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Detroit News NBA preview: Top 5 breakout players

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Devin Booker

1. Devin Booker, Suns

He had a good rookie season and will continue to improve, as he’s given the starting role. That upset the balance in the lineup, but the Suns will go to the youth movement, even if it means hurting their playoff chances. He was on the all-rookie team, but will make a bigger jump this season.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Now that he’s handling the ball more, he’s going to be insanely difficult to stop. Once he drives to the paint, his reach and athleticism reinforce the nickname “Greek Freak.” With injuries, he’ll get the bulk of the scoring opportunities and could carry the Bucks out of the East basement.

3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

He showed flashes of his growing talent as rookie of the year. He’ll build on it, with a year of experience and growing talent around him. Having coach Tom Thibodeau as a motivator will accelerate his development, as it will for teammate Andrew Wiggins, who also could have made this list.

4. D’Angelo Russell, Lakers

Video posts and team strife aside, Russell had a very good rookie season and will expand on all his totals this season, as the Lakers and first-year coach Luke Walton look to establish an identity in the post-Kobe Bryant era. Now, whether he can pull the team together off the court to improve will be the biggest challenge.

5. Myles Turner, Pacers

In an era of non-traditional centers, Turner is a throwback who has found a defensive niche in Indiana. He plays well on both ends of the court (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds) and was on the all-rookie team. With a new point guard in Jeff Teague, he’ll get more looks and work better with Paul George.

Rod Beard ranks NBA teams; Pistons ninth