The NBA is loaded with young talent right now and some of them are developing faster than ever. Take Kyrie Irving, Cleveland’s sophomore phenom who right now, at age 20, is averaging 23.7 PPG and 5.6 AST. The dude has everything you look for in a starting point guard. He possesses the hairline and fourth quarter “take-over” gene that many would argue a former Cleveland Cavalier lacked. Then there is Brook Lopez who, despite his snub as an all-star starter, is averaging 18.6 PPG and 2.1 BLK per game averaging less than 30 MINs a night! The NBA has a bright future and these are the players at each position who will be the faces of the association for a long time.
My under 25 All-NBA Team (click their name for their basketball-reference page):
PG: Derrick Rose (24)
Yes, Irving has been nothing short of incredible this season and Westbrook is his usual freakish athlete self but we shouldn’t forget how dominant Derrick Rose is. I mean, he won MVP honors after his 2010-11 campaign that saw him average 25 PPG and dish out 7.7 AST. Everyone assumes Chris Paul is the best point guard in the NBA, and he probably is, but a healthy Derrick Rose at least starts the debate. The NBA is loaded with quality young point guards but Derrick Rose the cream of the crop.
Honorable Mention: Irving, Westbrook
SG: James Harden (23)
Harden is by far the best shooting guard under 25…unless you’re Skip Bayless and consider Russell Westbrook a shooting guard. But we aren’t Skip Bayless, thank goodness, so for our sake it’s Harden. Since being traded to Houston, basketball’s Brian Wilson has flourished in his first starting gig. He is currently fifth in the NBA in scoring at 25.8 PPG doing much of his damage at the foul line where he averages 10 attempts, 8.5 makes, per game. His footwork while driving is so unusual people are tricked into swatting the ball and almost always hit his arms. The crowd falls off fast in the SG discussion with the next best candidates being Eric Gordon (24) or Klay Thompson (22).
SF: Kevin Durant (24)
Durant was awesome last year when his team made the NBA Finals and somehow KD keeps getting better. He has career highs in FG%, 3PT%, FT%, AST, STL, and BLK. He is somehow averaging 29.6 PPG on 18.5 FG attempts. To put that efficiency into perspective, Kobe “Bean” Bryant averaged 30 PPG when he was twenty-four years young but he needed 23.5 attempts on which he shot 45%, an impressive figure but not even close to KD’s 52%. People are starting to say Kevin Durant may go down as “one of” the greatest scorers of all time. They are wrong because barring injury, KD will go down as the most prolific scorer we’ve seen since Wilt Chamberlain.
PF: Blake Griffin (23)
Griffin had a rough start to his career when he suffered a stress fracture in his left patella in a preseason game. He missed that entire season from the injury but responded with a vengeance in his rookie year that saw him post 22.5 PPG and 12.1 TRB. Everyone knows he can dunk now and are forcing him to take jumpers. He will make a few but still needs to improve his mid-range jump shot so defenders can’t afford to sag off him into the lane. His back to the basket post moves are still raw but his incredible athleticism usually bails him out. He gets the nod over Kevin Love because he is a much better off the ball offensive player and a good one on one defender. Love is a better shooter and arguably a better rebounder but his durability puts him below Griffin for me.
C: Brook Lopez (24)
I have to say that I think DeMarcus Cousins has the most potential of any center in the NBA and could very well end up being the best of this bunch. I also think Greg Monroe is a nice center in this age range but this season has been great for Brook Lopez. His biggest weakness, rebounding, has improved up to 7.4 per 36 minutes and he’s averaging over 2 blocks per game! It is a joke that KG, and not this guy, is the starting center for the Eastern Conference in the upcoming All-Star Game. Lopez has been the best and most consistent Brooklyn Net this season despite drastic changes within the organization. Right now, Brook Lopez is the best center in the NBA under age 25.
2nd Team Under 25:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Eric Gordon
SF: Paul George
PF: Kevin Love
C: DeMarcus Cousins
3rd Team Under 25:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Nicolas Batum
PF: Kenneth Faried
C: Greg Monroe
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