It’s crazy how many 90’s kids are playing in today’s NBA and what’s even more impressive it’s the high quality they are demonstrating. Without a doubt the future of the NBA it’s safe in hands of these young athletes.
Here I enlist the top 6 young duos in the league. To be clear I considered “young” those players who are 22 or under. These duos were chosen considering their current production and status in the league. But their potential and future chemistry were also taken into account.
6. Nikola Jokic (22) and Gary Harris (22) - Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic has been impressive these past months. Since the All-Star break, he’s been the top passing big man in the NBA with 6.6 assists per game. Jokic is also fourth in the league in triple doubles and he’ll probably stack up a couple more before the season is over. Nuggets fans have been enjoying the Serbian’s artistic game night in and night out.
Along with Jokic, I could have chosen Gary Harris, Jamal Murray or Emmanuel Mudiay. Harris is the one getting more minutes and is the most productive one even if you consider “per 36 minutes” stats. Moreover, Harris’s shooting percentages and plus-minus are way better. That’s why I think, in the long run; Harris will be the better player and therefore “the Joker’s” sidekick.
5. D’Angelo Russell (21) and Julius Randle (22) - Los Angeles Lakers
None of these young lefty Lakers has shown the star power fans are looking for. Sure, D’Angelo is a good point guard, but he’s shooting a mediocre 40% from the field and 35% from deep. His assists numbers are also low. This is definitely not the production Mitch Kupchak was expecting when he drafted Russell at 2nd overall.
Randle drafted 7th overall, has been the kind of player everyone expected: an undersized but strong rebounder with a decent mid-range jumper, nothing more. In some years these two together could take the Lakers to a playoff spot, but don’t expect anything more if they don’t get any All-Star caliber help.
Besides, there is rookie teammate Brandon Ingram (19 years old). But Ingram hasn’t justified his 2nd overall selection with poor stats this year: 8.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 2 APG during 28.6 MPG.
4. Devin Booker (20) and Marquese Chriss (19) - Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker has just been sensational this season. The 20-year-oldshooting guard out of Kentucky is really showing his potential posting up big numbers. He is the youngest player to score at least 20 points in 16 consecutive games and presumes a career high of 39 points. There is no doubt he’ll dominate the league in the future.
His partner, Marquese Chriss, was drafted 8th overall in this years draft. He’s been averaging 19.7 minutes a game but has earned the starting job over fellow big man Dragan Bender. For now, Chriss has shown a nice shooting stroke and notable skills for a 6 ft. 10 player.
Whoever winds up as Booker’s mate (maybe both) they’ll sure be scaring off opponents with premier shooting and athleticism.
3. Joel Embiid (22) and Dario Saric (22) - Philadelphia 76ers
Embiid has proven to be an extremely talented center. He finally debuted this season and impressed everyone. Embiid is a complete player; he has shown great defensive skills (2.5 blocks per game) and some shooting abilities although he’s got to improve in that matter. In a few years, he will be a 20-10 guy for sure. The only problem with the 7 footer are injuries. Before the draft, he suffered a broken right foot and now he battles a left knee injury. Philly hopes he’s back next season without any repercussions, but until then: just trust the process!
Now that Noel was traded to Dallas, Saric and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor have been alternating at the post. But for now, the Croatian is gaining the starting job for sure. He just won Rookie of the Month for February with 17 PPG and 7.9 RPG.
With a month to go, the Rookie of the Year Award has Embiid and Saric as top candidates. It makes sense to think that they will be Philadelphia’s starting big men, joined by Simmons at small forward and maybe a good young guard acquired on an Okafor trade. It certainly looks promising!
Rookie Season (2016-17)
Rookie Season (2016-17)
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (22) and Jabari Parker (21) - Milwaukee Bucks
Antetokounmpo is probably the most physically gifted player in the league. He’s got the body of a power forward (6-11 and 222 lbs.) with the mobility and skills of a point guard. This year his production has skyrocketed: he is team’s leader in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game. I can’t imagine how his game will look like in two-three years but it seems there are no stop signs ahead for the “Greek Freak”.
Parker is an excellent player when healthy. He’s played 25, 76 and 51 games in his three years as a pro respectively. If he can manage to come back strong and stay healthy these two young talents could make Milwaukee a stable contender. With the correct coaching (Jason Kidd) and some extra help (Brogdon, Middleton and Henson) who knows what can stop this lengthy duo.
1. Andrew Wiggins (22) and Karl-Anthony Towns (21) - Minnesota Timberwolves
Wiggins and Towns are the last two Rookie of the Year Award winners, talk about potential! Let’s play a little math game here to put things into perspective. The following formula: , which I’m calling YS (young scorers) adds the PPG of the top two scorers on a team and then divides it by the sum of their ages. This tells us how good and how young are two players. Math doesn’t lie, Minnesota’s (Wiggins and Towns) YS is 1.098. The next teams are Milwaukee (Antetokounmpo and Parker) with 0.984, New Orleans (Davis and Cousins) with 0.978 and Portland (Lillard and McCollum) with 0.965. Furthermore, the difference gets even bigger if we insert the third scorer (LaVine) into the equation.
There is no doubt these two youngsters represent the future of the league. Only time will tell how far they can carry the Timberwolves. But it is certain that for a historically mediocre team it must be a priority to keep Wiggins and Towns together playing under a black and blue jersey.