Who will be the breakout stars of the 2019-20 NBA season?
Before we answer that question, we need to address what the term means, as both "breakout" and "star" can be somewhat subjective.
For the purpose of this article, we'll use a nice, objective definition: a player who has never been an All-Star who could elevate himself to that level this season. Ergo, "star" means All-Star, and "breakout" means earning that status for the first time.
Each featured player has established his All-Star potential, is 25 or younger and has plenty of room for growth. Furthermore, his team situation has improved, which gives him a better shot at participating in the midseason festivities.
Players are listed here in order of their chances to make the All-Star roster.
5. John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
John Collins has got to be sore because it seems like most of the NBA world has been sleeping on him.
Last season, he averaged 19.8 points and 9.8 rebounds while notching a 62.7 true shooting percentage. The only other players to top 19 points, nine boards and a 60 true shooting percentage percent were Karl-Anthony Towns and the league's reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Yet the big man finished just 31st among Eastern Conference frontcourt players in All-Star voting by fans.
Collins, who will turn 22 on Sept. 23, still has plenty of room to grow.
One big reason is co-star Trae Young, with whom he built chemistry over the course of last season. Before the All-Star break, Young assisted him on 2.4 buckets per game. That number leaped to 3.3 after it.
Overall, Collins' second-half splits featured 20.3 points and 10.3 boards per game. If he can be a 20/10 guy next year while the Hawks get into the playoff hunt in the bottom-light Eastern Conference, he has a real shot at being named an All-Star.
4. Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls
You can just go ahead and start markin' in Lauri Markkanen on your Most Improved Player ballot right now.
The Chicago Bulls have a young core around which they're building, but the player in whom they're putting the most hope is Lauri Markkanen, who has flashed brilliance in his two-year NBA career but had it curtailed by injuries. He missed 14 games in his rookie campaign and 30 last season.
He is the stretchiest of stretch 4s (or 5s), averaging 2.2 threes per gamefor his career, which is the most among all 7-footers in NBA history by a comfortable margin. The next best with at least 500 attempts is Kristaps Porzingis (1.5 per game), so Markkanen is averaging just over 45 percent more threes per game than every other qualified 7-footer in NBA history.
Last year, the Bulls were discombobulated. Between lineup changes, injuries and a head coach transition midway through the season, they didn't feature a lot of consistency. Yet there was still a stretch in which the Finnisher demonstrated just how good he can be, notching 11 straight games with at last 20 points and nine rebounds. Over those outings, he averaged 26.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.5 treys.
If the Bulls can find some consistency at point guard, which they may have done by acquiring Coby White in the draft and Tomas Satoransky in free agency, that lack of consistency might change. Last year, the depth was nonexistent after Kris Dunn.
Adding Thaddeus Young should also help the Bulls be a more competitive team. They have a better-than-decent chance to get into the playoff hunt. If they do, Markkanen could be an All-Star.
3. Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
Can Brandon Ingram pull a D'Angelo Russell and break out now that he's not with the Los Angeles Lakers anymore?
If the way he was playing before he went down last year is any indication, he can. Over the last 15 games before deep venous thrombosis in his right arm ended his season, Ingram averaged 23.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 56.5 percent from the field, 37.9 percent from three-point range and 75.0 percent at the free-throw line.