Now that the Olympics are over and we return to the early days of fall for the association with little to keep NBA fans occupied until October, I thought it was time for The Hoop Doctors annual Top 25 Under 25 NBA rankings.
There are many things taken into consideration for these rankings: Production, age, scarcity at position, trade market value, and potential.
Here are a few disclaimers and descriptions:
•In order to be included on this list you must still be under the age of 25 as of Oct. 25, 2016, which is when the 2015-16 NBA regular season begins.
•Rookies who haven’t played an NBA game yet i.e. Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn, etc. aren’t included.
•Difference in age is a factor. For instance Devin Booker isn’t a better player than Bradley Beal as of today (at least I don’t think so) but Booker is four years younger and is seen as a more valuable future asset considering his potential.
•Trade market value is considered as well. Brandon Knight is still a better player than DeAngelo Russell at this point more than likely, but Russell is seen as having more potential and would be much harder to acquire in a trade.
With further ado here are the top 25 player in the NBA under the age of 25…
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 11.1 REB: 8.1 STL: 1.8 AST: 1.8 BLK: 1.5 PER: 16.2
Noel dealt with a few nagging ailments in 2015-16 and missed 8 more games than the season prior after missing his entire rookie season while recovering from a torn ACL at Kentucky.
Noel took a small step forward offensively in his second season averaging 1.2 more points per game than the previous season in less minutes and raised his shooting percentage from 46 percent to 52 percent. He will never be an offensive weapon, but he is a springy and active center in today’s NBA that can run the floor, cover a pick-and-roll and protect the paint and that makes him a valuable asset. He has been top 10 in defensive plus/minus his first two seasons
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 17.5 REB: 7.0 BLK: 1.2 AST: 1.2 PER: 17.1
I know what you’re thinking, he is only 20 years old and he averaged 17 and 7 as a rookie shouldn’t he be higher on this list? The reason Okafor isn’t higher on this list is the fact that he is a throwback big man that doesn’t have the length or quickness to be a good rim protector and doesn’t have the range to stretch the floor. There is a reason the 76ers haven’t been able to deal him yet. Okafor is a very good player that can be a valuable asset for a team as a post scorer for years in the NBA, his game just doesn’t mesh with the style of play most teams are playing.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 15.4 REB: 2.8 AST: 2.7 STL: 1.2 PER: 14.6
Age: 24 (turns 24 on October 29)
Fournier has really progressed into a talented young shooting guard in this league and a dependable starter on the NBA level. He improved across the board shooting wise in 32 minutes per game for the Magic and was a 40 percent three-point shooter in addition to being a good secondary ball handler. With no Oladipo his role will only increase and the Magic are high on him as a cornerstone of their future paying him a five-year, $85 million contract this summer.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 5.5 REB: 8.0 BLK: 1.6 PER: 14.9
Age: 24 (Turns 24 August 28)
Looking at his regular season stats and thinking about how long Biyombo has been in the NBA, you might be thinking, why is he on this list? Well Biyombo finally flashed and showed his potential as a freak of nature who could dominate the glass, protect the rim and finish on a pick-and-roll as he looked like a top-notch center against the Cavaliers in the eastern conference finals after Jonas Valanciunas went down, including a 26 rebound performance.
Biyombo got paid by the Magic this offseason for his flash but unlike some past guys who have gotten overpaid after one really good playoff series (Jerome James anyone?) I think Biyombo will be a good starting center in the NBA moving forward.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 14.7 REB: 6.7 AST: 2.2 PER: 16.2
Harris is a talented young combo forward that is a good rebounder, serviceable at hitting the corner three, and can create his own shot consistently. He saw an uptick in his play after he was rejuvenated by being traded to the Detroit Pistons at the 2016 NBA trade deadline, his scoring and player efficiency rating went up three points and his shooting percentages increased. He may never be a star or all-star, but he is a good value as a good, 24-year-old combo forward at $16 million per year in the current market.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 19.6 AST: 5.4 REB: 3.9 STL: 1.2 PER: 14.7
When you look at Brandon Knight’s numbers at first glance without taking into account efficiency, he looks like a borderline elite point guard/combo guard. When you look at his shooting percentages (41% from the field, 34% from three), status as a minus defender and propensity for turnovers (top 10 in the NBA) and you see why he has been dealt three times by the age of 23. Knight has talent and can light it up, but he is best suited as a 6th man brought in to be a secondary ball handler and lead scorer for a second unit.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 11.7 REB: 4.9 AST: 1.8 PER: 12.3
Harrison Barnes has shown flashes of having the capability to be a top three player and top two scoring option for a team with his size, athleticism and shooting ability. He lacks consistency and seemingly confidence and struggled mightily in the 2016 NBA Finals. He is getting paid like a superstar at $24 million per season in Dallas. This will be a make or break season for Barnes.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 12.8 REB: 9.1 STL: 1.3 PER: 22.6
Jonas Valanciunas is a very good, young NBA center. He was the third best player on a 56 win team that made the conference finals and was the Raptors best and most consistent player in the playoffs before getting hurt.
He is an average defender, but is very valuable with his traditional center frame and the ability to be fed in the post to get a bucket and clean the glass. Not a vaunted ceiling for Valanciunas, but he is a very good player.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 14.0 AST: 3.1 REB: 2.8 PER: 14.3
LaVine is an absolute freak of nature with otherworldly springiness. He has shown the ability to harness his athleticism and quickness to get to the rim and he almost shot 40 percent from downtown last season. He is the member of the T’Wolves bright core for the future that is most overlooked and now with Kris Dunn in tow they can stop with the LaVine at point guard experiment and let him flourish as a two-guard.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 14.1 REB: 5.2 AST: 1.7 PER: 14.8
After a rookie season that was cut short by injury, Jabari Parker was able to flash some of that offensive skill set that led to him being the No. 2 pick in 2014 and a little sneaky athleticism after shedding some of his baby fat. He needs to become a savvier defender being some what slow-footed, but he can score in a variety of ways even if one of those ways is not from long-range currently (he only shot 25.7% from three last season).
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 16.0 REB: 4.8 AST: 3.9 STL: 1.6 PER: 16.7
One of the newer members of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Victory Oladipo ended his 2015-16 season nicely after struggling to find his rhythm earlier in the season after coming off of an injury. He is a very aggressive and athletic guard who plays both ways and with little or no abandon for his safety (kind of like his new back court mate). He hasn’t shot particularly well in his career thus far, but he is still a valuable asset to a team.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 8.0 REB: 6.7 BLK: 1.6 AST: 1.1 PER: 15.5
Much like Bismack Biyombo in the east, Steven Adams had a coming out party in the playoffs, averaging a double-double against the Spurs and Warriors and looking like exactly the kind of quick, tough, mobile and aggressive center you would want in the league today. The Kiwi can switch out on guards, protect the rim, finish a pick-and-roll with authority and do all the dirty work for a team. His role and numbers should increase with Serge Ibaka shipped off to Orlando.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 10.1 REB: 5.5 BLK: 1.4 PER: 15.4
Myles Turner may be the most overlooked potential future star outside of NBA circles. He apparently looked the best of anybody on the U.S Select team and he has shown the ability in his rookie season to stretch the floor, protect the rim, finish at the rim and basically be the center for a dangerous, new-age offense. Don’t be surprised if he makes a big leap in year two.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 9.2 REB: 6.5 AST: 1.6 PER: 17
Age: 21 (will turn 21 on September 16)
Gordon is a human highlight film as a chiseled, springy, hustle player that can do a little of everything and upside seems almost limitless. He feels like Shawn Marion 2.0 but more athletic and maybe not quite as skilled. Hopefully the Magic actually unleash him this season even though he is going to have to share minutes potentially with Nikola Vucevic, Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Green.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 17.4 REB: 3.4 AST: 2.9 STL: 1.0 PER: 15.5
Bradley Beal has been hampered by some injury issues the past few seasons that have detracted from his ability to take the next step as a player. He is built as the ideal two-guard in the NBA though, a silky smooth and strong two-guard who can can and shoot, handle the ball and get to the rim. He is still a perfect compliment to John Wall in my opinion and I think Beal can be an All-Star and All-NBA performer in the future. He better be getting paid $25 million per year on average.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 13.4 REB: 3.4 AST: 3.3 STL: 1.2 PER: 13.2
Even though he has made some poor decisions to attract unwarranted attention off the floor as a rookie (Snap Chat is dangerous kids), he started to flash the potential that made him the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. He looked great in summer league and appears to have the size, vision, and quick trigger to be a solid point guard in the mold of today’s point guards. It will be interesting to see his growth in year two.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 13.8 AST: 2.6 REB: 2.5 STL: 1.2 PER: 11.9
Age: 20 (Will turn 20 on October 30)
Booker seems to have the skills, basketball I.Q., touch, awareness, footwork and maturity to develop into an elite shooting guard in the mold of Klay Thompson. He progressed rapidly the last half of his rookie season as he gained experience, impressing his peers. He also looked great in summer league and looks to be a good player for many years. He needs to become a better defender but that will come with time.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 9.1 REB: 11.0 BLK: 2.2 AST: 1.5 PER: 17.5
The Stifle Tower has been quite possibly the best rim protecting big man in the NBA the past two seasons, finishing 2nd in defensive plus/minus each season and top 10 in defensive win shares. He has mesmerizing length and can move well for 7’2″ and has a knack for the boards. He may never be an offensive threat but he doesn’t need to be in order to be elite at his position.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 14.3 REB: 7.3 BLK: 1.9 AST: 1.3 PER: 17.7
Porzingis took the Big Apple by storm as a rookie, as a silky-smooth, skilled, legitimately 7’3″ power forward who could score in a variety of ways, put the ball on the floor and have the toughness to succeed with the big boys in the paint.
His shooting percentages weren’t elite by any measure, but a 7’3″ guy who moves like he is 6’7′, can mix it up inside, play on the perimeter and knock down a three-pointer consistently is gold in today’s fast-paced NBA.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 20.7 REB: 3.6 AST: 2.0 STL: 1.0 PER: 16.5
Andrew Wiggins became more confident, aggressive and assertive in his sophomore campaign and increased his scoring by 3.8 point per game. He is an improving shooter and already an elite slasher who uses his freakish length and athleticism (and a nasty spin move) to get to the rim or finish turnaround mid-range shots like a DeMar DeRozan. With Tom Thibodeau now helping him maximize his defensive potential, he can become some ridiculous hybrid of Paul-George, young T-Mac and DeRozan.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 16.9 REB: 7.7 AST: 4.3 STL: 1.4 BLK: 1.2
The Greek Freak is not like any player we have ever seen in NBA history. He is literally built like few humans ever have been at 6’11” (and growing) with never-ending arms, huge hands, a stretchy Achilles that allows for more explosion and the mobility of someone 10 inches shorter.
He took a huge step forward last season and could be a freakish, stat-stuffing triple-double machine of the future with his all-around game and vision. He literally has no ceiling and could be a mix between Scottie Pippen and Penny Hardaway.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 16.2 REB: 14.8 STL: 1.5 BLK: 1.4 PER: 21.2
Andre Drummond is an absolute force of nature and was allowed to spread his wings more offensively with no other traditional big like Greg Monroe to clog up the lane. He was an All-Star, is the best overall rebounder in the NBA and could be the closest thing to Moses Malone that we have in the NBA today. He should continue to progress into an elite center and franchise cornerstone.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 18.3 REB: 10.5 AST: 2.0 BLK: 1.7 PER: 22.5
Age: 21 (turns 21 November 15)
Karl Anthony Towns just had one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory in the NBA for a big man, up there with Shaq and David Robinson.
He looks to have the all-around game, basketball I.Q., mentality and work ethic to develop into the best big man and center in his generation and can score in the post, stretch the floor, handle the ball, pass out of double-teams and protect the rim. He has a very bright future.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 24.3 REB: 10.3 BLK: 2.0 AST: 1.9 STL: 1.3 PER: 22.5
Age: 23 (turns 21 November 15)
We all know Anthony is an absolute athletic marvel and not quite like anything we’ve seen for a big man in the history in the NBA with his size, quickness, skill set and hustle (he as a 6’3″ point guard until his senior year of high school). He had a bit of a down year last season for his standards as he dealt with knee and shoulder issues and failed to make an All-NBA team. He still has limitless potential and could have some MVP hardware or an NBA title before his career is done.
2015-16 Stats: PPG: 19.6 AST: 4.7 REB: 3.0 STL: 1.1 PER: 19.9
Kyrie Irving’s regular season stats aren’t incredibly impressive and were down from the season before, but he was working his way back into basketball shape and getting his rhythm back after missing 29 games because of a knee injury in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals.
He is No. 1 on this list because of the incredible postseason and summer he has had (25-5-3, 44% from three) and the fact that he has inserted himself into the top tier point guard discussion along with Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. Irving was incredible in the NBA Finals, severely out playing Steph Curry on both ends and hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history over Curry to clinch an NBA championship. He was a go-to player on Team USA and had a white girl boat party! In all seriousness, he is the best ball handler and maybe the best offensive weapon in the NBA, life is truly about getting buckets for him.