As the NFL lockout comes to an end, the NBA lockout is just beginning. The youngest players in free agency have the most to prove in the coming season.
As the young players strive to become star players in the NBA, waiting to see where they will end up will play a huge part in their development in the next few seasons.
Here are the top 10 young guns—players 25 and younger—waiting for the lockout to end to continue their road to stardom.
Glen "Big Baby" Davis became the prime force down-low for the Boston Celtics last season when they traded away Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma Thunder.
Now, a top priority for the Celtics is trying to bring back Davis as he tests the free agency waters for the first time in his career.
With Perkins out of the picture, Big Baby has nothing to cry about anymore as his numbers went up last season. His points-per-game average went up from 6.3 in 2009-10 to 11.7 per game in 2010-11. His rebounding average went up from 3.8 to 5.5 rebounds per game.
Since Davis is the starting center for the Celtics, expect him to be back in Boston attempting to lead the Celtics back to prominence in the Eastern Conference.
Greg Oden has yet to live up to the hype he created in college while playing at Ohio State.
He has been in the league for two seasons and has played a total of 82 games combined for those two years.
Oden was averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in the 2009-10 season—the last season he played in before he was injured after playing in just 21 games.
Though he has shown some signs of promise, he needs to have a breakout season this year, whether it is with the Trail Blazers or another team willing to take a chance on him.
I feel that Oden will become a solid 13-point, 10-rebound-per-game player if he can stay healthy. Any team would be more than happy to have him, but he won't be as good as people initially thought in the NBA.
Marcus Thronton, a 6'4", 205-pound shooting guard for the Sacramento Kings, has been a solid contributor in his two years in the league.
After being traded from the New Orleans Hornets to the Sacramento Kings after 46 games last year, Thornton averaged just over 21 points per game for the Kings—up from (almost) eight points per game during his time in New Orleans.
I feel the best situation for Thornton is to stay in Sacramento and play alongside Tyreke Evans, which will give him more open looks as the defense will pay more attention to Evans, the Kings' star player.
The Los Angeles Clippers' 6'11" center, DeAndre Jordan, has seen moderate improvement in his time with the team.
Going from an average 16 minutes per game to 25, Jordan's points-per-game total went from almost five points per game to seven points per game last season.
In the right situation, Jordan can be a solid center; he is expected to be close to a double-double in every game.
The 25-year-old Arron Afflalo has made steady improvement to his game in each of the four years he has been in the NBA.
Afflalo has gone from averaging 3.7 points per game in his rookie season in 2007-08, to now working his way up to averaging 12.6 PPG last season.
The 6'5", 215-pound Afflalo fits well into the Denver Nuggets' play scheme; they should do everything in their power to keep him around.
Look for Afflalo to continue to develop, pushing towards 15 PPG and becoming a more effective defender next season.
Traded to the Boston Celtics by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade, the 6'9", 235-pound Jeff Green has a bright future ahead of him.
The 24-year-old's minutes went down from 37 minutes per game when he was with the Thunder to 23.5 minutes per game after he was traded to the Celtics.
The lesser minutes brought his points-per-game average down from 15.2 to 9.8; his rebounds dropped from 5.6 per game to 3.6.
Although he is a restricted free agent, one would be led to believe that Green would like to play somewhere where he would be starting and getting his minutes per game back around 38 MPG.
The alternative would be for Green to start in place of the aging Kevin Garnett—who, at his age, would be more suitable coming off the bench.
If the Celtics can keep both Green and Glen Davis, the two big-men could be the cornerstone of the team's post-play for years to come.
The 23-year-old Thaddeus Young of the Philadelphia 76ers has a golden opportunity awaiting him.
If the 76ers ship Andre Iguodala out of town—as is expected—before the 2011-12 season begins, Young could be inserted into the starting lineup in the small-forward spot.
Averaging 12 points and a little over five rebounds in 26 minutes per game last season, Young's output could increase significantly if he were to start.
Young has the potential to be a 17-point and eight- to 10-rebound player night-in and night-out.
The 76ers would be very smart to keep Young around if they get rid of Iguodala in a trade; his upside is tremendous.
The Denver Nuggets' 6'8", 24-year-old forward, Wilson Chandler, could become a key player for the Nuggets if they decide to keep the restricted free agent around this year, despite the fact that his points-per-game average dropped from a career high of 16.4 PPG during his time with the New York Knicks last year to 12.5 PPG after being sent to Denver as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade.
With the extra time to adjust to his new surroundings during the offseason, Chandler should be able to step in and contribute at a high level right away for the Nuggets.
With the starting job in his hands, he should be able to be at the 16-point, six-rebound-per-game mark again—as he was with New York earlier in the 2010-11 season.
The second Denver Nugget on the list is the 6'6", 220-pound J.R. Smith.
The more likely of the two Nuggets on the list—the other player of course is Thaddeus Young—to be traded away, in my opinion, is Smith.
He is known to be somewhat of a problem both on and off the court, but possesses tremendous basketball skills and is viewed as a player who has yet to play to his potential.
Smith's points-per-game average saw a small drop from the two previous seasons, going from around 15 PPG to 12 PPG last season.
A change in scenery and a new team could be just what Smith needs to get his game to the level he could have it at. I feel that Smith possesses the skills and talent to be a 20-PPG player, but whether he ever reaches those heights in his career remains to be seen.
The L.A. Lakers' Shannon Brown is a crowd favorite with his leaping ability and electrifying dunks.
The 6'4" Brown has been a bench player during his entire seven-year NBA career. It's about time for him to step into a starting role to see just what he can accomplish.
This would mean leaving the Lakers and going to a team that needs a solid shooting guard—although he is listed as a point guard. Brown averaged less than two assists per game while averaging eight points per game in just 19 minutes per game last year. He plays more like a 2 rather than a point guard.
Stepping out of Kobe Bryant's shadow and into his own spotlight could give Brown's career a whole new dimension.
Brown has an improved three-point shot—pair that with his ability to get to and finish at the rim, and Brown could easily double his output, averaging around 15-18 points per game and five assists.
Stepping out of the glitz and glamour of L.A. could put Brown on a bigger stage than "Tinsel Town" could ever offer.