NBA / Sep 4, 2009 / 11:07 am

Top NBA JV Teams

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the Nets and how they had one of the best young cores in the league. It got me thinking about all the other top young teams, so I decided to rank them. I know “young core” is kind of a vague term that technically could include CP and the Hornets, the Jazz and the Magic. So I set up a couple of parameters.

By young core, I mean players who have not accomplished much yet in their young NBA careers and are still paying dues. I’m talking about players and teams that are not quite ready to contribute anything big this upcoming season, but will be right there in the mix two or three years down the line. All of these players are relatively young, have no more than three years in the league and have not been all-stars or major contributors in the playoffs.

6. New Jersey Nets (Brook Lopez, Terrence Williams, Yi Jianlian, Courtney Lee)
As I mentioned yesterday, this is a solid young squad. Terrence “T-Will” Williams has the versatility to be a borderline all-star in a few years. Having an old-school type of center is rare these days. But the Nets got a throwback in Brook Lopez. He has the skill set and size to be a great NBA center one day. The x-factor would have to be Yi Jianlian. As of now he has performed lower than expected, but has great offensive skills and just might breakout in his third season. Courtney Lee surprised a lot of folks during the Magic’s playoff run with his heart and his jump shot. I know I said no major playoff contributors on this list, but he got traded to the Nets so he is basically starting over. Plus, he missed a wide open alley-oop lay-up in the Finals that would have won Game 2.

5. Sacramento Kings (Jason Thompson, Tyreke Evans, Spencer Hawes, Kevin Martin)
It seems like an eternity since the Kings’ glory days of C-Webb, Jason Williams, Vlade and Peja. Lately the Kings have been as irrelevant as the Sony Walkman. But there are brighter days to come for Sactown. Yeah, Kevin Martin has been in the League for more than three years, but really, who knows anything about him? He hasn’t played a playoff game since the 2005-’06 season. He is one of the guards in this league that has the potential to be a superstar. Tyreke Evans is going to be a leading candidate for ROY. He is a tall guard who can shoot, pass (when he wants) and lock people up. Jason Thompson had a solid rookie year and will be even better this year. And Spencer Hawes has a nice all-around game, if he can only grow some hair on his chest and be more aggressive he’ll be OK.

4. Los Angeles Clippers (Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, DeAndre Jordan)
Blake Griffin. Do we even have to explain this one? He can play his first game in Timberlands and jean shorts and still get 17 and 9 on anyone. He is a guaranteed all-star in the next two years. Eric Gordon had a stellar rookie campaign averaging 16 points and nearly 3 boards and dimes a game. He will be a 20 point per game scorer one day. Al Thornton has been quietly putting up numbers for the past few seasons and if he develops any time of a perimeter game – watch out. The Clippers also got a steal with DeAndre Jordan, who proved he could block shots and rebound in limited minutes. I think we all agree, the Clips are still another solid lottery pick away from completing the puzzle.

Kevin Love

3. Minnesota Timberwolves (Kevin Love, Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington, Corey Brewer)
Kevin Love and Al Jefferson will one day be the next McHale and Parrish. Love has the complete package and was groomed from birth to be a star. I don’t see anybody being able to stop that front court down the line. Yeah Ricky Rubio, pulled a Steve Francis-esque move by refusing to play in Minnesota. While that could change in the next few years, I wouldn’t count on it. Fortunately they snagged up Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn who has Nate Robinson type athleticism. Corey Brewer and Wayne Ellington are good young prospects who were both winners in college.

2. Memphis Grizzlies (Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Hasheem Thabeet, OJ Mayo)
Even since they hijacked the team from Vancouver, Memphis has been known as the armpit of NBA destinations. But that is changing slowly as the Grizz are putting together a monster roster. With Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo, they have two of the most athletic and strong forwards in the game. Mike Conley is beginning to look like the player he was at Ohio State. If Thabeet proves to be even slightly better than Shawn Bradley, I think we might be able to talk playoffs as soon as next year.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook, James Harden)
I know by me throwing the Thunder in the number one spot, I am giving into this Thunder fad that’s sweeping the hoops world as of late. But as trendy as they are, they have the players to make some serious noise in ’09-10. Kevin Durant, who is the current Dime’s cover boy, is on the cusp of being a top five NBA player. Russell Westbrook opened a lot of eyes last season and will be even better this year. Jeff Green’s versatility will allow him to contribute wherever is needed and they got a proven shooter and scorer in draft pick James Harden. If they can find away to keep this core together than you can expect to raise a couple of banners in the rafters of the Ford Center.

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  • Brown

    Of all the rookies in the league this year, I’m most excited to see what James Harden can do. Much like when B-Roy came into the NBA, I can see Harden becoming one of my favorite players. He’s got the all-around skills to be a VERY solid pro.

  • http://LakersNation.com Lakers Nation Dot Com

    I’ve been calling the Clips our SoCal JV team for years! Let them play at noon, then get Staples ready for the real team to rock the house! Like any JV team, we really pull for our SoCal Teams, so GO CLIPS!

  • alex

    uh what about the warriors?

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    What about my Warriors? Brandon Wright, Anthony Randolph, Anothony Morrow, Steph Curry and Monte Ellis should be at least number two.

  • Brown

    @ BiG ShoT BoB

    If you’re going to be a Warriors fan, at least learn how to spell the players’ names right.

    Brandan Wright
    Monta Ellis

  • K Dizzle

    What about the Knicks? (*crickets*)


  • Arrogant

    the bulls? rose noah tyrus luol deng , james johnson, hinirich

  • illy

    warriors definitely deserves a spot

  • dwight coward

    I still can’t believe the Sonics moved.

    Anyway Warriors FTW at #2 spot….if only we can find a way to get Larry Ellison to buy the team and fire Nelly.

  • Chaos

    Warriors deserve a spot most definitely but the key to their success will be how they are utilized by Nellie. i think all these teams will be better if they keep their teams together. OKC seems to enjoy playing with each other and have four starters that can average 14+ pts per games and seems like a runnin team. Clips are going to g as far as Boom Dizzle can take them. Sac-Town isnot quite there yet to me cuz they still dont have an identity. Devin Harris needs to turn into a superstar but their team will be athletic. jury is still out on Minny. really the majority of these teams are probably more athletic than the rest of the L

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    @ Brown sorry didn’t know this was a blog slash spelling bee…not to mention I’m typing this stuff at light speed without any checks since after I’m done I have to minimize my screen before anyone walks by since I’m at work…LOL

  • ab_40

    I can see greg oden and lemarcus aldridge giving love and jefferson fits in the (near) future

  • Muldoon

    I think the Thunder are most deserving of the #1 spot on this list strictly because they’re the team that is closest to not meeting the parameters set by Gerald. By himself KD is about to DQ them from this list, as he’s a lock to be an all-star this year, as well put up dominant “major contributor” numbers. Take a look at his #’s for the first 3 years vs. Kobe and LBJ, not bad. Also, The learning curve is so much steeper for point guards, that I expect Westbrook to be the most improved player on the squad. He comes into this season with a year experience and the starting job locked up, not stuck behind Earl Watson. Jeff Green won’t ever be an all-star, but you’ll wish you had him on your squad, Harden will thrive in this offense, and here’s to hoping Livingston is the ’09-’10 comeback player of the year. Presti has done things the right way.

    I’d argue that maybe the reason the Warriors didn’t make the list is because their young’ns are 2 Anthony’s that need to translate summer league numbers into regular season consistency, Monta, who may or may not ever be the player he was before the injury, and Steph who has to prove he can hang in the league. They definitely coulda made the list, I’m just sayin.

  • http://dime fan

    If Marcus Williams starts for Memphis they automatically get better. He’d hide Thabbet weaknesses. Gay would have a better year than iggy. Even Mayo would flourish. Bring conley in as a back-up. Just because He’s Greg Oden best friend means nothing. LOL. He’d be a good tempo guard. I love Westbrook but he’s not a point guard. The Thunder have the same problem as the Blazers. Roy and Durant have to do to much. You need someone to facilitate the ball. Blake is okay. Westbrook has a load of talent. He needs a better jumpshot or slow down. Livingston isn’t the answer. These GM’s kill me with their decisions. Your giving away money. There are so many players that are dying to play and would help the teams and the N.B.A. Let them in. Nobody wants to see Lindsey Hunter,Kevin Ollie,Jason Hart on the lay-up line. They dont even bother putting their face in 2K. Let them mentor from the sideline. Tyson Wheeler,Pepe Sanchez,Omar Cook,Khalid El Amin, just to name a few that could come in a help immediately. Even Lynn Greer. I’d take Ivory Latta or Sue Bird over Chris Duhon. I’d even have the girl China Crosby who might have one of the illest handles i’ve seen to do damage. She’ll be starting at Virginia this yr. She’s a dime too. Candace Parker watch out.

  • http://dime fan

    The Warriors need a point guard. Monta Ellis is nice but he can’t pass and wont run a team. You can’t win with him or Curry sorry. He’s actually stopping Randolph and Wright from flourishing. Give Omar Cook a 10 day or Daryll Showtime Hill and you’d think the warriors were back. Remember Baron Davis they could have made it to the finals. He made them go. Baron made Monta look better than advertised. He would have made Curry look like a real assassin ala Ben Gordon. GM’s you have John Wall/Sheron Collins/Edgar Sosa/&Kemba Walker next yr. Do the right thing. Or PLAYOFFS(COLTS) WILL BE YOUR FAV SAYING.

  • Colton

    firts of all “With Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo, they have two of the most athletic and strong forwards in the game.

    forwards? yup … oj mayo definitely qualifies as a forward and rudy gay may take a small forward position … but hes not as much of a forward either. im hopin that was just a brain fart and a guard/forward mixup.

    im a sonic fan through and through and i got pretty pissed when they packed up and went to okc. so i still have some love for the last people to wear sonic gear. OKC will have a good season this year i bet. all they need to do is solidify themselves a big man. no more of that foreigner bullshit experiments that seattle put on with sene and johan petro. big draft busts. im still rooting for them and rooting even more to bring a franchise back to seattle.

    and while im on my seattle rant (even though im totally a seattle and portland fan)… why did mr sonic aka nate mcmillian go to portland!!?

  • doc

    OJ play the 2.I like Thad Young,Mareese Speights,Lou Williams,Jrue Holiday,Jason Smith,and you can throw Iggy in if you want.

  • Mack Brownee

    what about my ass?

  • leia

    bulls should def be on this list

  • http://yourwrong.wordpress.com thashyt

    Do yall not read? Those that are saying Bulls, & Sixers….the beginning says “guys who have not accomplished much”….all of these teams named are non-playoff teams. Everyone saw the Bulls the last 2 years and the Sixers almost beat the Magic.

  • can

    yo dont forget about bj mullens on the thunder, if he becomes what many scouts thought he would when he was in high school then they got loaded talent at every position. remember that guy was a projected number 1 pick and i garantee he woulda had a sick year in college had he stayed.

  • Peter

    Good call to NOT list my Warriors in the top-six; I’m not drinking the Rowell/Cohan Kool-aid. BTW, Nellie is not the problem. He has an exceptional track record for developing young talent. Let’s see: Marques Johnson, Sydney Moncrief, Timmy Hardaway and Mitch Richmond (who were both raw talents pre-Nellie), Spree, Dirk (“Dirk who?” when Nellie first gave him tick), Steve Nash (the backup in Phoenix who Nellie lobbied for in Dallas), Josh Howard,… Randolph, Ellis, Curry (7th pick in a weak draft), and especially Wright are big time question marks. Nellie is the right guy to determine if each one is all-star or “almost.”

  • Alan

    If the Wolves manage to land Sessions that will be a huge pickup and a great Plan B waiting for Rubio. He immediately becomes the best guard on the team, and there are plenty of minutes for himself and Flynn.

  • bola

    Love and Big Al? the next McHale and Parish?

    it is obvious, you are officially under the wishful thinking mode..

  • Nick

    Probably 4 or more of these young cores never make it to .500. I doubt any are ever contenders, i.e. get to conference finals. Maybe one puts up a good fight in the second round to a better team, someday but probably 3 or more years from now.

  • Wilson

    Somebody called the Thunder “ever-improving” elsewhere. But they finished 5-13 from March 11 to the end of the season. They just got hot in the middle last season.