The 2022-23 NBA season has been full of surprises and exciting storylines, but perhaps none more so than the emergence of some young players who have taken their game to the next level. These are the players who have made the biggest leaps in their production, efficiency and impact, and have earned a spot on our 2023 NBA All-Breakout Teams.
First Team: Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks: The fourth-year guard has been a revelation for the Knicks, who acquired him in a trade with the Mavericks in the offseason.
Brunson has stepped into the starting point guard role and has averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from three.
He has been the engine of the Knicks’ offense, creating for himself and his teammates with his crafty ball-handling, passing and finishing. He has also improved his defense and leadership, and has helped the Knicks to a surprising 45-27 record and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers: The undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma has been a pleasant surprise for the Lakers, who signed him to a two-way contract in the summer.
Reaves has earned a rotation spot and has played a key role for the injury-plagued Lakers, averaging 9.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three. He has shown a knack for making big plays in clutch situations, and has impressed with his versatility, toughness and basketball IQ.
He has also developed a strong chemistry with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and has helped the Lakers to a 48-24 record and the second seed in the Western Conference.
De’Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks: The third-year forward has bounced back from an injury-riddled sophomore season and has become one of the most improved players in the league. Hunter has averaged 16.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, while shooting 51.4 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from three.
He has been a two-way force for the Hawks, providing scoring, defense and versatility on both ends of the floor. He has also emerged as a reliable third option behind Trae Young and John Collins, and has helped the Hawks to a 46-26 record and the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies: The fourth-year big man has finally put it all together after missing most of last season with a knee injury. Jackson Jr. has averaged 19.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, while shooting 50.1 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from three.
He has been a dominant presence in the paint for the Grizzlies, protecting the rim, rebounding and finishing with authority. He has also stretched the floor with his shooting range, opening up space for Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks to operate. He has helped the Grizzlies to a 43-29 record and the seventh seed in the Western Conference.
Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns: The fourth-year wing has continued his ascent as one of the best two-way players in the league. Bridges has averaged 14.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game, while shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three. He has been a lockdown defender for the Suns, guarding multiple positions and disrupting passing lanes with his length and quickness.
He has also been an efficient scorer for the Suns, cutting to the basket, hitting spot-up threes and making smart decisions with the ball. He has helped the Suns to a league-best 54-18 record and the top seed in the Western Conference.
Final Thoughts: 2023 NBA All-Breakout Teams
The emergence of young players in the NBA is always an exciting development, and the 2022-23 season has been no exception. The five players who made the 2023 NBA All-Breakout First Team are all deserving of recognition for their impressive performances and impact on their respective teams.
Jalen Brunson has been a revelation for the Knicks, who have exceeded expectations and are playoff-bound thanks in part to Brunson’s excellent play. His ability to create for himself and his teammates has made him a valuable asset, and his improved defense and leadership have made him a complete player.
Austin Reaves has been a surprising contributor for the Lakers, who have dealt with numerous injuries this season. His versatility and basketball IQ have been key to his success, and his chemistry with LeBron James and Anthony Davis bodes well for the Lakers’ playoff hopes.
De’Andre Hunter has bounced back from injury and emerged as a key player for the Hawks, providing scoring, defense, and versatility. His ability to play multiple positions and complement Trae Young and John Collins has been crucial to the Hawks’ success.
Jaren Jackson Jr. has finally shown his potential after an injury-riddled season, and his dominant presence in the paint and shooting range have made him a force to be reckoned with for the Grizzlies. His ability to complement Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks has helped the Grizzlies clinch a playoff spot.
Mikal Bridges has continued to impress as one of the best two-way players in the league, providing lockdown defense and efficient scoring for the Suns. His contributions have been a key factor in the Suns’ league-best record and top seed in the Western Conference.
Overall, the 2023 NBA All-Breakout Teams are a testament to the talent and potential of young players in the NBA, and it will be exciting to see how they continue to develop and contribute to their teams in the years to come.