Sophomore Showcase: Five Second Year Players Breakout Candidates

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Sophomore Showcase: Five Second Year Players Breakout Candidates

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Sophomore Showcase: Five Second Year Players Breakout Candidates

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Moses Moody, Golden State Warriors

Moses Moody is the easiest breakout pick of this list. The Warriors let go of Otto Porter, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Gary Payton II, and a few others which opens up a ton of minutes for the former Razorback. 

Moody’s calling card coming out of the draft was his shooting and overall shotmaking. He was fluid getting into dribble pull-ups and drew a ton of fouls despite not being a prolific driver. However, he also was scalable and could serve the role as an off-ball shooter who attacks closeouts, and he showed a lot of that with Golden State.

His timing and sense for cutting off-ball is already terrific, especially for a rookie. He’s willing to run off screens to get into threes or make cuts towards the basket to create easy opportunities for himself. He also showed more advanced skills such as running second side PNRs to showcase his pull-up shooting and underrated vision for a 6’6 wing. With his shot-making and high IQ, he has the upside to be a tantalizing connector piece.

Moody has impressed defensively as well. With preposterously long arms and a sturdy frame, he combines high level tools with tons of activity. Off the ball, he keeps his head on a swivel, denying passing lanes and shading help from all areas. He’s such a smart player with incredible awareness, and his length is so functional on that end. His lack of high-end athleticism doesn’t allow him to be a point of attack stopper, but he can hold his own along with the skills he brings off the ball.

With lots of new opportunities and a perfect complimentary skill set, Moody can flourish with Golden State next year. Whether he’s a starter or one of the first players off the bench, he can make his mark as an off-ball specialist on both ends who can bring complimentary shotmaking if his team is in need of offense.

 

Quentin Grimes, New York Knicks

After an impressive summer league showing this offseason, the New York Knicks have become so high on Quentin Grimes that they adamantly refused to give him up in a package for Donovan Mitchell. Justified or not, the Knicks love his game and he’s in store for big minutes next season, likely with a starting role as well.

Similar to Moody, Grimes is going to get a role off of his three-and-D skill set. He’s one of the best shooters from his draft class, already shooting 38.1% from deep on 4.1 attempts per game. He’s got a silky smooth energy transfer with a high release point that makes his shot tough to contest. He’s got shooting versatility and showed off some pull-up equity in summer league that got many Knicks’ fans excited.

His off the dribble game is still choppy and uncoordinated for me to buy next season, but the foundation is there. That shouldn’t be his job anyways. They have RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and other guys to rely on for creation. What they don’t have is a high level play finisher and shooter who doesn’t need the ball to contribute an efficient 10-15 PPG. Grimes may not be the 

Tom Thibodeau is known for two things: his love for defense and hatred for rookies. Grimes was able to earn minutes in Thibodeau’s rotation by competing on the defensive end. He has terrific screen navigation, he’s strong enough to switch a few positions, and he has terrific hands. His motor is incredible on that end as well and his hustle often led to easy transition buckets for himself. Combine all that was his athleticism and you have the makings of a great wing defender. That’s how he was able to earn the trust of his head coach year one.

After his incredible summer league stint, it’s clear that Grimes is going to get a larger role in this Knicks offense. It’s unclear how large that role will be this early, but my guess is that he’ll be a starter next season next to Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett. If that’s the case, he could be seeing anywhere from 27-35 MPG and will have a real chance to put up big time numbers in the Big Apple.

 

Brandon Boston Jr, Los Angeles Clippers

Brandon Boston’s fall from grace throughout the 2021 draft cycle was one of the steepest I’ve ever seen. There was one point where he was mentioned as the best prospect in the class outside of Cade Cunningham, and he eventually played so poorly that he slipped to the 51st pick in the draft. That draft position was always too low for him even with his terrible season, but in hindsight it looks even more egregious when you consider the flashes he showed throughout year one. 

He had some really promising highs during his rookie season. He wasn’t the most consistent but he showcased some ridiculous handling for a wing and the shooting appears to be better than it was at Kentucky. There will be times where you can see why Boston was so coveted coming out of high school. 

It looked like he had added strength over the past few years and that will be huge for his game going forward. The shotmaking ceiling is there and the potential for three-level scoring is there if he continues on his muscle mass growth trajectory. 

Boston won’t have a ton of opportunities in Los Angeles but it’s important to remember that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are always injured and there will likely be lots of load management. This will open up minutes for him to seize and take advantage of and even when they are healthy, he can serve as a backup creating wing who’s a good enough shooter to spot up as well. Expect a solid season from Brandon Boston this year.

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