The NBA is brimming with young, talented players; perhaps more so than at any other point in the league’s existence. With teams focused on playing efficient, fast-paced basketball, players have adapted, and as a result, we have seen some pretty amazing players enter the league over the last few years. With that said, without further ado, these are the 10 best NBA players under the age of 25 as things stand right now.
10. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns, Age 21
As far as scoring is concerned, Devin Booker is one of the league’s most explosive players when it comes to putting the ball through the net. So far this season he’s averaging about 24 points per game, and while he isn’t the most efficient player, he clearly possesses a natural talent that some can only dream about. The only thing keeping Booker from climbing these rankings is his defense- he’s a sieve on the less glamorous end. If he starts putting a little more effort into the defensive side of his game while maintaining his scoring, Booker could be incredible.
9. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers, Age 21
Although his scoring hasn’t exploded like some people thought it would this season thanks to the breakout of Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner has still shown the world why he deserves his spot on this list. On the defensive side of the court, Turner is blocking shots left and right with 2.4 swats per game, and on offense, the big man is shooting the ball very well, particularly from deep where he’s putting down a career-high 41% of his looks. The Pacers still miss Paul George, but Turner looks like he might develop into a game-changing force at the center position.
8. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards, Age 24
Despite the fact he will never be the No. 1 guy for Washington as long as John Wall is around, Bradley Beal has still developed into quite a player for the Wizards. Beal plays with a certain smoothness that is very fun to watch, and although he isn’t the best defender, he certainly is respectable. The big appeal to Beal though is his offense as he can put up points in bunches when his team needs him to. He doesn’t possess the potential that the others on this list have, but Beal is one of the game’s best players at the two spot.
7. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets, Age 22
A former second-round pick, Nikola Jokic has exceeded all expectations placed on him by becoming one of the most promising big men in the league today. Although he’s a solid scorer, Jokic’s real dynamic trait is his uncanny passing ability for a center. He has tremendous court vision and the entire Nuggets offense benefits from his rare ability to pass others open. Pair his offense with a newfound ability to play very good defense, and Jokic looks like a cornerstone for Denver moving forward.
6. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves, Age 22
In terms of offensive ability, there may not be a big man with a higher ceiling than Karl-Anthony Towns. He can hurt a defense with his post moves, handle the ball very well for a man of his size, and hit threes with consistency. The only thing keeping Towns from being even higher on this list is his lack of defensive effort. He has all the tools to be an above-average defender, but too often he fails to give consistent effort on that side of the court, though there has been a modest improvement in that area this season. Ultimately, Towns’ unreal potential gives him the edge over a guy like Jokic, and if he ever puts it all together on defense, Towns could be a top-five NBA player, regardless of position.
5. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks, Age 22
Starting here, you could make a case for every player remaining on this list to be No. 1, there is just that much talent. That said, Porzingis checks in here as one of the most exciting young players in the league. The focal point of the Knicks defense with Carmelo Anthony now in Oklahoma City, Porzingis has shown a rare ability to score the basketball, bumping his scoring average up to 27 points per game to this point in the season. You’d like to see him get his teammates a little more involved at times and he can be pushed around by bigger, stronger players, but there is little doubt Porzingis is a mega-star in the making for a team that could use one.
4. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers, Age 21
After missing his entire rookie season due to injury, there were questions about how quickly Ben Simmons could adapt to the pro game, especially considering his lack of a consistent jump shot. Luckily for Philadelphia, Simmons has quickly put those questions to rest, looking like a franchise-changing type of talent. Few players in history have ever possessed Simmons blend of size and passing ability, and the jump shot concerns, though legitimate, have yet to slow Simmons down. Right now, Simmons is way ahead in the rookie of the year race, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he adds a few more awards to his mantle as he continues to develop.
3. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers, Age 23
Between Simmons and Joel Embiid, the 76ers have a blindingly bright future, and that’s before even accounting for 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz. Embiid, an offensive superstar who is also playing outstanding defense, is almost unfairly talented. It will be interesting to see if Embiid or Simmons is ultimately the better player when it’s all said and done, but for now, let’s just enjoy watching this human-highlight-reel play outstanding basketball.
2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans, Age 24
Although he entered the league way back in 2012 as the draft’s No. 1 selection, Anthony Davis is still just 24 years old. All he has done since being drafted is develop into a yearly contender for the distinction of defensive player of the year while becoming a nearly unstoppable force on the offensive side of the ball, not falling below 20 points per game since his second season. The Pelicans have struggled to put an adequate team around Davis to this point in his career, but despite that, he has earned his place on this list.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks, Age 22
Once an underrated player who only hardcore NBA fans bothered to care about, Giannis Antetokounmpo has made the leap to super-stardom over the last couple seasons, and is putting together an absolute masterpiece of a campaign right now. One of the few players who can succeed without a consistent jump shot, Antetokounmpo instead used his length and explosiveness to blow by defenders. Uniquely gifted and still with plenty of potential left, Antetokounmpo tops these rankings of best players under 25.