Ranking Every Teenager in the NBA Right Now
The number of teenage players in the NBA on a year-to-year basis isn’t nearly as large as it used to be, when high school kids could make the leap to the NBA right away (Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kobe Bryant, to name a few). Nevertheless, there are still a handful of teenagers in the league. Some are making a meaningful impact in their first professional season.
In some cases, these young players are molded through practice by learning from veterans and coaches. Their time will come, but for now, their job consists of watching from the sidelines.
On the other hand, some 19-year-olds have already made a lasting impression during their rookie campaign.
So where do these teenagers land when stacked up against one another? In this slideshow, individual performance this season, performance in college and the amount of potential each teenager has moving forward will act as a measuring stick for this ranking.
Honorable Mention: Quincy Miller, Denver Nuggets
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As of Nov. 18, Quincy Miller will no longer fall into the "teenage NBA player" category. As a result, he’s only an honorable mention on this list.
The second-round pick out of Baylor in 2012 hasn’t received a single minute of playing time for the Denver Nuggets this season. Due to that, Miller was recently assigned to play for the Iowa Energy in the NBA Development League (D-League), according to NBA.com. That alone should tell you something about his preparedness and how he fits an NBA role.
Honestly speaking, Miller may have been better off spending another year in college to mold his game.
During his only season at Baylor, Miller averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds and shot 44.7 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three-point range. Those numbers are solid considering Miller was coming off an ACL injury, but you have to wonder what he could have done given another collegiate year to improve.
As a 19-year-old talent (or 20-year-old, depending upon when you read this), Miller still has plenty of time to grow as an NBA player. However, heading for the D-League usually translates to a lost NBA career (guys like Morris Almond, Gani Lawal and Joey Graham provide good examples).
You have to think that Miller would be better off being “the man” for Baylor this season, gaining confidence and pouring in the stats.
With wing players like Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler on the roster, it’s difficult to see Miller cracking that rotation, even if he does manage to dominate the D-League.
7. Tony Wroten, Memphis Grizzlies
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Tony Wroten is another prime example of a guy I thought should have remained in school for another year.
When Wroten was in college at Washington, some stats were great. He averaged 16 points, five rebounds and 1.9 steals per contest. But there were some glaring negatives as well. Wroten (seen as a tweener point/shooting guard) shot 58.3 percent from the free-throw line—simply unacceptable for a guard.
In addition to that, Wroten showed virtually no range on his jump shot, shooting 16.1 percent from three-point land as a Husky. He made just nine three-pointers on 56 attempts.
Finally, Wroten ended up with two more turnovers than assists in his only season. That’s not a trait you look for in a point guard.
So far this season, Wroten has played seven total minutes for the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s 0-for-4 from the field and has a PER of minus-11.21. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even know a PER could be negative.
It isn’t fair to pick on Wroten for that extremely small sample size in garbage time, but the warning flags were there coming out of college.
The young guard has plenty of time to develop more range on his jump shot (not to mention knock down his free throws). However, he should have thought to do so in college, because now improving on the fly will be much more difficult.
6. Moe Harkless, Orlando Magic
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Moe Harkless, like most rookies, has had his fair share of struggles in the early going.
His eight blocked shots and four steals in four games are certainly a help, especially when you consider he’s only turned the ball over twice. And though he's raised his field-goal percentage to 43.8 percent, Harkless is currently just 37.5 percent from the charity stripe.
At this time, Harkless reminds me of guys like Earl Clark, James Johnson and Austin Daye (all of whom were drafted in the middle of the first round). All of those guys are athletic wing players, but outside of grabbing some steals, blocking some shots and rebounding, they won’t give a team much production.
Harkless should see plenty of playing time on a mediocre Orlando Magic squad, so that may be what separates him from the pack of underachieving forwards.
Even so, Magic management should have pulled the trigger on the trade sending Dwight Howard to Brooklyn. They would have gotten more talent and better draft picks in return.
5. Marquis Teague, Chicago Bulls
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Even with the injury to Derrick Rose, Marquis Teague hasn't seen much playing time. With Kirk Hinrich getting the starting job and Nate Robinson playing great basketball off the bench, the 19-year-old rookie has been out of the loop.
In spite of that, Teague has played respectable basketball when he gets the chance.
In extremely limited time this season (28 total minutes), Teague has dished out five assists while turning the ball over just once. Usually young point guards will have a few bumps in the road in the assist/turnover ratio department, but Teague hasn’t.
With that said, if Teague has only played double-digit minutes once this season, what does that mean when D-Rose returns?
Teague is being overshadowed by the veterans at the moment. Even with Hinrich shooting a career-low 32.6 percent from the field, Teague hasn’t gotten his chance to shine.
Perhaps that will change in the coming weeks if coach Tom Thibodeau tries something new. Teague not getting minutes without Rose on the roster is either a bad sign for him or a tribute to NBA veterans.
4. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
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Bradley Beal made my list of biggest fantasy basketball busts earlier this week. He ended up at No. 10 because of two solid outings, but he easily could have been much higher before the scoring output.
After his first three NBA games, Beal shot 8-for-28 from the field, scoring in double digits just once. After those three games, Beal scored 22 points and 17 points in consecutive contests.
Those two games hinted at a turnaround for the young guard, but he regressed in a big way against the Charlotte Bobcats. Beal finished with eight points on 1-for-11 shooting from the field.
The third overall pick in the 2012 draft has been an enigma thus far. He’s had a game where he shot 50 percent from the field and scored 22 points, but he’s also scored eight points on less than 10 percent shooting from the field.
The talent is clearly there, but Beal has been a game-to-game question mark thus far. The Wizards’ record (0-7) reflects his struggles.
Perhaps Beal will be better off when John Wall returns from injury, but regardless, he needs to add some consistency to his shooting numbers.
3. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
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Honestly Detroit, what the heck are you thinking? The Pistons are 1-8 this season, and even the lowly Charlotte Bobcats have four wins. During that time, Andre Drummond is averaging just 15.1 minutes per game and hasn’t made his first NBA start yet. I don’t get it.
Drummond is meant to be the future of the franchise, building a solid frontcourt tandem with Greg Monroe.
He’s shooting 67.6 percent from the field while averaging 6.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game off the bench. The guy even drained his lone three-point attempt on the season.
Detroit, what are you waiting for? Let the kid play.
Alright, so perhaps I’m getting a little carried away. Drummond has had some issues with foul trouble this season, so asking him to play huge minutes could be a gamble in that regard.
Even so, the Pistons are going nowhere this season. You’d think it would be in the coaching staff’s best interest to give Drummond as much experience as possible to build his confidence moving forward. What’s the harm if he fouls out in 30 minutes? Wouldn’t that simply be a learning experience for the 19-year-old?
Anyway, Drummond has shown flashes of being an extremely solid NBA player. It appears as if the worst-case comparisons to Kwame Brown won’t come to fruition. By that same token however, the best-case scenario of Drummond becoming the next Dwight Howard seems like a stretch.
I’ll continue to be frustrated if Drummond doesn’t get more minutes for the Pistons moving forward, but that’s their call.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats
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The Charlotte Bobcats finished with seven total wins last season. This season, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as the major addition, the Bobcats already have four wins after seven games.
That’s not a coincidence. MKG has been playing great basketball for the Bobcats thus far on both ends of the floor.
So far this season, Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 11.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.1 steals. Statistically speaking, MKG is doing a little bit of everything. While critics said he was a mediocre offensive talent, MKG has been surprisingly efficient, shooting 47.5 percent from the field and silencing those skeptics.
Kidd-Gilchrist may be one of the youngest players in the NBA, but he sure isn’t playing like he’s in over his head.
MKG is a major bright spot for Bobcats fans. So far, it’s hard to argue that Charlotte didn’t take the best player available at No. 2 overall.
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
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In spite of an unfortunate concussion injury that forced Anthony Davis to miss two games this season, he’s been as good as advertised.
After three games and a breakout performance against the Charlotte Bobcats, Davis is averaging 15 points, seven rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. In addition to the raw numbers is Davis’ impressive 28.9 PER. That number can be deceiving this early in the season, but it's still interesting to note.
Anyway, Davis has been the best 19-year-old this season by a good margin. His former Kentucky teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is competing for the top spot, but Davis’ numbers and overall confidence have been more impressive thus far.