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Top 10 NBA Players 25 and Under

Year after year, the longevity of players in the NBA grows. Players such as Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Manu Ginóbili played into their 40s. LeBron James hasn’t skipped a beat in Year 18, still holding the mantle as one of the best players in the league.


The NBA currently has a plethora of young superstars ready to become the face of the league. So, rightfully so, it only seems fair to rank the top ten players that are 25-years-old and under. Stephen A. Smith recently went off on ESPN’s list, so I decided to take a crack at it myself.


1. Luka Dončić, PG, Dallas Mavericks (22)

Any other opinion on this is just wrong. Dončić is not only the best young player in the league, but he’s one of the best players in the association. Coming into the league after playing a few years of pro ball in Europe, Dončić was ready to take over. In three years, he’s taken home plenty of awards (two-time All-Star, All-NBA First Team, Rookie of the Year).


The scary thing is that Dončić keeps getting better and better. This season, he’s nearly averaging a triple-double at 28.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 8.7 assists. His shooting all around the court also continues to improve, which doesn’t bode well for other teams. Dončić’s on-court vision is spectacular, his ball-handling skills are incredible, and he still has room to improve. The sky's the limit for Dončić.

 

2. Zion Williamson, PF, New Orleans Pelicans (20)

Zion is probably one of the few players that can knock Dončić off the top spot. He’s listed at 6’7”, 284 lbs, Zion has been a dominant force since he was 14-years-old. He would’ve won the rookie of the year award had he played a full season and not 24 games. However, Zion’s been fully unleashed and has been unstoppable.


Zion’s shooting 61% from the field because he can just bully his way to the rim. His dunks are ferocious and his athleticism is unparalleled. Zion is a generational talent that will dominate the league for the next 10-15 years.

 

3. Jayson Tatum, SF, Boston Celtics (23)

It was clear following the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals that Tatum had the potential to be an all-star in the league. However, it didn’t take until last season for it to become apparent to the rest of the league. Tatum has averaged 25 points in back-to-back seasons and has improved every facet of his game.


Tatum can drive to the lane efficiently, shoot from anywhere on the court, and stop players defensively with 1.2 steals per game. Even better, he performs at the top of his game when it matters the most. At any given moment Tatum can explode for a monster night (he dropped 53 points earlier this month). As he continues to grow, Tatum has emerged as the best player from his draft class.

 

4. Devin Booker, SG, Phoenix Suns (24)

Booker has been the best player on a bad team for the past five years which always made people overlook him. With the Suns sitting second in the West, all eyes are on him. This season, Booker is averaging 25.5 points and has shooting splits of 48.5/34.9/86.2.


Booker isn’t the sole reason for the Suns' dominance, but he sure has been at the forefront of it. The former Three-Point Contest winner has unlimited range on the court and his playmaking ability keeps getting better. Having a veteran like Chris Paul on the team helps Booker learn from one of the best. Booker has turned the Suns from a laughing stock to a serious title contender overnight.

 

5. Karl Anthony-Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves (25)

Towns is the only 25-year-old on this list and very well deserved. He has consistently been one of the best players in the league since he got to the NBA, but injuries and COVID have gotten in his way the past two years.


Towns have averaged a double-double since he entered the league in 2015. His scoring, rebounding, and passing have all improved each year. The former Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star is an issue from anywhere on the court, as Towns has averaged over four three-pointers in each of the last three seasons. What’s holding him back is the Timberwolves lack of success. Hopefully, for his sake, the team picks it up in the future.

 

6. Trae Young, PG, Atlanta Hawks (22)

One of the most explosive players in the NBA right now, Young has turned the Hawks franchise around as it seems they’ll be heading back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. His numbers have gone down slightly since last year, but he’s still scoring over 25 points per game.


Young has 24 double-doubles on the year and is averaging close to one this season with 9.5 assists. He has the ability to drive, dish, and shoot better than most of the league. Young’s defense has been somewhat of a liability, but his offense speaks volumes.

 

7. Bam Adebayo, C/PF, Miami Heat (23)

Adebayo does it all for Miami on both ends of the floor, making him one of the more versatile big men in the league. Just yesterday he dropped 21 points and 15 rebounds, including the game-winner, against the Brooklyn Nets.


Adebayo has a dangerous mid-range jumper, even off the dribble. He has been expanding his game outwards, so maybe a three-point shot is in the cards for the future. Defensively, Adebayo can keep up with some of the quickest guards and biggest forwards. He proved himself in the NBA Finals against the Lakers. The best is yet to come for Adebayo and the Heat.

 

8. Donovan Mitchell, SG, Utah Jazz (24)

Mitchell gets a bad rap for being inefficient, and while that may be the case at times, there’s no denying that he’s an absolute baller. At 24-years-old, Mitchell is 9th in the NBA in scoring, averaging 26.4 points while leading the Jazz to the top seed in an incredibly strong Western Conference.


Mitchell isn’t afraid to dive for a loose ball and he doesn’t shy away from having the ball in his hands when it matters. He’s shooting a career-best 38.6% from deep and has a career-high 5.2 assists. What will bring his game to the next level if he’s able to draw more fouls and improve his shooting efficiency. Mitchell still has plenty of time to develop into one of the best players in the league.

 

9. De’Aaron Fox, PG, Sacramento Kings (23)

Fox is among the top five most athletic guards in the league right now and should not be at fault in the slightest for the Kings struggles this season. Averaging 25.3 points and 7.2 assists, Fox has steadily improved since his rookie season in which he has doubled his numbers.


The southpaw has become one of the league’s top floor generals in his fourth season but hasn’t had the opportunity to fully showcase himself on the big stage. He’s a skilled ball handler and is crafty when driving to the lane. While he isn’t making as many threes as he probably would like, Fox is attempting a career-high 5.5 shots from three - a sign of good things to come if his shots start to fall.

 

10. Ben Simmons, PG, Philadelphia 76ers (24)

Everyone knew that Simmons would be an elite talent as soon as he got to the league. Standing 6-foot-11, the league hasn’t seen a point guard that big and successful since Magic Johnson. Simmons is a mismatch nightmare for opponents.


Simmons can do it all offensively… except for shooting the ball from deep, but he’s working on it. Defensively, Simmons is a leading candidate year after year for Defensive Player of the Year. If the three-time All-Star can develop a three-point shot, Simmons will easily be thrust into the MVP conversation.

 

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