Cheap Seats: The 12 Best Young Teams In The NBA

Chris CharbonnierCorrespondent IJune 29, 2008

Now that the 2008 NBA draft is complete, it is time to look at the future of the league. With so many up-and-coming teams, it seems inevitable for the association to explode and once again become America’s most watched sport.

The most exciting part is that so many teams have the potential to be contenders. There are a handful of ‘win right now’ teams and a large majority of everybody else will be rising to the top soon enough.

I have decided to take a close look at each team in the league in terms of their young talent. The criteria I was looking at included finding players 25 years of age or younger who have the potential to become an all-star. I was very generous in the players I have listed, but was so for every team. I looked at the players from the perspective of the team’s GM, seeing only the positive qualities in them that COULD make them a star in this league.

I have included all the young teams worth mentioning on this list, and the number just so happens to be twelve. Every team listed has at least three players who are 25 or younger and have multiple star qualities. So, without further ado, here are your NBA teams of the future: 


12. Philadelphia 76ers


PG Rodney Carney

SF Andre Iguodala

SF Thaddeus Young

PF Maurice Speights


Outlook: This is a young and exciting team that could make a splash in the East immediately. With Mo Cheeks at the helm, these guys are going to play like they have nothing to lose, because they don’t. Carney and Young are really good looking players and Iguodala has already proven he’s a big time pro. If Speights pans out, this team could be good for a very long time.


What’s Needed: While they definitely have some young talent, they clearly lack the big name star. If they could somehow land that player at the shooting guard or center position, look for them to be contenders in the east. If not though, they’ll probably be relegated to being a number five seed in the playoffs for quite awhile.



11. Charlotte Bobcats


PG D.J. Augustin

SF Gerald Wallace

SF Adam Morrison

PF Emeka Okafor


Outlook: This team has some star power. I think D.J. Augustin is going to be one of the best point gaurds in the league for a long time. Don’t discount Adam Morrison just yet; he should make a good pro. Plus, Okafor is a beast, and while few may know about Mr. Wallace, the man is a monster. Under Larry Brown, this team could go places.


What's Needed: Nothing besides the obvious; they need another big time frontcourt player. Preferably one who can play some defense, which they seem to be lacking. Regardless though, I just don’t think this team will ever be good enough to be a contender. They should, however, be regulars in the playoffs.



10. Golden State Warriors


PG Monta Ellis

SG Marco Belinelli

PF Brandan Wright

PF Anthony Randolph

C  Andris Beidrins


Outlook: This team always seems to be loaded with potential and right now is no different. Ellis is going to be a star in this league, and they are building the team around him. If all their players live up to their potential, watch out. This team of bouncy, wiry young’n’s could make some real noise.


What’s Needed: Potential is one thing, winning is another. IF all their players live up to their potential, they could be very good. However, it seems highly unlikely that all their guys pan out. Plus, even if they do, they have no one to contain all the bigs that are emerging out of the west. Look for these guys to be a playoff regular, but nothing more. 



9. Seattle Sonics


PG Russell Westbrook

SF Kevin Durant

PF Jeff Green


Outlook: Kevin Durant could end up being one of the best players in the NBA and his defensive-minded counterparts might just compliment him perfectly. This team should thrive on being the scrappy underdogs who play good defense and ride their superstar.


What’s Wrong: The rest of their team basically sucks. They should struggle the next couple of years, which will benefit them because they’ll pick up some more lottery picks. If they can get a couple more pieces around Durant, this team could be very, very good. They may be a way's away, but I think this team could become a powerhouse in the west. 



8. Indiana Pacers


PG T.J. Ford

SG Brandon Rush

SF Danny Granger

C   Roy Hibbert


Outlook: If T.J Ford can stay healthy, this is a very solid team. You know what you’re going to get out of guys like Rush, Granger and Hibbert, so I believe the team’s future is squarely on Ford’s shoulders. If they can add another piece when all these guys are in their primes, they should contend in the East. Plus, don't forget that Granger is a star.


What’s Needed: Not a whole lot. If Mike Dunleavy were a little younger, they would be higher on this list. If they can get someone to fill the hole in the frontcourt beside Hibbert, they should have a reasonable chance of getting to the finals. And losing. 



7. Minnesota Timberwolves


PG Randy Foye

SG Rashad McCants

PF Kevin Love

C   Al Jefferson


Outlook: Minnesota fans are going to love this team. No pun intended. This collection of offensive talent will make the T-Wolves popular for years to come. Foye can run the team, McCants and Jefferson are rising stars, and Love will have a very solid NBA career. These guys should be a joy to watch.


What’s Needed: Defense. No one on this team can play a lick of it, especially the frontcourt guys. This team reminds me of the ’07 Warriors, not in the sense that they run the court well, but that they are going to have to score a massive amount of points to win. And I think they will. Unfortunately, everyone knows that defense wins championships. So, while they might have some exciting games and great playoff upsets, this team will never be more than the darling of the NBA.



6. New Orleans Hornets


PG Chris Paul

PF Julian Wright

C  Tyson Chandler


Outlook: Chris Paul may retire as the best point guard of all-time, so by all means this team has a shot at some titles. Chandler is great at catching lob passes (the only way he seems to score), and Wright could turn into a player. With a couple more young backcourt players, the Hornets have a big time future.


What’s Needed: David West is a couple of years too old. Nonetheless, he is in his prime, and the Hornets are ready to win right now. If this were a list of teams with the best shot to win the next couple titles, the Hornets would be right at the top of the list. But down the road they have a bright future also, since big name players seem to gravitate towards big name point guards. They’ll be a force as long as Chris Paul is around. 



5. Atlanta Hawks


PG Acie Law

SG Joe Johnson

SF Marvin Williams

SF Josh Childress

PF Josh Smith

C   Al Horford


Outlook: These guys are very close. I think they will contend in the East this year. Horford is a monster, Smith and Childress are nasty, and Joe Johnson is an assassin. Plus, Law and Williams look to be developing nicely. Hopefully after this year, the league learned its lesson: don’t sleep on this team.


What’s Needed: Not much. The only thing that will keep them from a title is lack of elite defense. There will simply always be a few teams better than them. That said, they could do great things. They are one move away from being like the Pistons have been the last 6 years, minus the championship. They should be mainstays in the Eastern Conference Finals for a while. 



4. New Jersey Nets


PG Devin Harris

SG Chris Douglas-Roberts

PF Yi Jianlian

PF Ryan Anderson

C   Brook Lopez


Outlook: Don’t laugh at how highly they’re ranked. Harris is a prototypical PG who can lead his team. CDR will be a do-it-all dirty work player that the fans love. Jianlian wasn’t picked so highly last year for no reason. Anderson can stroke from deep and Brook Lopez will be a very solid NBA center. Plus, I can’t help but notice the void left at SF that could be filled so nicely by this guy they call LeBron.


What’s Needed: LeBron. This team is being built for him, and he’s not even on it. These guys are loaded with young, cheap talent that would seem to compliment King James perfectly. And it’s obvious they are doing everything in their power to make sure they have enough cap to sign him. If he comes, this is a championship caliber team. If not, they are nothing more than a decent playoff team. It’s up to Lebron.



3. Memphis Grizzlies


PG Mike Conley Jr.

SG O.J. Mayo

SF Rudy Gay

PF Darrell Arthur

C   Marc Gasol


Outlook: People might hate on the GM, but this team looks great to me. Conley is a very good PG. I think Mayo will be a star, in fact, I think he’ll be one of the best players in the league. Rudy Gay is already a star, and he’s only getting better. Darrell Arthur is so pissed that no one wanted him in the draft that he’s gonna snap. He is a man on a mission, and with all the help he has in the backcourt, watch out for this guy. This team could be deadly.


What’s Needed: A defensive-minded center. If they can get that, and come together as a team, a championship could be in their future. I can’t help but think about Dwight Howard on this team. They would be absolutely lethal. 



2. Chicago Bulls


PG Derrick Rose

SG Ben Gordon

SF Luol Deng

PF Tyrus Thomas

C   Joakim Noah


Outlook: They simply have too much talent not to be high on this list. Rose has already been voted into the hall of fame, and why not. Combine him with the under rated Ben Gordon, and the backcourt is set. Then you’ve got superfreak athlete Thomas, who, if he ever amounts to anything, should thrive under Rose. Noah likes to smoke the reefer, but so do 95% of other NBA players. He works hard and is a beast no one wants to deal with on either end of the floor. If this team doesn't become a perennial finals team, they are a failure.


What’s Needed: Chemistry. You could also argue that living up to potential is crucial but I think that will come if these guys can come together. If they can, you should expect to see them in June every year.



1. Portland TrailBlazers


PG Jarryd Bayless

SG Brandon Roy

SG Rudy Fernandez

SF Martell Webster

SF Travis Outlaw

SF Nicolas Batum

PF LaMarcus Aldridge

C   Greg Oden


Outlook: To say that they’re loaded with talent is an understatement. I believe all eight of the players listed above have a chance to be all-stars, even if not in Portland. Roy will be in the Hall of Fame, Aldridge is underrated and determined to be great, and Oden may end up as one of the best players ever. Plus, I believe Bayless was the third best player in the draft and he can fill it up. As long as the heralded chemistry remains in tact with the new additions, this team will become legendary. 


What’s Needed: Nothing. If there’s anything wrong at all it’s that they have too much talent, too many weapons, too many guys who can score and/or play defense. Unless something crazy happens, I don’t see how this team won’t obliterate the league in a historic way. If all goes well, they should end up with at least five titles. It’s my belief that this team could end up as the greatest to ever be assembled. Ever.



So, there you have it. It's exciting to see all the talent in the league and think about the bright future of the NBA. This is a great time to be a fan of the game.


*Please comment on any omissions you think I may have made in terms of players that should be included but weren't*