It's a new season, and with every new season we see inevitable changes. Some guys show improved jumpers or bigger muscles and play better than we expected; others show up 20 pounds heavier or a year older and can't quite produce at the same level.
Today we're going to look on the first half of that equation: my All-Breakout team for 2007-08. Veteran readers will be familiar with this product, as I've done it the past two years, as well. However, this time I'm going to change the format a little.
In the past, I've just picked 10 guys and gone with them as a list, which was nice and all but didn't quite do justice to their individual cases. Looking back on last year's team, for instance, the breakout I expected from Luol Deng was of a completely different type than the one I expected from Danny Granger. One guy was going from solid starter to borderline All-Star, the other from backup to solid starter; just throwing them together on a list didn't quite seem to capture the difference.
So this year, I bring a bit more nuance to the list. I've broken it up into a few different categories so you can more easily understand exactly how much breaking out we're talking about with these guys. Actually, I made eight groups, which might be overkill, but what the heck.
As always, the ground rules come first. First, I'm scrapping the nobody-from-last-year's-list rule since I'm changing the format; welcome back, Josh Smith. (And yes, it's possible to break out twice in a row -- once from part-time starter to minor star, and again from minor star to big-time star.)
The last two rules from a year ago remain, however: First, no comeback cases like Bobby Simmons or Kenyon Martin -- we're just talking about players legitimately stepping up from their former level. Second, minutes matter. There are a few guys I would have included on this list if I'd been more sure of their minutes (Trevor Ariza, for instance, or Sergio Rodriguez); since I'm not, I'm leaving them off.
That still leaves a 20-man team, however, for this year's All-Breakout squad. Not all of them are going to be superstars, but I'm betting on all of them to do a lot more damage this season than last. The envelopes, please: