Top-25 NBA Players Under 25 Years Old
The NBA has no shortage of young talent, but how do these players stack up against their peers? I’ll try to answer that question in this article by ranking the top-25 players under 25 years old.
1. Luka Doncic
It’s been a down year for Luka by his lofty standards, but he’s still averaging 25/9/8 with 1.2 steals and making dazzling plays on a nightly basis. Luka is a generational player who has the upside to be one of the NBA’s all-time greatest. Players like that are hard to come by, and Doncic has to be No. 1 here.
2. Trae Young
He’s going for his third straight season of 25/9 this year, and he’s doing so with increased efficiency. Young broke out in last year’s playoffs by leading the Hawks to the Eastern Conference finals and finishing fifth in total points and third in assists. He dropped 48/11/7 on Milwaukee Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, and he recently posted a 56/14 game against Portland on Jan. 3.
3. Ja Morant
He has the Grizz on a 10-game win streak thanks to his incredible play. Over the last three weeks, Memphis has beaten the Lakers, Suns and Warriors among others while averaging 27.9 points,6.4 assists and 6.3 rebounds during the stretch. I won’t let recency bias affect my rankings here, but I’m so tempted to swap Morant and Young. There’s not a huge gap between the two.
4. LaMelo Ball
The reigning ROY is averaging 19/7/7 with 2.8 triples and 1.7 steals. Yeah, he can do it all. Ball is a unique player who has the ability to stuff the stat sheet on any given night, and he’s running one of the NBA’s best offenses. Charlotte should be competitive in this year’s playoffs, and it’s thanks in large part to Ball’s leadership.
5. Jayson Tatum
Tatum can do a bit of everything. He’s a strong scorer and rebounder, plays solid defense, can get teammates involved and is never shy of the big moment. He’s still two months shy of his 24th birthday and is in the midst of a third straight season averaging at least 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal. We haven’t seen the best of Tatum yet.
6. Zion Williamson
We haven’t seen him at all this season, and my gut feeling is that we won’t see him on the court again until next season. Still, if we’re talking pure talent, how can Zion be any lower than sixth on this list? He’s an explosive athlete, versatile defender and strong scorer. The NBA community has got to be hoping he’s getting his major injuries out of the way early a la Joel Embiid.
7. Bam Adebayo
Adebayo is a 19/10 guy who has no problem finding open teammates on a consistent basis. He’s also a strong defender and one of the NBA’s best two-way players. Unfortunately, he’s been out of commission for more than half of the season due to a thumb injury, but he’s been elite when available in 2021-22. He’ll hopefully be back on the court before February.
8. Darius Garland
Garland has shined this season, averaging 19.4 points and 7.3 assists (both career-highs) while shooting efficiently. Despite losing Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio, Garland has taken control and excelled in the backcourt, and Cleveland is on track to make the playoffs. There’s still plenty of room for Garland to grow.
9. Tyrese Haliburton
Hali has taken another step forward in Year 2 with averages of 13.9 points, 6.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.1 triples on 47/41/81 shooting splits. He took over when De’Aaron Fox was sidelined, and Haliburton has continued leading Sacramento as an elite facilitator, efficient shooter and quality defender.
10. Anthony Edwards
Last year’s No. 1 overall pick came on strong to close out his rookie season, and he’s carried that momentum into Year 2. He’s averaging 22.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.7 dimes 1.6 steals, 0.7 blocks and 3.3 triples this season, and he’s taken a major step forward in his shooting efficiency. He’s got huge upside as a scorer, and his highlights from this season include a career-high 48 points against Golden State and a big 33/14/6/3 line against Miami.
11. John Collins
This is Collins’ third straight season averaging 17.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 1.3 triples and shooting at least 54% from the field while committing fewer than 2.0 turnovers per game. He’s an elite player who contributes on both ends of the court, and he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves due to his quiet and steady performances while playing in Trae Young’s shadow.
12. Evan Mobley
Mobley should be the favorite for Rookie of the Year, and he’s enjoying a strong first season with averages of 14.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 2.6 assists. The trio of Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland has Cleveland playing its best basketball since LeBron left, and the USC product is making his presence known as an elite defender. Jarrett Allen might be putting up better numbers in 21-22, but Mobley most definitely has the higher ceiling.
13. Lonzo Ball
Much like John Collins, Zo isn’t getting the respect he needs as a player who’s contributing in many different ways. He’s turned into a great floor spacer and is one of the NBA’s most prolific three-point shooters for the second year in a row. He’s also making great contributions on defense by averaging nearly two steals and one block per contest. His averages of 13.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.9 steals, 3.2 triples and 0.9 blocks are phenomenal.
14. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SGA is averaging 22/5/5 with 1.6 stocks and 1.7 triples this season, and despite shooting poorly, he continues to be a high-impact player for a young Thunder squad. He can operate as the team’s leading scorer or as the primary playmaker to get teammates involved, and his placement on this list isn’t a knock on him as much as it’s an endorsement of the guys ranked ahead of him.
15. Jarrett Allen
After signing a huge, $100M deal in the offseason, Allen is playing the best basketball of his career. He’s posting 16.9 points and 10.9 boards per game while swatting 1.5 shots and shooting just a hair under 70% from the field. He’s got the trajectory to be one of the league’s premier big men for years to come.
16. Jamal Murray
Murray (ACL) hasn’t taken the court this season, but the Nuggets are hopeful to get him back before the playoffs after he averaged 21.2 points, 4.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.7 triples while shooting 47.7/40.8/86.9 splits a season ago. Murray broke out in the Bubble Playoffs where he averaged 32/6/6 against the Jazz in the first round and had a three-game stretch where he went for 142 points and 22 triples. He’s one of the league’s best point guards and still a month shy of his 25th birthday.
17. OG Anunoby
Anunoby has improved every year of his career, and that’s been the case again this season. He’s averaging 19.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.7 triples and 1.6 steals and continues to excel as a valuable scorer, floor spacer and disruptive defender for Toronto.
18. Deandre Ayton
Ayton is averaging 17/11 while shooting 63% from the floor this season, and he has the ability to dominate opponents in the paint. His defensive abilities are still in question, which is why he gets a bump down on this list.
19. Jaren Jackson Jr.
I might be a bit higher on JJJ than the general consensus, but he impacts the game in such a meaningful way that I can’t rank him any lower. On the season, he’s averaging 16.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.0 steals and 1.8 triples. He serves as an elite rim protector and a stretch big who can step out for a triple. Injuries hampered him early in his career, but now that he’s finding his groove, his best basketball is likely ahead of him.
20. Brandon Ingram
A creative scorer who can get a bucket whenever he needs it, Ingram is also adept at finding teammates, evidenced by the career-high 5.1 assists he’s handing out this season. In addition to the dimes, BI is averaging 22.9 points, 6.1 boards and 1.7 triples. His ability to score and facilitate as well as his length on defense makes him a top-20 player on this list.
21. Miles Bridges
Bridges has been featured in quite a few highlight reels in his career thanks to his ability to throw down lobs and make athletic dunks on the break. He’s proven that he can make an impact on the court outside of posterizing defenders, and he’s one of the favorites for Most Improved Player behind averages of 19.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.9 triples – all career-highs.
22. Cade Cunningham
The No. 1 pick started the season injured and looking a bit rusty, but he’s certainly delivered since finding his footing. On the season, Cunningham is averaging 15.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.2 triples. He’s shooting just 38.6% from the field, but he’s still just a rookie, and efficiency has never been his bread and butter.
23. Josh Giddey
Giddey is a stat-stuffing machine, averaging 11.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists this season. As a 6’8 point guard, he’s got a unique build and skill set to be a highly success floor general for years to come. He’s also the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.
24. De’Aaron Fox
After improving in Years 2-4, Fox has taken a big step back this season, particularly as a scorer and facilitator. His three-point game is somehow worse, and his AST:TO ratio is less than 2:1. We’ve seen his explosiveness and freak athletic abilities on display, but it doesn’t look like he can be successful as a team’s top option due to his liabilities as a shooter and his tendency to create careless turnovers.
25. Scottie Barnes
Just like Evan Mobley above, Barnes has been a two-way beast this season, averaging 14.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 dimes and 1.9 combined blocks/steals. The Raptors definitely don’t look silly for taking him at No. 4.
Next up: Tyler Herro, Desmond Bane, Mo Bamba, Collin Sexton, Cole Anthony, RJ Barrett, Tyrese Maxey
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