Sometimes when you’re putting together an issue it takes on a life of its own. That was definitely the case for Dime #66. Typically this would have been our NBA Preview Issue, looking at all the stars and storylines for the upcoming year. But with the 2011-12 NBA season indefinitely on hold until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place, a central theme began to arise while we were planning.
What we’ve dubbed The Breakout Issue features the rising stars from the NBA, college and high school ranks that are primed to breakout this season. Ever since our first issue 10 years ago, we’ve made it our mission to tell the stories that need to be told â€“ not just the ones that we’re supposed to. And like that first issue with Allen Iverson on the cover, our list is topped by a point guard that is poised to change the game as we know it, and become the NBA’s next breakout star: John Wall.
With that, here are the Top 25 players and teams primed to breakout this season…
25. Josh Selby, Memphis Grizzlies
People forget that Josh Selby was rated the No. 1 player in the Class of 2010 by Rivals before his disappointing freshman season at Kansas last year. That was ahead of guys like Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight and Harrison Barnes. But with Memphis primed to build on their success from last year, the incoming rookie should make a name for himself as a high-octane scorer coming off the bench. “He’s the steal of the draft,” Zach Randolph told the Memphis Commercial Appeal after Selby slipped to the 49th overall pick in June’s NBA Draft. “The young fella is going to help us.” Just remember that this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
24. Terrence Ross, University of Washington
As a freshman last season, Terrence Ross didn’t make his first career start until the Pac-10 Tournament. He then proceeded to be named to the All-Tournament team after averaging 15.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in UW’s three wins. Filling the shoes of Isaiah Thomas won’t be easy, but if there’s any one that is ready to do it it’s the sharp-shooting sophomore. At 6-6, his size and fearlessness outside makes him a nightmare for opponents, as he is willing â€“ and able â€“ to gun from anywhere at any time. The Huskies can’t be dismissed as a major player for the Pac-12 title, and if they win it, Ross will be the reason why.
23. Mercedes Russell, Springfield High School
Mercedes Russell is the next Candace Parker. At 6-5, the junior center from Springfield, Ore., grew up a guard â€“ that is until she grew six inches the year before high school. Only 16, Russell beat up on everyone in her way en route to winning an Oregon 5A state championship last season, averaging 24.5 points, 15.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game along the way. This past summer she dominated the AAU circuit, becoming the Class of 2013’s top recruit and player to watch heading into this year.
22. Jonny Flynn, Houston Rockets
There’s no NBA point guard that’s been talked about less this offseason than Jonny Flynn. And the sixth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft is just fine with that. Recovering from hip surgery after a stellar rookie season, Flynn never quite recovered in Minnesota last year, averaging an underwhelming 5.3 points and 3.4 assists per game. And after being dealt to Houston in a draft-night trade, he finds himself in a crowded â€“ yet talented â€“ backcourt alongside fellow point guards Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic. Playing outside the triangle offense for the first time in his young career, Flynn will finally get his chance to shine.
21. Buddy Hield, Sunrise Christian Academy
During the month of July, Buddy Hield saw his stock rise tremendously on the AAU circuit, putting up huge scoring numbers in almost every game he played alongside top recruit Perry Ellis. At 6-4 and 195 pounds, the pure shooting guard from Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) is best known for his consistently accurate jumper, as Hield can light it up from almost anywhere on the court. While first holding a lone offer from Nebraska at the start of the summer, his list of options exploded, leading to a commitment to the Oklahoma Sooners this fall.