A lot of (older) analysts and observers of the NBA say what is wrong with the NBA is the league is too young. Too many players with only one year of college and who don’t know how to play. Their inexperience is hurting teams and the league as a whole. While not to diminish the argument that 19 year olds come into the league and look lost and are unable to compete-there is some truth to that- however there were some young players (under 25) who had a great 2017 year, creating a lot of hype for their future on All-Star teams and in conference finals.
21 Years Old. Devin Booker. Anytime you score 70 points in a single game, much less in the Boston Garden, even if your team is blatantly passing up shots so you can score, suffice it to say, you had a pretty good year. Booker is one of the best young scorers who can carry a team by himself with his offense. 19 games over 30 points in 2017. The #13 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Booker is the best pure scorer in his age group. He needs to develop a more versatile game: passing, rebounding. 2017 Numbers: 72 games. 24.5 points. 44% field goals. 38.4% three ball. 106.7 offensive rating.
22 Years Old. Karl-Anthony Towns. He has a beautiful game. Everything he does on the court on the offensive end is smooth. He can score in the paint, post his man up, space the floor and hit from distance. He is an excellent passer with court vision. He rebounds strong. He has the entire package. 66 Double-Doubles in 2017. In a league that was supposed to be big man deficient, Towns has dominated and may be an All-Star in 2018. 2017 Numbers: 85 games. 24.4 points. 56.0% field goals. 39.9% 3-pointers. 12.3 rebounds. 124.0 offensive rating.
22 Years Old. Kristpas Porzingis. The Unicorn can play both ways. He can play with a superstar and be the number 2 option which is what he did playing alongside Carmelo and he can be the main star in New York as he is this season. 10 games in 2017 over 30 points, including a 40 point outburst on 62% shooting against the Pacers. A for sure All-Star, Porzingis can score, rebound, block shots, make life holy hell for scorers around the rim and he is the NY Knicks future, who can also handle all the pressure in a big market. 2017 Numbers: 63 games. 19.9 points. 44.7%. 33.9% 3-ball. 6.6 rebounds. 106 offensive rating.
22 Years Old. Nikola Jokic. There is a reason the Nuggets are back in the playoff picture after turning the page on the Ty Lawson era and that is big man Nikola Jokic. He is the NBA’s version of a four-tool player. 42 double-doubles in 2017. He rebounds, blocks shots, scores and passes. Plus he can run the floor and defend. 2017 Numbers. 70 games. 18.5 points. 55.3% field goals 11.0 rebounds 121.8 offensive rating.
23 Years Old. Giannis Antetokoumpo. Everyone passed on Giannis and to their peril. He was in the Anthony Bennett draft. Imagine the Cavs with Giannis, LeBron. His game is spectacularly extraordinary. He has the wing span of a power forward and the game of a guard and the touch of a scorer. He needs work on his perimeter shot but everything else is there. 2017 Numbers: 80 games. 25.0 Points. 52.7% field goals. 9.3 rebounds. 115.7 offensive rating.
24 Years Old. Otto Porter. He had a breakout year for the Washington Wizards that earned him a max-deal. He was a reliable third option that made 43% of this threes. He followed that up after signing his $100 million deal by shooting 50% and 43% from three (again). Porter may never be an All-Star but he makes shots when shots have to be made and with John Wall and Bradley Beal getting all the attention, Porter roams around getting open. 2017 Numbers. 80 games. 13.4 points. 49.9% field goals. 44.4% three ball. 6.4 rebounds. 125.7 offensive rating.