Ten Young NBA Stars to Keep Your Eye On
Updated: Sep 11, 2021
With the extraordinary amount of young talent in the NBA, this list was far from easy to rank. I mainly considered each player’s current accomplishments and skillset when comprising this list. Future potential only played a small role in the decision making. Each player on this list is under 25-years-old.
1. Luka Doncic (22 years old)
The 22-year-old from Slovenia is already one of the best players in the NBA. Doncic made the All-NBA first-team twice in his first three seasons, the youngest player in NBA history to receive the nomination twice. This past season, Doncic averaged 27.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game, leading the Dallas Mavericks to the 5 seed in the Western Conference. In the playoffs, Doncic was simply unstoppable, averaging an absurd 35.7 and 10.3 assists per game. The scariest part is that Doncic still has a lot of room to improve upon his 35% three-point and 73% free-throw shooting. It is hard to imagine Doncic not walking away with an MVP award sooner rather than later.
2. Jayson Tatum (23 years old)
After Luka Doncic, the rest of the field became more difficult to rank. I have Jayson Tatum as the second best player under-25 right now. Tatum is unquestionably a special talent, and he only elevates his game when it matters most. Tatum scored 50 points in the play-in game against Washington to help the Celtics clinch a playoff spot. 10 days later, Tatum dropped another 50 points to lead the Celtics to an improbable Game 3 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. During the regular season, Tatum had an unforgettable 60-point performance against the San Antonio Spurs, leading the Celtics back from a 32-point deficit. In a season where Tatum got COVID-19, he still averaged 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. Every year, Jayson Tatum has improved his scoring averages, and the two-time all-star is establishing himself as a superstar in the league.
3. Devin Booker (24 years old)
With the addition of Chris Paul, the Suns captured the 2-seed in the Western Conference and are now a win away from reaching the NBA Finals. Devin Booker in particular has shined throughout the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Booker scored 47 points and added 11 rebounds in Game 6 of the first round to send LeBron James and the Lakers home early. Booker also had a brilliant performance in Game 1 of the Conference Finals, where he notched a 40-point triple-double in the absence of Chris Paul. In 2017, Booker scored a whopping 70 points against the Celtics as a 20 year old, the youngest player to ever score 70, or even 60, in an NBA game. Booker is one of the best pure scorers in the NBA, and he has improved tremendously as a playmaker as well.
4. Trae Young (22 years old)
Just 22-years-old, Trae Young has embraced the villain role throughout the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Young first led the Hawks over the Knicks in 5 games before then knocking off the one-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in 7 games. In Game 1 of the Conference Finals, Young dazzled with 48 points and 11 assists, stunning the Bucks on the road. This past regular-season, Young averaged 25.3 points and 9.4 assists per game. In the playoffs, Young is averaging 29.4 points and 9.9 assists per game. Young is well on his way to becoming one of the best scorers and playmakers in the NBA. If Young can improve upon his 43.8% shooting from the field, his offensive game will have very few weaknesses.
5. Donovan Mitchell (24 years old)
The Utah Jazz had an incredible regular-season, going 52-20 and securing the best record in the NBA. Donovan Mitchell is their star and go-to option when the stakes are highest. Just 24-years-old, Mitchell has already established himself as one of the best playoff performers in the NBA. Despite playing through injuries, Mitchell shined again in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, averaging 32.3 points per game. Last year, Mitchell had a remarkable 57-point performance in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets. His 57 points were the third most points scored in NBA playoff history. Mitchell is an elite scorer and freak athlete, but he needs to be more efficient from the field. Mitchell shot just 43.8% from the field this past season, a number he needs to improve.
6. Zion Williamson (20 years old)
Zion Williamson was the number 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and he had extremely high expectations entering the league. Despite drawing comparisons to LeBron James, Zion has still managed to exceed expectations. This past season, Zion averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game on 61.1% shooting from the field. Just 20-years-old, Zion has already made the all-star team and established himself as a dominant scorer in the league. If Zion can add a consistent three-point shot, he might just be the most unstoppable force in the league. The ultimate key for Zion will be staying healthy, and if he does so, there’s no telling what he can do.
7. Jaylen Brown (24 years old)
Jaylen Brown took a massive step forward this past season, averaging 24.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game, earning his first all-star selection. While scouts questioned his ability to shoot entering the league, Brown knocked down 39.7% of his threes this past season. Brown is an extremely well-rounded player and has no real weaknesses. He features a polished all-around offensive game and is a tremendously versatile defender. With the departure of Kemba Walker, Brown will take on an even bigger role for the Celtics moving forward.
8. Ja Morant (21 years old)
Ja Morant is a freak athlete and elite playmaker who flourished when it mattered most for the Grizzlies. Just 21-years-old, Morant led the Grizzlies to the playoffs, where Morant’s talent was on full display. Morant had a brilliant 35 point, 6 assist, 6 rebound performance in the play-in game against the Warriors for the 8th seed. In Game 2 of the first-round against the Jazz, Morant scored a career high 47 points and was unstoppable all game. Morant’s glaring weakness is his ability to shoot threes, and many teams take advantage of this by sagging off and daring him to shoot. If Morant can improve his 30.3% three-point shooting, he will be an elite point guard for many years to come.
9. Bam Adebayo (23 years old)
Bam Adebayo is only 23 years old, but he is already one of the most versatile players in the NBA. Adebayo is a key reason why the Miami Heat made the NBA Finals last year. This past season, Adebayo averaged 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game on 57 percent shooting from the field. Adebayo can do a little bit of everything on the floor. For a center, Adebayo has a solid mid-range jumper and is a phenomenal passer. Adebayo is even better on defense where he can guard in space and protect the paint. This past season, Adebayo earned his second straight All-Defensive second team selection.
10. De’Aaron Fox (23 years old)
De’Aaron Fox is a great scorer and playmaker with incredible speed. Fox has steadily improved every year he’s been in the league, and he looks to be on his way to becoming an all-star. Fox’s primary weakness is his ability to shoot threes as he shot 32.3% from beyond the arc this past season. Nonetheless, Fox shot 76.1% from within three feet according to NBA.com, and he has developed a consistent mid-range jumper. Fox also averaged 7.2 free throw attempts per game, tied for the seventh-most in the NBA. At 23-years of age, Fox has a very bright future ahead of him.
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