10 NBA Stars Refreshing the League

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IFebruary 18, 2014

10 NBA Stars Refreshing the League

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    The NBA has been a league dominated by superstars in the past decade, and while that won't change anytime soon, a new wave of young talent is sweeping the league.

    All the players on this list are promising talents under 25 years of age, but they are more than just skilled; they are exciting to watch on the court and are guys you want to root for.

    These guys are coming on strong and revitalizing fans who have become bored of the same old players and teams dominating every season.

    Here are the 10 NBA stars who are helping to refresh league.

    *Stats taken from ESPN.com before games on the night of Wednesday February 12.

Stephen Curry

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    Arguably the most dynamic player in the entire league, Curry brings a little bit of everything to the table. His vision, quickness, three-point shooting, and flair for the dramatic make him thrilling to watch every night.

    But he isn't just a gimmicky, flashy offensive player at all. He can legitimately take over games and has led the Warriors to contender status in the Western Conference behind incredible in-game stretches like this.

    The 25-year-old set the NBA single-season record for three-pointers made last season, and is averaging 24.6 points and 9.0 assists per game this year while clocking in the 12th-best PER in the league. He's done all this while remaining extremely humble and quiet off the court, which makes it all the better.

    Curry is the perfect face of a franchise, and could be the face of the NBA some day. He also has arguably the best highlight tapes in the league.

Andre Drummond

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    While there were high expectations for Drummond after he showed a lot of promise in his lone season at UConn, nobody knew he'd be this good right off the bat.

    Drummond is one of, if not the best rebounders in the league already, and has been extremely effective in transition because of his impressive speed for a center.

    He's averaging a double-double in his second season with 13.0 points and 12.9 rebounds per game, and is 16th in the league in PER at just 20 years of age.

    His low-key personality and hard-working style has also endeared him to fans in Detroit, and Bleacher Report's own Grant Hughes made a strong case that Drummond is the Pistons' most important player.

Kawhi Leonard

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    He may not be the flashiest player, but Leonard's relentless energy and clutch performance in last year's playoffs have helped him fit perfectly in San Antonio.

    The former San Diego State star has really taken advantage of every opportunity he's gotten in the NBA, and has gotten better every year since finishing fourth in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting.

    In his third year in the league, Leonard has come on strong while still keeping a low profile and buying into the San Antonio way, which may not get him in the headlines but bodes well for his future.

    He's scoring 11.6 points per game on 51.6 percent shooting from the field to go along with 6.1 rebounds per game, but he also brings that extra something to the court ever night that can't be quantified. Fans who really know the game are the ones who appreciate players like Leonard.

Michael Carter-Williams

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    MCW has been a pleasant surprise for Philadelphia as he has gotten off to one of the best starts in NBA history for a rookie and won over a city starving for some excitement on the hardwood.

    After starting his career with a bang, the point guard continued proving he can do it all, and is averaging 17.1 points, 6.4 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game while essentially carrying the Sixers on his back.

    His length, agility and floor vision have all come together a lot faster than anyone anticipated, and he's been making big plays night in and night out. His quick rise to stardom is not only good for Philadelphia but the league in general.

Anthony Davis

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    Maybe we were all a bit jaded by his takeover of college basketball as a freshman two years ago, but it seems like everyone has taken Davis's dominance at the professional level for granted.

    It would be exceedingly rare for anyone to average over 20.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 1.6 steals per game, but for a 20-year-old to do it? Pretty much unheard of.

    Yet Davis is doing it down in New Orleans, quietly dominating with his freakish athleticism and polished two-way game. He's one of the best players in the league already, but seems comfortable enough in his own skin to stay content flying under the radar and just playing ball.

    Oh, and did I mention he's fifth in the entire league in PER? Davis is ahead of names like Howard, Wade, Nowitzki, 'Melo, Harden and Westbrook. This kid is special.

Damian Lillard

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    A budding star who seemingly came out of nowhere, Lillard is an outstanding talent from Weber State who has been a major contributor to Portland's resurgence.

    While he isn't incredibly physically gifted, Lillard is incredibly skilled and is one of those guys who can simply make things happen at any time.

    He's averaging 20.7 points, 5.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 40.5 percent from beyond the arc. Lillard may be unassuming off the court, but he turns into an assassin once he gets the ball in his hands.

    The second-year guard is quickly becoming one of the young stars in the league, and is handling it like a seasoned veteran.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

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    Stop me if you've heard this one before: a Greek-born kid of Nigerian descent starts playing basketball as a teenager in Greece, works his way up through their professional leagues, and is then selected 15th overall in the NBA draft.

    Now in his rookie year, Antetokounmpo has been incredibly impressive, showing off a rare combination of length (look at that picture!) and athleticism while helping put Milwaukee back on the map despite playing just under 25 minutes per game.

    While there's still a lot of room for him to develop, the 19-year-old is still filling out and adjusting to the NBA game and will only get better. His incredible background, endearing personality, and incredible physical gifts will make him a star for years to come. He truly brings something new to the NBA.

Kyrie Irving

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    Irving has had a bit of a rough go of things the past few years. He had a bumpy season at Duke before getting drafted by a Cleveland franchise who was still reeling from the departure of LeBron James a couple years prior.

    But Irving has been an absolute trooper and not complained one bit while doing everything he can to put the Cavs on his shoulders.

    It hasn't worked out so far, but there's not much more Irving can do. He's averaging 20.3 points and 5.9 assists per game through his first two and a half years in the league.

    The 21-year-old is emerging as a full-blown superstar, and it'll be interesting to see what the future has in store for Irving.

Paul George

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    A few years ago, George was a good but not great prospect who suddenly blossomed and developed in his final season at Fresno State before being taken 10th overall in the 2010 draft.

    Now in 2014, George is one of the biggest stars in the league after going toe-to-toe with the Miami Heat in last year's playoffs and making the Indiana Pacers relevant again.

    George is averaging 22.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and he's 26th in the league in PER. His aggressive style of play has become the Pacers' brand, and their relentless attitude and drive has made them one of the best defensive (and overall) teams in the league. 

    George may be a superstar, but he still plays like a kid just trying to make the team. 

Isaiah Thomas

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    He may be undersized at 5'10", 185 pounds, but Thomas is an incredibly scrappy player who has worked his way up the ladder after being selected 60th overall in 2011.

    Despite his size, Thomas is somehow one of the best players in the league around the rim due to his ability to hang in the air, use both hands well, and finish strong.

    His fearless attitude and playing style makes him incredibly fun to watch, and he's been exceptional in 2013-14, averaging 20.2 points and 6.3 assists per game.

    Everyone likes an underdog, and right now, Thomas is not just hanging in there but is excelling.