Tyrese Haliburton, G, Indiana Pacers
Haliburton has all the ability to be an All-Star in 2023. He is a talented and versatile third year guard on a team that has no clear star, they are looking to create one and Haliburton is the leading candidate. Despite showing the ability to play alongside De’aron Fox, it seemed like the Kings had no real interest in turning to Haliburton to run the offense, they moved him to Indiana where he patiently waited for Malcolm Brogdon to disappear to take control of the team. Haliburton stepped right into the leadership role in Indiana, he increased his stats across the board, 17.5 points and 9.6 assists while raising his field goal percentage from 45.7 to 50.2 In his final ten games of 2021-2022 he collected five double-doubles.
The Pacers are not likely to contend but they are building a strong core around Haliburton with Chris Duarte, Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson and rookie Ben Mathurin. Indiana will likely move on from veterans Buddy Hield and Myles Turner in season to add expiring contracts and draft picks. Haliburton’s increased passing stats show the great potential to help the young Pacers thrive.
Keldon Johnson, G/F, San Antonio Spurs
Everyone knows the Spurs have no interest in winning. They still have to put a team on the court, when they do, they will be playing around Keldon Johnson. Johnson has seen an increase in his usage rate over the last three seasons, leading to his highest rate of 21% last season. With Dejounte Murray now playing in Atlanta, Johnson will now have the chance to handle the ball more. His ability to create a shot has improved every season in the NBA, he also got some great experience playing with Team USA over the summer.
Even though the Spurs won’t be competitive, Coach Popevich will find a way to use this season to help teach Johnson how to be a professional. The Spurs are hoping to land one of the two top prospects in the 2023 draft, this will be the season to develop Johnson as their #2 option.
Alperen Sengun, C, Houston Rockets
The 20 year old Turkish center was the No. 16 pick in last year’s draft. He struggled with efficiency in 2022, but was still a stat stuffer for the Rocket’s when given the chance to play. Sengun struggled to play alongside Christian Wood. With Wood being shipped off to Dallas the center spot is wide open for Sengun. The Rocket’s will play first round draft pick Jabar Smith at power forward, his game is 3-point oriented which is perfect for Sengun to control the middle and kick out to shooters when doubled.
Sengun spent the offseason playing Eurobasket where he was able to show improved efficiency, shooting 61.8%. Sengun has also been seen working with Hakeem Olajuwon on his interior footwork. The Rockets are a young team that will allow Sengun to continue to develop with the young core.
Jalen Suggs, G, Orlando Magic
Suggs’ rookie season was not very noteworthy. He was hampered with injuries throughout, dealing with a fractured right thumb in the first half followed by an ankle injury that ended his season in the second half.
Redemption is coming for Suggs, he will be healthy heading into the season and will now share the court with a prolific scorer in Paolo Banchero, as well as another year of development from Wendell Carter and Cole Anthony. Suggs could be the 3rd option on the offensive end which should open it up for him to get a rhythm against lesser defenders all season.
The former #5 overall pick will have a great chance to be featured in an upbeat offense full of young talent that will be allowed to run free. Look for Suggs to step it up on both ends of the court.