5 Sleeper sophomore breakout candidates for the 2023-24 NBA season

PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 30 (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 30 (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images) /
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TThere is a new NBA season on the horizon, meaning that there will be a new wave of players who will break out and become household names.

In this case, there are a handful of soon-to-be sophomores who will attempt to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump” and do just the opposite by bursting onto the scene. Obviously, players such as Paolo Banchero and Jalen Williams, two of the best rookies last season, will likely continue their improvement and defy the sophomore slump. Let’s get more creative and look at sleeper picks.

NBA sophomore breakout candidate Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers

Of everyone on this list, Shaedon Sharpe seems like the likeliest of the bunch to break out for quite a few reasons. First and foremost, he’s pretty good and just had a solid rookie season. Second, the Portland Trail Blazers just went all-in on their youth by trading away franchise star Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, opening up a huge window of opportunity.

Sharpe’s rookie numbers did not jump off the page—9.9 points, three rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game—but he started to find his footing toward the end of the year when given a larger role. It’s a small sample size, but he averaged 22.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and five assists in four games this past April. There’s undeniably some potential waiting to be unearthed from the sophomore.

Sharpe will have to co-exist alongside Anfernee Simons and newcomer Scoot Henderson, but he’s able to make an impact whenever he’s on the floor with his scoring, passing, and more. Last year, he played 22.2 minutes per matchup, and that number should increase quite a bit, meaning his numbers likely will as well. At 20 years old, he’s still got so much room to grow.