5 players who made the leap in 2019-20
Matt Cohen / theScore

Although they haven't had a full season to work with, it's already clear which players took a massive step forward this season.

Here are five players who made that leap in 2019-20.

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

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Season comparison

Season PTS REB AST STL BLK 3P% NET RTG USG%
2018-19 8.9 7.3 2.2 0.9 0.8 20 0.5 15.7
2019-20 16.2 10.5 5.1 1.2 1.3 7.7 4.6 20.8

Adebayo went from a reserve big man to arguably the best center in the Eastern Conference in one season.

Stuck behind Hassan Whiteside for his first two years in the league, Adebayo finally got a permanent starting gig in 2019-20, and he capitalized on the promotion. He improved his finishing around the rim, and Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra admitted the team sometimes specifically runs its offense through Adebayo. That's due to his impressive passing ability for a big, and it also helps explain how he more than doubled his assist rate.

Despite his significance to Miami's half-court offense, Adebayo shined on the other half of the hardwood, too. Along with being a leading candidate for Most Improved Player, he should garner some Defensive Player of the Year consideration thanks to how seamlessly he can shift off an opposing big in the paint to a smaller guard on the perimeter.

Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors

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Season comparison

Season PTS REB AST STL BLK 3P% NET RTG USG%
2018-19 8.6 2.3 1.5 0.7 0.2 40 0.2 18.2
2019-20 16.4 3.7 1.8 1.3 0.4 39.8 6.7 21

Aside from nearly doubling his per-game output, Powell found himself completely taking over some games for the Raptors this year - a stark contrast to his career to date. A hand injury sidelined him for nine games in February, but he returned at the end of the month and averaged 28 points on 39.5% shooting from deep in his next five games, helping him earn his first Player of the Week award.

That hot stretch was brought to a sudden end by an ankle sprain he suffered March 9 against the Utah Jazz in what turned out to be the Raptors' last game before the season hiatus. Ill-timed injuries have plagued Powell throughout his career, but when healthy, he's never had a more positive effect on the Raptors' lineup than he did this season.

Devonte' Graham, Charlotte Hornets

Streeter Lecka / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Season comparison

Season PTS REB AST STL BLK 3P% NET RTG USG%
2018-19 4.7 1.4 2.6 0.5 0 28.1 -7.3 16.6
2019-20 18.2 3.4 7.5 1 0.2 37.3 -4.5 24.3

Some players taper off slightly in their second year. That can be due to a number of different factors, like opponents preparing better defensive game plans or the excitement of an NBA debut wearing off. Whatever the causes, players are well aware of the "sophomore wall" - and Graham ran straight through it.

The Hornets guard looked like an entirely new player compared to his quiet rookie campaign. He edged Terry Rozier to lead the team in scoring at 18.2 points per game and also averaged 7.5 assists, making him Charlotte's best playmaker by far. Maybe Graham's huge leap should have been apparent after his first game of the season, when he dropped a then-career-high 23 on the Chicago Bulls while shooting 6-of-7 from three.

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

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Season comparison

Season PTS REB AST STL BLK 3P% NET RTG USG%
2018-19 15.7 6 2.1 1.1 0.7 37.3 6.8 21.8
2019-20 23.6 7.1 2.9 1.4 0.9 39.8 10.3 27.9

No one may have been in better form when the season was shelved than Tatum.

In his 10 games prior to the suspension, Tatum was averaging 30.8 points - the second-highest mark in the league during that span. He had just come off his first All-Star Game appearance. Finally the multifaceted threat the Celtics always envisioned him becoming, he was in line to receive one of the largest contract extensions in the team's history.

The most significant aspect of Tatum's evolution is arguably his affinity for the big moment. The Celtics aren't devoid of clutch options, but Tatum frequently became the most successful No. 1 option down the stretch, a quality perhaps best illustrated by his game-winner against the New York Knicks in November.

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans

Garrett Ellwood / National Basketball Association / Getty

Season comparison

Season PTS REB AST STL BLK 3P% NET RTG USG%
2018-19 18.3 5.1 3 0.5 0.6 33 -1.5 22.7
2019-20 24.3 6.3 4.3 1 0.7 38.7 -0.3 27.6

Anthony Davis' desire to play in Los Angeles turned out to be a blessing for Ingram.

With the Lakers, it was clear that Ingram had the talent to thrive in the league, but it wasn't the right situation. Thanks to the blockbuster trade with the Pelicans, followed by an unlucky knee injury to No. 1 pick Zion Williamson, Ingram was given the keys to a team that desperately needed scoring punch. The 22-year-old hit the ground running, advertising his arrival with a 35-point, 15-rebound performance against the Houston Rockets three games into the season.

After Williamson made his debut, Ingram's numbers took a minor dip. He averaged 21.1 points in the 17 games that followed, though that was to be expected as New Orleans figures out how to optimize all its offensive talents simultaneously. However, his massive leap in 2019-20 assures the Pelicans they have multiple capable options when the game is on the line.

(Statistics source: NBA.com)

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5 players who made the leap in 2019-20
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