It’s been nearly a full week since the NBA got underway and with every season, there are some incredible players that have caught the eyes of basketball fans. Going into another year of hoops, these players may be undervalued or underappreciated by fans. However, many of these players go into the season and surprise fans with what they are able to do. Our team of writers will pick their favorite breakout NBA player in this edition of The Daily Campus Roundtable.
Buy your stock now because Trail Blazers forward and shooting guard, Shaedon Sharpe is quietly emerging as a star in this league. Sharpe, drafted last season out of Kentucky, has seen his scoring skyrocket from 9.9 points to 19.8 in his second season while bringing freak athleticism to the defensive end. In addition to his emergence in scoring, Sharpe is corralling five rebounds per contest and having top 40 defensive win shares. The former seventh-overall pick is quickly getting attention and emerging as an early candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award for a young and exciting Blazers squad. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the second-year player in a handful of all-star games as his career goes on.
Despite an ankle injury that may keep him out for a few weeks, Cam Thomas had a stellar start to the 2023-24 NBA season. The third-year guard out of LSU is about as exciting as it gets on the offensive end for the Brooklyn Nets, going back to early February last season where he exploded for 40 points or more in three straight games leading up to the departures of stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. In eight games this season, Thomas is averaging career highs in all three major statistical categories with 26.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 32.4 minutes of action a night. At just 22 years old, Thomas is a bright young star to kickstart the new-look Nets. Nets fans hope to see him healthy sooner rather than later to make a push for an All-Star selection in Indianapolis in February.
I’ve been able to catch Charlotte Hornets games on NBA League Pass and the biggest surprise to me was the impact of Mark Williams. Last season, the former Duke big man averaged a stellar nine points and 7.1 rebounds per game in his rookie season. Those numbers certainly don’t fly off the charts, but what he’s been able to do thus far has truly been impressive. Currently, Williams is third in the league in offensive rebounding percentage and is the top dog in the NBA in terms of field goal percentage. If you can believe it, the sophomore seven footer even registered an insane 24 rebounds against the Wizards on Nov. 11, the highest rebounding game this season. When you’re able to do what the Hornets center has done thus far, you deserve more love.
While Mitchell Robinson won’t be putting up 15 plus points a game, his contributions to this young Knicks squad cannot be overlooked. Robinson has been a menace on the glass, ranking seventh in the Association with 11 boards a game so far. Robinson also proved he can lock up almost any big man in the league, as he held Victor Wembanyama to 14 points on 28.6% shooting from the field. The 7-foot-2-inch center is only 25 years old, and he has shown early aptitude in his post scoring, capitalizing on the few chances he does down low shooting an excellent 54% from the field. The Florida native is only getting better, and the fact he has done it against such elite competition is something that should excite Knicks fans. If he keeps this up, don’t be surprised to hear his name in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.