Getting your hands on young talent in the NBA is the equivalent to finding a $100 dollar bill on the ground. Some of it has to do with luck; some of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time. Once you get it, you contemplate whether or not to hang on to it for a while, or trade it in right away for something that will benefit you immediately (or hope it does). The amount of young talent floating around the NBA is at an all-time high, and some teams are fortunate enough to have more than one young gun.
Here are the top 10 duos in the NBA ages 25 and under…
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10. DeMARCUS COUSINS (Age 22) and TYREKE EVANS (Age 23)
We’ve heard about the tremendous upside of big man DeMarcus Cousins time and time again: a legitimate force on the offensive side of the ball, and at times an underrated defensive player, as he lead the league in charges taken in 2011-12. His talent has never been in question – rather his attitude. The criticism has begun to skip like a broken record. Get off the kid’s back. He’s a 22-year-old “on the verge of being a star” big man playing for an organization with as much direction as Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild. Even though he loves stating his mind during interviews, Cousins’ stats have the loudest voice in his ongoing argument of legitimacy (2011-12: 18.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 44 percent from the floor in 30.5 MPG).
Then there’s Tyreke Evans, formerly known as Mr. 20-5-5, and now drawing fame for being Cam Newton’s NBA equivalent. Although steadily declining since his historic Rookie of the Year campaign (when he joined LeBron, MJ and the Big O as the only rookies to average 20-5-5), he still has the potential to be a force. His unbelievable handles paired with his forward-sized leaping ability almost make you forget he owns one of the NBA’s worst jump shots.
The pressure of carrying a crumbling organization on their backs is no secret. In an interview with SI, DMC made it very clear he’s well aware of the situation Tyreke and himself inherited in Sacramento: “At the end of the day, everybody in that locker room knows this team is myself and Tyreke’s. I don’t give a [expletive] about no articles [asking whose team it is]. This team goes as far as we carry it.”
9. ANTHONY DAVIS (Age 19) and ERIC GORDON (Age 23)
In his highly anticipated NBA debut, Anthony Davis threw up a modest 21 and seven against the Spurs, even with Gordon out with a lingering knee injury. The Hornet’s 2012-13 campaign was looking bright prior to Gordon’s right knee giving out… again. Gordon was supposed to take some pressure off the No. 1 overall draft pick, and together, they plan to make the Hornets relevant again.
Gordon, when healthy – which has NOLA fans rolling their eyes – is a stud. Since arriving via the CP3 2.0 trade last summer, he’s played in only nine games. Given the opportunity, these guys would thrive off each other. Gordon’s absence should slow Davis’ growth offensively, the weakest aspect of his game, as his ability to penetrate the perimeter D would allow Davis some easy buckets under the basket.
Right now, there is no foreseeable timetable for Gordon’s return, and outside of the Davis hype, it’s a tough time to be a Hornets fan. But this duo’s potential lands them on this list. Time will tell if they deserve to be. Maybe by this time next year, we’ll be talking about a Davis/Rivers duo.