8 NBA Youngsters Who Will Be Next Wave of Superstars
Luckily, there seems to be a wave of young talent waiting in the wings. Here are eight youngsters* who could be well on their way to becoming a part of this group of stars.
*All players mentioned are 23 years old or younger.
John Wall, Washington Wizards
Since returning from a knee injury that had cost him most of the regular season, John Wall has been showing glimpses of what made him the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft.
In five games off the bench this season, Wall is averaging 14 points, 6.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds in just 24.9 minutes a game. While these numbers are a bit below what we're used to seeing from Wall, they are impressive considering the number of minutes he is currently getting.
Although Wall isn't exactly a sharpshooter, he still can take over games by getting to the basket and distributing the rock. With his quickness and knack for picking defenders, Wall has the all-around skill set to succeed in this league.
If Wall can bring down his turnovers (3.8 a game/career) and improve his jump shot, he could quickly become a star at the ripe age of 22.
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
One of the many surprises of this season has been the emergence of Jrue Holiday.
Just 22 years old, Holiday is having his best season in the NBA. With career highs in points (19.2), assists (8.9), rebounds (4.1) and field goal percentage (46 percent), Holiday is making a legit case to be included in this year's NBA All-Star Game.
While Holiday doesn't quite shoot the ball as well he gets to the rim, his versatility as a passer and rebounder makes him arguably one of the better point guards in the game.
Like John Wall, if Holiday can cut down on turnovers (3.9 per game) and incorporate more of the mid-range jumper into his game, the sky is the limit.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
After becoming the youngest American gold medalist in Olympic basketball history this past summer at the age of 19, Anthony Davis is starting to raise eyebrows with his performance in the NBA.
The 6'10'' rookie is currently averaging 13.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 29.1 minutes per game. Davis, who was selected with the No.1 overall pick in this past draft, is already a formidable defensive presence and is slowly finding his offensive game as the season progresses.
While there is no doubting the upside of Davis' game, the left ankle which he injured earlier this season, seems to be troublesome once again. Although the extent of the injury doesn't look as bad as the first one, Davis' difficulty in staying healthy so far is not a good sign.
If Anthony Davis can stay healthy and continue to develop his game, he will be a dominant big man in the NBA.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers
The third-year forward out of Fresno State is having a sensational year, putting up 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game in 36.7 minutes. George has become arguably the best player on the Indiana Pacers roster with Danny Granger out with a knee injury.
Aside from being able to throw it down in spectacular fashion, George has shown that he has the complete package. With the ability to be able to dominate on offense and also lock it down on the defensive end, George seems to all but guaranteed a spot on this year's Eastern Conference All-Star squad.
Just 22 years old, Paul George seems to be quickly making a name for himself in the league. It will be interesting to see just how good he can become in coming years.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
It's no secret that DeMarcus Cousins can flat out ball, but when will he just let his game do the talking?
Cousins is once again having a solid season for the Sacramento Kings, putting up 18.1 points and grabbing 10.5 rebounds per game. On-court performance isn't the issue with this guy as he has missed five games this season due to team and league suspensions.
Cousins will only be as good as he lets himself be. At 22 years old, Cousins still has the opportunity of turning things around and growing up. If Cousins can do that and continue to perform at the level he has been, he can become one of the better big men in the game.
It's his call.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard is undoubtedly having the best season among all rookies and proved that he was ready from day one. Lillard, through his first three games of the season, averaged 21.3 points and nine assists in games against the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks. The 22-year-old guard out of Weber State is currently averaging 18.3 points, 6.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game on the season.
What's most impressive about Lillard is just how complete he is on the offensive end. He can shoot the ball from downtown or drive the lane, looking to either score or pass the ball.
Lillard is currently the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year Award, and unless he significantly drops off by then, he should be taking home the hardware at the end of the season.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
The defending Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, is looking to build upon his first year's success with another stellar season.
Irving has already made a name for himself in the league and the fact that he is only 20 years old is the scary part. Irving is currently putting up 23.1 points, 5.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds a game in 35.6 minutes.
Irving has proven—and continues to prove—that he is the complete package at the point guard position. With the ability to knock down jump shots, finish at the rim, penetrate the lane and either score or find the open man, Irving has to be the best thing to happen to the Cleveland Cavaliers since LeBron James.
Irving is a promising young talent and it's really only a matter of time before he emerges as Cleveland's next superstar.
James Harden, Houston Rockets
Who's the next big thing you may ask? The answer would have to be James Harden.
After having three great seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder in which he was the main man off the bench, Harden is finally getting his opportunity to showcase his talents as a full-time starter.
And Harden isn't disappointing.
As the Houston Rockets' primary scorer and best player, Harden is putting up career highs all across the board: 25.9 points, 5.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Whether it is from the outside or inside, Harden has shown that he can score at will.
Although the bearded Harden may not look it, he is still only 23 years old. Harden has a bunch of years ahead of him, and if this season is a sign of what's to come, Harden could be that next superstar.