One common thing that happens in every NBA season, is there always seems to be a few players that break out after the All-Star break. Whether it’s the needed rest or the weekend allows them to hit a restart button: Who really knows?
But some players always gets a spike in their performance after the break.
This is more a debate than an article, and it be great to hear your opinions on this in the comments below. I’ve highlighted six players who are breaking out in the second half…
In December, Jordan Clarkson was traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Utah Jazz. With his new team that can actually contend, Clarkson slid in perfectly and is playing a major role in the Jazz’s playoff push.
On Cleveland, Clarkson was averaging a mediocre 14.6 points and was shooting 43% from the field and 35% from 3. In the 28 games he has played so far for Utah, he pushed his numbers up to 16 points per game on 48% from the field on more shots taken too and knocking down 37% of his threes.
However, Clarkson is absolutely taking off with the Jazz and he’s becoming the perfect sixth man for them.
In his last 10 games, he averaged 21.1 points on 55% from the field and an impressive 48% from three proving his worth as a perfect addition for the team and the fact that they got him for an injury prone player in Dante Exum is amazing.
The Jazz were looking legit before acquiring Clarkson, but now they look so much scarier with him coming off the bench. Teams are going to start planning for Clarkson come playoff time because he is lighting up teams right now.
At the beginning of the season, Jordan Poole looked like one of the worst rookies in recent memory. He was shooting atrociously from the field about 31% and even worse from the three-point line at about 26%.
I’m sure his first couple of months were some of the worst by a rookie. This left him with limited minutes in the Golden State Warriors rotation but since Alec Burks, Glen Robinson III and of course D’Angelo Russell were all traded away, he’s been forced into a bigger role and luckily though, he’s been great for the Warriors ever since.
In his last six games, Poole is averaging 16.3 points. That’s double what he averages for the rest of the season as well as dropping three assists per game to go along with his much improved field goal percentage in 46.2%.
This is a phenomenal jump in play and it is exciting to watch even though I do see him dropping off a bit. Particularly with the return of Stephen Curry.
However, if he can keep his numbers up around 12 points a game and shooting over 40% from the field for the rest of the season, I think it will count as a successful turn around.
Now this may just be due to a change of scenery, but Malik Beasley is killing it right now.
Beasley was traded from the Denver Nuggets to Minnesota Timberwolves and has gone from averaging eight points and two rebounds a game on pretty bad efficiency to 21.7 points, six rebounds on 45% from the field and 41% from 3 in his last 7 games with the Timberwolves.
Again, this is probably due to being traded to Minnesota, not necessarily because of the All-Star break but still, this recent burst of play is amazing to witness.
I remember seeing him in the playoffs last year and he was making a real impact with the Denver Nuggets and I feel like they could’ve utilised him more. Then, all of a sudden this season he was dropped in the rotation so I’m glad to see his potential being maximized in Minnesota.
Like Poole, I don’t expect his numbers to keep up for long but again, if he can keep averaging over 15 points a game he will be a reliable scorer for Minnesota and possibly a turning point for his career.
Christian Wood was an unknown player until very recently.
I only found out about him when De’Aaron Fox put that mean poster on him. However, I’ve looked past the highlight and it turns out that Christian Wood is an extremely solid player with high potential to be an All-Star one day.
In his NBA career, Christian Wood has never really got consistent game time or even matches played. The most games he played before this season were 21 games and only 72 games total in his NBA career since he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers.
This has all changed this season though.
In 56 games this season so far with the Detroit Pistons, Wood has been averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds on 55% shooting from the field and 37% from deep.
These seems like pretty average numbers but trust me, it gets better. Wood in the last 8 games has broken out!
He’s averaging 20.3 points per game, 9.5 rebounds and 54% from the field and 41% from deep. That’s absolutely phenomenal.
In their game against the Portland Trail Blazers he dropped 26 points where he took over and almost pulled the big W but came short. With the absence of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond’s departure, Christian Wood has taken off.
Even though the Pistons aren’t winning and they are a pretty irrelevant franchise right now, Wood’s performance absolutely deserves more attention.
Kristaps Porzingis had a sluggish return to basketball. After a terrible injury that sidelined him for a season and a half, he finally returned this year to join Luka Doncic on the Dallas Mavericks.
As mentioned, it was a slow start and he only averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds on a mediocre shooting efficiency this season. However, his game has lifted tremendously after the All-Star break. In his last 7 games, Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 27.9 points with 10.4 rebounds and he’s shooting lights out: 52% from the field, 40% from 3, 87% from the line.
This may be due to the more opportunities he got since Doncic was out with an injury for some games during that stretch, but even when Luka has played in this run of games, Porzingis still dominated.
The Mavs have been losing more often than not lately. But Porzingis’ play level have been more or less keeping them alive.
His co-star Doncic hasn’t been great lately and just hasn’t seemed to have that same impact he had earlier this season. It’s not the worst drop off in the world but in his last five games he’s averaging eight less points per game than usual and that clearly says something.
However, I think the Mavericks should be thankful for Kristaps Porzingis’ impact because without it, I think they wouldn’t be where they are now heading to the playoffs.
If you didn’t expect Jayson Tatum to be on #1 on this list then, you’re clearly haven’t paying attention to NBA lately.
He is on fire.
Through the first half of the season, Tatum posted up 23 points and 7 rebounds a game on 45% shooting from the field and 39% from deep which earned him his first All-Star appearance. But now, in the span of last 10 games, Tatum took his game from All-Star level to superstar level and he’s making a case to be the best player on the Celtics team.
In his last five games, Tatum had scoring records of 33, 36, 41, 28, 39 points. That’s an average of 35.4 per game and he’s been incredibly efficient during this stretch as well.
This hasn’t been an easy walk on some low teams either, 3 of those 5 games were against legit contenders in the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz. Boston is now 3rd in the East and pushing for the 2nd seed.
If they ever had a deep playoff run, it will be carried by him. It’s crazy to think about that a little over month or so, Kemba Walker was the certified best player on the Boston Celtics and some were debating that Jaylen Brown was better and more deserving of an All-Star spot but he made it very clear that this is not the case at all.
Tatum has been absolutely phenomenal as of late and he deserves the top spot in the post All-Star breakouts list.