Featured Image by: USATSI
Written by Ben Pfeifer
We all know the best current superstars in the NBA, Lebron, Curry, etc. But who is the next player to be great and be talked about as one of the best players in the league? Every player will be 23 or younger, and I will not be using already established superstars such as Anthony Davis or Andre Drummond. Also, no 2016 rookies will be included.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks – Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward
I can say that I really tried hard to not put the Greek freak at number one, but there is really just no other option. He is potentially the most athletic player in the NBA behind maybe Lebron or Westbrook. He can grab a board, take two dribbles from half court, and dunk it. He averaged 17 points, 8 boards, and 4 assists. He is also 6’11’ and has a 7’3 wingspan. And the most surprising part? HE IS PLAYING POINT GUARD. If that does not scream unfair there is something wrong. If he can develop a three point shot that is at least decent, Giannis could become the biggest mismatch in NBA history, or any sport ever for that matter.
2. Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves – Center
Towns is a very close second. People say he is the best three name player since Kareem. He had an incredible rookie season, averaging 18 points and 10 boards. He also shot 34% from three and is fairly quick. He is the ideal center for the new NBA, and is only 20 years old. And to make things even better, he plays on one of the youngest teams in the NBA. Kris Dunn, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach Lavine have and will continue to help Towns become a dominant big man in the league.
3. Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves – Shooting Guard, Small Forward
Wiggins has probably the best odds to win a scoring title among the players on this list. He is an incredible player, getting to the basket and finishing around the rim. In addition, he also has a rapidly improving outside shot. Wiggins led the ‘Wolves in 2015 with 20.7 points per game and a 48.6% mark from the field. He has an amazing defensive head coach in Tom Thibodeau and he will certainly help Wiggins develop into one of the best two way players in the league alongside Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. And having some incredible young talent around Wiggins does nothing but help his case.
4. Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks – Power Forward, Center
Kevin Durant said it best when he boldly stated “Kristaps Porzingis is a unicorn.” Porzingod, Porzingoat, whatever you want to call him is a flatout freak. The Latvian is 7’2, can shoot the three, post up, run the floor, and block shots with the best of them. If somehow you have been living under a rock and have not seen this man play, think the offensive abilities of Dirk Nowtizki with incredible quickness and defense. He averaged 14 points and 7 boards for New York in year one with the Knicks, and added on a ton of highlight plays. If Porzingis can continue to develop at this rate, he could turn into a special player.
5. Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards – Shooting Guard
I think Bradley Beal is bound for a breakout season, and this year could be the one. Coming out of Florida, Beal was one of the most hyped up prospects. He is a three point sniper and is extremely athletic. He is a perfect compliment to John Wall, who is one of the best in the league when it comes to driving to the basket. He has shot 40% from three his entire career, and if he can mature into a more all around player, he could become one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA and form one of the best backcourts in the league. Beal also just signed a huge 120 million dollar deal, so he will be around for a while and determined to prove he is worth the money.
6. Dennis Schroder – Atlanta Hawks – Point Guard
Schroder has already shown a lot of potential to be a good player in his young NBA career. He is one of the fastest players in the league. His instincts, dribbling, and outside shooting have been much improved since he was drafted. His stats do not paint a good picture for how good this guy is, for he has been playing behind Jeff Teague his entire career. But with Teague now on the Pacers, Schroder will get the opportunity to lead the Hawks this year. If Schroder can continue his development, he could be one of the better point guards in the NBA in a few years.
7. Nerlens Noel – Philadelphia 76ers – Power Forward, Center
Noel is already one of the best defensive centers in the entire NBA. He has already averaged 2 blocks, 2 steals, and 8 rebounds per game. But he is playing on a bad Sixers team with a massive log jam at center. Noel will likely be traded to a team who can get more use out of him, and he can blossom into the defensive anchor that he has potential to be . He could turn into a dominant defensive big like Dwight Howard, and win multiple defensive player of the year awards. No matter where the NBA goes, a defensive anchor in the middle will always be useful.
8. D’Angelo Russell – Los Angeles Lakers – Point Guard
Russell is a player with incredible talent on a young and upcoming team in the NBA. He is an incredible passer and has great outside shooting and scoring ability overall. His physical tools give him potential to be a decent defender. He plays on a team with a lot of young talent with players such as Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle. And them along with Russell have potential to create a great core for a lot of years. If Russell can overcome his maturity issues (the Nick Young incident for example) he could be a premier player in the NBA.
9. Jahlil Okafor – Philadelphia 76ers, Center
Okafor was injured a good chunk of the season as he only played 53 games. But when he did play, he was outstanding on the offensive side of the ball, averaging 17.5 points per game. His main knock is his lack of defensive ability, which will hold him back in his career. He will most likely be the primary center in Philadelphia going forward, and will be an offensive force in the low post. His great but shortened season earned him all-rookie, first team honors. Okafor has major promise and could become one of the better offensive centers in the league.
10. Jabari Parker – Milwaukee Bucks – Small Forward, Power Forward
Parker was injured for most of his rookie season, and some of his second season. He is somewhat already forgotten about, but the former number two overall pick has shown great promise for a young Bucks team. He was solid this season playing the 3 and the small ball 4, averaging 14 points and 5 boards per game. If Parker can stay injury free, he could develop into a solid player in the NBA.
Zach LaVine – Minnesota Timberwolves – Point Guard, Shooting Guard
Emmanuel Mudiay – Denver Nuggets – Point Guard
Steven Adams – Oklahoma City Thunder – Center
Justise Winslow – Miami Heat – Small Forward
Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers – Power Forward