The future of the NBA is in good hands, mainly because there are so many talented young players in the league who are ready to take the reigns off of current superstar players. For over a decade, LeBron James has been the face of the NBA as the most talented and physically dominant player in the league. Of course, Stephen Curry has become a “babyface” for the NBA in recent years due to his humble character off the court and eye-catching playing style.
But who are the next group of player ready to take the league by storm? We are currently witnessing Giannis Antetokounmpo, a 27-year-old forward with some of the most unique skills in NBA history. All things equal, it is expected that The Greek Freak will take over from LeBron and Curry as the next big star of the league.
But who is the next crop of young players, under the age of 25, that can challenge Giannis and eventually become the face of the league over the next decade? There are some incredible talents under the age of 25 that will have the league in their hands, once elite stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry are all out of the league. Without further ado, here are the top-25 players in the world under 25 years old.
Michael Porter Jr - 23 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 9.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Career Stats: 14.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Michael Porter Jr has only appeared in 9 games this season because his nagging back injuries have come back to haunt him once again. The talented forward was signed to a max contract this offseason and has yet to showcase he can hit the All-Star level, even though he has excellent offensive skills.
Even if Porter Jr has not shown the ability to become a star player just yet, his injuries should not be held against him. The forward averaged 19.0 PPG and 7.3 RPG last year, very strong numbers for a young player still finding his footing. Porter Jr has a chance to become one of the best young players in the league, but he just needs to get healthy first.
Collin Sexton - 23 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 16.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Career Stats: 20.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Similar to Porter Jr, Sexton has had injuries that have kept him out of NBA action for the majority of the season. The scoring guard only appeared in 11 games so far, averaging 16.0 PPG on 45.0% shooting from the field. Thanks to Darius Garland’s growth, people are already forgetting about the 4th-year man.
In terms of talent, Sexton has a chance to crack the top-25 list of players under 25 years old. He has excellent range, confidence with the ball in his hands, and improving basketball IQ. The 23-year-old put up 24.3 PPG last year on 37.1% from three, so he clearly has a chance to impact the game with a talented Cleveland Cavaliers team. All Sexton needs to do is get healthy and start improving his playmaking ability to reach the next level.
Jordan Poole - 22 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 16.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Career Stats: 12.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Jordan Poole has burst on the scene in the absence of Klay Thompson earlier on this season, giving Stephen Curry a valuable sidekick who can shoot from the perimeter and attack defenses. The shooting guard is having a terrific season, averaging 16.3 PPG on 44.2% shooting.
There were doubts about Poole continuing his level of play once Klay returned, and that has been put to bed. The shooting guard is still a threat with the ball in his hands, and he is only 22 years old. As long as Poole continues to develop his game and learn from the two greatest shooters ever, he will continue to be one of the league’s best young players.
25. Tyrese Haliburton - 22 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 15.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 7.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Career Stats: 14.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG
The trade that sent Tyrese Haliburton to the Indiana Pacers was shocking because the guard is already an above-average scorer and playmaker in his second season. A 6’5” guard with length and athleticism, Haliburton is a natural baller with a chance to become a bonafide All-Star.
So far this season, Haliburton is putting up 15.0 PPG and 7.7 APG on 46.4% FG and 41.4% 3-PT FG, great signs that the guard could become a modern-day star. At only 22 years old, Haliburton is already ahead of the pack as a passer and will continue to climb these rankings over the next season or two.
24. Desmond Bane - 23 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 17.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Career Stats: 13.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
The Memphis Grizzlies' future is in great hands under the leadership of Ja Morant. The superstar point guard is having a phenomenal season and has improved the level of play of others around him. One of those players is Demond Bane, a sharpshooter with incredible potential as a scorer. Of course, he also has the size at 6’5” and 215 lbs to be an impact player on defense on the wing.
Bane is putting up fantastic scoring numbers at very efficient shooting clips this season, an indication of what to expect from the young man going forward. The 23-year-old is putting up 17.6 PPG on 45.4% FG, 41.1% 3-PT FG, and 90.5% FT. Bane is one of the best possible sidekicks to Morant, and also one of the best young players in the NBA.
23. Tyrese Maxey - 21 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 17.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Career Stats: 12.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG
When James Harden joined the Philadelphia 76ers, everyone started talking about a dynamic duo. But we might have a Big Three in Philly because Tyrese Maxey is balling out of his mind. Maxey is putting up 17.6 PPG on 48.3% shooting from the field and is getting more comfortable on the floor by the game.
Playing for a title-contending team is never easy for a young player, but Maxey has taken it in his stride. The point guard can shoot the three and is improving as a playmaker, things that will continue to improve under the leadership and presence of former MVP Jame Harden and potential MVP candidate Joel Embiid.
22. Scottie Barnes - 20 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 14.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Career Stats: 14.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Along with Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes is right in the mix for Rookie of the Year. The talented forward has arrived as a starting-caliber player in his first season and the Toronto Raptors might have a gem on their hands. Drafted No. 4 overall, Barnes was clearly a great addition for the Raptors.
Barnes is putting up 14.9 PPG on 48.5% shooting from the field, very strong numbers for a defensive-minded forward who plays hard every night. The 20-year-old is part of a talented young core of OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet, and they are currently fighting for a playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference.
21. John Collins - 24 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 16.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.1 BPG
Career Stats: 16.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.0 BPG
John Collins continues to put up very good numbers for the Atlanta Hawks as a forward who can shoot the three and also catch lobs from All-Star point guard Trae Young. The athletic big man signed a big 5 year, $125,000,000 contract because he brings everything that a modern forward is required to.
After all, Collins was arguably the second-best player on a team that made the Eastern Conference Finals last year. Trae Young is having yet another All-Star season, and John Collins has been his best go-to partner in the offense. At 24 years old, the forward can continue to improve his defense and shooting to reach the next level as a potential All-Star.
20. Lonzo Ball - 24 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 13.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Career Stats: 11.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Lonzo Ball might never reach the superstar level that we expected from him early on in his career, but he is still one of the best young players in the league at his point guard position. Ball has a natural ability to feed his teammates and is an excellent defender, key things for a contending Chicago Bulls team.
Lonzo’s numbers on the stat sheet never leap at you, but his impact as a steady defender and playmaker certainly does. Most importantly, Lonzo has managed to improve his shooting from the perimeter. The former No. 2 overall pick is nailing a career-high 42.3% from three, a strong indication that Lonzo will even be a better player soon.
19. De’Aaron Fox - 24 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 22.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Career Stats: 18.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG
De’Aaron Fox’s stock may have fallen a bit lately because of his name being involved in trade rumors, but there is no doubt the speedy point guard is an impact player at his position. Fox can explode to the rim with ease and is particularly effective on the break. How many times have we seen Fox outrun other players even with the ball in his hands?
One area that Fox needs to continue to improve is his playmaking because averaging at least 8 APG is a great way for the point guard to start making a claim for All-Star status. The Sacramento Kings gave Fox some immediate help in Domoantas Sabonis, so it remains to be seen if the point guard can take the jump to the next level or risk hitting a plateau with his play.
18. RJ Barrett - 21 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 18.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Career Stats: 16.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
RJ Barrett is blossoming into a go-to scorer with the New York Knicks, even if the franchise is struggling at the moment. The talented swingman has greatly improved his shooting since his rookie season, taking his averages from 32.0% 3-PT to 35.3% 3-PT this year. Last year, Barrett was nailing over 40% of his threes.
An above-average scorer and rebounder, Barrett is one of the brightest spots on a Knicks roster at the moment. He stands 6’6” and weighs 214 lbs, a good size for a young player that competes at the small forward and shooting guard positions. Barrett’s numbers are improving, and so has his overall play.
17. Miles Bridges - 23 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 19.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Career Stats: 12.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Miles Bridges is one of the contenders for Most Improved Player this year, putting up very solid numbers alongside All-Star LaMelo Ball in Charlotte. Bridges is becoming one of the best power forwards in the NBA because he can shoot the three and also run the floor spectacularly well. An improving defender, Bridges can also become a two-way star.
The former No. 12 overall pick has picked up his numbers across the board and could be in the mix for an All-Star Team going forward. Averaging 19.7 PPG on 48.0% shooting from the field is great production from Bridges because the big man is a major reason the Hornets are in the playoff mix.
16. Jaren Jackson Jr - 22 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 16.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 2.2 BPG
Career Stats: 15.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.8 BPG
Already one of the best defensive players in the league, Jaren Jackson Jr has arrived as a dynamic two-way player. Even if Jackson Jr did not make the All-Star Team this year, he has plenty of time to start generating All-Star votes in his young career.
The Grizzlies already have some elite talent including Ja Moran and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr is the ultimate enforcer and defensive star of the team. The big man can also score inside, using his soft touch to finish his easy chances. From deep, Jackson has a career average of 35.1% which will work if he can consistently hover at that level for the rest of the season.
15. Tyler Herro - 22 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 20.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Career Stats: 16.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Possibly the runaway 6th Man of the Year this season, Tyler Herro is balling out of his mind for the Miami Heat this year. After doubts about Herro’s mentality and consistency last year, the shooting guard is having his best year as he looks for a max contract. Considering Miami have been the most consistent team in the East this year, they might fork out the cash.
Herro is putting up 20.6 PPG on 38.1% from three and 86.5% from the free-throw line, All-Star numbers considering his team’s record. Tyler has an innate ability to create his own shot anytime he wants and is getting more comfortable handling the ball to create for others as well. At 22 years old, Herro is already one of the best shooting guards in the world.
14. Evan Mobley - 20 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 14.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.7 BPG
Career Stats: 14.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.7 BPG
Evan Mobley has played like the best rookie all season long, putting up 14.5 PPG and 8.0 RPG while also chipping in 1.7 BPG. The big man will be an All-Star very soon in the East as well. Mobley is extremely confident shooting the ball from the perimeter and also defending the rim, making him an invaluable asset for the Cavaliers.
Cleveland already have an All-Star big man in Jarrett Allen on the squad, and a possible twin-towers pairing will give the team an almost unpenetrable force down low. Mobley has more offensive skills than Allen and possibly more defensive potential. At only 20 years old right now, Evan is going to be something special as he gains more experience.
13. Jarrett Allen - 23 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 16.3 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Career Stats: 11.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 0.6 SPG, 1.4 BPG
Nobody likely had a problem with Jarrett Allen earning his first All-Star selection in his fifth season, because he is one of the best rim protectors in the league. An elite shot-blocker and high-flyer, Allen makes Cleveland better anytime he is on the court. Even if he is limited to scoring around the rim, his impact is undeniably great for such a young player.
Allen is putting up 16.3 PPG and 10.9 RPG this season, career numbers for him. We saw glimpses of Allen becoming an All-Star center when he was in Brooklyn, and he has lived up to that potential so far. As things stand, Allen is the best big man in Cleveland although Evan Mobley is right on his heels.
12. Anthony Edwards - 20 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 21.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Career Stats: 20.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Most people knew Anthony Edwards was a star in the making, but he is a supremely confident young man with some impressive offensive skills. A sharpshooter and explosive athlete, Edwards does not mind taking it to the rim against bigger defenders. Standing 6’4” and weighing 225 lbs, Edwards is built for being a go-to scorer.
The No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Anthony Edwards has rewarded the Minnesota Timberwolves for their trust in him. It is not easy to find an above-average scorer with a hunger to improve, so the Timberwolves must find a way to keep Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns together for the long haul. If both players can click together on the floor, missing the playoffs could be a thing of the past.
11. Brandon Ingram - 24 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 22.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Career Stats: 18.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Brandon Ingram is a unique talent because he has a ton of skills in his 6’8” frame. Similar to Kevin Durant, Ingram is lanky and slim with explosive athleticism and some elite scoring skills. The only issue for Ingram has been his inconsistency and tendency to take bad shots, things often attributed to young players who are learning how to win.
The 2020 Most Improved Player already has an All-Star Team appearance to his name and has 3 straight seasons of averaging at least 22 PPG and 4 APG. While it will be farfetched to suggest that Ingram can become the next Kevin Durant, he can certainly create his own legacy if he fine-tunes his shooting percentages and continues to improve his playmaking ability.
10. Deandre Ayton - 23 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 16.3 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Career Stats: 16.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG
The Phoenix Suns took a massive step up last year thanks to Chris Paul, but the team does not reach the Finals without the play of their future All-Star center. Deandre Ayton’s contract talks placed some doubts about the big man’s motivation coming into the season, but he has put those fears to rest.
Instead, Ayton is continuing his play on both ends of the floor by improving his offensive game and also protecting the rim more consistently. The center made it to the Finals in only his 3rd season, so he already has some playoff experience under his belt. As long As Ayton can maintain his level of play and get the contract he feels he deserves, Phoenix could have an All-Star in the paint for years to come.
9. Darius Garland - 22 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 20.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 8.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Career Stats: 16.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Darius Garland is playing on a team with a ton of exciting young talent, but the point guard has stood out the most with his scoring and playmaking ability. The 22-year-old made his first All-Star Team this season, averaging 20.7 PPG and 8.1 APG through 49 games. Darius can stroke the three very well (38.5%), nail his free-throws when he gets to the line (89.8%), and also create for others when defenses start focusing on him.
The speedy youngster has likely led Cleveland to a top-6 finish in the East this year when nobody expected the team to be much of a threat just yet. Most importantly, Garland has made it clear that he wants to build his own legacy alongside his Cavaliers teammates independent of the great LeBron James.
8. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - 23 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 23.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Career Stats: 17.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.7 BPG
The Oklahoma City Thunder have found their new version of Russell Westbrook, in the form of an athletic young point guard with improving shooting ability. Gilgeous-Alexander is putting up excellent numbers this season and looks more comfortable making decisions as the go-to guy in the offense.
Shai is only 23 but has 4 years of experience under his belt including 3 straight seasons of putting up over 19 PPG. The former Los Angeles Clipper has great size at 6’6” for a point guard and elite athleticism which gives him the advantage on both ends of the floor. The former No. 11 pick shot the three at 41.8% last year, with a career 34.7% average. Improving his three-point shot could be the key for Gilgeous-Alexander reaching superstardom.
7. Bam Adebayo - 24 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 18.9 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Career Stats: 13.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Bam Adebayo is one of the best centers in the NBA, never mind the fact that he is only 24 years old. The Miami Heat have become a title contender over the past few years because Jimmy Butler joined the team in free agency and Bam blossomed into an All-Star. Adebayo is a defensive star, even when competing against players usually bigger than him at the center position.
Bam is only 6’9”, but certainly plays bigger than he actually is. He can catch lops, hit the mid-range jumper, and also pass the ball at a very high level. The center is adept at making the right plays on both ends of the floor and will continue to build on a resume that includes 2 All-NBA Team appearances and 2 seasons averaging a double-double.
6. LaMelo Ball - 20 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 19.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Career Stats: 17.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 6.8 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG
There is no doubt that LaMelo is the best Ball brother in the league because he is proving to everyone that the hype around him all these years is real. The talented guard has unlimited range and unstoppable handles, making everyone around him better as he learns how to dominate the game against top-tier opponents.
Ball has literally uplifted the play of guys like Miles Bridges on his squad, and Charlotte will continue to be a problem in the future. At only 20 years old in his second season, Ball made the All-Star Team following his Rookie of the Year campaign. Averaging 19.7 PPG and 7.3 APG, Ball will be one of the best players in the world in just a few years' time.
5. Zion Williamson - 21 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: DNP
Career Stats: 25.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Zion Williamson is a top-10 talent in the league, but we have not seen it just yet. The powerhouse forward has yet to play a game this season, and reports have come out that there have been more injury setbacks than expected. It is a shame that a 21-year-old world-class athlete cannot find continuity in his health so early in his career.
If Zion can get healthy, the New Orleans Pelicans should be a playoff team going forward. Williamson put up 27.0 PPG and 7.2 RPG last year in only his second season, marking his first All-Star appearance as well. An athletic phenom who can score in the paint and also haul in rebounds, Zion has a chance to compete with a few other players to become the face of the NBA. What remains to be seen is if Williamson can get healthy and get to a decent weight to preserve his longevity.
4. Jayson Tatum - 24 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 26.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Career Stats: 20.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.7 BPG
In terms of raw offensive ability, Jayson Tatum could be among the top-2 players at his age. The forward already has a ton of moves and counter-moves at 24 years old and is a solid go-to scorer in crunch time. From what we are seeing from Tatum already, we could be looking at a superstar.
As great as Tatum is already, he still needs to continue to improve his defensive capabilities and playmaking to reach that superstar level. He has played well enough to lead the Boston Celtics back into playoff contention this season and deserves a lot of credit for making his 3rd straight All-Star appearance in the East.
3. Trae Young - 23 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 28.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 9.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Career Stats: 25.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 9.0 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Little “Ice Tre” is incredibly dominant despite standing 6’1” and weighing 164 lbs because he takes advantage of his speed and skill to punish defenders. An elite shooter and playmaker, Young did the unthinkable by leading the Atlanta Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals last year and almost making the Finals.
Young is already one of the best guards in the NBA at 23 years old and is drawing comparisons to Stephen Curry in his ability to make shots from deep and dominate his position. An elite ball-handler, scorer, and passer; Young’s stats are off the charts as he looks to be an All-Star starter for the majority of his career.
2. Ja Morant - 22 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 27.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Career Stats: 21.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 7.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Ja Morant has arrived as a superstar in the NBA, putting up MVP numbers and carrying the Memphis Grizzlies to a top-3 record in the Western Conference. The most athletic player in the game today, Ja is doing things resemblant to a young Derrick Rose in terms of scoring the ball and exploding to the rim. After all, those comparisons are very accurate taking into account playing style and all-around impact.
Morant has exploded onto the scene as the next-best point guard in the game, and there is no doubt the Grizzlies’ star is the most dominant at his position after Stephen Curry. Ja is getting more comfortable with the ball in his hands, which spells trouble to the rest of the league. Only one man is ahead of Ja to become the face of the league, and he happens to play for the Dallas Mavericks.
1. Luka Doncic - 23 Years Old
2021-22 Stats: 27.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 8.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Career Stats: 26.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 7.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.4 BPG
There is no doubt that Luka Doncic is the next face of the NBA, as he is only 23 years old and is recognized as a top-10 player in the game already. The Slovenian superstar is putting up MVP numbers every season so far and will be carrying the Dallas Mavericks to the playoffs every year going forward.
Luka is a triple-double threat every night and is an offensive machine on his own, whether he scores or acts as a playmaker for others. The 6’7” star is acting as a point guard this season, but his versatility means he can play in any position as the best player in the world under 25 years old. Out of all the top stars in the league, Luka has the best chance to become the face of the league in the future.