career at Duke, Henderson was atrocious in his rookie season in the league, averaging just 2.6 points over 8 minutes of action in 43 games.
The 2010-11 season was a big step in the right direction for G, but just under 10 points and 3 boards a night isn't going to garner the type of respect a top-15 selection should. So it's boom or bust in 2012 for Henderson, who is being looked at to command the Bobcats offensive unit and lead Charlotte out of the NBA gutter.
2010-11 Stats: 9.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 27.0 minutes
Hughes 2012 Projections: 12.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 32.5 minutes
Ibaka made a mammoth jump during the 2010-11 season, showing off his versatile skill set as well as literally jumping out of his shoes at times. The Zaire, Africa native finished third in the league in blocked shots (2.41 per game) and is a legitimate threat for a triple-double - points, rebounds, blocks - just about every night he hits the floor
This season should be Ibaka's time to shine and could yield eye popping rebounding and block statistics at times. Without a question, Ibaka will garner attention for his powerful dunks and authoritative blocks. A camera should be rolling on Ibaka's at all times while he's on the court, the highlight reel would be breathtaking and invigorating all at once.
Still to Come...
Friday: Mock draft