With over a quarter of the 2012-13 NBA season behind us, it’s becoming more difficult to find young and/or unknown players on the rise. As usual, the unpredictable nature of the Association is beginning to fade after nearly two months of games.
However, we’ve managed to identify a handful of unheralded, talented studs who are making real noise and becoming fantasy beasts for their respective teams. Let’s take a look at the five breakout candidates for Week 8 of the 2012-13 NBA campaign.
Jarrett Jack, G, Golden State Warriors
Week 8 Matchups: vs. New Orleans Hornets, @Sacramento Kings, vs. Charlotte Bobcats, vs. Los Angeles Lakers
With the Dubs making a run to the top of the Western Conference, Jack has found himself playing an instrumental role for the team off the bench.
The combo guard has been able to fill in at both the 1 and 2 off the bench, providing skills that range from scoring and stretching the floor with his three-point shooting to making plays and organizing the defense.
There is no reason to doubt Jack, who is averaging 10.6 points, 4.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 0.9 steals, as he should continue to flourish in his current role and will likely wind up starting due to injuries at various points in the season.
Nick Young, SG, Philadelphia 76ers
Week 8 Matchups: @Dallas Mavericks, @Houston Rockets, vs. Atlanta Hawks, @Brooklyn Nets
Young is back in the Sixers’ starting lineup, now that Jrue Holiday has hit the bench with an injury.
The volume scorer has absolutely no consciousness, but that’s a great asset to a team that only averages 92.5 points per game right now. In Sunday’s start against the Los Angeles Lakers, Young began firing away, finishing with 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting (6-of-12 from downtown).
Unfortunately, Philly wound up losing that game, 111-98, as the rest of the team once again struggled to find the bottom of the net. The Sixers have a tough schedule this week, but shouldn’t have a problem generating buckets while Young is logging over 35 minutes a night.
Ersan Ilyasova, PF, Milwaukee Bucks
Week 8 Matchups: vs. Indiana Pacers, @Memphis Grizzlies, @Boston Celtics, vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Ilysasova is continuing to prove his slow start to the 2012-13 season was nothing more than a fluke.
The Bucks forward averaged just 6.7 points (on 34.9 percent field-goal shooting and 21.4 percent on three-point attempts) and 4.8 rebounds during the month of November, but has stepped up big in the month of December.
Ever since December rolled around, the Turk has averaged 12.5 points (on 46.8 percent field-goal shooting and 45.0 percent on three-point tries) while pulling down 6.6 rebounds.
We expect those numbers will continue to trend upward as he finds a rhythm with his teammates and earns more than the scant 23.1 minutes per game he’s played this season.
Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards
Week 8 Matchups: vs. Atlanta Hawks, @Orlando Magic, @Detroit Pistons, vs. Detroit Pistons
Beal has had free reign to fire away for the lowly Wizards, and it certainly hasn’t resulted in wins.
However, fantasy owners and Beal fans that don’t care about his field-goal percentage have to be pleased, as the former Florida star is averaging solid figures over the past five games.
In that time frame, Beal has put up 15.0 points, pulled down 4.8 rebounds and dished 3.4 assists per contest. He’s also good for 1.4 steals per game game, but shoots just 37.7 percent from the field, while his touted three-point stroke simply isn’t falling—connecting on just 26.9 percent of those attempts.
We aren’t expecting the 19-year-old to turn this Washington franchise around anytime soon, but it’ll be interesting to see him and John Wall in the same backcourt as soon as the star PG gets healthy.
Ed Davis, PF/C, Toronto Raptors
Week 8 Matchups: @Cleveland Cavaliers, vs. Detroit Pistons, vs. Orlando Magic
It’s Davis’ time to shine now that Andrea Bargnani is out a while with torn ligaments in his elbow.
The 6’10”, 230-pound big was the No. 13 pick back in 2010, and the Raptors would be wise to use Bargnani’s injury as chance to give this kid a long-term evaluation as a starter.
He responded well in his first game entering the starting five, scoring 24 points (11-of-13 on field-goal attempts) and grabbing 12 boards in 45 minutes of play.
His minutes have since dropped with the return of Amir Johnson, but he has still been efficiently productive—netting 13 points (6-of-9 shooting), grabbing six boards, dishing two assists and swatting three shots in just 26 minutes in a win over Houston on Sunday.
If Davis continues to excel in Bargnani’s absence, he’s likely going to be highly considered as a permanent starter if the Raptors elect to trade the injured Italian.