Top 3 Breakout Candidates: Western Conference

Every year, a handful of young players across the NBA break out in a big way, ascending to heights that may or may not have been expected. 

Earlier, we had a look at the top breakout candidates in the Eastern Conference. Now let's check out three in the West who are poised to bust out.

James Wiseman

The No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Wiseman missed the entire season last year with a knee injury, but he is finally ready to return. And from the results in the preseason, he is ready to make an impact. 

The 21-year-old is averaging nearly 15 points, over six rebounds, and shooting well over 60% from the field in about 20 minutes per game this preseason. And coming off the bench, head coach Steve Kerr thinks he can dominate.

Kerr thinks Wiseman will be able to feast offensively against backup centers.  

With the talent surrounding him, Wiseman could be ready to break through big time.

Jalen Green

Another No. 2 overall pick, Green came into the league with unlimited talent, but not a lot of know-how on how to play the NBA game. The Houston Rockets' record with Green in the lineup last season was 12-55. 

There was a serious learning curve for Green, but he really started to soar late in the season. His minus-17.8 up until the All-Star break turned into just a minus-1.7 down the stretch of the season. And what's more, he averaged 29 points per game in the final seven games, including five straight 30-point games, which hadn't been accomplished by an NBA rookie in 25 years (Allen Iverson, 1997).

This Rocket is ready for launch.

Jalen Smith, Indiana Pacers 

The Indiana Pacers big man gave the team a little taste of what he could do in the 22 games he played for them after arriving in a trade from the Phoenix Suns.
The former No. 10 pick in the 2020 Draft blossomed into the inside-out force many thought he'd be when the Suns drafted him in the lottery. 

After averaging just 6 points and 4.8 rebounds with the Suns, the athletic 6'10" Smith dropped 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds in just under 25 minutes a game for the Pacers, while hitting threes at a 37.3% pace. His per-36 minutes numbers were 19.6 points, 11.1 boards, 2.1 threes per game and 1.5 blocks.
With Myles Turner eventually slated to be on the move, Smith's role will be even bigger. 

 Photo: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports