Photo From: Mavs Moneyball
I think it's safe to say we're in good hands. The NBA has so much talent, from vets like Lebron James and Stephan Curry to rookies like Scottie Barnes and Jalen Green, the amount of talent we see in players under the age of 25 is nuts. If you know me, you know I rave about the young talent in the NBA, there are so many good players and they are just starting their careers. For this article, I am going to order MY top 10 players under the age of 25 years old, and this isn't based on potential but this is current. Keep reading to see who makes MY top 10, and some honorable mentions that didn't quite make the cut.
Photo From: The Spun
1. Luka Doncic (22 Years Old)
I do not trust anyone that puts Luka anywhere other than one on this list. Not only is he my first pick but he is arguably a top-five player in the whole league right now, at the age of 22! Winning rookie of the year, having two NBA all-star appearances, and being selected twice for All-NBA First Team, Luka is more than capable of leading a team to a championship. If you know Luka, you know he can make any pass, or take any shot, just proving you're never too young to get compared to the greats. His crafty nature is supported by his ideal size and strength, making his playstyle quite methodical. With time to improve his perimeter shooting, being the top player in the league could be in his near future. With picking up the level of his defense last season, his postseason success also backed up his highly recognized status. With only playing 13 playoff games, Luka is averaging 33.5 points, 9.5 assists, and 8.8 rebounds in the postseason. Every time I watch him play I truly recognize that I am witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and greatly look forward to seeing what his future in the league holds.
Photo From: Celtics Blog
2. Jayson Tatum (23 Years Old)
Putting Tatum at two was also a pretty easy decision for me. If based on potential, it probably would've made me think more, but as for current, you can't put him lower (IMO). Being one of the most gifted scorers in today's game, the one drawback I could think of is how often he relies on jumpers, yes it makes sense considering he's able to create those shots, very Melo (and I am hoping that none of the youngins think I'm referring to LaMelo Ball) of him. But, I want to see him get to the line more, his fascinating finishing ability should urge him to drive and gather those free throws. Once he gains this skill, I believe his game will take a huge leap forward. On the other end, defensively, we are just seeing Tatum continually grow as a key component of defense. Can Boston surround Tatum with the right guys for him to take this team far in the postseason?
Photo From: New York Post
3. Trae Young (23 Years Old)
Trae Young has to be one of the smoothest players in the NBA, his clean shot and gritty attitude made him deserving of this number three spot. At only 23 years old he has proved that he could shine not only in the regular season but also in the postseason. Being the only player to average 25 points and nine assists last season, it was hard to do more, but he did exactly that in the playoffs as he averaged 28 points and 9 assists. Young was absolutely captivating in the previous playoffs, never underperforming, putting up his best game no matter his matchup. His confidence and comfort were self-evident as he faced off against the Knicks, Sixers, and Bucks. Offensively, he can do it all, known as a shooter that didn't stop him from getting to the paint and nearly perfecting his floater. Starting off the season not too hot, 4-6, the case he has put up for himself leads me to put him third on my list.
Photo From: Megasports
4. Bam Adebayo (24 Years Old)
This is where it started getting really difficult for me, but after a lot of thought, my reasoning led me to place 24 year old, Kentucky Alum, Adebayo as my fourth pick. The main thing that led me to this decision was the fact that he is a top-flight defender, something I couldn't quite say about the guys to follow. He can block shots at the rim, drop during pick and rolls, and even defend the perimeter, locking up some of the best playmakers in the league. But it's not only his defense that is noticed, his offense is just as enchanting. He is a big part of the Miami Heat’s early-season success (current record 7-2), averaging 19.4 points, and 12.0 rebounds. The issue used to be that he isn't dependable with his shooting, but after adding a mid-range shot to his offensive weapons, it's only a matter of time until his perimeter shooting is the next skill added to his set. As a Miami fan, watching Bam assist Jimmy Butler in leading this team to not only the regular season but postseason success has been nothing less than thrilling. Can Miami make it out of the east this season?
Photo From: Denver Stiffs
5. Jamal Murray (24 Years Old)
I keep going back and forth, Murray or Morant? Murray or Morant? Murray or Morant? And even though his career is slightly put on hold due to a torn ACL, he was having a career season before that horrific injury. Murray is one of those players that can WIN GAMES, win a series for his team. Despite his age, we have seen it so often. Being an electric scorer, respectively he has proven that he can't lift his team on his own, he is a clear second to MVP Nikola Jokic. Another thing I never fail to mention when speaking about Murray is his grit, his toughness, something I look for in players. His consistency is something he needs to work on, but it's easier said than done to not get lost in Jokic’s shadow. I believe his peak is also higher than most players I will mention in this list. Hopefully, he will be back on the court soon, picking up just where he left off.
Photo From: New York Times
6. Ja Morant (22 Years Old)
Ja, Ja, Ja. Knowing this kid is only 22 years old and is doing what he is doing is riveting. Starting off with this season, he is averaging 25.2 points, 7.1 assists. And 5.6 rebounds shooting almost 50% from the field. In his first playoff appearance, he managed to average over 30 points and eight assists, his athleticism is getting him to the restricted area, but he just needs to improve his finishing percentages in that area. Morant can ultimately create any shot he wants, doesn't matter whether he is shooting it or one of his teammates is, he will get the shot he wants. He also seems to be shooting from the perimeter a bit better than his previous season. Morant’s ceiling is high, and he has the potential to shake this league, an improvement in his shooting will be that key ingredient to get him there.
Photo From: Sports Net
7. Zion Williamson (21 Years Old)
At first, I was debating even putting Zion on this list, considering injuries explain his whole professional experience so far, but knowing I included Murray I had to throw Zion in there. Last year, before his injury, Zion would've been way earlier in my list, but knowing how small his sample size is compared to others, it's hard to give him anything earlier than this. The main thing that makes Zion so compelling is his dominance, he is almost impossible to stop in the post, and for being as big as he is his footwork and athleticism are CRAZY. Zion came into the league creating questions all around the NBA world if he can potentially be in conversation with the “GOATS” like Lebron James and Micheal Jordan. But can he get back on track after all these injuries? Can his reputation be reinstalled after his comeback? While healthy, Zion is one of my favorite players to watch, is one of the only players to play the way he does. I stay impatient for the day we will see Zion return to the courts, hopefully gaining his highly anticipated future back.
Photo From: Pelican Debrief
8. Brandon Ingram (24 Years Old)
It's actually funny how old some people think Brandon Ingram is, what may feel like a while that he's been in the league, he is still only 24 years old. It makes you think, is there another level Ingram can reach in his career? Ingram is the do it all type of player for the New Orlean Pelicans, as he is having a terrific season, averaging 25 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. Shooting 45.5% from the perimeter is extremely impressive, considering his FG% is just 1% higher at 46.6%. Although the Pelicans are having arguably one of the worst starts this NBA season (1-9) Ingram continues to prove he is an elite player, but can he translate that into some wins? I have been wanting to see the Pelicans in the playoffs for a bit now, this start is not convincing but can Ingram help turn this season around?
Photo From: USA Today
9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (23 Years Old)
The way I wish Shai was with a contending organization cannot even be put into words. With that being said, Shai has two playoff series under his belt including his rookie season with the Clippers in 2019, and in 2020 against the Rockets where he was a big part of the reason they took the series to seven games. SGA uses his length to gather various finishes, and to scoop shots, being quicker than most defenders. Shai has proved himself as a strong offensive player, averaging 23.5 points, 4.9 assists, and 3.9 rebounds this current season, but it's his defense that doesn't allow him to be higher on this list. In all honesty, he has poor defense, he has the skill set needed to be a good defender, but he just isn't there quite yet.
Photo From: Charlotte Observer
10.LaMelo Ball (20 Years Old)
LaMelo Ball=Confidence. During Ball’s rookie season, he played very well, I mean he was ELECTRIC. Being ROTY he has big shoes to fill during his second season and averaging 19.9 points, 7.0 assists, and 5.7 rebounds, it's safe to say that he is doing exactly that. Before coming into the league, people were worried about his shooting, that it was going to be a weakness, but instead, he proved it to be a strength. We all know LaMelo to be a fantastic playmaker, a wizard with passing. Not even two seasons deep, and he's been posted on ESPN more than some vets for his unbelievable dimes. Not only were fans scared that his shooting would be a weakness, but they were also saying the same thing about his defense, and it has been nowhere near weak. Ball is also one of the most entertaining players in the league, so it would be hard not to include him in this list, his charismatic character makes him a very likable player. As seasons go by, I am positive LaMelo will only rise in this list.
Photo From: NBA
Well, that will round out my top 10 players under the age of 25. Now, remember this list only includes players UNDER the age of 25, meaning players like Devin Booker, Ben Simmons, Jaylen Brown, and Donavan Mitchell weren't included because they are now 25 years of age. I also didn't include rookies in this because their sample size is just so small, that I wouldn't feel it's fair to judge them quite yet.
Photo From: Sports Illustrated
Now, I want to cover some honorable mentions that just missed the cut. 23-year-old Micheal Porter Jr., 23-year-old De’Aaron Fox, 24-Year-old OG Anunoby, 23-year-old Deandre Ayton, 24-year-old Lonzo Ball, and this list can just go on and on. The young guys are taking over the league and I am loving every second of it. Also, can we mention how weird it is that players in the NBA are now younger than me?!?! I remember growing up, never thinking one day I would be watching players years younger than me in the league. Not a bad thing, but just super WEIRD.
Photo From: Toronto Star
Anyways, I am beyond excited for the rest of this season, but more importantly the rest of all these young athletes' careers. I hope you guys enjoyed this list, feel free to reach out to tell me what you liked, what you didn't like, what you would change, and who you think is going to have a breakout season. All I know is that this league is constantly getting more exciting with every draft, and our future looks like it's going to be as competitive as ever.