The Top 25 NBA Players 25 & Under
This list is as of February 11th stats. Much of the list is based of potential, what they've accomplished, overall statistics, and progress over the course of their careers. Some guys were left off the list, but given credit in the other lists, not everyone can make a list where much of the NBA's top talent is listed. Let the debating begin.
Not There Yet, But Have The Potential
These are the guys that have the potential to be on the list, but are still a few years away. Most are former first rounders, some are guys who have come into their own and are blossoming into decent NBA players.
Blake Griffin-PF-Clippers- No one truly believes the Clipper curse will keep this future star from earning his spot as perennial All-NBA player.
Greg Oden-C-Trail Blazers- Just started showing why he was taken #1 overall in the '07 draft, injuries have derailed his monster potential.
Martell Webster-SG-Trail Blazers-Portland has been patient with Webster, its starting to pay off as Webster is shooting .381 from 3 point range.
Stephen Curry-PG-Warriors- Just a joy to watch play, Curry could be Steve Nash Jr, with a better shot.
Chris Douglas-Roberts-SG-Nets- Clouded by the Nets dismal season, is the maturation of CDR into a guy that can play 3-4 positions at both ends.
Others to watch: Lou Williams-PG-76ers
Just Missed The Cut
The following guys just missed the list, ages in parenthesis.
Aaron Brooks-PG-Rockets-(25): The hardest guy to leave off the list, Brooks has already exceeded all expectations in his career averaging 19.2 points per game and five dishes.
Charlie Villanueva-PF-Pistons-(25): The do-it-all big man is quickly opening eyes. Not only can he rebound, defend alot of the good big men in the league, and score down low, but he's also becoming a good mid-range shooter, who can occasionally shoot from outside the arc.
J.R. Smith-SG-Nuggets-(24): Smith's abilities have never been questioned, some consider him to be up there with the best all around players in the league. It's whether or not his immaturity would keep him on the court, he seems to have passed that level in his career and hopefully he'll bud into a big star.
Danilo Gallinari-SF-Knicks-(21): Only 21, and has given the weary Knick fans a glimmer of optimism. If he continues to progress the way he is, by age 24 he'll be a star. He must learn to become a better defender and much more consistent shooter.
Kevin Love-PF/C-Timberwolves-(21): Maybe he and Al Jefferson don't mesh well but both together make one of the better low post tandems in the league. Averaging 15 ppg and 11.5 rpg, in his sophomore season, is something to admire for such a young player.
Michael Beasley-F-Heat-(21): After the bizarre off-season Beasley needed to put together a nice season, and he's rebounded considerably; improving in every statistical category except three point shooting.
#25. (Tie) Brandon Jennings-PG-Milwaukee Bucks
Weight: 169 lbs
2009-2010 Stats: 17.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, .379 FG%, .384 3P%
Jennings is too good to leave off this list, that is why Marc Gasol and himself are tied for 25th. I am a giant Arizona Wildcats basketball fan, and losing Jennings to Europe, severely hurt the entire program. His 55 point barrage was very characteristic of Jennings (make a name quick). Jennings is fast, can penetrate or pull and pop. He will only get better from here on out.
#25.(Tie) Marc Gasol-C-Memphis Grizzlies
Weight: 265 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 14.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.6 BPG, .588 FG%
Gasol, is part of the great young talent in Memphis (who have a nice showing on this list). He is alot like his brother, except he isn't as consistent of a mid-range shooter, he is also not a power forward like Pau. He will be a top center in the league for the next decade. One thing he has on Pau is he makes a higher percent of his shots already than his older brother.
#24. LaMarcus Aldridge-PF-Portland Trail Blazers
Weight: 240 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 17.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 0.5 BPG, .492 FG%
With Aldridge to go along with Brandon Roy, the oft-injured Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless, and Nicolas Batum (the last three who haven't even come close to what they could be in the NBA yet), Portland has the best core of young talent in the league. Thats starting to show now as Portland is starting to look like a playoff team that could make some noise. Aldridge has turned some heads, showing he can be a presence down low, and his improved low post moves have come a long way since his days at Texas.
#23. Rudy Gay-SF-Memphis Grizzlies
Weight: 230 lbs
2009-2010 Stats: 19.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, .317 3P%, .466 FG%
Alot of people may think that Gay should be ahead of his partner in crime, O.J. Mayo, but as good as Gay is, Mayo has a much higher ceiling in my opinion. Gay is a top flight dunker in this league, who can be streaky from the outside. He is great at driving, but can be lackadaisical some times at the offensive end, and make poor decisions. In his fourth year, Gay hasn't improved his stats the way most would've liked, but still only 23 his best days are ahead of him.
#22. Rodney Stuckey-SG-Detriot Pistons
Weight: 205 lbs
2009-2010 Stats: 17.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.4 SPG
Stuckey is one of the best players in the league at getting to the rim. He is a magician driving to the basket, and is a very good passer. Stuckey averages 17.8 points per game, with an inconsistent jump shot. Stuckey will be a very good player for the next decade or so, if he can continue to improve his defense the way he has and if he can become a better shooter, he'll be a superstar.
#21.Tyreke Evans-PG/SG-Sacremento Kings
Weight: 220 lbs
2009-2010 Stats: 20.5 PPG, 5.0 APG, 4.8 RPG, .264 3P%, 1.5 SPG, .460 FG%
I don't think anyone thought Evans would be this good, this early in his career. Just five months into his NBA career and he's already arguably the greatest draft pick in the history of the Kings. Evans will continue to grow and become more physical, he is a good defender and could be exceptional. Evans needs to become an improved shooter, but two advantages for the young guard is his court vision and his ability to get to the rim. His ceiling is right up there with alot of the guys on this list.
#20.Russell Westbrook-PG-Oklahoma City Thunder
2009-2010 Stats: 16.0 PPG, 7.5 APG, 5.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Russell Westbrook is a very special player, who will fill up the stat sheets for the better part of the next two decades. How good is he? Against the Hornets last week he went for 26 points-10 assists-8 rebounds. The next game against the Warriors, the box score read 21 points-10 assists-7 rebounds and 8 steals! His defense is very good for a player whose been able to legally drink for two and a half months, every aspect of the game Westbrook shines, except shooting beyond the arc. He's got plenty of time to improve and is an intricate part of the Thunder's bright future.
#19.Andrea Bargnani-C/F-Toronto Raptors
Weight: 250 lbs
2009-2010 Stats: 17.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.5 BPG, .378 3P%, .478 FG%
News Flash: Andrea Bargnani can play! Poised to be the greatest foreign import ever (must battle with Nowitzki, Ginobli, Tony Parker, and the Gasols), but Andrea Bargnani may very well just be by the end of his career. He is a better defensive player and low post player than Nowitzki was at this age, and his quick-easy stroke is a delight to watch. Andrea Bargnani will only continue to improve over the upcoming years.
#18.O.J. Mayo-SG-Memphis Grizllies
Weight: 210 lbs
2009-2010 Stats: 17.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, .375 3P%
Maybe its premature to say Mayo is better than his teammate Rudy Gay, but in the long run Mayo will be a better player. When I think O.J. Mayo, I think of a superstar in the making. In ten years, if I were to do a similar list Mayo would be in the Top 7 at least. An exceptional player, with good speed and knack for scoring. Mayo will throw down a great dunk, or drain a long three, there isn't much he can't do offensively. If in three years the Grizzlies are a top team in the West, Mayo will be the star of that team.
#17. Josh Smith-PF-Atlanta Hawks
Weight: 240 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 15.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.9 APG, 2.1 BPG, .511 FG%
Much of the Hawks success this season is the improved humility and teamwork of Josh Smith. His career field goal percentage is .461 and this year its up to .511, mostly because he has shot only four three pointers (compared to 152 in 06-07). Smith has learned his game, and isn't trying to be something he's not anymore. Smith is a very underrated defensive player and is turning into a leader on a very young team, if he can continue to improve and not try to be a jump shooter the Hawks will be good for a very long time.
#16.Al Horford-C-Atlanta Hawks
Weight: 245 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 13.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.2 BPG, .563 FG%
Josh Smith's frontcourt partner in Atlanta is the always consistent Al Horford. Horford was as much of a sure thing in the last 3 NBA Drafts as I can think of. Horford is a very underrated all around player, he should make several All-Star teams and should turn into an All Defensive player as well. The stats don't show it as much as we may like but basketball goes beyond stats and Al Horford is the perfect example of that.
#15. Brook Lopez-C-New Jersey Nets
Weight: 260 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 19.0 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.9 BPG, .505 FG%
Brook Lopez is one of the top young post players in the NBA. Lopez has turned alot of heads despite the Nets dismal season, scoring in bunches, grabbing the boards, and being a menace on defense. It's shocking and scary that Lopez is this good in just his second season, he is handling the historically terrible season very well and seems to be becoming the leader of the young, talented (but flawed) Nets. Lopez will be a star, and could win a few Defensive Player of the Year awards down the line.
#14.Eric Gordon-SG-Los Angeles Clippers
Weight: 220 lbs
2009-2010 Stats: 17.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, .349 3P%
Maybe I'm slightly biased because Eric Gordon is one of my favorite players in the NBA, but he will be a major superstar, that I promise. When Blake Griffin finally steps onto an NBA court, put him together with the scoring ability of Gordon and a lottery pick from this year, and you'll have a pretty good team to build on. Eric Gordon is a great scorer, who can really shoot the ball. Arguably one of the best draft picks in the history of the sorrow-filled Clippers organization, Gordon might be the most underrated player in basketball (between him and Monta Ellis). Trust me on this, he's a superstar waiting to happen.
#13.Al Jefferson-C-Minnesota Timberwolves
Weight: 265 lbs
2009-2010 Stats: 17.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.1 BPG, .490 FG%
Maybe a better analysis of Jefferson's ability are his stats the previous two seasons where he averaged ( 21 ppg, 11 rpg, 23 ppg, and 11 rpg respectively). Those numbers do not lie, Jefferson is a serious talent, just waiting to break out and stay atop the league with the other superstars. Maybe he needs to be traded again, but regardless of where he is, Jefferson is going to be an all star center for several years. His signs of brillance are very intriguing and would be a great piece for any GM to build a team around.
#12.Derrick Rose-PG-Chicago Bulls
Weight: 190 lbs
2009-2010 Stats: 19.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, .227 3P%, .473 FG%
Rose is a special player, whose speed is only matched by Devin Harris, Chris Paul, and LeBron James. Rose started off this year very poorly, but picked up quickly and has improved his scoring. Although, he needs to improve his jump shot, few can get to the basket and distribute like Rose. Rose is a very good defender, and is the Bulls franchise player. If the Bulls can get a young post player in the draft that can grow with Rose or trade/sign for say an Amar'e Stoudemire or Chris Bosh, than the Bulls fortunes will change drastically. But until they build around Rose they will continue to be a 6-8 seed or just miss the playoffs in the East.
#11. Rajon Rondo-PG-Boston Celtics
Weight: 171 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 14.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 9.7 APG, 2.5 SPG, .255 3P%, .529 FG%
I don't think anyone thought when Rondo was drafted in 2006, that he would ever be as good as he is right now. Rondo has grown from an extremely raw player who maybe should've stayed at Kentucky for another season, to a top 5 point guard in just his fourth year. Rondo has learned well from the "Big 3" in Boston and in my opinion is the best player on that team. When Rondo is on the floor, he's usually involved with whats going on, whether it be dishing a pass, driving the lane, or getting a steal. An extremely fast player, Rondo is the new face of one of the greatest franchises in professional sports.
#10. Deron Williams-PG-Utah Jazz
Weight: 205 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 18.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 9.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, .362 3P%, .482 FG%
Probably the best shooting point guard on this list, and maybe the best defensive as well.. Williams is part of the new breed of point guards that are built like shooting guards, and play lock down defense. Williams may also be the best game manager on this list, but I believe we haven't seen the half of what Deron Williams can do in this league.
#9.Andrew Bynum-C-Los Angeles Lakers
Weight: 285 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 15.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.5 BPG, .568 FG%
After his rookie year, Bynum was considered a big time bust; fast forward to 2010, Bynum is the top young center in the league, and was a starter (mostly) on a Championship team. Andrew Bynum, Brook Lopez, and Al Jefferson are the new crop of big men in the league and it's only a matter of time before they all start to dominate. An impressive .568 field goal percentage this season, Bynum is becoming a much better fundamental big man but still has pretty good explosiveness for someone with his size.
#8.Monta Ellis-PG/SG-Golden State Warriors
Weight: 180 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 26.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.4 APG, 2.2 SPG, .329 3P%
The 26.2 points per game is not a typo, and in case you didn't know Monta Ellis has arrived. In my opinion, the Jackson, Mississippi native has taken Gilbert Areanas's spot in the elite players in the league. Unfortunately for the do-it-all guard, he plays on one of the worst franchises in professional sports, for his true star to shine, Ellis needs to get out of Oakland asap. Hopefully he can recover quick from his injury and continue to progress the way he was.
#7.Brandon Roy-SG/SF-Portland Trail Blazers
Weight: 211 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 23.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, .353 3P%
Now in his fourth season in the league, Roy's numbers have improved nicely each season. He reminds me alot of Paul Pierce, but might be more athletic than the future Hall of Fame Celtic. A three time All Star, Roy was named second team All-NBA last year, to go along with his Rookie of the Year award from 2007. Roy is the center piece of the excellent young core of talent that the once lowly Trail Blazers have meshed together.
#6.Chris Bosh-PF-Toronto Raptors
Weight: 230 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 24.4 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 BPG, .526 FG%, .400 3P%
Chris Bosh will be one of the hottest commodity's on the free agent market this summer, for good reason. He's a big man who can rebound, score in the post, shoot mid-range jumpers, block shots, and is a good leader. If the Knicks miss out on the LeBron James sweepstakes, I'd set my sights on Bosh and possibly D-Wade as well. Chris Bosh is one of the most skilled big men ever, we don't get to see him play because he plays in Toronto but when me moves to a bigger market, it'll become clear to all....Chris Bosh is a future champion.x
#5.Chris Paul-PG-New Orleans Hornets
Weight: 175 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 20.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 11.2 APG, 2.3 SPG, .420 3P%, .504 FG%
You can argue all you want about this, but I think Chris Paul is the perfect point guard. His biggest knack against him, is that he is 6"0-175...but when your lightning quick, play lock down defense, and can shoot like he can, size doesn't matter. Wait for him to get a legit big man, no knock against David West, who is a very good player, but if Paul was paired with an Amar'e or Bosh, they would dominate.
#4.Kevin Durant-SF-Oklahoma City Thunder
Weight: 230 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 29.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.9 APG, .381 3P%, .485 FG%
Everyone knows Kevin Durant is a scoring anomaly, but he has taken the next step in his young career this year, becoming the leader of a young team and becoming a half way decent defensive player. In his rookie year and even last season, Durant was an abysmal defender, but he worked all off-season at it, as it has shown considerably. Looking forward, if he is averaging 29.7 PPG at age 21, I don't doubt he could average 34 at age 35. Offensively he can do it all.
#3.Carmelo Anthony-SF-Denver Nuggets
Weight: 230 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 29.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.3 SPG,.381 3P%
And the winner of Most Improved Superstar Award goes to ... Carmelo Anthony. He has upped his scoring ability, became an excellent defender, and takes much bettter shots. I think much of maturation can be attributed to Chauncey Billups, who is a great leader and has been through everything you can in the NBA. Anthony's skill set was never in question, what was in question was his maturity level. The only question now is if he can be the go to guy on a championship team.
#2.Dwight Howard-C-Orlando Magic
Weight: 265 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 18 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 2.7 BPG, .601 FG%
One of the biggest freaks in the history of the NBA, Howard is nearly seven feet tall and built like a football player. Howard is arguably the most explosive big man ever and defiantly one of the most athletic big men ever. That also is his Achilles heel, because unlike Shaq or Tim Duncan he is not a sound fundamental big man. Most of his points are scored on dunks and pure athleticism, if he can acquire even average post moves, hell be an unstoppable player.
#1.LeBron James-SF-Cleveland Cavaliers
Weight: 250 lbs.
2009-2010 Stats: 29.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 8.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, .361 3P%, .506 FG%
Well, we all know this but LeBron James might be the most physically gifted athlete ever. Much has been made whether LeBron could play football (I don't doubt it), but the fact is he is God's gift to basketball. LeBron was the most hyped amateur athletes ever, and he went beyond all expectations. A great all around basketball player, there is not flaw in his game. No one has ever been as explosive to the rim, or as fast at 6"8 as LeBron is. There is only one thing LeBron has left to accomplish and that is to win a championship...or ten.