ESPN recently published a list featuring the 10 best players 25 or under based on potential, and while the ranking was kind of controversial, you couldn't argue with the 10 players they selected, as they've already proved to be potential franchise players.
Nonetheless, some players have been playing at a great level lately, yet they continue to fly under the radar. More than that, no one seems to be talking about them even though they continue to develop and make a huge impact on their teams.
It's obvious that Zion Williamson, Luka Doncic, or Jayson Tatum will be superstars. They're stars already. But what about those ranked a tier below? Today, we'll talk about 10 underrated young players that could end up becoming superstars.
10. RJ Hampton
People sleep on RJ Hampton but we're talking about a young man that was one of the highest-ranked prospects in the nation before he decided to take his talents overseas. An injury-riddled season in Australia made his Draft stock take a dip but the talent is clearly there.
Hampton didn't get many opportunities in Denver but he'll now have the green light with a rebuilding Orlando Magic team looking to build their backcourt for the future. He can play on and off the ball and is quite the gifted athlete. He's got long arms to be a versatile switcher but still needs to bulk up and be more efficient.
9. Nic Claxton
Even though they have James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Blake Griffin; I still believe that the Brooklyn Net's X-Factor could be Nic Claxton. Why? Because he's actually their best rim protector and inside presence.
Claxton is by no means an offensive juggernaut like the aforementioned players but he's got the potential to be a nightly double-double with 2+ blocks per game. He's long, athletic, and has a never-stopping engine. If he manages to stay healthy, he'll be the answer they've been looking for to get some stops in the paint.
8. Talen Horton-Tucker
Talen Horton-Tucker was a deal-breaker in multiple deals with the Los Angeles Lakers this season and that should tell you just enough. Every team dealing with them wanted to get Horton-Tucker in return, yet Rob Pelinka knew he was way too valuable.
Horton-Tucker can get buckets from all three levels with ease. The game just comes naturally to him, and he's made great strides as a facilitator as well. Obviously, he's not going to have many shots with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Kyle Kuzma around; but it's just a matter of time before he blossoms into a deadly scorer.
7. Isaac Okoro
Isaac Okoro has been one of the most disappointing rookies thus far this season but to be fair, it hasn't been all his fault. He's struggled with multiple injuries and the tanking Cleveland Cavaliers have had no incentive to rush their prized rookie back into the game.
Okoro showed flashes of being a lockdown defender during his time in college and he made an impact in the defensive end in the NBA as well. His offense is still a work in progress but he's got a solid shooting form and could become an elite two-way player in a couple of years.
6. Cole Anthony
People aren't fond of tweener point guards that look to shoot more often than to pass but Cole Anthony is a bonafide bucket-getter. He's been training against NBA competition since he was a teenager and once the game starts to slow down for him, he'll be a menace.
Anthony could be more suited to be a shooting guard than a true point guard and he needs to work on his efficiency. But he's got a lot of confidence in his game and some impressive handles and moves, and he'll have plenty of chances to improve and grow through his mistakes at Orlando.
5. RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett was a second-overall pick just two years ago, yet people seem to think he's a bust somehow, mostly because of how good Ja Morant and Zion Williamson have been. There were some concerns about his tunnel vision and shot selection, but he's made some great strides in his second season.
Barrett is averaging an efficient 17.5 points per game with 5.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.4 three-pointers per game while playing on one of the biggest markets in the world. He's just 20 years old and has played a combined 107 games throughout his career, so people shouldn't count him out so fast.
4. Theo Maledon
Theo Maledon was one of the most intriguing prospects entering last year's draft but it was clear that he was pretty raw. Some thought it would take him a couple of years before being NBA ready, yet he's already locked in as the Oklahoma City Thunder's starting point guard.
Maledon is getting better every day and he's becoming more comfortable in the league. His defense is above schedule already and he's making great strides as a playmaker as well. He's still an inefficient scorer but he's finding ways to contribute to other aspects of the game.
3. Patrick Williams
Some Chicago Bulls fans were disappointed to see their team use a fourth overall pick on Patrick Williams, who was far from a scorer. Fast-forward to today and the comparisons with Kawhi Leonard are becoming clearer by the day and the fans couldn't be more excited.
Williams has proven to be a plus-defender already. His long arms and big hands, lateral quickness, and defensive IQ made him a deadly and versatile stopper and switcher. But more than that, he's been more aggressive as a scorer as the game slows down for him, shooting 48% from the floor and 38% from three.
2. Aleksej Pokusevski
Aleksej Pokusevski had been turning heads for years thanks to his shooting skills, playmaking abilities, and giant frame. Clearly, he needs to bulk up if he wants to make it in the NBA, but now that he spent a stint in the G-League and the Thunder have unleashed him, he's looking like a stud in the making.
Pokusevskis is averaging 11.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 2.0 three-pointers per 36 minutes this season and the Thunder have made him a focal point in their offense. He can score from all three levels, and has sky-high upside if he puts in some weight and muscle.
1. Kevin Porter Jr
It's always been clear that Kevin Porter Jr is incredibly talented for the game of basketball. Then again, his questionable decisions outside of the court have taken a toll on his career as well. But now that the Houston Rockets trusted him and put him in a position to showcase his skills, he's looking like a major stud.
Porter Jr can play on and off the ball and has a feel for making great passes and setting his teammates up. He's got quick hands and is deadly in passing lanes, has improved as a shooter, and is an athletic freak. If he stays focused and clears his head, he'll be an All-Star in two years.