6’9, 227, Thompson is a second-year pro out of Texas. On a team that needs a stronger defensive presence, Thompson could be a useful player to develop. As a rookie, Thompson put up a modest 8.2 ppg and 6.5 rpg, but he also blocked one shot a game. He could develop into a very good defender.
6’11, 253 lbs., Greg Monroe has started to emerge as the player to watch on the Pistons. Monroe showed good improvement after his rookie season, averaging 15.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg, and 1.3 spg in only 31.5 mpg. A Georgetown product, Monroe is beginning a promising career, and he looks to take his game to another level this season.
At 30 years old, Boozer should still have some good years left. Last season, Boozer put up 15.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 0.4 bpg for the Bulls. As the Bulls look to get healthy for another playoff run, Boozer needs to give the Bulls more defensively. He fits well into a team concept, but when he is aggressive offensively, he makes it difficult for defenses.
Ellis averaged 25.5 points and 2.2 steals per game in the 2009-2010 season. Since then, his production has decreased, as have his field goal percentage and field goal attempts. In his second season with his new team, can the backcourt of Ellis and Jennings work together and share the rock, to maximize their potential?
Former Duke Blue Devil Loul Deng did a good job handling the pressure with Rose on the sideline, but his points and shooting dropped while he played a career-high in minutes per game. Last season, Deng produced 15.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.9 apg, and 1.0 spg. With Deng and Rose together again, the Bulls hope for more playoff success, not another early playoff exit.
Although the Pacers are Granger’s team, the emergence of Roy Hibbert as one of the best defensive centers in the NBA has been crucial to the Pacers’ success. Hibbert, another Georgetown product, turns 26 in December. Last season, Hibbert improved to 12.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.0 bpg, while he shot 49.7%. As his minutes have increased, Hibbert has increased his production every season of his budding career. Will Hibbert take another step forward this season? Will his defensive prowess power the Pacers in the playoffs?
The Pacers have become a formidable force in recent years; Granger is one of the biggest reasons why. His individual decline in production does not matter unless you play fantasy leagues, but after maximizing his potential in 2009 with 25.8 ppg and 1.4 bpg, Granger’s points, field goal percentage and attempts have dropped. Last season Granger still gave the Pacers 18.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 1.0 spg, but he shot a dismal 41.6%. This season Granger looks to lead his Pacers back to the playoffs where they had some success last season.
Last season, Irving averaged 18.5 ppg, 5.4 apg while shooting 46.9% from the field. After a productive rookie season, Kyrie Irving will try to build on his success. Can the Cavs climb out of the cellar of the Central division? The young Irving will have to lead the way.
After another impressive campaign, Brandon Jennings is looking to continue his success this season. Jennings scored 55 points only games into his rookie season. Last season, Jennings scored 19.1 points, dished 5.5 assists, and nabbed 1.6 steals per game. Although Jennings only shot 41.8% from the field, that area of his game is improving. Will Jennings improve his shooting? Can this Bucks team make a playoff run?
Returning from injury and a shortened season, will Rose be able to return to his MVP status? Before his injury Rose showed overall improvement in two straight seasons, but last season, where Rose played only 39 games, was a step back. Last season Rose gave the Bulls 21.8 ppg, 7.9 apg, but only shot 43.5%. That was just a small step back from his MVP season, where Rose averaged 25.0 ppg, 7.7 apg, and shot 44.5%. We will see if the University of Memphis product can get his potentially Hall of Fame career back on track.