The NBA: 5 Players Who Will Make the "Jump"

Each season, we see players elevate their games into higher levels. These growths and improvements in their basketball skills are called making the "jump". You will notice the "jump" when a regular bench player becomes a consistent starter (Omer Asik) or an average starter becomes an All-star (Paul George) or an All-star becomes a superstar (James Harden).

This season, I expect these five players to make the "jump".

DeMarcus Cousins has the talent to be an All-star but
he is more known for tantrums and outbursts on the court 
1. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Boogie Cousins received a contract extension worth 4-year, $62 million from the Kings this past summer. Sacramento traded former ROY Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans and received a pass-first PG in Grievis Vasquez. With Evans gone, Cousins ultimately becomes the leader and franchise player of the Kings. The Kings believe that they can contend for a playoffs spot in the West with DMC leading the charge. Cousins has to stay on the floor and avoid getting technical fouls (and ejections) or fouling out. He is capable of getting double-doubles daily (17 and 9.9 last year) and being a 22 and 12 guy is definitely attainable. DMC must improve his transition defense especially after he takes a shot or doesn't get the ball. He is prone to complaining and jogging back on defense. Cousins needs to grow up now, on and off the court this season. Heck, Shaq is now a minority owner for the Kings, maybe he can mentor DMC for the better.

John Wall recently signed a contract extension.
Can he defend that signing like he defends other PGs?
2. John Wall, Washington Wizards
In his 3 years with the Wizards, John Wall has missed 46 games. The Wizards were never close to making the playoffs in all those years. This season, he looks and feels healthy and ready to go. He recently signed a 4-year, $60 million extension that puts more pressure on Wall to deliver. The Wizards upgraded their roster (Maynor, Harrington, Porter Jr) then traded for Marcin Gortat to provide Wall their best team in his 3 years there. Sophomore Bradley Beal has been amazing in the preseason and together they should make the Wizards contenders for a spot in the East. Wall had his best scoring season last year after he developed a decent jumper which opened up more driving lanes for him. There's optimism that he will improve this year and maybe become a double-double guy consistently. Wall can be a force on defense by being a menace in the passing lanes, plus he can harass smaller PGs to commit multiple turnovers. If the Wizards are competitive, John Wall should be a first-time All-star this season.

Mike Conley has been underrated in the last 2 years.
Will this year be any different?
3. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies reached the Western Conference Finals last season due to big plays from Mike Conley who increased his production in the playoffs. During 2012-13, Conley averaged 14.6 points (career-high) and 6.1 assists in the regular season but in the playoffs, he was at 17 points and 7 assists. Conley needs to have better numbers this year starting during the regular season especially since new Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger is preaching a faster pace and tempo from the Grit & Grind team. It's up to Conley to promote and initiate a quicker transition offense plus become more aggressive and look for his own shot. A more aggressive Conley who looks for his shot more often could translate to people guarding him to give him more defensive attention, thus possibly freeing up more wing shooters (Bayless, Miller, Pondexter) and discouraging double teams in the post. This is the season where Conley should increase his shot attempts and have a career-high in points and assists with their faster offensive pace. It is not a stretch to expect Conley to at least average 18 and 8 for the regular season if he constantly puts his foot on the pedal.

Kawhi Leonard played excellent in the 2013 NBA Finals.
Can he continue to play that way in the 2013-14 season?
4. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs narrowly lost the 2013 NBA Finals to the Heat but on the bright side, the future looks great for Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi averaged a double-double during the Finals while guarding LeBron James most of the time. He is very capable of getting a double-double consistently and he can guard perimeter players adequately. He also has a much improved perimeter game where he can be a threat when unguarded. Kawhi can also finish strong at the rim which makes him a major asset on fast break opportunities. Leonard has already supplanted Manu Ginobili as the third member of the Spurs' Big 3 with his overall effectiveness on both sides of the court. He already plays more minutes than Manu and Kawhi is able to contribute and produce more than Manu. Leonard could elevate his game to the next level and become a valid contender for an All-star slot this season.

Anthony Davis bulked up and got stronger this season.
Can the "Brow" help the Pelicans reach the playoffs?
(Image from: USA Today Sports)
5. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Davis had an underwhelming rookie debut (13.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg) last year due to various injuries that limited his production on the floor. He came back this season, bigger and stronger plus very healthy. He improved his game especially his jumper which looks smoother and the results have been very positive during the preseason where Davis was dominant. The Pelicans are also a better team this year with the arrivals of Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. Their presence on the floor (plus Eric Gordon when healthy) will help Davis get more scoring opportunities in the paint when opposing teams collapse to prevent the penetration of Gordon, Evans and Holiday. Davis also needs to refine his technique and timing on defense especially when going for blocks. Last year, he was prone to helping too much and leaving his man wide open for layups. A much improved understanding of team and help defense should see an increase in his blocks per game. Anthony Davis could definitely average a double-double for the season and a trip to the All-star game or even the playoffs is very attainable for him and the Pelicans.

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3 Comment

No love for evan turner?


Oh Turner is going to be AWESOME, too! Along with Greg Monroe, Klay Thompson, Larry Sanders, etc. Just sooo many!


i predicted the jump for Evan Turner last year then I got burned so I chose other players this year