After watching young players lead their teams far into the NBA Playoffs this season—i.e. LeBron and Dwight—I've compiled a list of young players based on performance and potential that should help their teams out dramatically next season.
Some players on the list will lead their teams to the playoffs as early as next season. Some picks are surprises, and others are not. Enjoy, and let the debate begin.
After a solid rookie campaign in which Mayo averaged 18.5 ppg and started all 82 games for the Grizzlies, he should improve on that mark and along with Rudy Gay help out the sad, sad franchise that is the Memphis Grizzlies.
More good news for Mayo, the Grizz have the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, which means some immediate help is incoming be it Thabeet or Rubio.
The best news for Stuckey is that the Pistons are going to get rid of Iverson. This means more playing time and more shots.
However, he struggled some this year after a stellar showing in last season's NBA playoffs, he increased his scoring to 13.4 ppg—and should be a nice piece for Joe Dumars to build around for the future.
He got more playing time this season and almost doubled his ppg from 8.2 to 15.3 ppg. The return of Elton Brand will help Young develop, and the he has eye-opening athletic ability and amazing potential.
The Sixers might be an up and coming team in the East this season.
Gordon can flat-out score the basketball. He dropped 41 on the OKC Thunder earlier in the season.
Followers of the AAU circuit and in Indiana Basketball High School Hoops can tell you about how dominant he is. He basically scored all of his team's points and led them to the State Championship game.
He averaged 16.1 ppg this season and received the best news one can get. His Clips got the No. 1 pick, which means if by some grace of God that they don't mess it up, he could be teaming with Baron Davis and Blake Griffin to create a formidable trio that could scare teams in the West.
If only Mike Dunleavy wasn't their coach...
He has increased his minutes per game and scoring each of the past two seasons. Brewer is the ideal slasher, and is athletic enough to guard the other team's best player.
After watching him guard Kobe the past two seasons in the playoffs, I see a bright future for this kid. Playing next to All-Star Deron Williams doesn't hurt, either.
The definition of a project. The Bulls traded a future All-Star (LaMarcus Aldridge) for him. He has a ridiculous amount of athletic ability and potential. He shows spurts of it in games where he can block a shot or slam an alley-oop, he is just very, very inconsistent.
After defending this pick and trying to explain to Bulls fans that he isn't Stromile Swift 2.0, I watched him play better than expected against the Celtics in the playoffs.
While there are many trade rumors surrounding Thomas, if he can keep his head on straight I see no reason why he can't develop into a better version of Tyson Chandler—another Bulls project they gave up on.
Be patient, Chicago!
Cha-ching! Brandon Bass is going to get paid this offseason, be it by Mark Cuban or by some other team.
A solid player who has earned his way into the NBA by way of the D-league, Bass plays smart and gets the most of his ability.
While his averages of 8.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg are less than impressive, if he gets starter minutes there is absolutely no way he will not be a double-double machine.
Warriors fans around the world are still cursing that dang moped. Ellis would have made the jump last year to bona fide All-Star had he been healthy.
Ellis can get to the rim against anyone, and I mean ANYONE. His ability to finish in traffic is almost as good as King James and D-Wade.
A scoring machine, he dropped 42 earlier in the season against the Kings and should have plenty of scoring outbursts in 09-10. Although he only averaged 19 ppg last season, he is the key to Don Nelson's system—and is the most important player on that team.
Durant is already one of the best scorers in the league as evident by his 25.3 ppg last season. Durant is crazy good at such a young age.
I saw him dominate All-Star weekend in which he won the H-O-R-S-E event and was MVP in the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge. By the way, he scored like 46 in that game.
After the All-Star break Durant went on a crazy scoring binge, capped off with a 47-point performance against CP3 and the Hornets.
He can shoot, drive and rebound. Imagine what happens when he grows into his body and develops some muscle. He's like a combination between Carmelo and KG, he's definitely going to be a Top 10 player in a couple of seasons.
Be careful, because the fun-loving, blogging Arenas is going to come back with a vengeance next season. He can just flat out destroy a team's defense, hit the step back jumper, knock down buzzer-beaters and win games for the Wizards.
Oh yeah and offensive-minded Coach Flip Saunders will be calling the shots next season. This is a match made in heaven.
I love Arenas' flair for the game. I remember watching him drop 60 against Kobe in LA. After the game, Kobe called his play "selfish" to which Arenas laughed and said "Coming from the man who scored 81 in a game...at least I had some assists."
Not one to stray from controversy, he flat-out has compared himself to Kobe stating "Look at our first five years in the league and tell me who's been better". You gotta love that swagger. Unfortunately, injuries have stolen the past two years of his career.
But the good news is "The Hibachi" is back, baby!