A little over a week ago, Bleacher Report released their top 25 NBA players under 25. It was horrible, to say the least. This is a list where All-Star and DPOY candidate Bam Adebayo is not in the bottom half of the list.
The biggest factor that contributed to this ranking was each player’s potential along with current play. For example, Aaron Gordon did not make this list because he does not show All-Star potential. R.J Barrett, on the other hand, although he has All-Star potential he has not shown enough in his short career.
25. Myles Turner
A year ago, Myles Turner was considered one of the league’s best young guys with all-star potential. While Turner still has a high ceiling, his underwhelming play this season raises the question if he will ever make that jump.
Already in his fifth season, Turner has been extremely solid averaging double figures every season. He has transformed himself into one of the league’s most feared shot blockers, having led the league in rejections in the 2018-19 season. Although he has had a disappointing season, Turner’s talent is still enough for him to crack this list.
A poor rebounder for his size, Turner only grabbed 6.5 rebounds a game this season. This being said, with the emergence of Domantas Sabonis, one of the best rebounding bigs, Turner does not need to be relied on for rebounding purposes. If Turner is able to continue his stellar defensive play and become a more consistent scorer, him and Sabonis have the potential to become one of the best frontcourts in the league.
24. Michael Porter Jr.
The presumed #1 overall pick entering his freshman year, Michael Porter Jr. only appeared in three games due to a back injury in college causing him to fall to Denver at 14. Since then, fans had seen little of him as he missed his entire rookie season, and has played only 14 minutes per game this season. In the limited minutes, however, Porter’s production has been impressive. Per 36 minutes he is averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds a game while shooting 42% from three.
The reason Porter made the list over players such as Aaron Gordon who has had a significantly better career so far, is his potential. Standing at 6-foot-10, with the versatility and skill of a guard, and size of a big; Porter can use his size to score on guards, while also using his quickness to score on bigs. If he is able to reach his full potential, MPJ may become one of the deadliest scorers in the league.
While his offensive skill is clear, MPJ’s defense has been far below average. Unlike some, Porter does have the potential to be a quality defender considering his length and versatility. Much of his struggle can be attributed to his lack of effort, and often looking confused on the court. Going forward, improving on his defense will be key for MPJ as his front-court counterpart Nikola Jokic and point guard Jamal Murray are also below average defenders.
23. Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball has always been a lockdown defender with elite court vision. However, throughout his time with the Lakers it was clear to reach his all-star potential he needed to improve his shot as he shot 31% from deep in his first two seasons. With his awful shot, Ball clearly wasn’t a good fit with the Lakers.
Since being traded to the Pelicans, Ball has tweaked his mechanics and his shot form looks much purer. As a result his three point percentage is now up to 38% for the 2019-20 campaign. Most importantly, in New Orleans, Ball has been able to run the offense, where he is able to excel. Alvin Gentry’s system is made to play at a fast pace and generate quick baskets. Being a pass-first point guard with elite vision and extreme quickness, Ball is able to thrive in this offense, throwing lobs to Zion Williamson, and passing to shooters.
Although Ball has improved his three point shot, his free throw percentage sits at an abysmal 56%. Even though Ball is so valuable to the team, this makes him a liability in close games when it becomes a foul shooting battle.
With the Lakers, Ball did not contribute much offensively, but prided himself on defense. Now running the offense in New Orleans, some thought his defensive play may take a hit. However, he shut down this narrative by playing his best defense of his career as his Defensive Win Shares increased from last season. Although Ball may never become an All-NBA player, he can be a high-level point guard, and will be a big part of the Pelicans’ future.
22. Jonathan Isaac
Before seeing his season cut short after 32 games, Jonathan Isaac was a serious Defensive Player of Year candidate. At 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan Isaac’s length was a large part in why he ranked 1st in both steals and blocks among power forwards. Much like all-defensive players Ben Simmons and Kawhi Leonard, Isaac has the ability to guard all five positions at a high level. At only 22 years of age, Isaac can only improve on the defensive end and may find himself among the conversation for best defenders for a long time.
Isaac’s defense alone is enough to land him on this list, but the reason for his low ranking is his lack of offense. Isaac averages only 12 points a game with relatively poor shooting splits of 46/33/77. Although Isaac has only gotten better offensively improving his scoring, rebounding, assists, and shooting each season, his offense needs to improve drastically before he can become known as more than just an elite defender.
If you look at his Box Plus/Minus it displays his dominant defense compared to his below average offense. Isaac’s Defensive Box Plus/Minus is +2.9 which would have ranked third in the NBA had he qualified. However his Offensive Box Plus/Minus would have ranked just 145th out of 200.
Even if Isaac never develops a consistent offensive game, his defense is still enough for him to be impactful. If he is able to elevate his offensive play, however, he has the potential to become an All-NBA player.
21. John Collins
Before the league went into hiatus, John Collins was playing the best basketball of his career. Averaging a 25 point double-double on 54% shooting from three in the month of February; Collins, along with the Hawks young core, were showing glimpses of what they may be capable of in the future.
Since entering the league Collins has transformed his offensive game, and has become one of the best shooting big-men in the league. Compared to his rookie season, where he shot 34% on 0.6 attempts from three, Collins is now shooting 40% on 3.6 attempts a game. In addition, Collins is still shooting an outstanding 71% from within five feet. To put his efficiency into perspective, Collins could become the first player with 55/40/80 shooting splits as his splits are currently 58/40/80.
The big knock on Collins throughout his career has been defense. A 112.1 defensive rating along with giving up 36.8 opponent points in the paint per game is far from impressive. That being said, Collins defense has improved each season as he now averages 1.6 blocks a game, 11th in the league. If Collins wants to become one of the league’s best bigs he needs to evolve from purely being a shot blocker to a more consistent and well-rounded defender.
Stay tuned for the second part of the top 25 under 25 ranking coming soon!
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