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New NBA Superstars in the Making?

Let’s take a look at a few players with an already ‘’star’’ status, but not quite, as not one of them has been selected to an All-Star roster yet. We can safely say though that these players impact on their teams and the whole league will only get bigger and bigger from now on, season after season.

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets

The young point-guard may not yet have a legitimate star glamour, but his organization are already paying him like a real star. Murray signed a 5-year, 170 million USD max extension with the team in July. Even before that the Nuggets had pointed out on numerous occasions that they viewed Murray as their corner-stone player for the foreseeable future. The organization even declined a trade offer from Cleveland Cavaliers for exchange with Kyrie Irving, back when he requested a trade and subsequently went to Boston. That speaks something for the level of confidence Nuggets have in their young guard.

Yet many experts still regard Murray as just the second-best player on the Nuggets squad, which secured the No. 2 seed in the packed Western Conference last year. Center Nikola Jokic has made quite an impact in the last 2 seasons indeed, but it’s not too fair to compare players at so different positions. Murray averaged 18.2 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game on 43.7 percent shooting from the field and 36.7 percent from 3-point line last season. What’s more important, Jamal elevated his game in the postseason and upped his scoring to 21.3 points per game, helping the Nuggets win their first playoff series since 2009. Anyway, Murray and Jokic form one of the best tandems in today’s basketball and could find themselves both playing in next season’s All-Star contest.

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Celtics look a bit skinny on the roster, following the departures of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Now is the time for Jayson Tatum to deserve a much bigger role in the rotation next season. The Celtics still did ok in free agency by signing Kemba Walker, but Tatum will be much more involved offensively, together with the other young hope, Jalen Brown.

 

Tatum made a name for himself during the 2018 postseason as a rookie. He averaged 18.2 points on 46.7 percent from the field in 35.6 minutes per game. He scored 351 total points in these play-offs, just one-point shy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time rookie record for scoring in a postseason. Like many of his Celtics teammates though, Jayson played a disappointing season last year. Tatum relied far too much on his outside shooting, rather than attacking the basket. Thus he missed far too many opportunities to draw foul shots, when driving to the basket and attacking the rim aggressively.

He still averaged 15.9 points in the regular season though, higher than his rookie regular season mark of 13.9. He also upped his rebounding from 5.0 to 6.0 and his assists from 1.6 to 2.1. The player is a natural scorer and arguably the most talented player of his draft class (2017). Playing with Team USA this summer should be beneficial for the 21-year-old’s growth as he competes against top-tier players. He will likely make the final roster for China, which will be also very good for a young and upcoming NBA player.

 

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

With Kawhi Leonard gone and Kyle Lowry now 33 years-old, Pascal Siakam is the new face of the Toronto Raptors. He enjoyed a breakout campaign last season, averaging 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists during the regular season. Pascal won the league’s Most Improved Player award.

Siakam emerged as a star during the Raptors’ title run, posting 19 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in the play-offs. He produced two dominant games in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Pascal dropped 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Game 1 and then totaled 26 points and 10 rebounds in the title-clinching victory in Game 6. He averaged 19.8 points per game in the Finals, on 50.3 % shooting.

Now Siakam will undoubtedly be the No. 1 offensive option for Toronto. He is an elite athlete and versatile defender who can guard well on-the-ball and off it. Siakam still has some room to improve his jump shot and his playmaking skills, but at 25, there’s still plenty of time for him to achieve these goals.

The Raptors still played well without Leonard in the line-up through the regular season last year. They recorded 17 wins in 22 games without Kahwi, which is a superb percentage. They’ll hardly be able to achieve even close to that this year, but will firmly be in the play-off chase in the weaker East, maybe even in the top 4 scramble. No doubt that Siakam will be the irreplaceable piece for this franchise in the next years to come.

 

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