Most professional athletes tend to make a big jump from their rookie to sophomore year, regardless of the sport. The NBA is no exception, with players often making the leap after a full offseason with their team knowing what they need to work on specifically. Here’s a few second-year breakout candidates for the 2022-23 season fantasy managers should consider looking into.
Cade Cunningham, PG, Detroit Pistons
Cunningham is an obvious candidate for Most Improved Player and while he’s listed as a point guard, he’s likely to have more of an off-ball scoring role with Jaden Ivey coming into the picture. The Pistons have improved the roster enough to the point where defenses cannot hone in on Cunningham. His improvement late last season should translate into an excellent 2022-23 campaign.
Bones Hyland, SG, Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets expect to be title contenders this season and Hyland’s rise is part of the season why. The guard got extended playing time as a rookie due to injuries and should now propel this bench offensively. Hyland is able to shoot the triple at a high rate and play good defense, which will allow him to see the floor a lot. He’s a great Sixth Man of the Year contender.
Jalen Suggs, PG, Orlando Magic
Suggs is dealing with a bone bruise to begin the season, which could hinder his play early on. However, he’s going to be the starting point guard in Orlando with no real competition for a while due to other injuries. That offense should be more efficient and explosive with Paolo Banchero coming in. Let’s see if Suggs can benefit from that.
Alperen Sengun, C, Houston Rockets
Sengun didn’t quite fit in Houston’s system last year, averaging 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in the first 52 games. He only made five starts in that time. In the final 20 games and eight starts, he averaged 11.7 points and 7.2 rebounds. Sengun is likely to start right away this season, and the Rockets should be more fluid offensively. Look for him to take a nice step forward when it comes to numbers.
Jalen Johnson, SF, Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks picked up Johnson’s third-year option, so they clearly have bigger plans for him. With Kevin Huerter out, Johnson figures to get more rotation minutes this season. His efficiency was excellent last year and if he gets increased minutes, he should put up better overall numbers. He’s a sneaky breakout candidate.