Young Talent Means Bright Future for NBA

Gary LloydSenior Analyst IApril 23, 2008

Major League Baseball is America's pastime.

The National Football League draws the most viewers for its playoff format.

The National Basketball Association is making strides to put itself atop the professional sporting world.

But how is the NBA going about that? 

Well, it's not really so much the NBA doing something as it is the up-and-coming stars of the league.

Most, probably still remember their ACT scores but are taking over a league, or a business, if you will.

They're young, responsible and humble. What a combination that is, right?

Take the first two youngsters selected in the 2007 NBA Draft, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Sure, both came out after their freshman campaigns, but who wouldn't if they was guaranteed to be a top-two pick in the draft? Both are very intelligent guys and play the game for the right reasons. They stay out of trouble, and that's a great characteristic for guys that could be doing negative things with their money (see Jones, Pacman).

LeBron James is in his fifth NBA season, but he is still just 23 years old. He's a guy with tons of money and fame, but remains humble in all situations. Just watch him talk to a sideline reporter or the media in a press conference.

Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors is another great example. Most players that are averaging over 20 points and eight rebounds are campaigning for more money and endorsements. Bosh, on the other hand, made a home video campaigning for All-Star votes. If you've seen the video, you know it was childish, but it was brilliant in a way. He did something that made the news in a positive light.

Andrew Bynum of the Lakers and Al Jefferson of the Timberwolves are both quietly becoming stars under the basket. Literally, they're both fairly quiet people on the court. They don't necessarily demand the ball because they're team-oriented guys. You have to love how humble that is.

Finally, the two best examples are Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Both are barely able to legally drink but are leading their respective teams to playoff wins. Both are absolutely dominating in their first few career playoff games, statistically speaking. Paul, in his first two playoff appearances, has put in 33.5 points and 13.5 assists. Howard has scored 27 per game in his first two postseason outings along with grabbing an astounding 21 rebounds.

Neither are the hoodlum type and have clean reputations. The lack of tattoos (that we can see, anyway) even enhances the perception that both are not only great players, but great people. 

With guys like Paul and Howard, there is reason to believe that the NBA may be becoming more marketable and thug-less than the NFL (Pacman again and Mike Vick).

Regular season games will be watched more and first round playoff series will actually draw great ratings. Fans will be more inclined to tolerate the two months in which the NBA Playoffs take place.

I used to lose interest fairly quickly during the playoffs, but with the influx of young and responsible stars, every game is worth watching.