One month! Yes, barely one month until the official start of the 2021-2022 season, of a special Regular Phase and with great seasonings not only because of the level of competition that is expected, but because of the detail of being the course of the 75th anniversary of the league. The expectation begins to grow from every point of view, and in NBA.com we continue with the previous path launching “30 days, 30 questions”, a series of questions that will revolve around the next campaign and that our staff will be debating.
The beginning is with a complicated question: Who is the young star who will make the biggest leap of the season? Sure, there is so much talent around the competition that it becomes very difficult to keep just one option. Here we go…
Leandro Fernández (@FernandezLea): Ja Morant
If we look only at the last Regular Phase, Morant’s 2020-2021 was somewhat disappointing. He came from being the Rookie of the Year with a great level that put his Grizzlies higher than many thought, and you could not expect anything other than a clear jump in his year 2. He scored more, averaging 19.1 points, but its efficiency dropped, going from excellent 47.7% from field as rookie to 44.9% as sophomore. Most worrying: dropped from 33.5% to 30.3% in terms of triples, something you need to develop to enhance your style of play.
However, Morant proved that he is completely special, showing up at the right time to win the Play-in and get Memphis into the Playoffs, where his level was explosive: 30.2 points, 48.7% field (32.3% triples), 4.8 rebounds and 8.2 assists in the First Round series against the Utah Jazz (4-1 loss). There he was the player he can become, a top-level star, with a winning character and capable of leading a team with aspirations. Because yes, many are putting Memphis aside again for 2021-2022. And that will be a mistake.
Morant has everything to be what he was against the Jazz. You just need to do it as regularly as years and experience give you. And what he showed in the recent postseason can completely unleash his best version, en route to the All-Star?
Juan Estévez (@ JuanEstevez90): Anthony Edwards
Edwards’ rookie season was clearly from low to high. And although in terms of effectiveness he had quite low numbers, the young Timberwolves ended up rounding out a sufficient season to get fully into the fight for Rookie of the Year (he ended up winning it LaMelo Ball). Now, everything seems to indicate that we will see a very better version of him in 2021-2022, for a simple reason: his last months of action last season.
Edwards’ second half in 2020-2021 was excellent for a rookie. In the last 40 games of that season, he averaged 23.5 points with an acceptable 44% from the field. However, those numbers were further enhanced in his last nine appearances: 26.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 53% from the field and 41% from triples. A bestiality.
The former University of Georgia was settling into the NBA at a much faster rate than imagined and by the end of the Regular Phase he was already among the most prolific and effective scorers in the league. Can you repeat that performance throughout 2021-2022? It will not be easy, but as we have seen, the talent is there.
Sergio Rabinal (@S_Rabinal): Michael Porter Jr.
The Denver Nuggets forward lived his first full season in an important role after a rookie year not easy. The Missouri product came to the league with a poster of a star weakened by injuries, a problem that so far has not yet conditioned him excessively, which is fantastic news because it puts him in a position to take the next step in his career. career. The 2021-2022 campaign aims to be key in its trajectory, first for his impending multi-year renewal and second for the prolonged discharge of Jamal Murray. The Canadian’s absence will leave MPJ as the second offensive reference of the Colorado team and not something else, but scoring is good for Porter Jr.
The 23-year-old has gone from 9.3 points to 19.0 in his second campaign, coming mostly from the bench, a quite noticeable increase considering that he has played in a contender. The most remarkable thing about his profile is the effectiveness with which he is shooting to the basket, with 44.5% from the triple, 62.8% on shots of 2 and 79.1% on free throws. MPJ has the technical and physical qualities to take a big step forward in this campaign, assuming a leading role as he did in the last leg of 2020-2021.
It is always said that the most difficult thing in the NBA is not to average 20 points, but to break that barrier and enter the 25 points per night band. Porter Jr surpassed that wall only 15 times last year, Will it be able to settle there in 2022?
The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA or its organizations.