The youth are our future- that stands true both in the real world and the NBA. With LeBron James who is arguably the best player in the world right now, celebrating this his 33rd birthday later this year, we start to question…. how many years left does he have left on the throne? James is seen as the most dominant force in the game right now, he is a deadly threat no matter what team he’s on. After he retires, it will open up the doors for other players like Steph Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to truly take over and be the leading force of the NBA. With that being said, all these superstars are in their late twenties right now. By the time LeBron retires or even a few seasons from now, they will all have celebrated their 30th birthday. This leaves a good gap for the next generation of players to roll in. The last few drafts have restocked the league’s talent pool with several players who have the potential to be stars, we take a look at which young players will be the future of the NBA.
These are just a few honorable mentions………
Karl Anthony Towns
Move aside fantasy football fans, fantasy basketball is what’s making headlines this month. According to the NBA’s latest GM survey, an annual poll made up of the league’s biggest decision makers, Karl Anthony Towns is the best player to build a franchise around. If given the chance to start over, 29 percent of the league’s general managers would choose to rebuild around Minnesota Timberwolves center. This is higher than the 18 percent that voted for LeBron James or the 14 percent that voted for Kawhi Leonard.
Towns has been a great performer from his very first season. The Number 1 2015 draft pick has proved to us countless amount of times why he deserved the number one spot. Towns had an extraordinary rookie season where he averaged a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds, which ultimately won him the unanimous vote of Rookie of the Year. He carried the momentum on to the 2016-2017 season where he set the Timberwolves’s single season scoring record with 2011 points. Surprisingly, he didn’t make the All Star team. But let’s not forget, Towns is only 21 years old.
As a 7 foot center, his skill set is incredible. Towns’ ability to shoot 3’s really opens up his game to a next level. Not only is he not afraid to shoot 3’s, he takes smart shots and makes quite a high percentage. He made a total of 101 3’s last season, now that’s more 3’s than prolific shooter Larry Bird ever made in a season! Scoring one for all the bigs, he even beat Isaiah Thomas in the finals to win the 2016 Skills Challenge. What is really exciting for Towns is the new revamped Timberwolves team that he will be playing alongside this year. Having a solid team with great talent makes a huge difference. Would Scottie Pippen be considered as one of the best small forwards of all time and win six championships if he didn’t play alongside Michael Jordan? With Andrew Wiggins $148 Million 5 year contract and the addition of Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague to the Timberwolves, Towns and the Wolves are looking like a serious threat.
The Greek Freak is what they call him, and the nickname doesn’t lie. He stands a staggering 6 feet, 11 inches tall, has a ridiculous 7 foot long wingspan and 12 inch hands. Many rising stars in the NBA have certain skills that brought them there but Antetokounmpo is already one of the most versatile players in the league. Since being the drafted in 2013, Antetokounmpo has improved in every single major stats category, especially scoring. He averaged 16.9 points in the 2015-2016 season but that sky rocketed 22.7 points last season. He was then voted the Most Improved Player as well as an NBA All-Star.
On Feb 22, 2016, Antetokounmpo recorded his first triple double against the La Lakers. His 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists performance made him the youngest Milwaukee Buck to record a triple double. Let’s be honest, Antetokounmpo has singlehandedly made the Milwaukee Bucks relevant. He led the Bucks in all five stat categories, making him only 5th player to do this in NBA history. The 4 other players to do this were Dave Cowens, Scottie Pippen, Kevin Garnett and Lebron James. All of them are NBA champions. Dave Cowens and Scottie Pippen are Hall of Famers and it’s easy to say that Kevin Garnett and Lebron James have their Hall of Fame spot in the bag. Now that’s a lot of records for Antetokounmpo to be setting at the tender age of 22.
Not only are the Bucks fans crazed about this phenomenal player, some of the top players in the game feel the same way. It seems like Kevin Durant might just be Antetokounmpo’s biggest fan. He posted a Q&A video on his YouTube page and was asked about his favorite player to watch.
“I like long, athletic guys. That’s just who I am. The Greek Freak I think is a force, and I’ve never seen anything like him. And his ceiling is probably—he could end up being the best player to ever play if he really wanted to. That’s pretty scary to think about. But he’s by far my favorite player to watch.” -Kevin Durant
That’s pretty high praise for any player to receive from a colleague, let alone from the reigning NBA Finals MVP. It doesn’t stop there. Earlier this year, Kobe Bryant challenged him to win the MVP title. Given the high performance that Antetokounmpo has already proven to us at such a young age, this goal certainly seems like one he’s capable of accomplishing before his career comes to a close.
This 76er just hit the jackpot with his $148 million five year maximum contract extension. Philadelphia decided to throw all chips in with Embiid, one of the NBA’s most talented and popular young players. However, the deal raised eyebrows around the NBA due to Embiid’s injury history. His injuries date back to his college career in Kansas, to missing his first two seasons and playing only 31 games last season before going down yet again.
“Joel Embiid is a transformative young talent that you rarely come across in our game. Joel is only scratching the surface, but he has all the potential and promise to go down as one of the all-time greats to wear a Sixers jersey.”
– Bryan Colangelo , 76ers president of basketball operations
The potential of Embiid is frightening if he manages to stay healthy. He is revolutionizing the center position by being a versatile big man with a high IQ, who can smack down the big blocks but can also shoot the ball with range. Looking like a seasoned veteran when he plays, you would never guess he’s a rookie. Despite playing just 22 minutes a night last season, he averaged an astounding 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. If you translate this to his stats per 100 possessions, his numbers are literally unheard of.
Sixers head coach Brett Brown says he plans to limit Embiid to under 20 minutes a night at the start of the season-“somewhere like in the teens.” Embiid disappointed with the decision said “If I feel great and my body feels great and my knee is fine, I should play 30 minutes or more. I definitely have my opinion on that. They are going to hear me.” With his outstanding preseason debut against the Brooklyn Nets where he racked up the stats sheet with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists all in only 15 minutes of playing time, Embiid will be the player to watch this season. With 148 million and counting under Embiid, I guess we will have to “Trust the Process.”
The new Big Baller Brand ‘ZO2’ shoes might just be the new ‘Like Mike’ shoes of this generation. Lonzo Ball has been dominating force from the first time he stepped foot in UCLA. Making quite a name for himself during his freshman year, he led the nation in assists and broke UCLA’s record for the most assists in a season.
Ball definitely didn’t rack up the stat sheets during his preseason debut as a LA Laker. Scoring only 5 pts (2-9 FG, 8 assists, 7 rebounds) against the Timberwolves, it left many anticipating fans disappointed. The rookie sensation then sprained his ankle in the next game forcing him to watch the rest of the preseason from the sidelines. However, Ball’s slow start in not something we haven’t seen before. He performed poorly during his first game in the Las Vegas Summer League this summer but he was able to turn it around quickly. His hustle paid off as he finished the summer off averaging 16 points and ultimately won the summer league MVP award.
A “pure point guard” is what sports commentator Skip Bayless once described him as on an episode of Undisputed. He is a phenomenal passer who creates opportunities for everyone on the floor. You can say he’s one of those players who make all his team mates better. At times he can even be a bit too unselfish. In order to take his game to the next level, Ball has to be more aggressive and become a bigger scoring threat. His shots may not be dropping right now but he has great instincts that you just can’t teach. Looking forward to the Laker’s opening night on October 19 where Ball should be back in full action. This will be an exciting season for the Lakers.
Which Young Superstars Will Be The Future of the NBA (Video)