Aug 15 2012 4:01PM

The 2012-13 NBA Breakout Performers

Who's The Next Jordan?

I'd say Jordan Williams of the Hawks or Jordan Hamilton of the Nuggets.

Not saying they're gonna be as good as Michael Jordan.

Just saying their name is Jordan.

Realistically, the players listed here on the 2012-13 NBA Breakout Perfomers list have a better shot at becoming The Next Jeremy Lin than they do of being The Next MJ.

Next Jordans come in as high lottery picks, making millions and millions of dollars and are given starters' minutes with expectations heaved upon them.

Next Lins aren't lottery types. They mostly make minimum salaries. And they have to come off the bench to make a name for themselves.

That's the spirit of HOOPmag's Breakout Performers list.

Australia's Olympics-leading scorer and San Antonio Spur point guard Patty Mills (pictured above) is a perfect example of a player who could blow up in the NBA once his number is called. Like Lin, Mills' advanced statistics show very promising signs of things to come, if given the playing time.

To pinpoint who The Next Lin--or for that matter, who The Next Omer Asik--could be, I used advanced statistics, while following similar criteria used by Football Outsiders when they created their Top 25 prospects list.

* Breakout Perfomers couldn't be drafted in the NBA lottery (no Top 14 picks here)

* They had to enter the NBA between the 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons

* They couldn't have started more than 25 career games

* They are still earning less than $2 million

* They will be 26 years old or younger throughout the 2012-13 season

So without further ado, meet the Breakout Performers, who meet all the aforementioned criteria:


Evan Gole/NBAE/Getty Images

1. Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs point guard, 23 years old, 2009 (#55) ... -1.8 RAPM, 15.0 PER, 3 starts, 1082 minutes ... The 2012 Olympics was Patty Mills' party and everybody had a good time. The speedy point guard led all Olympians in scoring (21.2 points per game), while leading Australia to a 3-3 finish, despite the team missing its injured center Andrew Bogut. Mills' leadership was reminiscent of the 2008 and 2009 seasons at St. Mary's where he made believers out of millions and had me saying he was the steal of the second round in the 2009 NBA Draft. Given a full season in Gregg Popovich's system, don't be surprised if Mills takes over the Spurs' second unit like it was his Australian national team Boomers in the Olympics. He truly has potential to dazzle offensively, which Mills showed in limited action since signing with the Spurs March 27 (he had an All-Star-like 21.5 Player Efficiency Rating in 261 minutes).


Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

2. Jordan Williams, Atlanta Hawks power forward, 21 years old, 2011 (#36) ... -1.1 RAPM, 14.5 PER, 5 starts, 635 minutes ... Who knows? Years from now, the Hawks may not be calling the Brooklyn-Atlanta trade The Joe Johnson Salary Dump. It may be The Jordan Williams Acquisition. The 21-year-old power forward was pretty impressive in limited time with the Nets and may see his number called more often as Josh Smith's backup in Atlanta, perhaps allowing Smith to play some minutes at small forward if Williams is as good as I think he can be. He's already a solid rebounder and scorer, averaging 5 points and 4 rebounds in 15 minutes per game. In fact, his 14.5 PER ranks 14th among all 21-and-under players who have played at least 500 minutes. He'll become a good starter one day.


Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

3. Jordan Hamilton, Denver Nuggets shooting guard, 21 years old, 2011 (#26) ... -0.6 RAPM, 13.9 PER, 2 starts, 258 minutes ... My 2011 NBAge Draft Rankings thought Hamilton was the 12th best player in the 2011 NBA Draft and he showed he had a lot of potential in limited minutes with Denver last season. So much so, that George Karl asked him to take over the Nuggets Summer League team and Hamilton obliged, averaging 19 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 32 minutes per game. Karl knew Hamilton could score, but now that he sees his all-around game, he may give this sophomore the quality playing time that used to go to ex-Nugget Rudy Fernandez. Hamilton says he has lost 19 pounds this summer and that should only help his cause (he's 6-7, 220 now).


Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

4. Tobias Harris, Milwaukee Bucks small forward, 20 years old, 2011 (#19) ... -1.7 RAPM, 14.2 PER, 9 starts, 479 minutes ... My 2011 NBAge Draft Rankings loved Harris even more than Hamilton, rating the Buck as the 10th-best prospect in the draft. Harris' advanced stats for a teenager last year were just jaw-dropping. Do not be surprised if he wins the NBA's Most Improved award. How good a scorer is Harris? His projected 15.6 points-per-36-minutes is the 11th best rate ever for an NBA teenager with at least 400 minutes played. All he needs now is playing time in Milwaukee. He should get it, at least as a second-stringer this season to Luc Mbah a Moute. Like Hamilton, he also showed he's capable of carrying a team in Summer League, averaging 21 points and 7 rebounds in 32 minutes per game for the 4-1 Bucks.


Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

5. Josh Harrellson, Houston Rockets center, 23 years old, 2011 (#45) ... +0.1 RAPM, 13.7 PER, 4 starts, 540 minutes ... With 21 players on Houston's roster, don't be surprised if you see teams trying to pry Harrellson away from the Rockets. He more than held his own as a Knicks center as a rook, matching up with the big boys of the NBA, no problem. Harrellson has the basketball IQ that NBA coaches love, evidenced by his plus-minus score being only topped by Ricky Rubio among rookies that played 500-plus minutes. It appears any questions about this 6-10, 275-pound center's ability to handle NBA postmen have already been answered. His 15.4 rebound rate was especially impressive. As a rookie, he was mocked for wearing jorts (jean-shorts), but Harrellson is quickly making a name for himself as one of the league's rising garbage men. in a good way.


Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

6. A.J. Price, Washington Wizards point guard, 25 years old, 2009 (#52) ... +0.2 RAPM, 12.2 PER, 3 starts, 2228 minutes ... Price, who has been used as a third-stringer his first three NBA seasons, will now be John Wall's backup and he will be a very solid second-string quarterback. He might even be able to teach young Wall a thing or two about playmaking, seeing that has been Price's main area of improvement in his three NBA seasons (his assist rate and assists-per-40 rate have both risen considerably each year). LIke Wall, unfortunately, Price also is having trouble with his shot. That once was his calling card, along with the pick-and-roll. So hopefully another summer of work will help Price in that department. I am sure the stable playing time--as opposed to backing up two Indiana Pacer point guards--will help Price the most this coming season in Washington.


Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

7. Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks center, 23 years old, 2010 (#15) ... -0.6 RAPM, 12.0 PER, 12 starts, 1515 minutes ... Milwaukee is going to miss Andrew Bogut, but the vacancy does give the 6-11, 235-pound Sanders an opportunity to compete with Samuel Dalembert and Joel Przybilla for minutes at the center position. Sanders matured a lot in his sophomore season, becoming more efficient by focusing on his strengths offensively (finishing at the rim) and staying away from his weaknesses (outside shooting). Sanders' natural position is power forward, but it just doesn't look like there are many minutes available there with Ersan Ilyasova, Ekpe Udoh and John Henson creating a logjam. If Sanders can win the center spot, he may find himself a home in Milwaukee, with Coach Scott Skiles loving defense-first players.


Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images

8. Jon Brockman, Houston Rockets power forward, 25 years old, 2009 (#38) ... +0.6 RAPM, 10.3 PER, 10 starts, 1570 minutes ... Brockman is like a smaller, older version of Harrellson. Although, like his new teammate, the 6-7, 255-pound Brockman has yet to be given the playing time to make a name for himself. Chances are Houston will deal one of their two bigs on this list, giving them both possibilities to develop their own cult followings as bigs that love to do the dirty work. Brockman is not a scorer, although he is a Trick Shot Monster. But the fun-loving power forward is a strong rebounder and just an overall good teammate. Brockman already has played 150 career games in three seasons and averages 3.1 rebounds in 10.5 minutes per game before joining his third NBA team.


Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images

9. Jeremy Evans, Utah Jazz small forward, 24 years old, 2010 (#55) ... -2.0 RAPM, 19.1 PER, 3 starts, 680 minutes ... Speaking of cult followings, the dunktastic Mr. Evans has already earned his, as the 2012 NBA Slam-Dunk champion. However, C.J. Miles' exit may give Evans the opportunity to compete for more minutes at the small forward position with new acquisition Marvin Williams. Evans has shown, in limited time, he can be special--especially when teamed with alley-oop partner Earl Watson. But what I like about him is his improvement over time. Evans used to be a one-trick pony who only came into games for a brief alley-oop cameo for a quick basket. Now the Jazz are able to run plays off Evans' plays at the rim, which have turned the forward into a playmaker himself at times.


Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

10. Hassan Whiteside, free agent center, 23 years old, 2010 (#33) ... -0.4 RAPM, 15.5 PER, 0 starts, 111 minutes ... The Sacramento Kings waived him, but only because they were loaded at the big positions (DeMarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes, Thomas Robinson, Jason Thompson, James Johnson). When Whiteside does land on an NBA roster--depending on the situation--he can be a very valuable addition because of his amazing shot-blocking and rebounding skills in limited NBA playing time (15 blocks and 39 rebounds in 111 career minutes). I am surprised teams like the Nets and Cavs--squads that have trouble getting 4 swats per game--haven't reached out yet to the best shot-blocking free agent still out there. Especially since shot blockers and paint defenders are so hard to find in the NBA.

Others Considered: Jimmy Butler, Bulls; Jon Leuer, Cavaliers; Daniel Orton, Magic; Vernon Macklin, free agent; Quincy Pondexter, Grizzlies.

Glossary ... RAPM: Regularized Adjusted Plus Minus; PER: Player Efficiency Rating.