NBA Top 25 Under 25

April 18, 2021 0 By jasonbaud

What follows is Draft HD’s top 25 NBA players under 25. As explained below we used a mixture of current production, potential and future projection.

What is potential? How do you quantify potential when no one knows the future? That is the challenge of making these lists. What we will do here, is combine what has happened with what we think will happen based on the production players have provided thus far.  What we hope to get out of this is to acknowledge the steps some rookies have taken to insert themselves into the ranks of the best the NBA has to offer, while still recognizing the game of more established players. Now that we’ve explained our methodology. Let’s get to the list.

1. Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks-
During the 2018 NBA draft we saw a rich man’s Gallinari. We thought maybe he becomes a star but Doncic has been a clear young superstar.His size (6’7″, 230 lbs.) allows him to get into many favorable matchups and attack the basket where appropriate, while his skill set allows him to make the most of difficult  shots. He could could improve his turnover rate or maybe be a bit better on defense but that’s nitpicking to even name flaws. A clear MVP  candidate Doncic is the engine that fuels the Mavericks future championship hopes. 
This Season: 28.6 PPG, 8.8 APG, 8.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 48.6 FG%, 37.6 3P%, 73.4 FT%.
Career Stats: 25.7 PPG, 7.6 APG, 8.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 45.6 FG%, 33.5 3P%, 73.7 FT%.

2. Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics-
We were concerned about Tatum’s defense, we doubted his ceiling justified the 3rd overall pick. We saw a star but this was a deep draft at least we thought that at the time. Hindsight is always 20/20. Tatum is a young superstar on the rise. The Celtics have struggled this year but a team decimated by injuries is not Tatum’s fault. 
This Season: 25.2 PPG, 4.3 APG, 7.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 45.3 FG%, 37.9 3P%, 86.4 FT%.
Career Stats: 18.6 PPG, 2.5 APG, 6.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 45.6 FG%, 39.6 3P%, 83.6 FT%.

3. Trae Young Atlanta Hawks-
The other part of the infamous Luka Doncic draft day trade. Trae Young is much better than most realize. Young is an elite scorer we had number one on our 2018 draft board. His passing vision makes his team mates better but his defense is a concern to many. We feel with the level of impact he has had on a young Atlanta Hawks team he has graduated to superstar status. 

4. Devin Booker Phoenix Suns-
We hated Booker’s porous defense for probably too long. The reality is Booker is a young superstar who is easily one of the best scorers and playmakers in the league.
This Season: 25.9 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.1 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 49.8 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 85.5 FT%.
Career Stats: 22.9 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.7 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 45.5 FG%, 35.6 3P%, 86.9 FT%.

5. Donovan Mitchell Utah Jazz. 
Mitchell is not just one of the best scorer’s in the league he is the clear driver of the Jazz future hopes for success. During the 2017 draft we saw a star but made the same mistake 12 other NBA teams did we saw a PG who needed to become a better passer instead of a gifted two guard who could score at will.
This Season: 25.4 PPG, 5.4 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 43.5 FG%, 39.6 3P%, 84.3 FT%.
Career Stats: 23.1 PPG, 4.3 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 43.8 FG%, 36.4 3P%, 82.8 FT%.

6. Zion Willamson New Orleans Pelicans.
On paper you could make an argument for putting Zion in the top three. However a dark cloud still remains. Despite his superstar level talent Zion has a injury history that reads like a scary movie plot. Can he stay healthy? He is so dependent on his athletic gifts and is such a poor shooter that we don’t see his career surviving Blake Griffin level knee problems.

7. Bam Adebayo Miami Heat- 
Bam looks the part of a young star with the tools to ascend to superstardom.
After a NBA finals appearance his combination of athletic tools, motor and basketball IQ we can only see him getting better. 

This Season: 19.2 PPG, 5.4 APG, 9.6 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 56.4 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 82.4 FT%.
Career Stats: 12.0 PPG, 3.4 APG, 8.0 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 55.6 FG%, 15.9 3P%, 73.8 FT%.

8. Brandon Ingram New Orleans Pelicans-
The centerpiece of the Anthony Davis trade Ingram is a young star who might grow into more. Even now he is an excellent scorer and playmaker for a wing. New Orleans likely has a bright future.
This Season: 23.8 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.9 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 47.5 FG%, 38.6 3P%, 87.6 FT%.
Career Stats: 17.5 PPG, 3.4 APG, 5.0 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 46.2 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 74.8 FT%.

9.  Shai Gilgeous Alexander Oklahoma City Thunder
We once sarcastically said Shai wouldn’t be a star anywhere other than Europe. If you are working on a time machine please call me. Shai is a young star there is no longer any room for debate. A year under Chris Paul sure helped but his combination of passing vision and basketball IQ are timeless.
This Season: 23.7 PPG, 5.9 APG, 4.7 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 50.8 FG%, 41.8 3P%, 80.8 FT%.
Career Stats: 16.3 PPG, 3.8 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 48.2 FG%, 37.3 3P%, 80.5 FT%.

10. De’Aaron Fox Sacramento Kings
Fox looked like a clear star on draft day back in 2017 and he hasn’t disappointed. One of the best young PG’s in the league he rounds out our top 10. 
This Season: 24.6 PPG, 7.1 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 47.8 FG%, 32.6 3P%, 71.6 FT%.
Career Stats: 17.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 45.8 FG%, 32.7 3P%, 71.7 FT%.

The rest of the middle of this list is a mixture of young stars who could become more and young players who you have to project a bit.

11. Jaylen Brown Boston Celtics
This Season: 24.1 PPG, 3.5 APG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 48.5 FG%, 39.8 3P%, 75.9 FT%.
Career Stats: 14.7 PPG, 1.7 APG, 4.6 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 47.2 FG%, 37.7 3P%, 69.5 FT%.

12. Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies-
This Season: 18.8 PPG, 7.4 APG, 3.4 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 44.2 FG%, 24.6 3P%, 75.3 FT%.
Career Stats: 18.2 PPG, 7.3 APG, 3.7 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 46.3 FG%, 29.6 3P%, 76.6 FT%.

13. Jamal Murray Denver Nuggets- 
This Season: 21.3 PPG, 4.8 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 48.0 FG%, 41.2 3P%, 86.4 FT%.
Career Stats: 16.3 PPG, 3.8 APG, 3.6 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 44.6 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 87.7 FT%.

​14. Michael Porter Jr- 
He has clear star potential and is already an excellent scorer. We infamously were so worried about his health and defense we said McDonald’s and going pro in China were his best career options. Any progress on that time machine?
This Season: 16.9 PPG, 1.0 APG, 7.5 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 54.2 FG%, 45.4 3P%, 75.0 FT%.
Career Stats: 12.5 PPG, 0.9 APG, 5.9 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 52.7 FG%, 44.1 3P%, 78.9 FT%.

15. Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers-
On paper Simmons has superstar talent. He’s an excellent defender and very good playmaker but he hasn’t really gotten better. Will he ever have a jump shot? The 76ers championship hopes depend on it.
This Season: 15.2 PPG, 7.2 APG, 7.8 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 54.6 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 63.4 FT%.
Career Stats: 16.2 PPG, 7.8 APG, 8.2 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 55.8 FG%, 15.2 3P%, 60.0 FT%.

16. . Domantas Sabonis Indiana Pacers-
This Season: 19.9 PPG, 6.0 APG, 11.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 52.6 FG%, 30.5 3P%, 72.0 FT%.
Career Stats: 13.2 PPG, 3.1 APG, 6.4 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 52.2 FG%, 31.7 3P%, 72.1 FT%.

17. RJ Barrett New York Knicks-
RJ was number 1 on our draft board in 2019. After nearly two years of pretty much being openly slandered by the internet he is finally starting to look like a star. We still think his ceiling is a James Harden level superstar watch for him to be much higher on a future list.

18.  Lamelo Ball Charlotte Hornets
This Season: 15.9 PPG, 6.1 APG, 5.9 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 45.1 FG%, 37.5 3P%, 78.9 FT%
Career Stats:  “TBD”.

19. OG  Anunoby Toronto Raptors
This Season: 14.6 PPG, 1.9 APG, 5.8 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 47.8 FG%, 39.4 3P%, 75.3 FT%.
Career Stats: 8.7 PPG, 1.1 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 48.0 FG%, 37.2 3P%, 67.7 FT%.

20. John Collins Atlanta Hawks- 
This Season: 18.2 PPG, 1.4 APG, 7.8 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 54.5 FG%, 38.0 3P%, 83.8 FT%.
Career Stats: 16.6 PPG, 1.5 APG, 8.6 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 56.5 FG%, 37.3 3P%, 77.4 FT%.

21. Patrick Williams Chicago Bulls-
I can’t shake the fact he reminds me in raw potential of a young Jimmy Butler. The defensive tools and shooting ability are there. I think the Bulls have something special.
This season: 9.5 PPG 4.7 RPG 1.3 APG 47% FG 38% 3PT
Career stats: TBD
22. Deandre Hunter- 
This Season: 16.0 PPG, 2.1 APG, 5.1 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 50.2 FG%, 35.6 3P%, 86.7 FT%.
Career Stats: 13.2 PPG, 1.9 APG, 4.7 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 43.3 FG%, 35.5 3P%, 79.9 FT%.

23. De’Andre Ayton Phoenix Suns
This Season: 14.8 PPG, 1.5 APG, 10.8 RPG, 0.4 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 61.1 FG%, 23.5 3P%, 76.7 FT%.
Career Stats: 16.3 PPG, 1.7 APG, 10.7 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 58.0 FG%, 20.6 3P%, 75.4 FT%.

24. James Wiseman- just like with Patrick Williams this is based on projecting future potential. We had Wiseman number 1 on our 2020  NBA draft board and he has definitely flashed glimpses of that potential.
This Season: 11.5 PPG, 0.7 APG, 5.9 RPG, 0.3 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 50.9 FG%, 32.4 3P%, 64.3 FT%.
Career stats: TBD

25.  Lonzo Ball
This Season: 14.5 PPG, 5.8 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 42.1 FG%, 38.8 3P%, 78.3 FT%.
Career Stats: 11.5 PPG, 6.4 APG, 5.8 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 39.7 FG%, 35.3 3P%, 54.4 FT%.

You could argue several names for our last spot but Lonzo has become solid starter even if he might never live up his draft slot. There is a real chance he doesn’t make next years list though.

Agree of disagree with our list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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