The next wave of basketball superstars are on the brink of making an impact. The game is in good hands with LeBron James and Kevin Durant running the show at the moment. But who are the guys that could breakout and become stars in the future? Back in 2011, we devoted a whole issue of the magazine to breakout players–such as Paul George, John Wall and James Harden. Now it’s time for a new list.
A player can breakout at any given moment. Paul George is the perfect example, evolving into a superstar in last year’s playoffs. This season, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, Damian Lillard, Arron Affalo and Eric Bledsoe have all taken a step. Then we have the guys in college and high school that are ready to breakout.
We put together a list of the top 25 basketball players you need to be watching in 2014. No NBA All-Star Game appearances allowed.
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25. Isaiah Briscoe – High School Junior – Roselle Catholic
Isaiah Briscoe is one of the best point guards in the 2015 class. He is built in the same mold as Kyrie Irving and the comparison goes further since he is from New Jersey. He is a big, stocky guard that has a lot of skills and will be one of the coveted recruits over the next year.
24. Luke Kennard – High School Junior – Franklin High School
Most people possibly have not heard about Luke Kennard, but during his junior season this year at Franklin High School in Ohio, he has been putting up huge numbers. John Calipari and the Kentucky staff have been regulars at his games, along with some visits from Coach K as well. A 6-5 swingman, Kennard is crafty and scores a lot of points and is a great rebounder at his size. He has a few 50-point games already this season and is averaging 40 points per game. By this time next year, I expect Kennard to be a top ten player in his class. His college list stands at Duke, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Kennard is also a top recruit on the football field as a quarterback, so it will be interesting to see which sport he decides to focus on.
23. Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker is getting older and the two are most likely out in a couple years. With Kawhi Leonard being only 22, the Spurs might just skip the rebuilding process. He has not been that healthy this season and is currently battling a hand injury but it will be exciting to see if he can recapture his playoff magic from last year. If Ray Allen did not hit that shot in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Leonard might have been the Finals MVP. He is very silent and does everything you want a player to do for your team–whether it is defending the best player and playing hard, or grabbing rebounds.
22. Stanley Johnson – High School Senior – Mater Dei High School
Looking at Johnson’s physique of 6-6 and 225 pounds, he already has a pro body. He has been abusing players in high school for Mater Dei in California. He is one of the most versatile players in the country and is currently averaging 24.9 points per-game. This year he has been asked upon to play point guard for the Monarchs and has shown he can handle the position if needed. The Arizona Wildcats are going to continue to get better as one of the most talented teams when Johnson arrives next fall.
21. The Utah Jazz Core
The Utah Jazz core of Trey Burke, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks are all players that deserve to be on this list. Trey Burke was one of the main pieces the Jazz needed to take the step moving forward for the future. After a full season with Trey Burke at the one and another great draft selection this year, the Jazz will be ready to compete by next year as one of the rising teams in the Western Conference.