As we gear up for another fun NBA regular season it is interesting to look at the talent in the league and see where the NBA could be in a few years. With guys like Kobe, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett now retired, the NBA is beginning to look a lot different, and a lot younger.
The “young guns” of years past are now becoming the grizzled veterans. Guys like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade have become what they call “old heads.” It seems like it’s been forever since that 2003 draft when these big three were the young studs of the Association. The NBA is no doubt in a transitional phase right now, shifting from the great late 90s/early 2000s players to the new millennial kids. Players like Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Kawhi Leonard are primed to take over the league in the coming seasons.
As the NBA always has done, they will help shape the next NBA superstar, it will be interesting to see who they chose to take the thrown and how they will guide that player to stardom. With this in mind, we will now take a look at the future of our favorite game as we delve into the 20 best NBA players under the age of 25.
20. D’Angelo Russell
Russell was drafted second overall by the Lakers in 2015. At only 20 years old the future is uncertain, but Russell has shown flashes of greatness already in his young career. Russell is one of the new breed of point guards, who has a keen understanding of how to run an offense and facilitating the ball to his teammates, yet he also has the ability to score if needed.
Last season as a rookie, Russell started slow, but as the season progressed so did his production. By the end of the season it appeared he was ready to take the reigns and lead the Lakers to some pretty impressive heights. As a reward for his sparkling rookie season, D’Angelo was invited to be part of the Team USA Practice Squad, a spot that likely indicates he could be part of the always great Team USA Men’s Basketball Team.
19. Julius Randle
From one Laker to another, it is apparent that the Lakers have a bright future. Julius Randle technically participated in his second NBA season last year, but for all intents and purposes it was actually his rookie season. Randle missed his entire rookie season after suffering an injury in the first game of the 2014-15 season.
Last season Randle was one of the go to players for the Lakers, as we all remember, it was Kobe’s season, but Randle was given chances to display what made him the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft. After only 82 games (one full NBA season) Randle has had some extremely impressive games. Last season he became the youngest Laker player since Magic Johnson to post a triple double. He also set a career high in rebounds against DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers last season. Not bad for a 21-year-old kid.
18. Devin Booker
If LeBron James was making this list, Booker would probably be much higher. When asked what young player in the league he really likes LeBron said, “You know, what? I’m going to be honest. If it’s someone who is under the radar right now that I believe is going to be a really, really, really good, all-star player in the league – it’s Devin Booker from the Phoenix Suns.” With praise like that from the King we should all keep an eye on Booker.
During his rookie season last year, Booker made some history. He became the first teenager since LeBron James to score 30+ points in back to back games. He finished his rookie campaign averaging 13.8 points per game. During the offseason the Suns lost starting shooting guard Brandon Knight, but they have already named Devin as the starting shooting guard this season.
17. Steven Adams
At only 23 years old, it seems like Steven Adams has been around forever, yet he has only been in the league for three seasons. During the NBA Playoffs last season, Adams had somewhat of a coming out party. During the 18 games that he played in during the Thunder’s playoff run, Adams nearly averaged a double double with 10.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
With the lose of Kevin Durant to the Warriors, an opportunity has arisen for Adams to become a major part of the Thunder’s offensive attack. He along with Russell Westbrook (who missed this list by two years) will be the leaders of a young and very inspired Thunder basketball team. Look for big things out of the young Aussie this coming season.
16. Jabari Parker
In his rookie season two years ago, Parker started extremely well for the Bucks. After being selected second overall in 2014 Parker quickly established his place among the elite young players. Within the first two months of his career Parker managed to become the starting small forward for his team, a position he held until being sidelined by injury. He also posted double doubles and had over twenty points on multiple occasions.
After 25 games into his rookie season, Parker suffered a season-ending injury by tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) against the Phoenix Suns. That was the end of a very promising rookie season for Jabari. The injury extended into the beginning of last season, and Parker was unable to begin the season with his team. However, he did return for 76 of the Bucks 82 games last season. In his best performance of the season last year, Parker put up thirty-six points against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets.