The youth of the NBA today is better than ever. The infatuation with this year’s NBA Draft is prime evidence of that. These young guns are building blocks for teams to build around. Regardless of the position they play on the court, these young athletes have a remarkable amount of impact to their respective teams and to the league itself.
So, who made the cut for the ten best players under the age of 25 (24 being the cap) in the NBA right now? Let’s find out.
*** *** ***
10. ERIC BLEDSOE
TEAM: PHOENIX SUNS
Eric Bledsoe has excelled in the spotlight this season, to say the least. After being cast in the shadow of John Wall at Kentucky and Chris Paul in Los Angeles, Bledsoe jumped at the opportunity to start and act as the leader for a youthful team in Phoenix. The result? A 16-8 record to start the season that surprised the basketball world, which previously thought the Suns were in tanking mode. The Bledsoe-Goran Dragic backcourt is a success for Phoenix and an absolute headache for opponents to guard.
Unfortunately, Bledsoe is currently sidelined due to a knee injury – which seems to be too common in the NBA today. His future may hold some questions since he had surgery to remove a piece of his torn meniscus, but this analysis is about this season. With that said, you cannot argue about the dynamic that Bledsoe immediately adds to the Suns – they are 10-10 without him – or to any team for that matter. His athleticism, court vision, defensive stability, scoring efficiency, and his 18.0 PPG, 5.8 APG and 4.3 RPG on 48.6 percent shooting have allowed Bledsoe to transition from a solid reserve to a star point guard.
9. ANDRE DRUMMOND
TEAM: DETROIT PISTONS
Andre Drummond is the first of three NBA sophomores to appear on this list. In his rookie campaign last season, Drummond emerged as one of the top young centers in basketball. However, I don’t think anyone forecasted such an improvement to his game in just one summer. Born in New York, the Connecticut native has developed a solid chemistry with Josh Smith and Greg Monroe to become one of the best frontcourts the game has to offer today.
With the physic and style of today’s centers changing, Drummond offers the best of both worlds, as he is strong and powerful, yet athletic and able to run the court in transition. He is a brute in the low post, where he is incredibly effective (60 percent from the field), and excels tremendously at protecting the rim and rebounding. He is ranked third in the NBA in rebounding (12.7), eighth in blocking (1.8), second in the NBA for double-doubles (38), third in shooting percentage, and second among qualified centers in steals (1.4). This is only the beginning for Andre Drummond, and the sky is the limit for this talented 20-year-old.