The NBA is full of superstars that we have loved for years who are currently dominating the league. But what will happen in a few years when these players start to wear down and can't be the face of the NBA anymore? Young prospects are the future of the NBA, and pretty soon a lot of these guys will be the new LeBrons, Currys, and Durants of the league.
Young players are very exciting to each NBA franchise. They give bad teams hope that things will be better in the upcoming seasons and good teams the peace of mind that they will have a positive future without their current stars. The term "prospect" is very broad, so I am choosing players who have not yet established themselves in the NBA. Rookies are ideal but 2nd or 3rd year players that are still proving themselves are just as much of a prospect to their respective teams. The players should be younger then 24 or 25 to meet the criteria of this list.
We will be watching these players develop into NBA superstars very soon and at the end of some of these players careers, we could find them in the Hall of Fame. The next generation of stars are here, only time will tell which of these names will become these stars. This is every team's most exciting prospect.
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30 Atlanta Hawks - Dennis Schroder
This 22-year-old point guard is averaging 11 ppg and 4.5 apg in only about 20 minutes a night. Behind Jeff Teague, Schroder isn’t getting a lot of minutes to show his real potential but he is showing the Hawks what he can bring to the table in years to come. He has had some big games when he gets his minutes and could be a solid point guard in the NBA. He's been sent down to the D-League occasionally, but it seems that he can have a solid career.
29 Boston Celtics - Marcus Smart
The Celtics have some great young talent but Marcus Smart is the only one that fits the criteria that fits this list. Smart is a very raw talent who may be able to stuff the stat sheet in a year or two. He is averaging a well-rounded 9.6 ppg, 2.9 apg, 4.2 rpg, and 1.7 steals in 27.1 minutes a game. The Celtics are playing well and Marcus Smart is just another bright spot in their season. The team as a whole looks like one on the rise.
28 Brooklyn Nets - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
It is such a shame that Rondae fractured his ankle during his strong first season. He was averaging 5.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, and 1.4 steals which is first among all rookies. Rondae was having games were he was pulling down 12 or 13 rebounds. With the Nets struggling, Rondae was getting a lot of minutes for his development and this injury is a setback, but I believe he will be back and better then ever. He is a very athletic young player who with the right development can up his scoring and become one of the best well rounded players in the league.
27 Charlotte Hornets - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is another player like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. With a great motor and extreme athleticism, the ceiling is high for MKG. Since returning from his injury earlier this season, he is averaging 12.7 ppg and 6.4 rpg. He has been a big factor in the Hornets recent string of wins. The Hornets don't have a ton of star power, but Kidd-Gilchrist has things looking up for Charlotte.
26 Chicago Bulls - Bobby Portis
Considering young talent, the Bulls definitely are not one of the most promising teams. A bright spot in the Bulls young players development is Bobby Portis. He isn’t getting starter minutes every night, but when he does, he can put up great numbers. He is averaging 7ppg and 5.1rpg in only 17.3 minutes a game. Those are some pretty good numbers, considering he only plays a little more then a quarter of the game.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving
Even though it doesn’t feel like Kyrie should be on this list, he is actually the youngest player on the Cavaliers. He is a star in this league at 23 years old and is one of the best players in the league. He is averaging 19.6 ppg and 4.6 apg. Most likely, the Cavaliers will make it to the Finals this year and this playoff experience will give Kyrie a lot of extra time to develop. Kyrie is only 23 and one of the best players in the league already. He will need to play his A game if the Cavs are going to bring home the title.
24 Dallas Mavericks - Justin Anderson
The Mavericks don’t really have anybody to talk about for this list. Justin Anderson is there only player to be considered a “young player” on this list and isn’t anyone to really talk about at this point. He has shown promise in the D-League when he averaged about 24 ppg. It could be a reason why the Mavericks have fallen in recent years, not having a young stud to build around.
23 Denver Nuggets - Emmanuel Mudiay
The Nuggets have many great young players and I think Emmanuel Mudiay has the most upside. If he cuts down on his turnovers and raises his shooting % he could be a superstar in this league. He is averaging 12.3 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.3 rpg, and 1.1 steals per game. Mudiay is very raw, but has a lot of natural talent and is an exciting player to watch. Drafted 7th overall in 2015, Mudiay is showing a lot of promise in Denver.
22 Detroit Pistons - Stanley Johnson
As like the Celtics, the Pistons have some awesome young players. Stanley Johnson is a born scorer and can spread the floor for the Pistons. He is averaging 8.6 ppg and 4.2 rpg. Stanley Johnson could be a great scorer in the league in years to come. The Pistons have been trying to build their team slowly by stockpiling young talent in the draft and Johnson is definitely going to be one of the guys that the Pistons build around.
21 Golden State Warriors - Harrison Barnes
The Warriors are the best team in all of basketball, but they aren’t just a team that can win this year and start to decline. Their players are still young and this team can become a dynasty in this league. Harrison Barnes may have been a disappointment in his first couple years, but he is getting a lot of experience and is already a NBA Finals champion. He is averaging 11.4 ppg and 4.7 rpg and is a steady impact player for one of the best teams of all time.
20 Houston Rockets - Clint Capela
With Dwight Howard’s on and off injuries throughout the season, Clint Capela has seen some good minutes on the court and has been very productive. He isn’t just a reserve for injuries though; the Rockets try to get Clint minutes so he can develop. Capela averages 7.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg in 20 minutes a night. He also averages a nice 1.2 blocks per game. With the Rockets perhaps soon moving one of their stars, Capela will soon get even more opportunities.
19 Indiana Pacers - Myles Turner
Myles Turner is one of the biggest surprises this NBA season. He went from getting almost zero minutes a game during the first couple months to a starter for the Pacers. His scoring and rebounding showed the Pacers that he could really be an impact player for their team. He is averaging 10.7 ppg and 5.1 rpg. He also gets 1.5 blocks per game and is a very high-motor player. This is one of the best young players in the league now and the Pacers have found a hidden gem in this guy.
18 Los Angeles Clippers - Austin Rivers
The Clippers are the second oldest team in the NBA. They are hoping to be a finals contender now, and aren’t worried about developing their young players, so it was a stretch to fit them in this list. Doc Rivers' son, Austin, is a young athletic point guard who is good energy off of the bench for the Clippers. Austin is averaging 8.1 ppg in 21.5 minutes a night. You wonder when the torch will be passed to the younger players in the Clippers organization.
17 Los Angeles Lakers: D'Angelo Russell
D’Angelo Russell may have the biggest upside in the 2015 NBA Draft. He struggled in the Summer League and hasn’t shown the all of the talent he possesses in the NBA just yet. We recently have seen moments of greatness and Russell is coming into his own. He is averaging 13.4 ppg, 3.5 apg, and 3.5 rpg. D’Angelo Russell is just getting accustomed to the NBA play style and could soon be a superstar in this league.
16 Memphis Grizzlies - P.J. Hairston
The Grizzlies traded Courtney Lee for P.J. Hairston and I think this was a great deal on the Grizzlies' end. They now have a good young player in P.J. Hairston who was a valuable starter for the Hornets this season. Hairston is averaging 6.3 ppg in 20.2 minutes a night. He has had some eye opening games this season and will be a nice young addition for the Grizzlies. We'll see if that helps them in the postseason.
15 Miami Heat - Justise Winslow
The Heat isn’t stacked with young talent such as the Sixers, but do have some good young players. Justise Winslow is the headliner for the Heat’s young talent, but maybe on another team, he would just be the opening act. Justise is averaging 6.4 ppg and 5.3 rpg in 28.6 minutes a night. The hustle and heart is there for Justise, and with some fine-tuning and development, Justise could be a star in this league.
14 Milwaukee Bucks - Giannis Antetokounmpo
“The Greek Freak” is one of the promising young players in the league. The 2013 first round pick is averaging 16.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.2 steals per game, and 1.3 blocks per game! He does it all! The Bucks are not having the season they expected to have after their playoff berth last year, but the development of Giannis is something the Bucks can be excited about. Hopefully his emergence can help them turn it around next year.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves - Karl Anthony-Towns
Karl Anthony-Towns is awesome. The Timberwolves has some of the best young players in league and Towns is leading the charge. He is on track to win ROY and is having an all around great season. He is averaging 17.3ppg, 10.3rpg, and 1.7blk in 31 minutes a night. Towns won the skills challenge during all-star weekend, and everything is going right for this rookie out of Kentucky. Keep your eye on this guy, it’s for sure the rest of the league is.
12 New Orleans Pelicans - Bryce Dejean-Jones
The Pelicans are having a very disappointing season and nothing seems to go their way. Playing on 10-day contracts being signed from the D-League team Idaho Stampede, Bryce Dejean-Jones has played 14 games for the Pelicans and has started 11 of them. He is averaging 5.6 ppg and 3.4 rpg in only about 20 minutes per game. The Pelicans are looking for anyone to give them a spark and they might have found it in Jones.
11 New York Knicks - Kristaps Porzingis
I cringed for this guy as he walked up to shake Adam Silver’s hand while being booed continuously on draft night as he joined the New York Knicks. Now, every time he touches the ball the crowd cheers like he just hit a game-winner. Kristaps is averaging 14 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and 1.9 blocks per game! The Knicks are having a much better season then last year and a lot of that success can be traced back to Porzingis. This very athletic 7-foot-3 scorer will be a dominant player very soon that the Knicks can be very excited about.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder - Cameron Payne
The Thunder has the best point guard in the league with Russell Westbrook, so Cameron Payne is not getting heavy minutes. His minutes can vary from starter minutes to not even getting in the game, so it must be hard for Payne to find his mid-season rhythm. The Thunder knows this guy can score, so integrating him into their very skilled lineup is going to be an important task for them. Perhaps having him as depth will have more of an impact come playoff time.
9 Orlando Magic - Aaron Gordon
Orlando has a lot of great promise considering their young talent. Gordon is averaging 8.9 ppg and 6.6 rpg. He has a high motor and the Magic should be excited about his development. Did you see this guy in the Dunk Contest this year…he is insane! He jumped so high that he would have won the bronze metal in the 2012 Olympics for the high jump. In a weak Eastern Conference, there's no reason to believe Orlando can't contend for a playoff spot next year.
8 Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid
The 76ers have the best young talent in the league in my opinion. Joel Embiid is the most exciting prospect for the Sixers for a couple reasons. He has grown two inches since being drafted and is now 7-foot-2. He is very athletic, seen doing through the legs dunks with ease, the Sixers are excited to see this guy play next year. He also has a nice jump shot and a very serviceable corner three. He has the tools to be one of the greatest of all time.
7 Phoenix Suns - Devin Booker
Devin Booker is one of the best young players in the league. With Eric Bledsoe’s season ending injury, 19-year-old Booker was thrown into the starting lineup and is getting good minutes. He is averaging 12.3 ppg a game and he has the ability to go off for 30-plus points any night. The Suns are having many problems this season but Devin Booker is something hopeful for the Suns. Perhaps their turnaround can come very soon.
6 Portland Trailblazers - C.J. McCollum
C.J. McCollum is a very valuable young asset in the Trailblazers’ arsenal. He is one of the best scorers in the league with 20.7 ppg and is apart of one of the best backcourts in the league with Damian Lillard. All the Trailblazers need to do is get some talent in the front-court to be a great team in the association. The Trailblazers are definitely excited to see this guy progress in years to come. After losing some veteran talent last offseason, it's imperative the Blazers re-tool through youth.
5 Sacramento Kings - Willie Cauley-Stein
Willie Cauley-Stein is the big, athletic, 7 footer from Kentucky. Backing up and also playing off of the best big man in the league, DeMarcus Cousins, Willie is definitely learning a lot about being a center in this league. He is averaging 6.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and a solid 1 block per game. This raw big man could definitely be a productive player in this league in years to come. The Kings are starved for a winning environment and Cauley-Stein will have to be a part of it.
4 San Antonio Spurs - Boban Marjanović
BOBAN! This 7-foot-4 monster from Serbia is one of the best players in the league...according to per 36-minute stats. With Tim Duncan's looming retirement, Boban could fill his role easily. He is a 27-year-old rookie (only exception for the under 24-25 year old mark), but his per 36 minute stats are incredible. If he played three quarters of the game (which he doesn’t come close to for some reason), he would average a whopping 22.2 ppg, 15.4 rpg, 1.1 stls, and 1.7 blks! This guy needs minutes!
3 Toronto Raptors - Lucas Nogueira
The Raptors have a great team and aren’t really looking to develop their young players as of now. They're looking to make their first run through the Eastern Conference in their history, so they're very much in win-now mode. Someone to note is Lucas Nogueira from Brazil. This 7 footer shows promise whenever he gets in the game and is an explosive rebounder. With more minutes this guy could really develop into a good big man in this league.
2 Utah Jazz - Rodney Hood
This second year player from Duke is a great scorer for the Utah Jazz. While he was only drafted 23rd overall in 2014, he's progressed nicely for Utah and is looking like a bit of a draft steal. He is averaging about 15 ppg and is growing before the Jazz’s staff every single night. He can score from anywhere on the court and at only 23 he will only get better. He is one of the Jazz’s best young pieces in the years ahead.
1 Washington Wizards - Otto Porter Jr.
Otto Porter may have been a disappointment for the Wizards before, but he is now starting to come into his own. He is averaging 11.5 ppg and 1.5 spg. The Wizards have one of the best backcourts in the league with Beal and Wall, and Otto is a great addition at the SF position. The Wizards have a bright future ahead. It's hard to believe they've taken such a step back after looking like one of the more promising teams just last year.
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