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ESPN examines growing fantasy value of Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic

ESPN's Bradford Doolittle picks Gary Harris as a breakout candidate and Jusuf Nurkic as a top-5 sophomore contributor.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Bradford Doolittle has an article up at ESPN looking at second-year players and their potential value, and the Nuggets have two of the ten players listed. While this is ostensibly an article about looking for breakout fantasy value among second-year players, it's also a look at what Doolittle and the SCHOENE projection system think.  First, from the author:

"You hear the term a lot this time of the year: second-year breakout candidates. The reasoning is simple. With one season under their belts, the NBA version of sophomores come back looking like different players. They've got a better understanding of the NBA game. Their bodies have been honed by their time with pro training staffs. They are more confident. So when you're looking for breakout candidates, look for the second-year guys.

But while this all makes intuitive sense, is this really a thing? Yes! It's really a thing."

Gary Harris heads up his list of second-year breakout players - which wouldn't be hard, since Harris was abominable last year.  Breaking out to "decent backup" would be a huge step forward for the 21-year-old Michigan State alum.  Mike Malone is far more like Gary's former head coach (and all around basketball genius) Tom Izzo than Brian Shaw, and the extra emphasis on defense should give Harris a strong minutes presence.  If Gary's shot holds up and he keeps his confidence high and mistakes livable then Gary could pull down big minutes this season. He's already outshined Foye's veteran moxie so far this preseason, and he plays the game very differently than Barton, which could make them a nice one-two combo.

Jusuf Nurkic is the second Nugget on the list, and for expected performance he's actually rated higher than Gary.  Gary's breakout potential is higher per Doolittle, but Jusuf is projected to have the 5th highest WARP among second-year players.  He trails Mirotic (okay), Noel (makes sense), Jordan Clarkson (wait... I guess because of minutes, maybe) and Marcus Smart (now hang on...).  WARP is not kind to the game Andrew Wiggins is currently bringing to the court, but Nurkic - if healthy - has the sort of stats that should light it up like a Christmas tree.

For those of you wondering about Joffrey Lauvergne: he didn't make the criteria cut since he didn't log 500 minutes on the court last season.  However, with Joffrey included the Nuggets have three sophomores poised to break out and log both big minutes and big impact for the Nuggets. That's how a team goes from "rebuilding project" to "great young core" in a year.

Check out the article (if you can) and let us know your thoughts!