Before the start of the NBA season, a tweet went viral discussing the ages of several of the league’s perennial All Stars. Many household names, such as LeBron, Kevin Durant, and Steph, while still playing at a high level, are well past the wrong side of thirty, meaning that their remaining time as players in the NBA is likely limited. What does this mean? Yes, the current faces of the league in Jokic, Giannis, and Embiid are on the younger side in relative terms, but they’re still all hovering around thirty, meaning that it will be likely that they begin to slide out of the conversation of the NBA’s most premier players as they begin approaching their twilight years over the next half-decade or so. We must look younger to find the names who are likely to be the true faces of the league, the next generation of superstars. Here are the six best players under 25 (yes, I know it's a weird number but it felt wrong excluding any of these guys) who will continue to bring positive attention to the game over the next decade or so.
Current Averages: 31.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.9 assists
It’s already been established that Luka is one of the best players to have ever touched a basketball. His resume at 24 is better than 95% of those throughout the league’s history, already a four-time All Star and All-NBA selection. As a triple double machine and one of the Association’s premier offensive engines and with very little of his game relying on a dominant level of athleticism, he’s likely to win scoring titles and continue his ascent into being universally considered one of the best offensive players to have ever played the game. If he and his Mavericks can manage to pull off a ring or two, his place will be cemented with the absolute best of the best.
Current Averages: 26.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists
Minnesota’s high flier has emerged as a premier two-way superstar over the past couple of years, and it’s terrifying to think that he’s barely 22 years old. An All Star last year, he’s likely to repeat again this season, given that he’s the leading scorer on the current number one seed in the Western Conference. As he continues to develop on the defensive end, where he’s already an above-average talent, he will likely cement himself as one of the more well-rounded post-Paul George and Jimmy Butler wings of this generation.
Current Averages: 25.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 11.9 assists
Point blank, Haliburton is the best pure point guard we have seen since Chris Paul’s prime. We’ve seen legitimately unprecedented feats from him this year alone, including back-to-back games with fifteen-plus assists and zero turnovers, while simultaneously being one of the better scorers in the league, with five games this year with over thirty points thus far. He’s the maestro of one of the fastest and most entertaining offenses the league has to offer and it looks like he’s due for another All Star campaign this season, with his sights narrowing on an All-NBA team as well.
Current Averages: 17.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.1 stocks (steals + blocks)
As discussed in a previous article, Holmgren was the only real threat to Wemby’s Rookie of the Year campaign, and so far it's proven to be the case. When you throw a potentially generationally talented two-way stretch big into one of the most promising young cores the league has seen in the past decade, you are bound to see success. Chet’s rookie campaign has proven his monstrous defensive capabilities as well as a virtually limitless offensive bag, most notably via his game-tying three to send the Warriors towards an overtime loss in just his thirteenth game. He still obviously has a lot to learn, but he’s already showing his massive upside.
Current Averages: 26.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.9 assists
I’ve been high on Maxey since he came into the league. Now that James Harden is out of the picture and he has the full opportunities that come with being a number-two option on a legitimate contender, I’m glad to see him proving my instinct right. A twitchy combo guard with unlimited shooting range, Maxey’s numbers all around have taken a massive leap this year, making him an obvious candidate for Most Improved Player. He posted an incredible fifty point night against the Pacers, finally having his superstar coming-out party during the ninth game of the year. If he continues on his upward trajectory, he could go down as the best 76ers guard since Allen Iverson.
Current Averages: 19.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 stocks
Wemby is already better than a lot of advanced metrics would give him credit for currently. Yes, his Spurs are currently pitiful, but he brings a lot of value as a number one offensive option and an incredibly gifted defender both on the perimeter and down low. He may lose some value because he hasn’t been able to prove himself as a floor raiser with the awful roster he currently finds himself on, but watching the game footage shows that it’s less his fault than it is of the guys surrounding him. His teammates missing a 7’4” giant on obvious fast break lob opportunities doesn’t show his full potential, but he’s a near twenty point-per-game guy while leading the league in stocks as a rookie. The sky's the limit.