Getting Ready For Their Close Up

By Eric Williams
Updated: September 24, 2008

nba PHILADELPHIA — While the 2008-09 NBAseason was a certified ‘thriller’ as the Boston Celtics ended up hoisting the 17th championship banner in franchise history, one questions begs to be asked.

What about the upcoming 2008-09 campaign?

While several teams have plans on challenging the Celtics for league supremacy, a multitude of individual players are also set to up their own statistical output for the respective teams.

Here then, is a look at several young players who are clearly set to improve for their respective teams as the 2008-09 NBA regular season approaches.

Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks (10.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg)

Horford is going to be an all-star power forward that gets the job done on a nightly basis for years.

Acie Law IV, Atlanta Hawks (4.3 ppg)

Law was the most ‘clutch’ collegiate player in the nation two years ago and should see more minutes as Mike Bibby’s backup next season, while pushing hard for the starting job outright.

Jamario Moon, Toronto Raptors (8.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg)

The high-flying Moon is ready to soar to even greater heights next season, though the acquisition of veteran Jermaine O’Neal could hurt his on-court time.

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics (10.5 ppg)

Rondo has shortcoming which he will certainly improve on as he ages, but his upside is high and no one embarrassed the scrappy point guard during Boston’s entire postseason run to the NBA Championship.

Leon Powe, Boston Celtics (7.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg)

Every time Powe gets on the floor – which should be more often in 2008-09 – he does something positive. This kid has a nose for the ball and a game to match.

Nate Robinson, New York Knicks (12.7 ppg)

Laugh if you want to, but new head coach Mike D’Antoni will play to Robinson’s strengths, allowing him to shine even more next season.

Louis Williams, Philadelphia 76ers (11.5 ppg)

Williams is a dead-eye shooter who will improve with more open looks because of the addition of veteran Elton Brand.

Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers (8.2 ppg)

Young is as athletic as all get-out and could become the steal of the 2007 NNA Draft one day.

Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors (11.2 ppg)

Calderon will be the sole starter at the point for Toronto next season and will approach All-Star status immediately.

Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons (7.6 ppg, 8.2 in playoffs)

Stuckey has superstardom written all over his ample game – enough said.

Randy Foye, Minnesota Timberwolves ( 13.1 ppg)

Foye just need to stay healthy to show everyone why he was picked so high two years ago. If he does, he will undoubtedly open some eyes.

Jeff Green, Oklahoma City (10.5 ppg)

A first round draft pick last season, Green has the game and maturity to really take off and up all of his personal averages in 2008-09.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers (17.8 ppg)

I say Aldridge averages close to 20 points a game next season, even with the addition of Center Greg Oden and offensive-minded rookie point guard Jerred Bayless.

Andris Biedrins, Golden State Warriors (10.5 ppg)

If his teammates pas him the ball – which is a serious question in Golden State’s up-tempo offense – Biedrins, a talented low post player, should continue to show some on-court growth.

Marco Belinelli, Golden State Warriors (2.9 ppg)

No Baron Davis should mean more playing time – and shots for the ‘dead-eye’ Belinelli.

Al Thornton, Los Angeles Clippers, (12.7 ppg)

Thornton was a force in college and should approach 18 points per game next season.

Trevor Ariza, Los Angeles Lakers (6.5 ppg)

Ariza’s definitely got some game – now if the he can stay healthy next season – and his Lakers teammates pass him the ball – he should average double figures next in 2008-09.

Brandon Bass, Dallas Mavericks (8.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg; 11.6/6.8 in playoffs)

The Mavericks need someone that can score in the low post consistently and the muscular Bass fits the bill to a tee. New head coach Rick Carlisle should start him at the power forward spot immediately next season while moving Dirk Nowitzki to small forward and Josh Howard to the bench!

Carl Landry, Houston Rockets (8.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg)

Any young player that gets their tooth knocked out by Carlos Boozer – and smiles a wide, hockey player-like grin after torching his opponents, is a star waiting to happen if you ask me.