Skip to main content

10 NBA Players That Are Younger Than You Might Have Expected

  • Author:
  • Publish date:
10 NBA Players That Are Younger Than You Might Have Expected

They say that age is just a number. For NBA players, their entire career is a battle against time and that number. Most NBA players start to see a decline on the court around their mid to late 30s unless your name is LeBron James. Some defy the laws of aging, and then some look older, play older, or just carry themselves older than they are. That is what the players on today’s list have in common. In one way or another, they appear to be way younger than reality.

There are several reasons this can occur. The obvious reason is physical appearance. Not necessarily wrinkles or gray hair but just aging rapidly or having the Greg Oden syndrome where the player looks 40 but is still 20 years old. Another reason could be the way they carry themselves off the court. Players that stay quiet and out of the limelight tend to have a maturity gene that peers their age may not possess. Lastly, maybe their game has matured to the point they appear to be a veteran when, in fact, they are still in diapers when compared to the older players.

Whatever the case may be, here are 10 players that are far younger than they appear.

Brandon Ingram - 24 Years Old

Brandon Ingram

With how much the landscape of the NBA continues to change, it seems like it has been a decade since Brandon Ingram has been a Laker. That was just 3 years ago but the fact that Ingram is only 24 is mind-boggling. This can be attributed to many factors. He isn’t a huge presence on social media much like the majority of players in his age group. His last post on Instagram was over a year ago and the same goes for Twitter. He’s quiet and stays out of the spotlight, just letting his game do the talking.

On the court is where Brandon Ingram’s maturation makes it seem like he has put in at least a decade of service to the league. Early on in his career, Ingram relied way too heavily on his perimeter game and struggled to create his shot. That and the frenzy created when the Lakers were in desperate seek of another star to pair with LeBron threw him off his focus a bit. Since joining the Pelicans, Ingram has developed rapidly. He has added more post and interior moves to his arsenal, opening up perimeter opportunities at a more feasible rate. He put the world on notice in his 1st playoff appearance in 2022 against the Suns. He put up 27.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 6.2 APG. Even though the Pelicans lost in 6 games, the league and fans had taken notice of Ingram’s development and have pegged New Orleans as a sleeper in 2023.

Andre Drummond - 28 Years Old

Andre Drummond

It is hard to believe that Andre Drummond won his first of 4 rebound titles just 6 years ago. He last led the league in RPG in 2020 with the Pistons and Cavs. Maybe it was the trade deadline drama that took dragged out forever towards the end of his stay in Cleveland? Or, it may be the fact that because he seems to be aging like Greg Oden and his role has been reduced to that of a bench player for the Philadelphia 76ers after stops with the Lakers and Nets.

Drummond played and started for the Brooklyn Nets in 24 games in 2022 before being traded to the Sixers in the Ben Simmons deal. In 7 seasons with Cleveland and Detroit before that, he averaged at least 14.0 PPG and 10.0 RPG. He looked like he was ready to get back into that shape in Brooklyn, but then play declined rapidly after the trade. Injuries and lackluster play have made it seem like it is the end of the line for Drummond at just 28 years old, a career reminiscent of Andrew Bynum’s. Bynum lasted just 8 seasons in the league before retiring at 26.

Steven Adams - 28 Years Old

Steven Adams

Steven Adams is another player whose role on the court makes it seem like he has been around longer than he has. Adams has never been too much of an offensive threat on the floor and even though those numbers have dwindled a bit since leaving OKC, one can argue he is even more impactful now. In the past 2 seasons with Memphis and New Orleans, Adams has made a great impact with both clubs. Rather than his scoring being the catalyst behind that, it has been the intangibles that have shone through with his defense, rebounding, and playmaking.

How does this make him seem so much older? Well, since his OKC days, and even more so now, Adams has always played the role of tough and rugged father-type on his teams. We have seen him display impeccable manners by stopping mid-play to catch opponents ready to take a nasty fall a la Mason Plumlee. We have seen him step in and stop physical conversations by literally picking opponents up and walking them to the other side of the court. Cooler heads always seem to prevail when he is around. Teammates look to him for leadership and veteran guidance. It is these things that make it seem like Adams is pushing 40 rather than barely knocking on 30’s door.

Bobby Portis - 27 Years Old

Bobby Portis

There is just no way Bobby Portis is 27 years old, right? The man just looks like he has lived 3 lifetimes and needs to impart his wisdom to the youth. There was a time when many thought Portis was going to be out of the league, now he has turned it around and become a fan favorite, and played a vital role in a Milwaukee championship. Don’t get me wrong, Portis plays every game like it is his last, and his intensity is contagious. It often ignites a much-needed spark for his teammates and the home crowd. I can’t tell you though just how many times I’ve been concerned for him jumping around the way he does because I could have sworn he was much older and was risking serious injury.

Portis was drafted 22nd overall in the 2015 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. After three and a half seasons there he was traded to the Wizards where he played a solid 28 games. He then played for the Knicks in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before settling down the last 2 years in Milwaukee. His game has drastically changed with the Bucks averaging 13.1 PPG and 8.1 RPG the past 2 years. More than that, he has taken on this sort of veteran “Uncle Booby” type role where he carries himself like a 15-year vet. After so many stips in suck a short time, it can become difficult to keep track of just how long a player has been around. Bobby Portis is one of those cases.

DeMarcus Cousins - 31 Years Old

DeMarcus Cousins

Some days it feels like just yesterday that Boogie Cousins was considered one of the best bigs in the entire NBA. Then all you have to do is watch him play and realize that version of Cousins now only appears in brief flashes. When with Sacramento and New Orleans, Cousins was dominating the league, putting up stat lines that rivaled MyPlayer action in the 2K video game franchise. Before his injury problems, Boogie put up 5 straight seasons of 20.0 PPG or more and 10.0 RPG. He was on top of the world primed to sign a record contract. Then it all changed.

Cousins would suffer an Achilles tendon tear in 2018 with New Orleans and then an ACL tear during his comeback in 2019 with the Warriors. Since these two injuries, he has attempted with numerous teams to find a permanent home and get back to his dominant ways. It has not worked out. Since his injuries, Cousins has failed to average even 10.0 PPG in a season, let alone his old norm of 20.0 PPG. It is sad to see such a great player suffer such great misfortune, but even sadder when you realize he should still be in his prime at 31 years old.

Bradley Beal - 28 Years Old

Bradley Beal

The incessant media coverage and questions about Bradley Beal’s future with the Wizards annually contribute to the thought that Bradley Beal is way older than he is. In reality, he is 2 weeks shy of his 29th birthday, still in the meat of his prime. It has already been 3 seasons since we last saw the electric backcourt of Beal and John Wall with the Wizards giving hope of a bright future for the DMV. Now, the year is 2022 and Wall hasn’t played in 2 seasons while yet again we find ourselves in a Bradley Beal rumor frenzy after another disappointing season. It feels just like that movie Groundhog Day, repetitive and neverending.

The past few seasons have been fruitful for Beal, having cracked the 30.0 PPG threshold in 2 out of the 3. Publicly, Beal has acted the right way, hopeful about the future, and bought into the future with the Wizards. Beal has already put in 10 years of service in the NBA and his championship window is all but closed in Washington. Fans have been clamoring for him to leave his situation or for a contender to make a move to acquire Beal acting as if it is rapidly closing altogether. Beal has time, maybe even 4, or 5 more prime years to make the move we all want to see.

Kawhi Leonard - 30 Years Old

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard has always kept a low profile since he entered the league in 2012. His calm and collected demeanor is not what lands him on our list. Doesn’t it seem like forever ago that Kawhi was winning championships and Finals MVP with the San Antonio Spurs? That’s because it was 8 years ago already. I think we fail to realize as fans that Kawhi was doing that at just 22 years old with San Antonio, tricking us into thinking Kawhi is much older. I mean, Kawhi has already won another championship and Finals MVP since then in 2019 with the Raptors.

It feels like a lifetime has occurred since that 2019 Finals run too. After a long and drawn-out free agency process in 2019, Leonard decided to join the LA Clippers. The team had high expectations combining Leonard and Paul George. It has not produced the championship results to match the expectations. In 2020, they blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the 2nd round of the playoffs, and in 2021, Leonard tore his ACL during the 2nd round of the playoffs. The Clippers made the Conference Finals without Leonard in 2021 but failed to make the playoffs without him for the entire year in 2022. As I said, a lot has happened since that title in 2019, yet the thought that Kawhi still has a championship window at just 30 is nearly unfathomable.

Anthony Davis - 29 Years Old

Anthony Davis

As you may have noticed, there are a few appearances from guys who were one and done in college to appear here on our list. Anthony Davis is no different. Anthony Davis has been a force to be reckoned with since his second season after being drafted to the Pelicans in 2013. While with the Pelicans, he was considered to be the best two-way big in the game, leading the league in blocks 4 times. Since being traded to the Lakers before the 2020 season, however, it’s as if Davis has gone through an entire career’s worth of stuff in just 3 seasons.

Since 2020, Davis has won a championship, been eliminated in the first round after being hobbled by injuries, and miss the playoffs altogether with the Lakers. Alongside LeBron James, Davis’s misfortunes have been under a microscope, especially among NBA fans and analysts. The way they make it seem as if Davis is ready to hang them up, turn in his papers, and collect social security. The injuries are slightly concerning yes, but he is only 28 years old going on 29, there is time to return to the old AD.

Julius Randle - 27 Years Old

Julius Randle

The first 2 seasons of Julius Randle’s career were spent alongside the late Kobe Bryant as teammates in Los Angeles. It is incomprehensible that the last time we saw Kobe Bryant grace the hardwood was already 6 years ago. Randle was just a baby basically, fresh off a short stint at the University Of Kentucky before entering the NBA. Between now and then, it has been a whirlwind for Randle.

Randle’s journey since being in LA is enough to say “Damn, he’s only 27?!”. He spent one year in New Orleans and performed pretty well, averaging 21.4 PPG and 8.7 RPG. He then moved on to New York where he remains. He struggled in his first year in NY, triggering typical Knicks fans to call for his head after just one season. He followed it up with a career-best season and won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. The 2021-22 was his 3rd season with the Knicks and again he struggled. The New York boo birds returned to call for his head once more. Randle has felt some of the highest highs and lowest lows thus far in his career at just 27 years old. His age is still in his favor, even though it may not seem like it.

Clint Capela - 28 Years Old

Clint Capela

Wait, Clint Capela is only 28 years old?! It seems like ages ago that Capela was playing a key role on a contending Houston Rockets team. Developing under Chris Paul and James Harden in Houston, Capela quickly became one of the most promising young bigs in the game. It came to everyone’s surprise when Houston traded Capela to the Hawks in 2020, leading us to believe that Capela was either done or injured.

We were wrong. Capela responded by averaging 15.2 PPG and leading the league with 14.3 RPG. The Hawks ended up being Conference finalists in Capela’s first season and he had a decent 2nd season with the team as well. It still comes as a shock to the system to realize Capela is only 29 when you consider the journey his Houston teammates have been on since that time. Harden and Paul have each been on more than 1 new team while the Rockets have gone into full rebuild mode. The distance between us and the times when they all played together is not great, but man does it seem like ages ago at the same time.


Kobe Bryant vs. Kevin Durant: Career Highs Comparison

The 10 Best Big 3’s Of All-Time That We Can Create: No Limits, Mixed Eras

All-Time Red Superteam vs. All-Time Gold Superteam: Who Would Win A 7-Game Series?

10 Most Realistic Free Agents The Lakers Can Acquire This Summer

Dennis Rodman’s Career-High Rebounds Against Every NBA Team