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NBA Young Guns Of 2011: Ranking The Top 50 Players 25 Years Old or Younger

Michael FoglianoAnalyst IJanuary 7, 2017

NBA Young Guns Of 2011: Ranking The Top 50 Players 25 Years Old or Younger

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    The NBA's talent pool is deeper than it has ever been in recent history. Each year, uprising prospects enter the league. Some dominate and some are absolute busts.

    This following list is filled with 50 players who are the young guns of the NBA and they run a train over old veterans. These athletes are the ones making the game more and more competitive every year.

    Some of these players just established a name for themselves this season. As opposed to others who made a statement their rookie year.

    Before we enter the rankings, I want to be clear that these rankings are based off of talent and potential, not just statistics.

    Also, I would like to say that there were so many good young players that this list was supposed to be just a top 25. As I was making the list, I realized that there were so many young, quality players that I had to extend it to 30, then 35, then 40, then 45... then 50.

    There were a couple guys that if I left out of the list, it would have been a felony.

    We have a lot of time here today, so put your feet up, relax and grab a drink because we are going to be here for a while.

    Well, without further a do, here are the top 50 players in the NBA 25 years old and under.

Honorable Mentions

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    Before we enter the top 50, here were a couple of guys that just missed the list and easily could have been in substitution with other players who actually made the rankings.

    Greg Monroe- Monroe has been playing great in the midst of his rookie season. He has been playing solid lately with the Detroit Pistons. He has a ton of potential and easily could be ranked in the top 50 on the list

    DeMar Derozan- DeRozan is very athletic and is a high-flyer looking to retain his title in the Slam Dunk Contest this All-Star Weekend. He is on an unfortunate Raptors team, but he is still young and has plenty of time to make a big impact.

    O.J Mayo- If this was last season, Mayo would have been in the top 25 on this list. However, this year he is having a down year averaging just about 12 points per game oppose to last season's 18. He is now in a mess of trade rumors. Things aren't looking too good for him, but that doesn't mean he can't turn things around.

    Jared Dudley- Dudley is having a decent season with the Suns. Although he is 25 years old, he still has potential. He is averaging just under 10 points per game and is just another cog in the machine for Steve Nash to feed a beauty of a pass to.

    Trevor Ariza- Ariza has always been a quiet, but also solid player in the league. He has been in the league for six seasons and is 25 years old. This season he is averaging over 11 points and just under six rebounds.

    Chase Budinger- Budinger isn't known by many NBA fans, but he does have a lot of potential. He is a small forward who unfortunately sees limited playing time with the Houston Rockets because of Shane Battier. He is a guy who we haven't been able to see enough of, but once Battier finds his way out of Houston in a couple years, Budinger's name will emerge.

    Roy Hibbert- So it turns out Roy Hibbert is 24 years old. I could have sworn I checked him, but I guess not. I unfortunately forgot to put him on the list, but he should be on there. He has done a great job with the Pacers this season averaging over 12 points and almost eight rebounds per game.

    A couple of these guys easily could have made the top 50. They are young talented guys with potential and can easily make a spark the second half of the year.

50. Marco Belinelli

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    Age: 24

    Pride of: San Giovanni in Pers, Italy

    To start off the top 50, we will begin with Marco Belinelli. Now, some of you may be questioning why I put him over some guys on the Honorable Mention list and I am going to be completely honest here—my 100% Italian heritage bias came out on this decision.

    Either way you look at it, Belinelli is still a talented player. This season he is averaging over 10 points per game and serves as a pure shooter for the New Orleans Hornets.

    He can just sit in a corner and drain threes all day. He isn't shooting spectacular, but he has a ton of potential with his scary shot.

    He holds a great jump shot and is a great utility player for the Hornets. He also has very good ball handling skills.

    Is Belinelli the next Ray Allen?

    One can call it a stretch, but let's be optimistic.

49. J.J Hickson

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    Age: 22

    Pride of: North Carolina State

    Unfortunately, J.J Hickson finds himself on the only team that has yet to exceed 10 wins this season, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not only were Cleveland fans heartbroken this past offseason, but now they are enduring the worst season in years.

    But hey, Cleveland fans should be used to this, right?

    Well, one positive thing Cleveland fans (if there are any left) can look at is Hickson. He has a ton of potential at the power forward slot and is averaging over 11 points and seven rebounds per game.

    Hickson has potential to be a very strong presence in the NBA.

    No matter how bad a team is performing, I always try and find a bright side of things and Hickson just may be the bright side for Cleveland fans.

48. DeAndre Jordan

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    Age: 22

    Pride of: Texas A&M

    DeAndre Jordan has done a great job filling in for Chris Kaman this year.

    He hasn't been a huge scorer, but he has dominated the boards. In the past two months, he has averaged about nine rebounds per game in the absence of Kaman.

    He has been questioned the past few years, specifically regarding his jump shot, but now he has proved he can play.

    It is definitely reassuring for Clippers fans as well. If Kaman leaves (which is a possibility) they have a good center to back him up.

47. Eric Bledsoe

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    Age: 21

    Pride of: Kentucky

    Two Clippers in a row. Will the streak last?

    In the time of need, Eric Bledose came through for the Los Angeles Clippers. When Baron Davis went down with yet another injury, Bledsoe saved the day.

    He did a tremendous job and proved that he can perform in the league. When he received a solid amount of playing time back in November, he was averaging double figures in points and about six assists per game.

    Bledsoe is very athletic and quick. He is a little under sized, but I don't see that stopping him.

46. Al-Farouq Aminu

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Age: 20

    Pride of: Wake Forest

    Three Clippers in a row! Will the streak stop here?

    Not only is he one of the most stylish players in the league, but he also has a lot of potential.

    Entering the 2010 NBA Draft, Aminu wasn't projected to go No.1 overall, but he was said to be one the players with the most potential out of the entire draft class.

    He owns a great shot and is very athletic.

    Aminu is that guy who will fill in the small forward position that the Clippers are lacking (at least Clippers fans hope). If he exceeds potential, the Clippers turn into a great team and possibly a title contender (no, I'm not crazy).

45. Landry Fields

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    Age: 22

    Pride of: Stanford

    Ah, so we go to a smart guy, huh? Someone who broke the streak of Clippers players too.

    Landry Fields is not only smart, but he is also an uprising NBA guard who has a lot of potential in the league.

    This season, Fields is averaging over 10 points and seven rebounds with the Knicks. Let me remind you that he is playing next to Amare Stoudemire and Danillo Gallinari.

    Fields didn't have a lot of expectations coming out of college, but he has done a great job and his potential keeps on rising.

44. Greg Oden

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    Age: 23

    Pride of: Ohio State

    You can't stay healthy for one season can you, Greg Oden?

    Oden had a ton of potential coming out of Ohio State and he was supposed to be a great big man in the league.

    Unfortunately due to injury, he has seen limited playing time in the NBA. However, when he plays, he plays quite well.

    This season during the month of November, Oden was scoring double digits in almost every game, averaging just below 13 points and eight rebounds per game.

    Oden is extremely athletic with great size. He is also a great defender who is quick, strong and contains great rebounding skills. He has all the right tools to become a great player (just stop getting hurt!).

    It seems as if Oden is slowly building a story of "the best that never was" and another disappointing draft pick for Portland.

    First, you miss out on Jordan and then you miss out on Durant. Could it get any worse from there, Portland?

    Having said that, Oden is just 23 years old and still has some time left to rebound.

43. Rodney Stuckey

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    Age: 24

    Pride of: Eastern Washington

    Rodney Stuckey is one of the more established players at this part of the list.

    This season he is averaging over 15 points and four assists per game. The Pistons are unfortunately a bad team, but Stuckey, along with Greg Monroe, is hope for the future.

    He lacks a good supporting cast in Detroit, which certainly effects his production. I'm sure he wishes he was with the Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince of five years ago.

    The bottom line here is that Stuckey is a proven player and could be ranked higher. However, the guys coming up have a lot of potential that exceeds Stuckey's play right now.

42. Andrew Bynum

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    Age: 23

    Pride of: West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North

    Andrew Bynum is another injury prone guy who has played only one full season. However, what some people don't know about him is how vital he was to the Lakers when they won the Finals.

    Bynum has great size for a center and is only 23 in his sixth year in the NBA.

    Right now, Bynum is injured (gee, what a surprise), but is averaging 11.4 points and 7.3 rebounds for the year.

    If Bynum plays a full season with no injuries he would settle in and be a great center.

    Come crunch time, he will be a key part of the offense. Don't be surprised if Bynum walks away with more rings with Kobe and Phil.

41. Mike Conley Jr.

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    Age: 23

    Pride of: Ohio State

    After going through a huge stage of inconsistency, Mike Conley Jr. has finally become a solid point guard on a consistent basis.

    Coming out of Ohio State, he had high expectations. In his first two seasons he hadn't done anything spectacular or showed the people that he had what it takes to be a star in the NBA.

    Well now, he is in his fourth NBA season having a career year.

    This season Conley is averaging just over 13 points and 6.6 assists per game. He started off hot this season, but the train has cooled off a bit.

    He is part of a young Grizzlies team that has a ton of potential. The talent is there, it's just a matter of meshing it together to obtain that chemistry.

40. James Harden

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    Age: 21

    Pride of: Arizona State

    James Harden was the third overall pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2009 NBA Draft and is doing a great job as a wing man for Kevin Durant.

    This season, he is averaging just over 10 points per game and that's with playing next to last season's scoring champion and star point guard, Russel Westbrook, and that's also coming off of the bench.

    He is one of those guys who will go in and provide a little spark off the bench or come in and make that amazing play. 

    Basically, when he's in the game, he makes things happen.

    Harden has a lot of potential and holds great defensive skills. If he stays with the Thunder for the rest of his career, he'll be dished out a couple of Sixth Man of the Year Awards.

39. Derrick Favors

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    Age: 19

    Pride of: Georgia Tech

    Derrick Favors was the third overall pick in last year's draft coming out of Georgia Tech with a tremendous upside.

    He hasn't hit fire yet this season, but it will come sooner or later. Favors is extremely athletic and has great post skills.

    He holds great rebounding skills and is a very good defensive player.

    Many Philly fans questioned if they should have taken him over Evan turner, but I think the right decision was made. Having said that, Favors is still off to a bright future in the NBA.

38. Evan Turner

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Pride of: Ohio State

    Okay, is it just me or does this picture look like Aminu's from earlier? Whatever, let's talk about Evan Turner.

    This year is Turner's rookie season and he was the No.2 overall pick, drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers out of Ohio State. He isn't the most athletic player so he uses his craftiness to get him his points (which is a lot harder).

    Turner is averaging 7.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. But don't be fooled by the misleading stats. When given minutes, he can play.

    In twelve times this season he has been given more than 30 minutes per game and in those times he has recorded double figures in a any category ten times.

    He hasn't made a huge impact this season yet, but that's only because he is not given a lot of playing time in Philly. What they need to do is trade Andre Iguodala and build around Turner.

    The Sixers are a young team.  With the right moves by the front office, they can be a dangerous opponent in the future.  Turner has proven he can lead a team and could do so in Philadelphia once Andre Iguodala is gone.

    Don't you worry Sixers fans, in due time, Turner will hatch out of his shell and shine like a star when he gets his minutes and chance to be leader.

    Side Note: He was snubbed out of the Rookie Challenge!

37. Wesley Matthews

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    Age: 24

    Pride of: Marquette

    Wesley Matthews is doing his best in his sophomore season with the Blazers averaging 16.1 points per game.

    After being signed by the Blazers after a one and done rookie season with the Jazz, it can be said that it turned out pretty good for Matthews.

    With Portland, he is given a bigger opportunity with a bigger role.

    Matthews hit his spark in late November and has soared since then. He went on to average just under 19 points per game in December and this month he is still performing well.

36. Nicolas Batum

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    Age: 22

    Pride of: Lisieux, France

    Nicolas Batum has been compared by many NBA fans to Andre Iguodala.

    Batum is just 22 years old in the midst of his 3rd season averaging 11.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

    He is playing his best basketball of the season right now averaging just under 15 points and a little over five rebounds per game in the month of January.

    Batum has also scored double digits every game this month with the exception of two. He has also exceeded more than 20 points three times.

    The French native is a very talented and athletic player. He has a lot of quickness and the potential to be a solid player in the league.

35. DeMarcus Cousins

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Age: 20

    Pride of: Kentucky

    DeMarcus Cousins is a player with very good size and great rebounding skills.

    Cousins was drafted 5th overall by the Sacramento Kings and seeks to live up to expectations. In fact, he said himself that he was the best player in the 2010 NBA draft (not sure if I agree with you there, DeMarcus).

    This season he is averaging 13 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

    This month, Cousins has been a monster averaging 17.4 points and just below eight rebounds per game. Cousins can do a lot of dirty work down low and can be a great big man in the league.

    Let's just hope he can keep his attitude in line.

34. Nick Young

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    Age: 25

    Pride of: USC

    Nick Young is not known by the majority of NBA fans, but he is a great shooter who has brought a spark to the Washington Wizards.

    This season, Young is averaging 16.5 points per game and over the last two months he is averaging 20.

    The amazing jump shot certainly helps. 

    All Young does is score, but he is very good at it. He also has very good ball handling skills.

    Drafted out of USC in 2007, Young is finally living up to his potential and is looking to become a solid scorer in the NBA.

33. Serge Ibaka

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    Age: 21

    Pride of: Brazzaville, Zaire

    Serge Ibaka is a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder that not everyone is familiar with.

    Ibaka is in his sophomore season averaging 10 points and seven rebounds per game.

    The 6'10 power forward will only get better as time progresses. Ibaka only receives about 25 minutes per game and serves as part of a great supporting cast for Kevin Durant.

    Ibaka is a great young and upcoming star that the Thunder hold. 

32. JaVale McGee

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    Age: 23

    Pride of: Nevada

    It's not known by many, but JaVale McGee did make Team USA during the FIBA World Championships.

    McGee also has very good size and is compared a lot to Andrew Bynum. Not only does the seven footer have great size, but he is also quick with it. Surprising, huh?

    This season he is averaging just below a double-double a game with 9.1 points and 7.9 rebounds. Lately, he has been focusing on rebounds grabbing 11 in three of his last four games.

    McGee has a ton of potential and could definitely be rated higher on this list. 

31. D.J Augustin

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    Age: 23

    Pride of: Texas

    After being a highly talked about prospect coming out of Texas, D.J Augustin was drafted 9th overall by the Charlotte Bobcats.

    In his first two seasons, Augustin was caught playing behind Raymond Felton and he could never seize an opportunity to shine. Well, once the Bobcats got rid of Felton, Augustin knew it was his time to shine. Finally, he could live up to his potential.

    This season he started off strong, but it's starting to slow down a bit. He is currently averaging 14.7 points and 6.3 assists per game.

    There is certainly more to come from the 23 year old point guard in the near future.  

30. Danilo Gallinari

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    Age: 22

    Pride of: Sant'Angelo Lodigian, Italy

    Danilo Gallinari is averaging 15.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

    At 6'10, the Italian-native has a great shot. Many fans have compared his game to Dirk Nowitzki.

    After being drafted 6th overall in 2008, Gallinari is starting to live up to expectations. Over the past two years including this season, Gallinari has averaged more than 15 points per game.

    The New York Knicks will most likely make the playoffs this season and he will be a solid option for them down the stretch.

    He will be a handy tool come playoff time.

29. Darren Collison

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Age: 23 

    Pride of: UCLA

    Some of you may question why I put Darren Collison higher than Augustin.

    Augustin has slightly better stats than Collison. Collison is averaging 13.7 points and 4.7 assists per game.

    So why am I rating him higher? Collison started off the season very inconsistent, but lately he has been doing great (trust me, he's on my fantasy team).

    In his last seven games, Collison has scored double digit points and almost every time he has dished out more than five assists.

    In the month of January, Collison is averaging 15.8 points and 6.3 assists. Now that's more like it.

    Although he may not being doing as great as he did when filling in for Chris Paul in New Orleans, he is still doing a solid job with Indiana.

    Collison still has a lot of potential. 

28. Jeff Green

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    Age: 24

    Pride of: Georgetown

    Jeff Green is an unsung hero for the Thunder.

    Originally drafted by the Boston Celtics, Green is another great tool that the Thunder have.

    Green's best season was his sophomore season where he averaged 16.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

    This year, Green is averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. However, do not be fooled by his slightly decreasing stats. Green has been in a minor slump lately, but he will definitely turn it around.

    He is great at low-post moves and played an important role for the Thunder during the playoffs last year against the Lakers.

    Green looks to be a huge help again this year for the Thunder and will improve as the season moves on. 

27. Jrue Holiday

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Age: 20

    Pride of: UCLA

    Jrue Holiday is another point guard on the rise and has been a very solid option for the Philadelphia 76ers.

    This season Holiday is averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 assists per game. Throughout the season, he has shown that he can be an everyday, consistent point guard for the Sixers.

    Starting from December 22 through today, Holiday has scored double digits every game and in the month of January, he is averaging 16.8 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds.

    For the remainder of the year, Holiday will continue to grow with the Sixers' young lineup and hopefully help Philly clinch a playoff spot.

    The only thing Holiday really needs to work on is turning over the ball. However, Holiday is only 20 years old and in the midst of his sophomore season in the NBA.

    He has plenty of time to work on that and plenty of time to move up the ranks as a great point guard. 

26. Dorell Wright

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Pride of: South Kent Prep High School

    It's not known by many NBA fans, but Dorell Wright is silently having a very solid season.

    Wright, who is 25 and spent his entire career with Miami until this season, is having his best year of his career with Golden State.

    He is averaging 16.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. In fact, Wright has been extremely hot lately averaging over 20 points per game in the month of January.

    He has been a solid go-to guy for the Warriors when Monta Ellis (who we will see later on this list) is not available.

25. Tyreke Evans

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Age: 21

    Pride of: Memphis

    Tyreke Evans, who had a great rookie season last year, has been solid, but not as good as fans have expected.

    Although he is not performing as good as he was last year, Evans is still having a very good year. This season Evans is averaging 17.6 points and 5.5 assists per game (last year he averaged a little over 20 points and 5.8 assists).

    He started off strong, but unfortunately due to injury he has not had a good enough span of time to get into a groove.

    No one should panic nor complain about Evans. There is still a lot of games to play and he can easily rebound.

24. John Wall

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    Age: 20

    Pride of: Kentucky

    John Wall has made a statement his rookie season, performing like he did at Kentucky.

    Wall is averaging 15.1 points and 9.2 assists per game. Lately, he has been on fire, averaging a double-double a game in January (13.6 points and 10.9 assists).

    Wall is doing a great job of focusing on being the point guard rather than scoring. He is starting to mainly be a distributor and a guy who can drive to the hoop.

    The No.1 pick doesn't look to let down anyone. It seems pretty clear to me that he will keep up his great performance.

    He is incredibly athletic and will be a future star in the NBA.

    Just wait and see...

23. Wilson Chandler

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    Age: 23

    Pride of: DePaul

    Wilson Chandler is another one of those players who is having a very good season, but for some reason is not recognized by some NBA fans.

    This season Chandler is having his best statistical season scoring 16.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

    He is very athletic with a really good handle and a solid jump shot.

    Chandler is just 23, and has plenty of time to make an even greater impact in the league.

22. Brandon Jennings

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    Age: 21 

    Pride of: Oak Hill Academy

    Brandon Jennings makes the top half of the list even though he has gone through some of the season with an injury.

    When he plays, he is a stud.

    Jennings was averaging 17.9 points and 5.5 assists per game. But because of his injury, I held back on rating him higher. In my opinion, if he was still playing he easily could have been ranked higher.

    Plus, it seems that Jennings is confident about his foot (at least I hope so) because he entered the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest.

    Jennings will bounce back into normal shape once he comes back and be another top point guard in the NBA.

21. Joakim Noah

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Pride of: Florida

    Joakim Noah has been a great asset for the Chicago Bulls and will be a huge part of their offense come playoff time.

    Noah is a great rebounder who is a great fit to play next to a guy like Carlos Boozer.

    He is currently out with an injury right now, but when he is healthy, the Bulls arguably have the best starting five in the NBA.

    Noah is averaging a double-double a game scoring 14 points and grabbing 11.7 rebounds.

    The Bulls are a stud team and may be able to knock down teams like the Magic, Celtics and the Heat.

    When Noah comes back, the Bulls will improve and Noah will continue to dominate.

20. Brook Lopez

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Pride of: Stanford

    Brook Lopez is another great center in the league.

    This year, he is averaging just under 19 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He also has been very hot of this past week scoring over 30 points in two of his last three games (the other he scored 20).

    This his best season scoring wise, but his worst on the boards.

    Lopez is just 22 in his third year in the NBA. He has good size and a very good jump shot for a seven foot center.

    Lopez has a lot of potential to be a top center in the league.

19. Michael Beasley

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Pride of: Kansas State

    After the huge acquisition of the big three for the Heat, unfortunately Michael Beasley was one of the few on his way out of Miami.

    Beasley was sent to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    He was drafted second overall by the Heat in the 2008 draft out of Kansas State with high expectations. In his first two season with Miami, he did a solid job averaging over 14 points and about six rebounds per game.

    But this year with the Timberwolves he is having his best season so far. Beasley is averaging 20.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

    This year, he hasn't been limited since he is no longer playing next to someone like Dwayne Wade.

    Beasley is really athletic, has good size and a nice shot. He will continue to flourish and may grow even better as the year goes on. 

18. Andrea Bargnani

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Pride of: Rome, Italy

    Mama Mia!

    Another Italian native on the list.

    Andrea Bargnani, the former number one overall pick, is now 25 and having the best season of his career.

    The Italian native is scoring 21.7 points and grabbing 5.8 rebounds per game. Bargnani has great post skills and a great shot for a center.

    Many fans see his game like Dirk, just like Gallinari. What is it with these international players all being the same?

    Anyway, Bargnani has finally blossomed and is a very underrated player. The departure of Chris Bosh certainly helped with his recent success.

    Bargnani is starting to establish a name for himself in the league. 

17. Luol Deng

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Pride of: Duke

    Luol Deng is an unsung hero for the Chicago Bulls and has been for quite a while.

    This season he is averaging nearly 18 points and more than six rebounds per game. And just for a note, this isn't even his best season.

    Deng makes the Chicago Bulls lineup much more dynamic and is one the best small forwards in the league right now. He has a great jump shot and he is very athletic. In addition, his height of 6'9 is a great size for his position.

    Deng is a very unselfish player who is a good passer.

    He will continue to silently put up extremely solid stats, but not to worry, Bulls fans. When the playoffs come around, his name will be heard.

16. LaMarcus Aldridge

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Pride of: Texas

    LaMarcus Aldridge is also a 25 year old big man having the best season of his career.

    Aldridge was a No. 2 overall pick back in 2006 out of Texas.

    This year he is averaging 21.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. In fact, Aldridge has scored double digits in every game this season with the exception of three games.

    Similar to most big men on this list, Aldridge has good size, but also has a solid jump shot.

    Aldridge is a great power forward and can definitely be ranked higher on the list.

15. Al Horford

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    Age: 24

    Pride of: Florida

    Yes, Al Horford was part of that great Florida team and is the best producer of the squad. He is now 24 and doing a great job with the Atlanta Hawks.

    Horford is an under-sized center at 6'9, but he uses his strength and great rebounding skills to become successful.

    This season Horford is averaging 16.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, just under a double-double.

    He actually just suffered an ankle injury last game against the Heat and had to leave the game. There has not been much talk on whether or not it is serious.

    Horford has dominated the boards starting from his rookie season. Every year he has averaged over nine rebounds per game. He is a solid center and with just one more transaction of a good player, the Hawks can find themselves on a road to a title.

14. Stephen Curry

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Pride of: Davidson

    When he came out of Davidson as the seventh pick of the draft, many fans questioned his ability to become successful in the NBA. He was a great player throughout high school and college, but for some reason they thought he wasn't legit.

    Entering the league, he set the bar high from the first day he set foot on the hardwood.

    He proved them wrong, didn't he?

    This season he is averaging 18.8 points and 5.9 assists per game in just his second year in the league. Not to mention, he is coming off of an injury.

    Curry has already lived up to expectations, but he looks to do more. He will only get better as his career goes on. 

13. Josh Smith

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Pride of: Oak Hill Academy

    Josh Smith is said to be one of the most athletic players in the game today.

    Smith just made the list at 25 years old, but he certainly has great talent.

    This season Smith is averaging 16 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Smith has exceeded 10 rebounds in one game six times this month.

    After performing great over his career, Smith has become one of the best swingmans in the league today.

12. Paul Millsap

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Pride of: Louisiana Tech

    Paul Millsap is having a great year this season and has done a great job of filling in after the departure of Carlos Boozer.

    Millsap is averaging 17.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

    He has done a great job at the power forward slot by scoring double digits in every game with the exception of just three.

    Millsap has also been a great help on the boards getting over 10 in a game three times this month. This is clearly his best ability.

    Millsap isn't very athletic and does not have the great size for a power forward at just six feet and seven inches.

    For this reason, I have him ranked over Smith because it is a lot harder to grab rebounds and score in the low post when you aren't athletic and don't have great size.

11. Eric Gordon

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Pride of: Indiana

    Eric Gordon is finally having the breakout season that every Clippers fan has wanted.

    Gordon is averaging 24.1 points and 4.5 assists per game. He is a pure scorer who is in his third year in the league.

    He has scored double digits in every game this year with the exception of one time. Gordon has also been very hot this month scoring over 23 points in almost every game.

    Gordon is very athletic, has a lot of strength and a great jump shot.

    Once he improves upon his defense, he will will become a great player in the NBA.

10. Rudy Gay

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    Pride of: Connecticut 

    Now we enter the top 10. To start off at No.10, I have Rudy Gay.

    Gay is one of the most athletic small forwards in the game and still has a lot of potential at age 24.

    He has good size as he is six feet eight inches tall and is very quick.

    Gay is averaging 20.5 points and six rebounds per game. He is the leader of the young Memphis Grizzlies squad and is seeking to lead them to a playoff birth.

    The Grizzlies have a lot of talent and a ton of potential to make noise in the playoffs.

    However most fans do not believe that Gay can be the best player on a team to win it all. He needs to play more of a Scottie Pippen role, if you will.

    Either way, Gay is a top small forward in the league right now and will only get better as his career moves forward.

9. Monta Ellis

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Pride of: Lanier High School

    Monta Ellis is one of the most, if not, the most underrated player in the NBA.

    Ellis is one of the league's most premier scorers right now.

    This season he is averaging 25.8 points and 5.7 assists per game. At the age of 25, Ellis is having his best year so far.

    Ellis is definitely a top five shooting guard in the league, and maybe even top three behind Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade.

    Once the Warriors start to learn how to play defense, they will be a good team making a run in the playoffs.

8. Russell Westbrook

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Pride of: UCLA

    Mr. Explosive.

    I can't help myself from asking, but did anyone see that dunk he laid down against the Heat?! And that's just a glimpse of his explosiveness.

    Russell Westbrook is having the best season of his career and has been a huge key in helping the Thunder on their way to a championship.

    Westbrook is averaging 22.7 points and 8.3 assists per game. He has recorded over ten assists in almost every game this month.

    Westbrook is just 22 years old and is one the best point guards in the league, personally my favorite one.

    He is really athletic, super quick and plays great defense.

    Westbrook is just at the start of putting on a great career for his fans and looking to help bring a championship to the Thunder.

7. Rajon Rondo

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    Pride of: Kentucky

    His amazing passes make it look too easy.

    Rajon Rondo is argued by most to be the best point guard in the NBA. I may not agree, but he is definitely a great one.

    Rondo is currently averaging a double-double per game with 10.5 points and a career high 13 assists. He is a clean point guard and one of the toughest to defend.

    He was unfortunately hit with an injury in mid-December, but has bounced back averaging 11.8 assists this month. He also dished out 23 assists in early January against the Spurs.

    Rondo is a great point guard who is very athletic, quick, plays good defense and is a great passer.

    At the age of 24, he has already won a championship and has put himself among the best point guards in the league today.

5. Kevin Love

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Pride of: UCLA

    No, I'm not counting wrong, nor is there something wrong with your computer. There is a tie for fifth.

    With all the talk about Blake Griffin, there has been very little of Kevin Love.

    I had him rated at as high as No.3 at one point, but with all of these great players, they could range from anywhere.

    In his third season at age 22, Love is having a career year. He is averaging 21.3 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.

    The last time Love recorded less than ten rebounds (and one of the rare times) was on November 19 against the Lakers where he recorded seven. He has 42 double-doubles this season.

    42!

    He is a very strong player with a nice jump shot for a power forward.

    This year he has exceeded his expected full potential coming out of UCLA and has established himself as a pure power forward in the league.

    Side Note: He was snubbed out of the All-Star game big time!

5. Blake Griffin

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Age: 21

    Pride of: Oklahoma

    A beast! You can't stop the Blake Griffin train!

    Griffin is having a monster rookie season this year and will definitely win Rookie of the Year.

    Griffin has surprised many after coming off of an injury. He has averaged 22.8 points and 12.9 rebounds per game.

    Griffin is another athletic freak on this list. He's always hammering down powerful dunks that keep replaying on ESPN's Top Ten list almost everyday.

    He is very strong and has a great ability to rebound.

    He and the young Los Angeles Clippers will soon become a top team in the Western Conference, and that day it will surprise everyone.

    Griffin who is just 21, has set the bar high his rookie season but he doesn't seem to be stopping there. 

4. Derrick Rose

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Pride of: Memphis

    Derrick Rose is the most athletic point guard in the league, hands down. He's simply an athletic freak of nature.

    When you see him drive to the basket, he somehow finds a way to get by huge centers with his incredible athleticism. He is also extremely quick and plays good defense too.

    There is no other player in the NBA who is more fun to watch then Rose. He is one of those guys who makes everyone around him play better, or make them amp up their level of play.

    This season he is averaging 24.7 points and eight assists per game, both of which are career highs.

    At the age of just 22 in his third season in the league, Rose has made himself a top three point guard in the league.

3. Chris Paul

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Pride of: Wake Forest

    Chris Paul may not be having his bets statistical season, but you cannot deny his great talent. Paul is a top two point guard in the league alongside Deron Williams. In fact, I could have ranked him higher.

    Paul was the 2006 Rookie of the Year award winner, a three time All-Star and named to the All-Defensive Team in 2009.

    Despite all of these achievements, for some reason he hasn't won an MVP award yet.

    I mean, Steve Nash did when he put up 18.8 points and 10.5 assists per game.

    In two seasons, Paul averaged more than 20 points and 11 assists and what did he get?

    No MVP award.

    He is 25 and averaging 16.2 points and 9.6 assists per game. Like I said, this may not be his best statistical year, but his great talent cannot be denied.

    Believe or not, statistics aren't everything.

    The bottom line is that Paul is an amazing point guard with incredible skill.

2. Dwight Howard

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Pride of: Southwest Atlanta Christan Academy 

    Dwight Howard is a beast and the best center in the NBA. No one comes close to challenging his throne.

    Howard is 25 and is super athletic. The 6'11 center is averaging 22.1 points, 13.3 rebounds per game and also averaging over two blocks per game.

    His athleticism certainly helps, but he does have great size and rebounding skills.

    Howard has been in the league for six years after being drafted No.1 overall out of high school in the 2004 draft.

    He will be around for quite sometime and will remain the best center in the game.

1. Kevin Durant

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Pride of: Texas

    There shouldn't be much of an explanation for this because it pretty much goes with out saying, but for our sake today, I will ramble on about the All-Star anyway.

    Kevin Durant.

    Durant is just 22 years old and has already made himself one of the best scorers in the league. Last season, Durant won the scoring title averaging over 30 points per game and he was 21 years old in his third year in the league.

    Durant has incredible size for a small forward. He is very athletic, and has good ball handling skills. However, his greatest ability is his jump shot.

    He is a top five, all-around player in the league and once the veterans leave, he'll take the throne of the best player for himself.

    Durant is looking to lead the young Thunder squad to championship this season. He was also the closest to take down Kobe and the Lakers last season. 

    If Durant keeps it up, he will be on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Happy Birthday, Marc Gasol!

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    What? Yea.

    This Saturday, Marc Gasol turned 26 years old. If I had made these rankings earlier, Gasol definitely would have found himself on this list.

    So happy birthday, Marc! Hope you enjoyed your day! 

Conclusion

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Well, there you have it.

    After viewing the list you should now come to realize how much pure, young talent there is in the NBA today. In just a few years it will be an incredible league and hopefully the NBA will gain back its lost crowd.

    And what did you think of the list? Was there someone ranked too high or too low?

    If so, let me know. I want to hear your opinion.

    Again, this wasn't just based off of stats, but pure talent and potential as well.

    In my opinion, a ton of these guys are interchangeable. It really depends on the way you look at things. Some guys on this list are more proven than others, but some have potential to be better than those proven players. Heck, if you went based off of potential only, Oden could have been in the top five.

    A lot of the guys on this list who are ranked are really athletic which certainly helps.

    But rankings aside, the bottom line is that we must realize how much young talent there is in the NBA right now. There is a positive future on the way.

    Bonus facts: The college that produced the most athletes on this list was UCLA. The professional teams that produced the most players on this list were the Thunder and the Clippers with four each; there were four John Calipari point guards, 3 Italian players and four players who came out of high school on the list.

    Quick! Can you name them all?

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