Titus & Tate's Bubble Breakout Players
The return of the NBA has put a collective smile of the faces of basketball fans across the globe – including those who tend to lean towards the college game.
And with the NBA restart officially underway, Mark Titus and Tate Frazier – hosts of FOX Sports' Titus & Tate Podcast – have taken a dive into the professional game and ranked the guys they believe will have a breakout performance in Orlando.
Let's take a look at their lists of the Top 5 Bubble Breakout Players.
First up, Mark Titus:
5. Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic, C
"Let's say they play the Bucks in the first round. The Magic don't really have a rim protector. Giannis can't shoot. The Magic decide we want to pack it in a little bit, make Giannis shoot, make him get to the rim, we'll challenge him at the rim. Maybe they throw Mo Bamba in there ... I'm rolling the dice that Mo Bamba gets a little more action."
In 10 bubble minutes, Bamba has yet to score, recording 3 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. Clearly, Titus is still holding out hope that the big man will get some more court-time.
4. Chris Clemons, Houston Rockets, G
"He is 5'9" – he gets buckets. Eric Gordon has a sprained ankle ... All the guards in the lineup are getting bumped up. Austin Rivers is going to get more minutes I assume. Ben McLemore is going to get more minutes. Maybe Chris Clemons ... He averaged throughout the season around 8-9 minutes a game. Maybe now that gets bumped up to 12-15."
Clemons has only played a total of six minutes so far in the bubble, but as the playoffs approach, his minutes could increase while the Rockets' stars look to get some rest.
3. Chris Chiozza, Brooklyn Nets, PG
"He's the new starting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets. A lot of the guys I have on my list are based on if they get opportunities. Chris Chiozza will get an opportunity. He is going to start for the Nets."
Chiozza's numbers for the regular season might not be eye-popping, averaging only 5.6 points per game as a member of the Nets this season, but those numbers are sure to increase in Orlando considering Brooklyn is without Kyrie Irving, D'Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie.
In three games so far in the bubble, Chiozza is averaging 8.7 points and 6.0 assists.
2. Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets, F
"We've been following the Michael Porter Jr. mystery for years ... I'm calling my shot that Michael Porter Jr. has had the rest ... He's had enough time to nurse his back injury that's been plauging him for God knows how long. And I think that he is going to get some run for the Nuggets and I think he's gonna ball out."
It didn't take long for Porter Jr. to make Titus look like a genius, considering MPJ scored a career-high 37 points agaisnt the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Nuggets' second game in the bubble.
1. Matt Thomas, Toronto Raptors, SG
"A rookie out of Iowa State – 16 points against the Blazers on Sunday. He's averaging only around 10 minutes a game for the Raptors but he's shooting 47% from the three-point line on the year."
Thomas might not see major minutes for the Raptors, but his 3-point shooting has already changed games this season. Toronto is 13-6 when Thomas makes at least one three, and they are 9-3 in games in which he plays at least 12 minutes.
Now, on to Tate Frazier's list:
5. Shake Milton, Philadelphia 76ers, PG
"The starting point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers – my personal pick to come out of the East – Sniper Shake Milton out of SMU. A man that Larry Brown scouted, a man that Larry Borwn saw and said, 'This is a guard that I can trust. I can give him the ball. He understands the game.' Ben Simmons is able to shift down to the power forward position ... I think Sniper Shake is the perfect point guard for this situation."
Milton has already provided fireworks in Orlando with a game-winning three-pointer against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.
On the season, Milton is shooting 45% from three-point range. He connected on 6-of-9 field goals on Monday, including shooting 2-for-4 from three.
4. Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns, Guards
"Young Cameron Johnson, a man that in the last scrimmage game for the Suns had 19 points ... Cam Johnson is the 6'8" version of Reggie Miller to me in the sense that he has a pure stroke."
Johnson is already breaking out, after scoring 19 points in a 117-115 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. He went 4-for-8 from behind the arc, and added 12 rebounds and 4 assists.
He helped the Suns improve to 3-0 in the bubble on Tuesday afternoon with another 117-115 win, this time over the Clippers, scoring 8 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in 38 minutes.
3. OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors, F
"One of his last major games that I watched was in March and they played the Nuggets and he had 32 points in that game ... and that game stuck with me. I said to myself, "Wow, the Raptors lost the Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard, yet they've been able to replace him with OG and [Pascal] Siakam."
Anunoby has taken over the starting positon left behind by Kawhi Leonard in Toronto this season, and he's also taken advantage of the opportunity, averaging 10.8 points while shooting 51% from the field and 39% from three-point range.
On Saturday, he scored 23 points in the Raptors' 107-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, outscoring LeBron James, who finished the game with 20.
2. Bol Bol, Denver Nuggets, C
"The Nuggets may lose in the first round of the playoffs, but we may get more Bol Bol content and coverage than anyone else in the entire bubble."
Bol Bol has been an internet sensation so far in Orlando, due to his 7'2" frame and unique ability to handle the ball like a guard and score from the perimeter.
He has only played 16 combined minutes in Denver's first two bubble games, but regardless – when he is on the court, it's must-see TV.
1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder, G
"First in points on the Thunder, first in free throw attempts, first in games started, second in rebounds, second in steals, third in blocks, third in assists. I know everybody is talking about Most Improved Player and they want to guarantee you it's Brandon Ingram or Bam Adebayo – it's SGA."
After serving in a complimentary role for the Los Angeles Clippers as a rookie, Gilgeous-Alexander has become one of the Oklahoma City Thunder's most important players in his second professional season.
In two bubble games, Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 21.5 points, 4 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals.
What are your thoughts on Titus & Tate's Top 5 Bubble Breakout Players?