Connect with us


Sophomore NBA Players Primed for a Breakout Season in 2023-24

Sophomore NBA Players Primed for a Breakout Season in 2023-24

We tend to see some of the biggest breakouts in a player’s career in their sophomore seasons. We saw Evan Mobley turn into a DPOY candidate last season and Josh Giddey showcase his scoring abilities and look to be a reliable #2 option in the Thunder offense this past year.

Growth in young players are inevitable, but let’s look at potential breakouts we can expect from this past year’s draft class…

Jabari Smith Jr., PF, Houston Rockets

<em>Nov 7 2022 Orlando Florida USA Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr 1 drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center Mandatory Credit Kim Klement USA TODAY Sports<em>

Prior to the 2022 NBA Draft, Jabari Smith Jr. was considered the #1 prospect in the draft. His defensive versatility and ability to stretch the floor at his size made him extremely intriguing for teams. Fast forward to the draft, Smith Jr. ends up going #3 after a huge surprise of Paolo going #1 instead.

Smith Jr. had a very up and down rookie season, but started showing flashes of why the Rockets drafted him near the end of the season. He averaged over 15 PPG the past 2 months and built more consistency with his shot.

In this year’s summer league, he went absolutely insane, averaging over 30 PPG and even hitting a game winning buzzer beater. He showed every reason why he was regarded as the #1 prospect in last year’s draft and how good he really can be with the ball in his hands.

I expect Jabari Smith Jr. to continue to grow his game and play with a more defined role with Ime Udoka’s coaching. Don’t be surprised to see a Jaren Jackson Jr. type of breakout season from Jabari. He’s shown more than capable of being an elite defender in this league, it will come down to consistency and confidence in his offensive game.

Projected 2023-24 Statline: 17.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.2 BPG, 46% FG, 35.2% 3PT

Shaedon Sharpe, SF, Portland Trail Blazers

Opportunity, opportunity, and opportunity. With Damian Lillard most likely getting traded prior to the season, Shaedon Sharpe will be more featured in the Trail Blazers offense. Although the Trail Blazers have Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons, expect Sharpe to get plenty of looks.

Sharpe showed his explosiveness and offensive potential all year his rookie season. His unique bounce to jump over defenders and catch lobs from the sky only help his case. Sharpe just turned 20 years old and has shown the ability to make plays off the catch, with the ball in his hands, and obviously… off of lobs. With the plethora of ways Sharpe can be dangerous, its only expected that he has a breakout.

Projected 2023-24 Statline: 18.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.3 APG, 46.5% FG, 37.2% 3PT

Bennedict Mathurin, SF, Indiana Pacers

<em>INDIANAPOLIS INDIANA JANUARY 24 Bennedict Mathurin 00 of the Indiana Pacers reacts after making a shot in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on January 24 2023 in Indianapolis Indiana Photo by Dylan BuellGetty Images<em>

Bennedict Mathurin was one of the best players in the league last season coming off the bench. He was 2nd in the league in points off the bench per game (16.7) this past year. Now imagine the looks Mathurin will get in the starting lineup with one of the best facilitators in the league in Tyrese Haliburton. He’ll get ample amount of looks in the starting lineup and is bound to have a breakout year.

If Mathurin can improve his handles and playmaking, he’s just going to be more and more dangerous. With opposing defenses having to worry about him getting to the rim, if they also have to worry about him making plays on the drive… good luck.

He’s already getting to the free throw line at an elite rate in the league, averaging nearly 6 free throws a game off the bench as a rookie, insanity. If he already knows how to use the refs to his advantage this early, it’s only going to get better.

In the end, Mathurin’s growth and breakout will come down to his willingness to improve his handles, grow as a playmaker, and increase consistency in his shot.

Projected 2023-24 Statline: 23.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 44.2% FG, 34.8% 3PT

Mark Williams, C, Charlotte Hornets

<em>LAS VEGAS NEVADA JULY 15 Mark Williams 5 of the Charlotte Hornets poses during the 2022 NBA Rookie Portraits at UNLV on July 15 2022 in Las Vegas Nevada Photo by Gregory ShamusGetty Images<em>

As a starter as a rookie this past year, Mark Williams averaged nearly a double-double (11.6 PPG & 9.8 RPG in 17 games). Mark Williams can be exactly what the Hornets has been looking for a very, very long time. They’ve been looking for a franchise center since Dwight Howard/Al Jefferson. Whether it’s been Cody Zeller, Mason Plumlee, Bismack Biyombo, Frank Kaminsky, or Kai Jones… they’ve gone through a lot at the center position.

Enter Mark Williams.

Mark Williams is what the Hornets have been needing for a while now. A center that can rebound the basketball at an elite level, catch lobs and finish around the rim consistently.

Williams showcased all that and more in limited chances he got his rookie season. Having a facilitator like LaMelo Ball will only help Williams get the ball in transition and find him on the interior. Not only will Williams help by being an interior presence, he’ll also create more opportunities for the Hornets guards who love to shoot with his elite offensive rebounding.

Projected 2023-24 Statline: 15.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.7 BPG, 59.2% FG


Must See

Join the Newsletter!

More in NBA

Would you like to get Notifications for new articles? OK No thanks