NBA Power Rankings: The Top 25 NBA Players Under 25

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIJune 4, 2012

NBA Power Rankings: The Top 25 NBA Players Under 25

0 of 27

    A wise man once told me that the prospective is in the eyes of tomorrow. In layman's terms, the future is now. While I've never been one to mingle cliches and professional basketball, the term has never been more applicable to the current state of the NBA.

    While the league's more veteran stars remain true to form, the youth movement has become quite an overpowering force.

    From Chicago to Oklahoma City, there has been a country-wide display of youth overtaking experience in the quest for glory. The question is: Who is the best of the young guns? 

    While we could speak of players already in their prime like LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, it is much more intriguing to look at the players that will shape the next generation of professional basketball.

    Here is a list of the top 25 players in the NBA under the age of 25.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic

1 of 27

    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 24

    Height & Weight: 6'10"—240 pounds

    The 2012 NBA Most Improved Player has gone from a breakout performer with Dwight Howard active to a complete non-factor with Howard on the sidelines. Nevertheless, his accomplishments in 2012 cannot be overlooked, and his potential must be acknowledged.

    Anderson finished the year with a league-high 166 three-point field goals, 28 more than the second-best mark set by Jason Terry. Anderson also shot a very respectable mark of 39.3 percent from distance, a top-30 mark in the league.

    What separates Anderson from most three-point shooters is that he posted 7.7 rebounds per game. While that is not an incredible average for a starting power forward, the fact that he is still young bodes well for the future. 

    The fact that he averaged just 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds on 34.1 percent shooting in the postseason, however, is not.

    Season Averages: 21.23 PER—16.1 PPG—7.7 RPG39.3 3PT%

The Next Five Out

2 of 27

    30. Michael Beasley, 23, Minnesota Timberwolves

    The word "disappointing" just about sums up Beasley's production. His talent is questionable due to severe inconsistency, and he barely saw the court last season after a breakout 2010-11 campaign. 

     

    29. DeMar DeRozan, 22, Toronto Raptors

    DeRozan is an explosive scorer and a dominant transition weapon, but he did not progress in his third year in the league. His potential remains sky high.

     

    28. Evan Turner, 23, Philadelphia 76ers

    Turner has come a long way since disappointing rookie year. He is an excellent rebounder for position and a dynamic scorer. He should move up this list next season.

     

    27. Danny Green, 24, San Antonio Spurs

    Green is a very good perimeter defender and a capable three-point shooter. A player who comes up big in big games, Green could establish himself as a future leaders of San Antonio Spurs.

     

    26. Ricky Rubio, 21, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Had Ricky Rubio remained healthy, he would certainly be higher on this list. Unfortunately, his rookie season was cut short. In terms of talent, however, he is already one of the league's elite facilitators.

25. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz

3 of 27

    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 20

    Height & Weight: 6'10"—248 pounds

    Derrick Favors took some time to get there, but in the second half of the regular season, he showed everyone why he is an elite prospect. Favors was dominant as an interior defender and raised his levels of production down the stretch (April averages of 9.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game).

    His postseason averages of 11.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks are all signs of progress towards a consistent high level of play. 

    Give him another year, and Favors will emerge as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. Give him another two or three years, and he will emerge as a Defensive Player of the Year and All-Star nominee.

    Season Averages: 17.05 PER—8.8 PPG—6.5 RPG1.0 BPG—49.9 FG%

24. Marcus Thornton, Sacramento Kings

4 of 27

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 24

    Height & Weight: 6'4"—205 pounds

    Marcus Thornton may not be a player that fans around the league are familiar with, but he deserves recognition.

    Thornton is one of the more prolific young scorers in the NBA and does a very good job taking care of the ball, as evidenced by his career average of just 1.3 turnovers per game. 

    Thornton displays fantastic ball-handling skills and is one of the best in the league in terms of dribble penetration. While his outside shooting could improve, he knows his way around the basket and can convert from the inside with efficiency. 

    The biggest hurdle for Thornton will be finding ways to contribute in other areas. While he's a good rebounder for his size and an underrated defender, scoring alone may not be enough on a team like the Kings.

    Look for Thornton to improve his all-around game as he continues to wow fans in Sacramento. 

    Season Averages: 17.43 PER—18.7 PPG—3.7 RPG—1.9 APG1.4 SPG

23. Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers

5 of 27

    Position: Small Forward

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'8"—200 pounds

    Ranking based on upside alone, Nicolas Batum would break the top 10 on this list. 

    Nicolas Batum is a top-tier athlete with unbelievable length. While his defensive prowess is overstated, his athletic ability and wingspan give him the potential to be amongst the league's elite. Tack on his lights-out shooting from distance, and you have yourself a well-rounded project.

    A project that's beginning to take shape, might I add. The excitement in Portland is warranted.

    Season Averages: 17.32 PER—13.9 PPG—4.6 RPG—1.4 APG—1.0 BPG—1.0 SPG—39.1 3PT

22. Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers

6 of 27

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 21

    Height & Weight: 6'4"—180 pounds

    For those awaiting Jrue Holiday's arrival, the 2012 NBA postseason was the launch pad for the realization of his sky-high potential.

    Although inconsistent, Holiday displayed flashes of brilliance against the vaunted defenses of the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.

    Holiday's 26 points and six assists on 11-of-16 shooting in Game 2 against the Bulls changed the momentum of the series. His 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Game 4 may as well have put the nail in the coffin.

    In Philadelphia's Game 6 victory over the Celtics, a game in which the 76ers were on the brink of elimination, Holiday once again stole the show. His 20 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals set the pace, as did his domination of elite point guard Rajon Rondo.

    While consistency will be the key to his progression, Holiday has begun showing the NBA why he is known as a high school basketball legend.

    Season Averages: 26.8 MPG14.74 PER—13.5 PPG—4.5 APG—3.3 RPG1.6 SPG

21. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

7 of 27

    Position: Center

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'11"—265 pounds

    DeAndre Jordan is one of the best pure athletes in the entire NBA. He can jump out of the gym, run the floor and finish at the basket with the best of them. Once he gets some offensive post moves down pat, he will find his name among the league's best at his position.

    Jordan is already known as one of the premier shot-blockers in the game, but what fans might not recognize is that he is also one of the more intelligent players in the NBA. He hardly ever plays outside of his personal limitations, helping him to convert on over 63 percent of his field goals. On defense, he has cut down on his tendency to bite on head fakes. 

    DeAndre Jordan is a special athlete with a bright future. Time to get him some more consistent minutes, Vinny Del Negro.

    Season Averages: 27.2 MPG16.39 PER—7.4 PPG—8.3 RPG—2.0 BPG—63.2 FG%

20. JaVale McGee, Denver Nuggets

8 of 27

    Position: Center

    Age: 24

    Height & Weight: 7'0"—252 pounds

    In a matter of seven games, JaVale McGee went from a freak athlete with nothing to offer but highlight-reel dunks and blocks to one of the most rapidly developing big men in the game.

    After a regular season that was highlighted by consistent displays of low basketball IQ, McGee broke out in a major way against Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and the Los Angeles Lakers. McGee's breakout series included a 16 point, 15 rebound and three block performance in Denver's Game 3 victory and a 21 point, 14 rebound and two block performance in a Game 5 victory.

    This all came as McGee was matched up against Andrew Bynum, arguably the best center in the NBA. It will take some time, but his unlimited potential may be met after all. 

    Season Averages: 25.2 MPG19.90 PER—11.3 PPG—7.8 RPG—2.2 BPG

    Postseason Averages: 25.9 MPG—20.30 PER8.6 PPG—9.6 RPG—3.1 BPG

19. O.J. Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies

9 of 27

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 24

    Height & Weight: 6'4"—210 pounds

    Over the first two years of O.J. Mayo's NBA career, he improved his field goal percentage and steal numbers, all the while decreasing his turnovers per game. He averaged 18.5 and 17.5 points in each respective season and found himself adequately adjusting to the speed of the NBA. 

    In year three, however, Mayo saw his playing time decrease by 11.7 minutes per game, and his stat line and production adjusted accordingly.

    In 2012, Mayo's fourth year in the league, the former USC Trojan found an equilibrium. Mayo adjusted his style of play to the decreased playing time, enabling the Grizzlies to better orchestrate team basketball. With their lack of a reserve point guard, Mayo has also become the team's secondary ball-handler.

    Upon the Grizzlies' untimely elimination from the 2012 NBA postseason, Mayo has become a free agent. While Memphis is likely to pitch themselves for his services, it's likely that Mayo signs elsewhere and maximizes his potential. He will maneuver up this list accordingly.

    Season Averages: 26.8 MPG14.76 PER—12.6 PPG3.2 RPG2.6 APG1.1 SPG

18. Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons

10 of 27

    Position: Center

    Age: 21

    Height & Weight: 6'11"—250 pounds

    As a rookie, Greg Monroe flew under the radar as one of the more promising players of the 2010 draft class. As a sophomore, Monroe once again flew under the radar—this time as one of the more promising players in the NBA.

    A 22.09 Player Efficiency Rating while nearly averaging a double-double deserves recognition, but playing for the Detroit Pistons cast a shadow over Monroe's production. 

    While Monroe has had his struggles on the defensive end, he has firmly established himself as one of the better offensive big men in the game. Much like most other big men out of Georgetown, Monroe is an exceptional passer. He is also a very good rebounder, a versatile scorer and is effective at playing without the basketball.

    Give Monroe two or three years, and he will be in the conversation for the best center in basketball.

    Season Averages: 22.09 PER—15.4 PPG—9.7 RPG—2.3 APG—1.3 SPG—0.7 BPG

17. Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings

11 of 27

    Position: In Question

    Age: 22

    Height & Weight: 6'6"—220 pounds

    The 2010 Rookie of the Year has seen a consistent drop-off in production in each of his past two seasons after putting up 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds on 45.8 percent shooting in his inaugural campaign.

    In 2011, Evans saw a serious drop when he tallied just 17.8 points, 5.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. Worst of all, his field goal percentage dropped to an abysmal 40.9 percent.

    2012 wasn't much kinder. While Evans' field goal percentage improved to a more respectable 45.3, his season averages continued to drop to the tune of 16.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists—a full 3.6 points, 1.3 assists and 0.7 rebounds lower than his rookie season.

    Despite his struggles, Evans is immensely talented and still very young. He is one of the better ball-handlers in the NBA and can finish around the basket with the best of them. Although his game could use some polishing on both ends, he is one of the better young players around.

    If only the Kings would give him an actual position to play.

    Season Averages: 34.3 MPG16.48 PER—16.5 PPG—4.6 RPG4.5 APG1.3 SPG

16. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder

12 of 27

    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 22

    Height & Weight: 6'10"—235 pounds

    2012 was a confusing year for Serge Ibaka, as the third-year player saw a major rise in blocks per game but a drop in every other statistical category across the board. Nevertheless, his shot blocking prowess was enough to earn him the honor of first team All-Defense.

    While Ibaka's numbers have declined, the quality of his play has not. He has made strides on the offensive end of the floor, slowly developing a jump shot from seven to 10 feet. While he is far from a threat to put up major points on a consistent basis, his ability to knock down jumpers has expanded the Thunder's offensive attack.

    Though his offensive repetoire is growing, Ibaka is still not fundamentally sound on that end and struggles far too much on the glass. Nevertheless, he is only 22 years old and has a surplus of room to grow.

    Season Averages: 18.98 PER—9.1 PPG—7.5 RPG—3.7 BPG—53.5 FG%

15. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks

13 of 27

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 22

    Height & Weight: 6'1"—169 pounds

    The word "dynamic" may not fit a player better than it does Brandon Jennings—but neither does the word "inconsistent."

    Brandon Jennings can light up a scoreboard with the best of them, pairing a paralyzing stutter step with an uncanny ability to finish around the basket. Jennings has also improved mightily as a shooter. Unfortunately, he relies far too heavily on his long-range game and his percentages represent that of a poor three-point shooter—something he is not.

    For Jennings, the next step in his development will be his ability to adjust to the presence of another No. 1 scorer on the perimeter.

    Monta Ellis arrived in a hurry, showing Milwaukee why he has long been a fan favorite for Golden State. The most interesting development, however, was to see Ellis average more assists per game than Jennings. Could the former 10th overall draft choice actually be better fit for the 2? Will Monta Ellis become the team's point guard? Those questions must be answered moving forward.

    Season Averages: 18.46 PER—19.1 PPG—5.5 APG—3.4 RPG—1.6 SPG

14. Mike Conley Jr., Memphis Grizzlies

14 of 27

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 24

    Height & Weight: 6'1"—185 pounds

    Mike Conley Jr. may not be a household name, but the former Ohio State Buckeye has firmly established himself as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. Against Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers, he showed how deadly he can be on offense, as well.

    Conley opened up the Grizzlies' series with the Clippers by going a perfect 5-of-5 from distance and finished with 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds. Conley continued that pace throughout the series, averaging 14.1 points, 7.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 50.0 percent shooting from distance.

    Chris Paul, meanwhile, finished with an average of 3.6 turnovers per game—1.5 higher than his season average.

    Mike Conley Jr. often takes the Rajon Rondo approach, relying more on his facilitating and defensive abilities than his offensive game. This is quite a shame, as he proved to be the most efficient scorer on the Grizzlies during the playoffs. If Conley decides to score on a more consistent basis, All-Star Game selections will follow. 

    Season Averages: 16.79 PER—12.7 PPG—6.5 APG—2.5 RPG—2.2 SPG

13. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

15 of 27

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 20

    Height & Weight: 6'3"—191 pounds

    2012 saw one of the greatest rookie seasons of the decade, as Kyrie Irving established himself as an elite point guard in a matter of 51 games. That will happen when you score, pass and defend as well as any other point guard in the NBA.

    For starters, Irving posted a shooting line that would make any head coach salivate: .469/.400/.872. This led to an average of 18.5 points per game, a mark that just one rookie point guard has topped since the turn of the century: the aforementioned Tyreke Evans.

    While the sample size is rather small, Irving's talent and adjustment to the speed of the NBA were both exceptional. Should he continue this pace and increase his assist numbers, which can only be expected as the talent around him improves, it may not be long before Irving is included in the same conversation as Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo.

    Season Averages: 21.49 PER—18.5 PPG—5.4 APG—3.7 RPG—1.1 SPG

12. Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets

16 of 27

    Position: Center

    Age: 24

    Height & Weight: 7'0"—265 pounds

    For whatever Brook Lopez lacks as a rebounder, he certainly makes up for it as a scorer. The fact that Lopez led all centers in scoring in 2010 and finished third in 2011 should be evidence enough to support that claim.

    Lopez is one of the rare big men who possesses the lost art of a low-post game. He can finish with both hands, although he does display a strong tendency to turn with his left shoulder. Lopez is also a very good mid-range shooter whose ability to stretch-the-floor ability is a nightmare for opposing centers. 

    But despite respectable shot-blocking numbers, Lopez's on-ball defense is rather porous, and he struggles to recover when he loses his man. The Stanford alum also finds himself bullied in the paint on far too consistent a basis for a man of his size and stature.

    Fortunately for Lopez and the Nets, he is still just 24 years old. If he can stay healthy, All-Star games could be calling his name before long. 

    2011 Season Averages: 19.33 PER—20.4 PPG—5.9 RPG—1.6 APG1.5 BPG—49.2 FG%

11. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets

17 of 27

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 24

    Height & Weight: 5'11"—195 pounds

    Ty Lawson had a bit of a coming out party in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, putting up impressive averages of 19.0 points, 6.0 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. Lawson also shot 51.4 percent from the floor and tallied 32 points in Denver's series-saving Game 6 victory.

    Although the Nuggets eventually fell in Game 7, Lawson's 24 points, six assists and five rebound line should hardly shoulder the blame. Instead, it should serve as further evidence as to why Lawson is a premier point guard at the NBA level.

    Moving forward, the greatest roadblock for Lawson to overcome is the presence of yet another quality point man in the backcourt: Andre Miller. Should Miller leave the team via free agency, Lawson will receive the opportunity to prove his worth as a franchise point guard.

    And he will do just that.

    Season Averages: 19.43 PER—16.4 PPG—6.6 APG—3.7 RPG—1.3 SPG

10. Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets

18 of 27

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'3"—215 pounds

    Eric Gordon made quite the impression on NBA fans when he led the Los Angeles Clippers with 22.3 points per game two seasons ago. This followed a solid performance at the 2010 World Basketball Championship in which Gordon put up 18 points against Greece, 17 against Angola and 21 against Tunisia.

    Although the sample size is far too small, Gordon's short stint with New Orleans saw him average 20.6 points per game, including a 31-point performance against the San Antonio Spurs and a 27-point effort against the Houston Rockets.

    Should Gordon find a way to remain healthy, which he has yet to do for a full 82-game season, he has "star" written all over him. He is a solid ball-handler who is excellent at penetrating off the dribble, and can stripe jumpers with the best of them. 

    2011 Season Averages: 18.56 PER—22.3 PPG—4.4 APG—2.9 RPG—1.3 SPG

9. John Wall, Washington Wizards

19 of 27

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'4"—195 pounds

    John Wall has wasted no time becoming a stat-sheet stuffer, joining Chris Paul and Deron Williams as the only players to tally at least 16.0 points and 8.0 assists. Wall also happens to be the only player in the NBA to average 16.0 points, 8.0 assists and at least 4.0 rebounds.

    Tack on the 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks, and you have an All-Star stat line when compared to the other point guards in the NBA.

    Unfortunately, Wall's magnificent season has been lost amidst the Wizards' consistent placement amongst ESPN's Not Top 10. It's quite a shame, as Wall's progression has come at a rapid pace only met by that of Chris Paul in his second year.

    Pretty nice company, isn't it?

    Season Averages: 17.77 PER—16.3 PPG—8.0 APG—4.5 RPG—1.4 SPG—0.9 BPG

8. James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder

20 of 27

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 22

    Height & Weight: 6'5"—220 pounds

    The 2012 Sixth Man of the Year has continued his magnificent pace in the playoffs, topping his regular season averages in four significant categories. That includes 18.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals and an 88.6 percent shooting from the charity stripe.

    In case you are unclear of the message being conveyed, James Harden is establishing himself as a star. He is far more than just a prolific scorer, as he has taken over the role of lead ball-handler and facilitator for the second unit in Eric Maynor's absence. He is also a major fourth-quarter performer who never backs down from the spotlight.

    James Harden is a regular season stud and postseason killer. To rank him any lower would be criminal. 

    Season Averages: 21.13 PER—16.8 PPG—4.1 RPG—3.7 APG—1.0 SPG

7. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

21 of 27

    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'10"—251 pounds

    For what it's worth, Blake Griffin may be the single most under-evaluated player in the NBA. Most fans, failing to evaluate his all-around game, will label him as one-dimensional due to what is seen on highlight reels. Although unpolished, Griffin's efforts in fundamental categories cannot be overlooked.

    Entering the NBA, Griffin was a player who had athletic ability and very little else. In 2012, however, Griffin has begun to go to a low-post attack that includes a high-rise hook shot. Although inconsistent, it is a development worth noting.

    That being said, Griffin still has a long way to go in his development, particularly at the line where he shot only 52 percent in his second year. 

    Season Averages: 23.50 PER—20.7 PPG—10.9 RPG—3.2 APG—0.7 BPG

6. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

22 of 27

    Position: Power Forward/Center

    Age: 21

    Height & Weight: 6'11"270 pounds

    In 2012, DeMarcus Cousins evolved from a troubled young player into a dominant young leader—defensively, offensively and intangibly.

    Cousins' season averages speak for themselves, as he topped his rookie season in every category. From his 18.1 points to his 11.0 rebounds all the way down to his 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, Cousins was dominant in every way. Not too shabby for a guy who plays in an offense that lacks true direction.

    As Cousins flip-flopped from the 5 to the 4 and back again, it became clear that this he can do it all. He is strong and physical enough to dominate inn the paint, and a quick first step on the outside enables him to blow past defenders and finish above the rim or pull up for a mid-range jump shot. 

    Pick your poison.

    Season Averages: 21.72 PER—18.1 PPG—11.0 RPG—1.5 SPG—1.2 BPG

5. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

23 of 27

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'3"—187 pounds

    You can debate his position all you like, but you can't ignore the facts. Russell Westbrook has averaged greater than 8.0 assists on two separate occasions in his career and has begun to re-discover his passing touch against the San Antonio Spurs.

    If that's still not good enough for you, please explain your qualms with a player scoring 23.6 points per game on 46 percent shooting from the floor. 

    During the 2012 NBA postseason, Westbrook has established himself as an elite player. He has dropped his turnovers per game average from 3.6 in the regular season to 1.7 in the playoffs, also raising his assist-per-game average from 5.5 to 7.3 per game in the San Antonio series. This includes averages of 18.5 points, 8.5 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals over the past two games.

    Should Westbrook and the Thunder pull off the improbable comeback and win the NBA title, it will be hard for anyone to debate his merit. It will also be hard for anyone to argue his status as one of the league's premier point guards. 

    Season Averages: 23.00 PER—23.6 PPG5.5 APG—4.6 RPG—1.7 SPG—45.7 FG%

4. Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers

24 of 27

    Position: Center

    Age: 24

    Height & Weight: 7'0"285 pounds

    Andrew Bynum may be one of the more inconsistent players in terms of motor and effort, but his talent and upside are off the charts. He is one of the game's elite defensive big men and has a rapidly developing offensive attack.

    His NBA-record 10 postseason blocks in Game 1 of the Lakers' series with the Denver Nuggets, as well as his 27 points in Game 2, provide all the evidence necessary.

    Unlike fellow elite center Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum is not dependent upon athleticism to get the job done. He is one of the few fundamentally sound centers in the NBA who utilizes solid positioning to make an impact.

    Season Averages: 23.00 PER—18.7 PPG—11.8 RPG—1.4 APG—1.9 BPG

3. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

25 of 27

    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'10"—260 pounds

    If we're basing this off talent alone, I have Kevin Love ranked No. 2 overall. The unfortunate fact of the matter is Love has yet to find a way to turn big numbers into big wins. In time, this will come.

    Until then, this is where the game's premier power forward will rest.

    Love is a versatile scorer, combining a mature-beyond-his-years low-post prowess with a deadly mid-range and three-point shot. He is also the league's most dominant rebounder that doesn't go by the name of Dwight Howard—putting up 11.0 in 2010, 15.2 in 2011 and 13.3 this past season.

    Where Love lacks is on the defensive end, where he averages a very weak 0.5 blocks per game. Nevertheless, he is an intelligent player who is good at staying between his man and the basket.

    Season Averages: 25.41 PER—26.0 PPG—13.3 RPG—0.5 BPG37.2 3PT%

2. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

26 of 27

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'3"—190 pounds

    The 2011 NBA MVP is one of the most dynamic players in the world, combining elite scoring skills with unmatched athleticism and beautiful court vision. He is also capable of dominating an opponent as a perimeter defender and firmly established himself as the leader of one of the Eastern Conference's elite teams.

    Derrick Rose has come a long way since he first entered the league as an exciting, flash-over-fundamental combo guard. After struggling to find a jump shot in his first two years in the league, he has developed one of the best shots in the game to pair with a much more developed role as a facilitator.

    In 2012, however, his development was temporarily stunted. Rose suffered a series of high-profile injuries in 2012, thus damaging his stock as an elite player. Regardless of the setbacks, however, Rose is a true game-changer.

    The lone hurdle remaining for Rose will be to develop a more grounded style of play as to avoid further injury. Rose will need to make this adjustment to sustain his stardom.

    Season Averages: 23.10 PER—21.8 PPG—7.9 APG—3.4 RPG—0.9 SPG—0.7 BPG

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

27 of 27

    Position: Small Forward

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'9"—235 pounds

    The three-time NBA scoring champion has gone from a star scorer to a superstar player. The reason for this could be translated to statistics, as he has become an elite rebounder at his position, as well as one of the most versatile defenders in the league. But let's go beyond the numbers.

    Kevin Durant has mastered the craft that LeBron James has struggled to create the proper balance in. Durant has figured out a way to get his teammates involved—divvying out the proper shot counts to James Harden and Russell Westbrook—and still dominate the game.

    If we're talking "best player in the NBA," Durant is making one hell of a case for it.

    The case can only grow stronger as Durant faces the heavily-favored San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Should he pull off the victory, the potential Durant vs. LeBron match-up that we have all been waiting for could become a reality.

    And Magic vs. Bird Part II will begin.

    Season Averages: 26.26 PER—28.0 PPG—8.0 RPG—3.5 APG—1.3 SPG—1.2 BPG