After a fun and exciting all-star weekend, it made me realize how much talent the NBA has. From the rising stars challenge to All-Star Saturday to the NBA all-star game, tons of talent was on display. From the rookies to the vets to the players coming out of their shells, the future of the NBA is in good hands with a good young core. And, here are 10 players who the league is in good hands behind
One MVP down, and another one on the way? Giannis Antetokounmpo has worked his way from 15th overall pick to superstar. He has put in the hard work and has improved year after year, but is he one dimensional? Giannis has led the Bucks to the NBA’s best record, but will he ever get over the hump and win a championship? Only time will tell, but for now Giannis already in his 7th year in the league but still only 25 is one of the game’s brightest superstars who has already arrived.
For my next player, we move to the Slovenian Superstar Luka Dončić. Former 3rd overall pick, is already coming into his own in his 2nd year. Yes, he has the most experience of any sophomore having played professionally overseas. But, he is still only 20 years old. Come next week, he will finally be able to legally drink in the states. Luka already has locked down many NBA records as a teenager and after his 1st all-star game start before his 21st birthday, the NBA may have very much found the new face of the league in Luka.
So, we have Luka, the 20 year old phenom and the Greek Freak in Giannis, who is still only 25. Now, we have Devin Booker. After not starting regularly at Kentucky, starting has not been the problem in the NBA for Devin. It has been winning. The 23 year old currently in his 5th season has never seen the playoffs, let alone a 30 win season. Booker has vastly improved his game since coming into the league; 13.8 points, 2.6 assists his rookie year to 26.4 points and 6.3 assists in his first all-star campaign. Yet still only 23, Booker has plenty of room to improve his game even more.
A backup in his first two seasons, and now an all-star in his 3rd. Bam Adebayo is finding a home in Miami alongside Jimmy Butler and still has yet to reach his full potential. Miami’s #14 pick 3 seasons ago, Bam tapped into his all-star potential, but is superstar potential next? Only time can tell, but Bam does have some many upsides as well as downsides to his game. Where his points, rebounds AND assists numbers are up, so are his turnovers (2.7 per game). In a day and age where the 3-ball is revolutionizing the league Bam is 1/11 this season. We saw Bam take home the crown at the Skills Challenge, showcasing he has the skills needed, he just needs to put it all together. Yet, still only 22 Bam has plenty of time to improve his game.
The hype speaks for itself. If you watched his debut, you would know. Through his first 10 NBA games, Zion Williamson is averaging 22.1 points on 57% shooting to go along with 7.5 rebounds. Including both his last two games where he put together 31 and 32 point games. The 20 year old has a bright future as long as he stays healthy. We have seen many former No.1 overall picks not pan out in the NBA because of injuries, but let’s just hope Zion can stay healthy because he can be the face of this league for the next 8-12 years.
Zion was the 1st pick, and Ja Morant was the 2nd. Both had a great 2019 college run, and both can be destined for greatness in this league. Ja, currently has the Grizzles playing in the playoffs if the season ended today. He is the face of that franchise, and they are in good hands with him at the helm. The NBA future, is also in good hands with him and Zion butting heads for years to come.
Trae Young, the guy who got traded for Luka in the 2018 draft. While others see Atlanta as making the wrong choice by trading Luka for Trae, they didn’t really get the short end of the stick. In just his 2nd season, Trae was a 1st time all-star as well as starter. Yes, Atlanta is 15-41, but behind Trae Young, they could have a solid young core. They just need to be smart, build around Trae and they could very well see themselves as a solid team in the near future.
Another guy I have on this list is Jayson Tatum. Still just 21 (22 with a birthday on March 3rd), Tatum is quickly becoming a cornerstone for the prestigious Celtics franchise. After making All-Rookie first team in 2017-2018 after a solid rookie season, Tatum burst onto the scene in the 2018 playoffs where a Kyrie Irving-less Celtics team was one game from reaching the finals. After not much improvement a season ago, Tatum exploded into more of a star this year. Becoming a first time all-star averaging 22.4 points and 6.9 rebounds, the kid from Duke is poised for a big-time playoff run.
After being the 1st overall selection out of LSU in the 2016 draft, Ben Simmons sat for a year due to injuries. Then in his “rookie year”, we had the big Mitchell v Simmons rookie of the year debate. Nevertheless, Ben Simmons is a great talent and is here to stay. Currently in his 4th season (3rd of playing), Simmons is a two-time all-star, former rookie of the year and only just improving. This year currently, Simmons is averaging 16.9ppg, 8.3apg, 7.9rpg as well as 2.2 steals per game. He also made a three pointer this year! Ben Simmons can definitely work on the shooting aspect of his game but at only 23 years old, he is more than set himself up for success.
Turning 25 yesterday, Nikola Jokić in his 5th year is already a two-time all-star and having already placed top 5 in MVP voting a season ago. Jokić is one of the game’s bright stars that you forget about. He is not flashy, not very athletic, but is one of the games smartest players. After being the 41st selection in the 2014 NBA draft, Jokić has worked his way into this league. He had the Nuggets as a two seed in the Western Conference last year, and has them right back up there this year as well. He is a great player, and is still just 25. For the second straight season, he is averaging just over 20 points a game, 10 rebounds and 6.5 assists. Jokić is what big men want to be, with the ability to shoot, pass, rebound and have a high IQ as a center.
These are 10 of the brightest young stars in the NBA as not one of these players is over the age of 25. These guys are all the face of their respective franchises currently and they will be flooding all-star games in years to come, as well as the playoffs, MVP races, etc. The future of the NBA is in good hands with these 10 young players, but is not limited to these guys. Players like Donovan Mitchell, Jaylen Brown, De’Aaron Fox and many, many others. Not only is the present of the NBA in good hands with players like this but the future as well.
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