With Summer League in the books it is time to look ahead to the next NBA season, and which players could make a big improvement after the 2013-14 campaign. Last season San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard made a huge leap from being a very good role player to the NBA Finals MVP. Here are the top breakout candidates for the 2014-15 season.
Beal is coming off the back of an excellent playoff run with the Washington Wizards. He averaged 19.9 points per game in the postseason, shooting 42.4% from the field and an excellent 41.5% from three-point range. He heads into his third season as half of one of the league's best backcourts alongside John Wall, and could potentially end the 2014-15 campaign as an elite NBA shooting guard.
After being selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013 NBA Draft, Bennett faced lofty expectations last season. He fell far short of those, averaging just 12.8 minutes and 4.2 points per game. He has drawn rave reviews in this offseason, however, turning up to Summer League in much better shape and showing some serious athleticism. He could be traded to Minnesota as part of the Kevin Love deal, but should have a much bigger role in whichever team he plays for next season.
Drummond is one of the most athletically gifted big men in the NBA and is a rare true center. He made a huge jump in his rebounding numbers last season, averaging 13.2 boards per game, and almost doubled his offensive output to score 13.5 points per game. If Drummond continues to make strides offensively and maintains his excellent rebounding numbers, it is not out of the realms of possibility that he is considered one of the league's top three centers after next season.
Ross burst onto the NBA landscape last season with a 51-point game against the Los Angeles Clippers, tying the Toronto Raptors' franchise record. The Raptors were a surprise package last year, reaching the second round of the playoffs, and they could repeat that feat in the wide-open Eastern Conference next season. If Ross can fulfil his enormous offensive potential he will be a key player for the Raptors and could surpass Demar Derozan as the team's top scoring option.
Everyone in the NBA is aware of Davis's giant potential. He has been tipped to be the NBA's next superstar behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and next season should be the year that he makes the leap. With Omer Asik on board the Pelicans have a scary defensive partnership in the frontcourt, and if New Orleans reaches the playoffs in the tough Western Conference Davis will certainly be in the discussion for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award.