There are a lot of young stars in the NBA, but only a few that seem destined for greatness. We’re highlighting five who, barring injury, or a shocking decline in production, could be elected into the Hall of Fame some time around or after 2025. We’re only giving you five of them, and all are under the age of 25. It’s good to be young.
The Christmas edition of ESPN the Magazine is the Hall of Fame issue, and the editors decided to take a statistical hammer to the current busts in the Springfield, Massachusetts’s. They added some players, but cut more, and arrived at 80 total players in their new Hall. It got us thinking about the youngsters poised to lead the NBA into the second and third decades of the millennium who will receive their own busts in Springfield. Hopefully, we’re not jinxing anyone here, but we’re probably not alone in most of this prognostications, and one player in particular on this list is already well on his way.
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5. BLAKE GRIFFIN – turns 25 on March 16, 2014
Blake’s a long way from his disappointing rookie season. No, not his Rookie of the Year season, but the year he sat out before winning the award, when he broke his left kneecap in his final preseason game and missed the entirety of the 2009-10 season. This being the Clippers, most forgot about him. But after surgery and the lost season, he came back and hasn’t stopped wowing us since as the Clippers acquired Chris Paul and one of the deepest benches in the league.
During his (new) rookie season, Blake – without Paul as the team’s helmsman – averaged over 22 points per game and over 12 rebounds per game. Not only was he a double-double machine, but the dunks, oh good Lord the dunks! There were so many it would take us an entire separate post to go through them all, but we all remember the Timofey Mozgov incident, right? We know Mozgov still has nightmares. BG followed that up the next year as “Lob City” was born after their acquisition of Chris Paul from the Hornets. We’re pretty sure Griffin’s dunk on Kendrick Perkins last season might add an extra layer of anger to Perkins’ perpetual scowl (you can compare both dunks here).
Last season, Blake’s averages dropped just slightly, but he still averaged 20 and 10 on the season, and shot 55 percent from the field as his PER rose to 23.4. This year his averages are down a bit, but he’s doing more on the defensive end (1.4 steals a game) and he’s still shooting over 52 percent from the floor while improving his free throw shooting. Yes, he must get more consistent from the line (listen up Dwight), and he’s still in the process of polishing his footwork in the paint, but there aren’t many players who’ve had a better couple of seasons to start their career and we’re expecting to watch this kind of production from Blake (turning just 24 in March next year), for the next decade or more.