The NBA Draft is already said and done. We know the pieces teams will have to build their future around. It is an exciting time for both fans and franchises in the NBA. Not to mention the players who are getting into the league. The amazing thing here is that this draft was so full of talent that we believe there are guys who are coming in now and will be among the top-20 players in the NBA five years from now. And no, we are not going to give you any hints as to who these guys are right now.
Making these predictions is not easy since we have to consider how a player’s game will develop as he ages, and we also have to consider the fact that some players are more prone to injuries than others. Nevertheless, it is always interesting to try and guess what the future holds for basketball as a whole. We all have our favorite teams and favorite players, but at the end of the day everyone reading this is most likely a basketball fan, and there is nothing more fun than watching young talent develop and take over the reins from the stars in the NBA today. The only little hint we are going to give is that LeBron James is not on our list. Yes, he could still be playing, and even though we know not to doubt LeBron at any point, we don’t think he will still be a top-20 player at 38 years old.
20 Aaron Gordon
Athleticism is the base for everything in basketball. Sure, there have been great players who were not great athletes, but what we usually see is great athletes developing into fantastic players during their careers. One guy who seems to be fitting that mold very well is Orlando’s, Aaron Gordon.
He came into the NBA as one of the best dunkers around and a player with tremendous upside. Now guess what? He has been improving in every area of the game.
Just this past season Gordon averaged 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game for Orlando. The most impressive thing here is his shooting. In his rookie season, he was a 27 percent three-point shooter, and this past season he shot better than 33 percent. We can confidently say Gordon is a safe pick to be a top-20 player five years from now.
19 Steven Adams
Here is a name that is going to surprise a lot of people. Steven Adams is only 24 years old. Yes, the guy is already one of the best centers in the league, and he is not even 25 yet. We can talk all about Russell Westbrook and how good he is, but at the end of the day, the glue that holds the Oklahoma City Thunder together is Adams.
The man is an anchor and one of the best rebounders in the league. This past season he averaged nine rebounds per game, and if you watched any Oklahoma City game, you know that this number could have been 15 if he was not forced to let Westbrook grab so many rebounds.
18 Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown is not the kind of player casual NBA fans rave about. This is a kid who came into the league as a number three overall pick but never really had much hype around him. That is until he became a starter for the Boston Celtics. Brown has so much talent it is almost unfair for him and Jayson Tatum to be on the same team. This guy already played two years in the NBA, and he still is only 21 years old. The thing to remember the most when talking about Brown is that his offensive arsenal is limitless.
He doesn’t get much recognition for it, but this kid can score, and he will become one of the best scorers in the league. Brown is also a great athlete, which in turn gives him the possibility of becoming a great defender as well.
17 Trae Young
While most of the guys on this list are safe bets to become great players in the NBA, here is the one gamble on our list.
There has not been a hit or miss guard prospect in the NBA like Trae Young since Jimmer Fredette was drafted.
Yes, this is not a comparison Young would like many people to make, but it is one that is going to stay with him until the fans and the media decide whether or not he is the next Steph Curry or the next Jimmer.
The one thing we will say is that if he manages to translate his game well into the NBA, the sky is the limit for this kid.
16 Bradley Beal
Yes, five years is a long way, but you can bet some of the All-Stars in today’s game will still be top-20 players in the NBA come 2023. One of the guys we can say with certainty will be on this list is Washington’s, Bradley Beal.
Arguably one of the best shooters in the league, Beal is still only 24 years old, and he has been steadily improving as a player throughout his career. He was just selected to his first All-Star game, and you should expect him to keep being a featured name in the midseason festivities for years to come.
15 Kyle Kuzma
A lot of people rave about Donovan Mitchell and how he was the steal of the draft for the Utah Jazz, but at the end of the day, many believe the real steal of the 2017 Draft was Kyle Kuzma.
It has been a while since we have watched a rookie with as much confidence in his offense as Kuzma demonstrated throughout the season playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
This kid was almost a second-round pick, and yet he came into the NBA as if he was the number one overall pick. He outshined his teammate that went number two overall. It didn’t matter who he went up against every night, Kuzma was out there shooting the ball, and he finished the season averaging more than 16 points a night.
He will be one of the top-20 players in the league five years from now, and by then he will probably already have won some scoring championships.
14 Michael Porter Jr.
The biggest gamble in the 2018 NBA Draft was the selection of Michael Porter Jr. But the interesting thing here is that we could have called it more of a gamble if he was selected earlier in the draft. Nevertheless, Denver took him with the 14th pick after looking at his medicals. And yes, medicals is a word you probably heard a lot these past few months whenever the name Michael Porter Jr. came up.
Sure, teams have to be aware of the medical circumstances of a player before they draft him (remember Greg Oden?), but when you have a guy who has demonstrated as much talent as Porter has, taking him halfway through the first round is a no-brainer. If he manages to stay healthy, he might even be higher on this list come 2023.
13 Deandre Ayton
If you are the Phoenix Suns, there was no way in the world that you could have picked anyone other than Deandre Ayton with the number one overall pick. This guy played his entire life in Arizona, and the fans there love him. There is also the fact that you don’t teach 7’1” with the crazy wingspan that Ayton has.
Although there is another player in his draft class we believe will be better than the Bahamas big man, we are confident that Deandre is going to be one of the best players of his generation. It is unusual to see a guy who is as big as he is being that mobile and having a jump shot as good as he has.
12 Karl-Anthony Towns
A lot of people would probably like to see Karl-Anthony Towns higher on this list, and honestly, we wanted to put him higher here. But the thing is that his first trip to the playoffs was a bit disheartening for folks who put their faith in the Minnesota big man.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Towns is going to be a star in the NBA for years to come, but he will have to work on his mental game if he is to become a top-10 player in the league.
It also doesn’t help his case that his generation is full of insanely talented big guys. Nevertheless, the jury is still out, he could be number 12 as much as he could be number one for all we know.
11 Nikola Jokic
This is something people who only look at the stats and don’t watch games will not understand, but in our opinion, the Denver Nuggets were one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NBA this previous season. Much of that had to do with the unique talent they have at center with Nikola Jokic.
We have seen countless big men with excellent playmaking abilities in the history of the NBA. However, Jokic might develop into the best of them all. There are not many guards in the NBA who have the court vision and passing skill that this 6’10” center has. Jokic will keep developing, and the Nuggets will be one of the teams to watch over the next five years.
10 Lonzo Ball
Both the media and fans pick on this kid because of his daddy, but anyone who has watched Lonzo Ball play knows that he has got game. Yes, Lonzo had a hard time at the beginning of his NBA career, but he evolved so much throughout the year. Unfortunately, not many people were watching after everyone was disheartened and the hype went down with his early struggles. Nevertheless, Lonzo finished the season averaging 10.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game.
Don’t quote us on this, but we could be looking at the next player to average a triple-double in the NBA. Well, after Ben Simmons becomes the third in history.
9 Kristaps Porzingis
If we were making this list at the beginning of last season, there is a good chance Kristaps Porzingis would be higher. Unfortunately, whenever a guy, especially a 7’3” guy, goes down with an ACL injury, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate everything you thought you knew.
ACL tears are not easy injuries to recover from, and we will have to wait until February to see how Porzingis will deal with his recovery.
At any rate, if he does return to 100 percent, nothing is stopping him from becoming a top-three player in the NBA five years from now. All he needs to do is bulk up and stay healthy.
8 Devin Booker
There are going to be tons of amazing players in the NBA in 2023. Still, we firmly believe the box office one-man show everyone will want to see when he is in town is going to be Devin Booker. Sure, not many people will welcome the comparison, but in terms of scoring this kid is the closest we will probably get to Kobe Bryant in this generation.
Booker is astounding when it comes to scoring the ball. This is a man who shoots more than seven threes a night and hits more than 38 percent of them. He has already scored 70 points in a game. But the craziest thing in all of this is that he is still only 21 years old.
7 Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is already a top-five talent in the NBA. If he keeps developing at his current pace, there is nothing that is going to keep him from winning the MVP award next season. That's an award he will be a contender for at least another half a decade.
Yes, in 2023 he will already be in his 30s, but much like LeBron James, Davis has such an all-around game that he should be able to maintain his status as a top NBA talent all the way until his retirement. He will be even scarier if he keeps developing that three-point shot.
6 Joel Embiid
The Philadelphia 76ers have trusted the process, and they have been rewarded. They have a pair of generational talents, one of which will be the best big man of his generation. Hell, Joel Embiid might already be the best center in the NBA.
Skill, swagger, strength, Twitter, Embiid has all the tools a player needs to become the best at what he does.
The only thing that could get in his way is his own body. A player with a history of injuries, Embiid is the kind of guy who will need to be managed throughout his entire career if the Sixers want to make the most out of his talents.
5 Luka Doncic
Every time an international player is drafted into the NBA, he is met with heavy scrutiny from both franchises and fans. That kind of scrutiny only multiplies when he’s taken as high as number three overall in the NBA Draft. This is the situation Luka Doncic finds himself and as Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks put the future of the franchise in his hands.
The thing here is that this kid is already a proven star. Leave aside the EuroLeague prejudice and just watch him play. There are not many basketball players as talented as he is in the NBA today. Doncic will be one of the best players in the league, and he might even be an MVP at some point.
4 Donovan Mitchell
There are a lot of things you can teach in the game of basketball, but confidence is not one of those things. Confidence is something you develop by yourself as a person, or it is something that you are born with. Donovan Mitchell is a guy who exhales confidence. When was the last time you saw a rookie take over a playoff series against the reigning MVP the way Mitchell did against Russell Westbrook this season?
This guy is going to be a star, and all of the teams that passed up on him in the 2017 Draft are going to be biting their fingernails off for eternity because they didn’t take a chance on him.
3 Jayson Tatum
Talking about rookies who took playoff series into their own hands, there was a pair who did exactly that in 2017-18. Donovan Mitchell took over for Utah as they won their first-round series. But the thing here is that Jayson Tatum proved throughout a campaign that went as far as their Eastern Conference Finals that he will be one of the top three players in the NBA for years to come.
Tatum has all the tools necessary for someone to become a star. He has the mindset, he is a hard worker, he can score, he can defend, and most of all, he has an amazing coach behind him. He might not become an MVP, but he will win championships.
2 Ben Simmons
While we do believe everyone in this list is talented, nothing comes even close to the top two guys. First, Ben Simmons is a player who does not exist. You can yell LeBron James at the top of your lungs and say everything you can to hate on Simmons, but the truth is that this kid is one jump shot away of being the best player in the NBA. Yes, we are counting Anthony Davis in this.
Simmons is just an unprecedented talent in basketball.
He’s a 6’10” point guard who can literally do everything on the court other than shoot the basketball. But as many players proved throughout their careers, shooting is something you can learn if you put the time in. And you can bet Philadelphia has this kid in the gym shooting the basketball around the clock.
1 Giannis Antetokounmpo
Everyone knew where we were going with this, right? Well, there is no other way to go. The future of the NBA is The Greek Freak. At 23 years old, Giannis Antetokounmpo is already a two-time All-Star and already recognized as one of the best players in basketball. The crazy thing is that he is still a diamond in the rough. Giannis is still polishing his skills. He does not have a reliable jump shot, and he still has lapses in judgment. But the thing is that even with all of the mistakes he makes, he is still a player who averaged 26.9 points, 10 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game. Talk about filling the stat sheet, right?
Giannis will only improve from here on out, and he should become one of the best players of all time.