With the NBA finally releasing their new restart date, I think it is time to analyze all of the new talent that is taking the league by storm. The future of the league is bright and there are many young leaders that are making the most of their opportunities. With LeBron James waning in years and although he may seem immortal, an heir to the throne is waiting to take the baton, as the greatest in the league. Which young players are most likely to take the next step? Here are the top players under 25.
25. Kendrick Nunn. The story of Kendrick Nunn is an incredible one. After going undrafted in the 2018 draft, he was added to the Golden State Warriors G League affilaite team, the Santa Cruz Warriors. Nunn didn’t even get a lot of playing time in the G-League but managed to average 19.3 points per contest. The Miami Heat gave Nunn the oppotunity to play in the NBA and signed him on April 10th, 2019.
It didn’t long for Nunn to prove he belonged in the NBA, in the Heat’s season opener he dropped 24 points on the Memphis Grizzlies. Since, he has been in the discussion for the Rookie of the Year and has helped his team take a giant leap to a decent playoff team to a legitimate contender.
24. DeAndre Ayton. Ayton played his college ball at University of Arizona and was taken as the number one pick in the NBA draft. Although he may not have completely played up to his potential quite yet, he is still seen as a productive big in the league. He still has plenty of room to grow, and with a lot of young talent, the Phoenix Suns have a bright future ahead of them.
PPG: 19 RPG: 12 APG: 1.9 BPG: 1.7
23. Lonzo Ball. Ball was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers as the second pick in the draft. Like Ayton, he didn’t quite play to the level that he or the team had hoped. It wasn’t until he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans that he started to grow into the player that experts thought he would be. He altered his shot and started to turn some heads before the Covid-19 stoppage. Ball is a lock down defender and a prolific passer. It will be exciting to see where he will be in the years to come.
PPG: 12.4 RPG: 6.2 APG: 7.0
22. Jaren Jackson Jr. The Memphis Grizzlies selected Jackson with the fourth pick in the 2018 NBA draft and chose Jackson to be a part of a rebuild in Memphis. Alongside the newly selected Ja Morant, “The Grizz” have a solid foundation built for the years to come. Unfortunately, Jackson has been plagued with some injuries early that have slowed down his growth early. In the next couples years it seems clear that he will be higher up on this list.
PPG: 16.9 RPG: 4.7 APG: 1.4 BPG: 1.4
21. John Collins. Unlike some of the other players on this list John Collins was selected in the ladder half of the first round and has over performed through his first couple years in the league and continually takes giant steps forward in his game every season. Collins recorded his first double-double in his third ever NBA game, and followed it up with another double-double the next game. If Collins continues to improve he will be one of the best big men in the game.
PPG: 21.6 RPG: 10.1 APG: 1.5 BPG: 1.1
20. Myles Turner. Throughout Turner’s early years he has been a very underrated defensive player. In 2019, he led the entire league in blocks and was a terror defending the rim. He suffered some injuries in his rookie season. The first game of his sophomore season he dropped 30 points and let the Pacers know he was a star in the making. He recently signed a four-year $72 million dollar contract and will most likely take home one or two Defensive Player of the Year trophies when it is all said and done.
PPG: 11.8 RPG: 6.5 APG: 1.1 BPG: 2.2
19. Aaron Gordon. Most people know Aaron Gordon as a high-flying dunk champion. It is true that Gordon is a freak-athlete but he is also a very productive power forward as well. The Orlando Magic seem to be in limbo with the talents of Gordon and Vucevic and seem to be a piece away. If you do get their piece who knows what they can accomplish.
PPG: 14.4 RPB: 7.6 APG: 3.7
18. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA has been a player that has seemed to have spent the duration of his career under the radar. Gilgeous-Alexander was the leader of a Clipper team that played their hearts out every night and secured the eighth seed in a stacked Western Conference. Now, he seems to be assisting in the same kind of phenomenon in Oklahoma City. With nearly 20 points a game he finds ways to get the ball in the bucket. SGA is certainly one of the future stars of the league.
PPG: 19.3 RPG: 6.1 APG: 3.3
17. Ja Morant. Morant’s fame began in college at Murray State University because of videos of his tenacious dunks that went viral. There is no hiding the fact that his athleticism and court vision is next level. Although Morant was a star in his college years he was overshadowed continuously by Zion Williamson. After Zion;s knee injury Morant got to show the league what he was made of. He made the most of the opportunity and is now the front runner for Rookie of the Year, and the leader of his Grizzlies team.
PPG: 17.6 RPG: 3.5 APG: 6.9
16. De’Aaron Fox. Fox is well-known for being one of the fastest players in the league. His incredible speed mixed with his acrobat-like athleticism makes him 16th on the list. He is the leader of the Sacramento Kings team, and seems to get better every season. Fox notched his first triple-double in 2018 against the Hawks showing the world what he was capable of.
PPG: 20.4 RPG: 4.0 APG: 6.8
15. Jamaal Murray. Murray was drafted to the Denver Nuggets in the 2016 draft and in 2020 has found himself as key player on a Championship caliber team. Murray didn’t exactly burst on to the scene in Denver, but has progressed every year into the productive player that he is today. On November, 2019 Murray shot the lights out against the Grizzlies and reached his career high 39 points. It is clear that Murray is a star in the making, who knows where he will be in the years to come.
PPG: 18.8 RPG: 3.9 APG: 4.8
14. D’Angelo Russell. Russell was the second pick in the NBA draft to the Lakers and came out of the gate confident as ever. With a filthy three point ball and an arsenal of moves, Russell is the definition of the word scorer. Although Russell has excelled on the court he has made some questionable decisions off the court that leave him lower on this list then others might see him. Now in Minnesota, perhaps he can lead a losing franchise on a playoff run in the next couple years.
PPG: 23.1 RPG: 3.9 APG: 6.3
13. Zion Williamson. Zion Williamson is one of the most exciting and hyped up players to enter the league. There is no player on this list that has as much pressure on them as Williamson. In 2019, he was drafted number one overall to the New Orleans Pelicans. Unfortunately, his career began with a knee injury that set him back. He finally made his debut on October 13th, 2019 against the San Antonio Spurs and since has become the only teenager in NBA history to score 20+ points in ten consecutive games. If Williamson did not have the late start who knows where he would be on this list.
PPG: 23.6 RPG: 6.8 APG: 2.2
12. Jaylen Brown. The Boston Celtics seem to have found a young dynamic duo that has the potential to win Championships. Brown was the 3rd pick in the 2016 draft and has steadily increased in talent season. Along with Tatum, Brown took the Celtics to game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, a game away from the big one. Brown is one of the best do it all players in the league, he seems to always be near the ball making big players on both sides. His determination and grit is what ranks him so high on this list.
PPG: 20.4 RPG: 6.4 APG: 2.2
11. Bam Adebayo. The Miami Heat selected Adebayo with the 14th pick in the draft and only averaged 6.9 points per contest in his rookie season. Last year Bam began to show his talent and determination and earned his stripes as a sixth man. In 2020, he could potentially be the Most Improved Player and was an NBA All-Star. His defensive capabilities have been on full display as he as been one of the few to slow down the Greek Freak. The Heat have been off the charts with drafting lately and Adebayo is evidence of that.
PPG: 16.2 RPG: 10.5 APG: 5.1
10. Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis is a name that a lot of casual fans might not have heard much. He is a sneaky good player that plays hard and does a lot of stuff on the court that others don’t want to do. He was drafted out of Gonzaga in 2016 and was selected as the 11th pick. He played for the Thunder and was a serviceable player. It wasn’t until his time in Indiana where he took his game to a whole other level. He made the Easter Conference All-Star team and with the injury to Victor Oladipo was the leader of his team.
PPG: 18.5 RPG: 12.4 APG: 5.0
9. Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis was selected by the New York Knicks in the 2015 draft. Although he was greeted by an abundance of boos from the New York fan base, he quickly established himself as a unique talent. It was unprecedented to have a 7-footer launching threes and connecting. This gave him the name of “the Unicorn.” He found stardom at a very early stage in his career, but it was all put on hold after a gruesome ACL tear. Time passed and he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks to play alongside Luka Doncic, through the duration of the 2020 season Porzingis seemed to slowly morph into the player that he once was, This should scare the rest of the NBA.
PPG: 19.2 RPG: 9.5 APG: 1.7
8. Ben Simmons. What a roller coaster ride the career of Ben Simmons has been so far. His intrigue to begin his basketball career was like a LeBron James or Zion Williamson, but was ended early by injury. Simmons missed his rookie season due to injury, but still managed to win the Rookie of the Year award in 2018. Simmons is a unique player and is one of only a few with the height and ball skills to call themselves a “point forward.” Whether Simmons is underrated or overrated seems to depend on the day. It is like we are all waiting for the day that he takes the next step to be a superstar. Partnered with Joel Embiid the duo seems to be one of the most lethal duos in the Eastern Conference. The two haven’t quite lived up to the hype thus far, but if they do a dynasty could be in the making.
PPG: 16.7 RPG: 7.8 APG: 8.2
7. Brandon Ingram. Ingram was one of the many young stars to be drafted by the Lakers and be traded away. Much like Lonzo Ball, this now seems more of a blessing then a curse. Since his trade to New Orleans, Ingram has exploded and has found himself of the status of superstar. He has made monumental improvements that should land him in the running for Most Improved Player. His comparison to Kevin Durant early on in his career seemed preposterous, but now are looking a little more realistic. His long lanky arms make it easy for him to get his jump shot over defenders.
PPG: 24.3 RPG: 6.3 APG: 4.3
6. Trae Young. There was a short time when Young played for the University of Oklahoma where he showed signs of a superstar. This is what propelled the Atlanta Hawks to select him at five in the 2018 draft. It seems as if Young will always have the inconvenience of being compared to Luka Doncic because he was selected before him. Though he may not quite be on his level, Young is still one of the best young stars in the league. Even college Young was compared to Steph Curry and has proven that his game does in fact resemble a young Curry. He can hit a shot from anywhere on the court, his range seems to be limitless. He may not accomplish all that Curry has but maybe he can reach that superstar status.
PPG: 29.6 RPG: 4.3 APG: 9.3
5. Devin Booker. Booker is one of many of these players to have been drafted from the University of Kentucky and has since been one of the greatest scorers in the entire NBA. Unfortunately, he has been trapped in a franchise that is dysfunctional and always seems to be making the wrong decisions. Despite of this, Booker made the All-Star team. Against the Boston Celtics on March 24th, Booker scored 70 points joining Wilt Chamberlain and five others as the only players in history to do it. Booker is a generational talent and hopefully someday soon will be able to push through to the next level.
PPG: 26.1 RPG: 4.2 APG: 6.6
4. Karl Anthony-Towns. Some might argue that KAT deserve to be higher on this list because of his offensive scoring abilities. This would be valid argument, because Towns really is one of the best offensive big men the league has ever seen.If you were to base this list strictly on stats Towns would be one or two on this list. His post moves are unstoppable and his shot is clean for being as giant as he is. What KAT lacks is leadership and defensive skills. If Towns does find a way to improve in these areas his ceiling is extremely high and his future would be bright.
PPG: 26.5 RPG: 10.8 APG: 4.4 BPG: 1.2
3. Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell was drafted by the Nuggets and traded to the Jazz in the same day as the 13th pick in the draft in 2017. Mitchell did not waste much time before lighting up the league and proving that he was a star. In his first year he was one of the best shooting guards in the league and took the Jazz to the second round of the playoffs. In their playoff run Mitchell hit clutch bucket after clutch bucket to eliminate the star-studded Thunder. Mitchell has been made known for his soul-taking dunks and extreme athleticism, but the reason his is so high on the list is due to his postseason accomplishments.
PPG: 24.2 RPG: 4.4 APG: 4.2
2. Jayson Tatum. A lot of a player’s success stems from the team that selects them. Some players are blessed with the opportunity to play for franchises that are functional and help their players be the best that they can be, The Celtics have given Tatum opportunities to shine in the brightest of lights and Tatum has come through time after time. The reason Tatum is so high on this list is because of his playoff experience and his play right before the stoppage due to Covid-19. He was putting up unreal and leading his Celtics into great playoff position.
PPG: 23.6 RPG: 7.1 APG: 2.9
- Luka Doncic. I do not think there is much debate as to who number one should be on this list. Dominic’s ceiling as a basketball player seems limitless. He plays like a seasoned veteran and can make defenders looks foolish. His eye for the court seems unreal and his basketball instincts are off the charts. The Dallas Mavericks will reaping the benefits of selecting Doncic for years to come. The question isn’t if Luka will win an MVP award, but when.
PPG: 28.7 RPG: 9.3 APG: 8.7