The 2017 NBA Draft showcased some of the best young talent in the NBA.
Players like Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum made an immediate impact on their teams, while players like De’Aaron Fox and John Collins took a leap in their second season.
Going into the 2019-2020 season, which player will breakout in his third season of NBA action?
After losing Kawhi Leonard this offseason, the defending champion Toronto Raptors are in a strange position. As constructed, they are still a solid team, but are no longer in contention with their Finals MVP now a Clipper.
Toronto could try and deal some of their assets, such as Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol, and focus on building around young talent. OG Anunoby is a part of that core.
Anunoby was taken by the Raptors with the 23rd pick in the 2017 Draft. After starting a majority of games in his first season, Anunoby came off the bench most of last season before undergoing an appendectomy, causing him to miss the team’s playoff run. He averaged seven points on 45 percent shooting last season, along with three rebounds per game.
With Leonard gone, Anunoby will see a large increase in minutes in the coming season. Alongside Pascal Siakam and Fred Van Vleet, look for Anunoby, a 6’8″ forward, to continue to develop his offensive game and take on more responsibility as a player.
The second overall pick in the 2017 Draft hasn’t had the greatest start to his NBA career. While he has put up solid numbers in his first two seasons, Lonzo Ball has dealt with injuries on the court, and Big Baller Brand drama off it.
After months of speculation, Ball was included in the blockbuster trade that sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers. The Pelicans received Ball along with Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and several draft picks. Now away from Los Angeles, Ball can focus on his game, and potentially have a breakout third season in the NBA.
Ball is a very balanced point guard, able to pass and defend in addition to score, though his offensive game is what needs the most work. He averaged roughly 10 points, five rebounds and five assists last season, but shot only 40 percent from the field.
In a backcourt with Jrue Holiday, one of the league’s most underrated guards, Ball can focus on facilitating the players around him. The Pelicans have assembled a solid mix of young and veteran talent, making them one of the league’s sleeper teams. Ball’s next step in his career will be a key part of that.
Taken with the 29th pick, point guard Derrick White has proven to be a solid NBA player. After minimal playing time his first season, White started 55 games for the Spurs last year, and averaged roughly 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. Headed into his third season, White could make another leap.
Popovich is known for getting the most out of his players, and White is no exception. Dejounte Murray will be returning from injury, and he and White will co-star with DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
As San Antonio is always in the playoff picture, White can continue to develop with talented teammates and a Hall of Fame coach. His third season should be his best yet.
Featured image credited to Getty Images.
Stats credited to basketball-reference.com.