As we look at the landscape of the modern-day NBA, the amount of young talent on display is unprecedented. We’ve become accustomed to the spectacular play night after night from the young talent that’s in their 2nd or 3rd year. In these past playoffs, it seemed that a slight changing of the guard occurred. Players like Luka, Trae, Tatum, Mitchell, and Booker created historic moments with their post-season runs. Now looking at the present and future, the majority of teams have tremendous young players with high potential. Here we’ll rank the top 10 best players all under the age of 25.
1) Luka Doncic
A no-brainer to start the list off. Luka Doncic has a legitimate argument for being a top 5 player in the NBA today. Most would rank him around the top 8 to 10. Ever since he’s stepped foot in the league, he’s been dominant. He is a two-time all-star, two-time first-team all NBA, rookie of the year, and MVP candidate in only three seasons. On top of that, he’s put together historic playoff performances, nearly eliminating the Clippers this year. Looking at his playoff numbers, Luka has averaged 33 points, nine boards, and nine assists, in 13 games. Although, Luka’s not perfect and does have his flaws with defensive versatility and free throw shooting. Regardless of that matter, Luka’s undoubtedly the best player under 25 and on this list.
2) Jayson Tatum
Another no-brainer to continue this list. Jayson Tatum has evolved into one of the best two-way players in the NBA today. Looking at this past year, he’s developed into an elite offensive player and shot creator. In addition to that, his defensive versatility is some of the best in the league. Tatum can legitimately guard the one through the four. Without a doubt, Tatum’s a top 15 player in today’s game and has the talent to be the best in the world one day. Looking back at some of Tatum’s performances this year, he had multiple 50 point games, including one in the playoffs and a 60 point performance in a comeback win against the spurs.
3) Trae Young
Here is where the list gets interesting. The three to six spots are all interchangeable and may come down to preference. After the historic run Trae Young had in these NBA playoffs, he gets the nod at three. Trae has been an elite three-level scorer these past two years. Many have been amazed by his deep threes and flashy handles. However, his skill at his stature is rare. Along with that, Trae’s playmaking is an absolute generational trait. The ability he has to create easy shots for others is up with the best of them. Whether it’s layups, lobs, open threes, or full-court passes, Trae has the full package. Although, his shot selection, efficiency, and defense are still a work in progress. Despite that, he’s still one of the 20 best players in the league and an absolute offensive engine.
4) Devin Booker
Devin Booker put himself in a rare company leading his team to the finals these past playoffs. Furthermore, joining Dwyane Wade and Rick Barry as the only players with multiple 40 point games in the NBA playoffs under 25. Additionally, Booker joined Wade, James, Howard, and Durant as the only players under 25 who led their teams in scoring until the finals. An absolute elite scorer in the game today, with the only questions surrounding him, was winning. The empty stats narrative circled him his entire career, and he finally put that to rest this season. Booker has proven he has the talent to be the best player on a championship team and has all the makings for a generational scorer.
5) Zion Williamson
If health concerns and winning weren’t an issue, Zion would have been higher on this list. However, with his injury history in his knees and lack of wins, he couldn’t be higher than 5. Regardless, Zion is a once-in-a-generation talent that we’ve never seen before. Many have compared his dominance to a legend like Shaq. Last season, Zion was one of the top paint scorers in the NBA. Along with that, he was posting historical efficiency numbers with horrible spacing around him. With the improved roster in New Orleans, Zion should be more dominant next season.
6) Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell has established himself as an elite playoff performer in his 4th season. Furthermore, joining Lebron, Durant, and Davis as the highest playoff scorers in the league today. Not only that, but Mitchell also had a 57 point performance in last year’s first round. The third-highest single game performance in history. He’s unquestionably an elite scorer, slasher, and manipulator of the defense. Even with all his brilliance, he struggles with efficiency and defensive prowess which harms his rankings just a bit. Once again, there’s an argument to be made of Mitchell ranked from three to five. All the rankings from three to six are interchangeable.
7) Bam Adebayo
In any other era, Bam Adebayo would’ve been a lock as a top 5 young talent in the league. Bam’s one of the best defenders in the league and will contend for DPOY for the next ten years. Unquestionably, a top 5 big in today’s game as well. Besides his defensive greatness, his playmaking is one of the most underrated aspects of his game. These past two seasons, he’s averaged five assists per game. For a player of his size and position, that’s an incredible feat. However, his offensive prowess needs to grow for him to reach higher rankings. If Bam can develop a consistent three-point shot, he’ll have the chance to be the best big in the league.
8) Jaylen Brown
Similar to his teammate Tatum, Brown has developed into an absolute star. Posting career highs in points, assists, steals, blocks, and efficiency this past season. Brown leaped and made his first all-star appearance in his young career. Furthermore, Brown’s an athletic wing, who’s a three-level scorer, great on-ball defender, and great fit next to Tatum. Despite this, Brown does have issues in his game that prevent him from going any higher. Defensive awareness has been an issue this past year. There were many instances of Brown being beaten off the ball due to ball watching and lack of awareness. Playmaking is also an aspect of his game that needs to develop. With the pace of improvement Brown has been on, there’s no doubt he’ll develop these parts of his game soon.
9) Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram has flourished since being traded to the Pelicans. Posting career highs across the board with averages of twenty-four points, five boards, and five assists on efficient shooting. Many have compared him to Kevin Durant in terms of body type and offensive style. Nonetheless, Ingram has become an incredible offensive talent and quality playmaker in his way. Shot selection and defense are the two areas where he needs to grow the most. Ingram seems like a great complimentary piece to Zion and has all the talent to be a perennial all-star. The plethora of young talent prevents him from being ranked higher.
10) De’Aaron Fox
The unfortunate reality for De’Aaron Fox is that many have not witnessed his incredible play these past few seasons. Fox has evolved into one of the best point guards in the league today. With averages of 25 and 7 this year, Fox became a nearly elite slasher with his rare speed. Fox’s playmaking is also incredible for how young he is. He’s maturing as point guard incredibly quickly, and his play has backed it up. But, shooting seems to be the major roadblock in Fox’s game. Clearly, an inconsistent shooter from the three (32.2%) and the free-throw line (71.9%). If he’s ever able to develop a reliable shot, he’ll absolutely launch himself towards the elite status. Fox also has the talent and athleticism to be a good defender, which he isn’t at this time.
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