Whether it’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lebron James, Stephen Curry, or any other perennial MVP candidates, NBA stars tend to get all the attention in the game. However, you can also bet that by the time the next league champion is crowned in June, there will be a low-profile player taking a decisive role.
Here are the potential biggest “X-factor” players you might want to keep your eyes on as you prepare to bet on NBA games with oddsshark.com ahead of the regular season starting on Tuesday (19th October).
De’Andre Hunter: Atlanta Hawks
At the beginning of the 2020/2021 season, De’Andre Hunter looked like a guy who could go for 20 points with solid efficiency and he averaged 17.2 points with 2.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds. Unfortunately, a knee injury ended his season early.
With Trae Young being an offense, the Hawks can surround De’Andre with their four limited support pieces and he still won’t have an issue scoring. However, if De’Andre remains to be a defensively stellar knockdown shooter that expands off-the-dribble game, the Hawks might have the ideal running mate for Trae Young.
Robert Williams III: Boston Celtics
Robert Williams III has a unique combination of size, athleticism, and a surprising sense of the court, which makes most fans feel like the 23-year-old center will become something special soon. However, it’s risky to expect that much on Williams’ passing and vision, as these are auxiliary skills that are not crucial to the rim protection position or interior finishing. Nonetheless, his assist rate and assist-to-usage percentage suggest that William can master other key elements of the game.
Blake Griffin: Brooklyn Nets
After joining the Nets from the Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin played twice as many minutes in the postseason as a center compared to any of his teammates. Griffin shot it well from the deep, showcasing great vision and also helped up defensively.
With LaMarcus Aldridge back and Paul Millsap aboard, the Nets will still have options if Griffin’s resurgence fails. That’s without mentioning the rangy Nicolas Claxton, who might deserve the x-factor spot if the Nets would choose to give him a real chance over Griffin.
Isaac Okoro: Cleveland Cavaliers
Heading into his second season with the Cavaliers, Isaac Okoro is the greatest perimeter defender in Cleveland at the moment. Okoro is not only good specifically with the Cavaliers, as he’s poised to become an elite wing defender in the NBA. However, if he manages to become a good shooter, rising from the 29% he recorded last year with 3-points attempts to reach the league average of around 35%, he can reach another level altogether. He can also attempt to get a role on the offense in his quest.
Victor Oladipo: Miami Heat
With Lowry, Herro, and Robinson on the team, there are plenty of players that can become the “X-factor” in the Heat’s squad. However, the most likely option for the spot will be Victor Oladipo. Victor might never be able to rise back to his All-Star form, but if he manages to become a versatile wing defender who stretches the floor and attacks the rim, Miami will drastically improve their chances of getting the title by trading for additional players.
RJ Barret: New York Knicks
RJ Barrett is a key piece to the success of the New York Knicks. The Knicks are currently lacking enough wing defenders and if Barret suffers from a serious injury that takes him out of the game, the team will be in serious trouble throughout their campaign.
Patrick Williams: Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are depending on three substandard defenders, who are expected to see hefty playing time due to their undeniable offensive punch. However, with their roster that’s highly dependent on Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, and Zach LaVine, someone will need to start picking the defensive slack. That person could be Patrick William.
A second-year forward, Patrick might not be able to cover 60% of Chicago’s best lineup like the prime Daymonmd Green, but he has frequently guarded the opposition in the toughest games as a rookie. Additionally, Williams might be the only hope for the Bulls to slow down opposing offenses after Thadeus Young’s departure.
Ben Simmons: Philadelphia 76ers
If Philadelphia doesn’t trade Ben Simmond or fail to get a ball handler in exchange for him, they will have to turn over their offense to Tyrese Maxey. However, it’s safe to say that Simmond will alter the Sixers character this season despite his refusal to report to training camp. Additionally, there’s no other player who seems to be the X-factor in the franchise, despite being in a state of limbo.
OG Anunoby: Toronto Raptors
OG Anunoby is a versatile defensive player who has mastered long-range scoring. He has also managed to improve his dribble and the ability to create shots. As such, if he’s able to consistently generate offense, the Toronto Raptors get a shot at getting back to the postseason.