In many ways, that discussion proved a prescient one. Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard both participated in the All-Star Game. Andre Drummond was beastly on the boards for the Detroit Pistons. Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played pivotal roles in the postseason appearances of their respective squads. So, too, did Patrick Beverly and Terrence Jones for the Houston Rockets.
More generally, though, this has been a banner year for players 25 and under in the NBA. Kevin Durant, 25, ran away with the MVP. Blake Griffin, also 25, finished third in the voting. James Harden, John Wall, DeMar DeRozan, DeAndre Jordan and Serge Ibaka were among the many who upped the individual ante and, by extension, that of the teams for which they shined.
I know we still have another month-plus of riveting basketball to enjoy before this campaign comes to a close, but with the way the league's bumper crop of young talent has stepped it up in these playoffs, it's tough not to wonder which of the Association's 20-something constituents will make a leap—from promising prospect to All-Star performer, from All-Star to bona fide force of nature and so on—once the 2014-15 season rolls around.
With that in mind, let's have a look at some of the NBA's brightest breakout candidates for next season.