When Opportunity Knocks...5 Guys Poised to Breakthrough in 2022
- By Michael Miller, Day 1, 2022
This article does not focus on the superstars, like OB1 or Dontrez Owens, who were basically stars when they walked on the court. Rather, this article focuses on the more unheralded guys, although they may be JBL household names by the end of the season.
PG Jack Donlon (Louisville Colonels) - The 29th overall pick in the 2021 draft came in under Uman Akele’s shadow as a rookie, as his 16.4 USG rating implies. Yet, Donlon has added strength, and with his ability to pass and get to the rim, he could become a very enticing second option to take some of the load off of Akele. The key will be telling Donlon to get to the rim, as only 27.9% of his shots last season where near the basket. SG Jamal Wilkinson, who was signed as a free agent, should be taking more of the shots from beyond the arc anyway because of his skill there. Should that happen, Donlon could be one of the surprises among the PG position this year.
SG JaDante Hicks (Philadelphia Warriors) - After packing on 8 pounds of muscle, Hicks’ body type is getting closer to prototype SG size. The 9th overall pick in last year’s draft class, he only started 8 games and seemed to struggle in his role. In the postseason, however, Hicks showed his potential averaging 13.6 PPG, shooting over .400 from 3 and adding 1.46 steals per game. With Reggie Coleman’s departure, Hicks is expected to step up and be the sidekick to Alonzo Weaver. Based on playoff performance, he may be a good bet to step up.
SF Reggie Coleman (Drones) - A Top 5 pick who never lived up to his billing, Coleman will have the spotlight as the best offensive player on a developing expansion team. Despite never averaging more than 20.0 ppg, he should score over that with ease this season, especially if the Drones plan to take more shots from beyond the arc. Can rookie PG Isaiah Leonard get Reggie the rock on a consistent basis? If so, then Coleman may finally break out as a leader and player.
PF Trey Astbury (St. Louis Skyhawks) - Only 17 years old when drafted, it has been a slow welcoming period for Trey into the JBL. He has only started 18 games over his first two years, but the numbers he has put up have been solid, averaging a double-double via Per-36 stats (13.9 ppg/10.0 rpg in 2021 and 11.2 ppg/10.7 rpg in 2020). We expect former JBL All-Pro Marcus Wright will be demoted to a reserve role as C/PF Mark Hunter will shoulder more of the offensive load. This will allow Astbury, who could be a dominant defensive player, an opportunity to shine as part of a future great 1-2 combo with Hunter.
C Rasheed Stone (Chicago Jailbirds) - Stone started to break out last year, averaging 9.0 ppg and 8.1 rpg in a reserve role. He likely should have been given an opportunity to start last year, but instability in the front office contributed to his lack of an opportunity. New management, however, is fully behind starting Stone from day one and he rewarded the Jailbirds by showing up at camp in great shape. With his 7’6” wingspan, he promises to be a menace in the paint and could be an excellent frontcourt piece in the very near future.