Top 5 breakout players in 2011-12

More playing time, improved skills gives this quintet a reason to rise

Originally Published: December 19, 2011
By David Thorpe | ESPN Insider

Often too much attention is paid to what a player did in the offseason to affect a "breakout" season rather than the improved environment surrounding the player. True, a player's game might have gotten better, but so can his teammates, his coaching, his team. Here are five players in perfect situations whose environment could allow them to blossom in 2011-12.

Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets

2010-11: 11.7 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.6 rpg, 17.99 PER
Hollinger 2012 projections: 18.8, 4.0, 7.8, 19.60 PER


It's not Carmelo Anthony's team anymore, and it's still going to be a team that relies on a fast pace and frenetic play. In other words, it's perfectly suited for a super-fast point guard who is comfortable flying down the court. The Nuggets also have a roster that meshes well with a guard like Lawson. He's got a highly efficient low-post scorer, and other big men who can clog up the paint and start a lot of fast breaks with a bunch of shooters and wing racers.