In the event there actually is a 2011-12 NBA season, that is. ESPN asked five experts five questions on who will be the breakout stars of next season, with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins getting plenty of attention from the group. Two members of the panel pegged Wall as ready to make the jump from talented rookie to one of the league’s stars next year, noting that although Wall had a fantastic rookie year, it was overshadowed by Blake Griffin. However, they believe he is ready to make his presence felt at a higher level the next time the Wizards take the floor:
2. Who will be the breakout star of 2011-12?
Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Because of the everyday splendor of Blake Griffin, a lot of people don’t fully appreciate John Wall’s debut season. I think he’ll break out in his second year. He’s probably the fastest player with the ball from end-to-end, is very explosive and sets up his teammates very well. Wall could be close to a 20-10 guy next season.
Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: John Wall put up stellar numbers as a rookie, becoming the first newbie to average 16 points and eight assists in 15 years. But the most promising moments were when he showed visible frustration with his team’s lackluster effort. He’s a leader with superb vision and speed who should be a top-10 point guard by the end of the year.
Then, the experts weighed in on which of last year’s rookies will take a step forward in his second year, with both Wall and Cousins getting some love:
3. Which rookie is ready to rise as a sophomore?
Michael Schwartz, Valley of the Suns: The Blake Griffin Show stole all the headlines, but John Wall also quietly enjoyed a stellar rookie campaign with 16.4 ppg and 8.3 apg. As the undisputed leader of a Wizards team that’s built to run with him, Wall will have plenty of reasons to dance the Dougie if he just improves his jumper a bit.
Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: There were times when DeMarcus Cousins looked unstoppable, and there were times when he seemed uncoachable. When he’s around the basket, he’s too strong to handle. When he floats to the elbow jumper, you don’t even need to guard him. If the Kings get him the ball at the basket, he’ll make a huge jump.
So there you go. If indeed the NBA plays games next year, it looks like two members of Cal’s first class of Cats are poised to move from big-time rookies toward being big-time stars. That is, as long as Boogie’s manager at Wal-Mart will let him off work early on game days.