15 Underrated/Breakout Players I'm Watching This Season

This is a mix of players I think are very underrated or are set to break out this season. Does it make sense to combine them into one article? Not really, but I'm doing it anyway.


  • Tyus Jones - I've already talked about how I think he could be the next breakout point guard in this fanpost. An efficient scorer, good and improving defender, and careful ballhandler, Jones has improved every year he's been in the NBA; I think could be the year he breaks out if given the chance. He's already a really solid backup, but is so badly misused by Thibs (no surprise).
  • Dante Exum - Finally healthy, Exum looks poised to have a breakout season as an elite defender and efficient scorer. Utah signed him to a contract (3/33) this offseason that might end up being an amazing steal for them the next two seasons if he takes over as the starter. I remember when a lot of Bucks fans wanted to trade Jabari for him...if only.
  • J.J. Barea - Talk about a wily veteran who continues to get the job done. Barea continues to be an effective backup point guard for Dallas year after year, chipping in fantastic per minute scoring and assist numbers with excellent efficiency. He can't defend, but Dallas just needs him to do what he does well.


  • Gary Harris - Overshadowed by Jamal Murray, Harris in my opinion is the better of the two guards. This season, he has a good chance to prove his worth as a fantastic scorer and shooter who can also pass and defend. He's not just a good player; he's a top 30 player in the league, a true star.
  • Josh Hart - After a really strong summer league, Hart looks ready to capitalize on the Lakers search for talent to keep around Lebron. I believe that Hart, not Kuzma, is the Lakers best 2nd year pro, and he quietly had a really good rookie season. If Donte Divencenzo, Hart's former Villanova teammate, has the same kind of potential, I think the Bucks are in for a treat.
  • Langston Galloway - Probably the most limited player on this list, but I think Galloway is completely overlooked, despite being one of the best 3 & D players in the league. He's a role player who consistently fulfills his role very well.


  • Joe Ingles - Extremely underrated, but might also be having a mini-breakout year. He was already a top 10 SF last year, but barely anyone knew; everyone should know by the end of this season. Not only is he the Best 3pt shooter who doesn't play for the Warriors, but he's also an excellent passer and defender. Watch him defend Kevin Durant and you'll really enjoy his fundamentals and peskiness.
  • Robert Covington - One of the quintessential 3 & D players in the league, RoCo still somehow doesn't get the respect I feel he deserves. He is one of the league's top wing defenders and can defend in the post as well, and he's going to shoot a 3 every time he has a sliver of space. He's not going to shoot 40% from 3, which is where much of the criticism probably stems, but he is elite at playing his role.
  • Taurean Waller-Prince - After a big improvement from his rookie to sophomore year, I think Prince is in for another big leap this season. By the end of the year, I wouldn't be surprised if he has thrown his hat in the ring to be a top 10 SF. He was already a very good 3pt shooter last year; if we see a spike in his 2pt%, watch out.


  • Nikola Mirotic - Similar to Ingles, most people didn't realize that Mirotic has been really good for awhile. Finally in an environment that encourages him to let loose and doesn't punch him, Mirotic should flourish this season.
  • Lauri Markkanen - A significant elbow injury and a cluttered roster may make it hard for Mark to have a real breakout season, but I wanted to include him anyway because I think he'll have one either this year or next. Plus, I get to mention how great his Finland-inspired nickname is: "The Finnisher"
  • Trey Lyles - His path to minutes is blocked on Denver's roster, and the Nuggets really don't need another score-first, defense-optional player, but I think Lyles is going to force his way into more minutes this season by being hard to keep off the floor. I think Lyles is Bobby Portis with less opportunity and a mellow attitude.


  • Domantas Sabonis - Tough, fiesty, and versatile, Sabonis had a breakout season last year, but I think he could be in line for another one. He is a rebounding machine on both ends of the floor and after seeing his scoring efficiency rise dramatically last year, could see another jump this year. Defense is where he could make the greatest strides, and I think he will.
  • Alex Len/Dwayne Dedmon - Len is ready for a breakout year, while Dedmon has been underrated for several years; however, their presence on the same roster could block opportunities for each other.
  • Serge Ibaka - A highly regarded player for a long time, I think Serge is going to see more minutes at center this year and will have a mini-renaissance season as a result. I don't know why he hasn't been used as a C before, but if he is, I think it will be an effective move for the new-and-improved Raptors.
That's it, thanks for reading! Leave a comment with your favorite underrated or breakout player.

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