LeBron James is already 34 and he is for sure nearing the end of his spectacular basketball career. But when it comes to succession as the NBA’s top superstar, there is no to worry because there is no shortage. There are plenty of young talented players in the NBA and there are so many ultra-talented players who are even under 25 years of age.
Let’s take a look at the top NBA players who are currently under 25 years old:
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Date of 25th birthday: December 6, 2019
After finishing 6th in the MVP balloting in 2018, Giannis Antetokounmpo won the 2019 NBA MVP award. He led the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the NBA during the 2018-19 NBA season and took them all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals where they fell to the eventual champions Toronto Raptors in six games. Despite that setback, the backs are once again NBA betting favorites to win the East this season especially since Kawhi Leonard is now in the Western Conference. Antetokounmpo can do it all, well except shooting consistently from the outside. But maybe the gods are just playing it fair because let’s face it if Giannis has that consistent outside shot, he will be unstoppable.
Nikola Jokic, Date of 25th birthday: February 19, 2020
The man is nicknamed the Joker but his game is no Joke. Nikola Jokic is a unicorn to the truest sense of the word. He is a 7-footer who can score on the inside and make the outside shot consistently. But what makes him truly special is his ability to pass the ball with accuracy and his court vision is like a point guard. Jokic led the Nuggets deep in the playoffs last season but they were not able to breakthrough. Despite that, this big man is expected to even be more dominant this year with another year in the belt. Let’s do away with Joker now. Jack would be more appropriate because he’s a jack of all trades.
Karl Anthony Towns, Date of 25th birthday: November 15, 2020
There was a time when the NBA GMs picked Karl Anthony Towns two years in a row to be the player they would love to build their franchise around. Towns is yet another unicorn. He’s a big man who has a very good three-point shot. He can put the ball on the floor and finish with authority. He can score effectively in the low post and he can pass the ball out of the double team. While some unicorns don’t have the outside shot yet, KAT has it all the way to behind the three point line. That’s impressive.
Ben Simmons, Date of 25th birthday: July 20, 2021
We just talked about outside shots and this is a guy who doesn’t have one, literally. Ben Simmons is like the Magic Johnson of his era- a point guard who has the height of a forward. But it’s not just his height. Simmons can pass and he has tremendous court sense and vision. He is able to see plays before they happen. If he doesn’t pass, he is also a terrific finisher around the basket, able to finish plays with both hands. Simmons is ultra-athletic and too strong for most point guards and he is an utter mismatch against them. If only he could shoot that mid-range shot, he would become one of the game’s elites.
Donovan Mitchell, Date of 25th birthday: September 7, 2021
Spider Mitchell was the surprise of the 2018 draft. Mitchell was “only” the 13th pick of the draft yet he emerged not just as a 20-point scorer but as the new franchise player and leader of the Utah Jazz. Mitchell was already an elite scorer during his rookie regular season but it was his performance during Utah’s two-round playoff stint that cemented his status as one of the NBA’s elite, regardless of age. Mature as a scorer, he rarely forces the issue and reads defenses very well. He can be a playmaker as well and is able to make the right passes to his open teammates.
Luka Doncic, Date of 25th birthday: February 28, 2024
Last year’s Rookie of the Year winner was an absolute beast. Luka Doncic was MVP in Europe but not many expected him to dominate the NBA during his rookie season. But minus the wins, Doncic had a spectacular rookie year where he displayed his ability not just to play as a point guard but to be a crunch-time scorer. Doncic has excellent court vision and he can see the floor from afar. He also is a very good shooter from midrange and can extend to the three point distance. Despite his young age, Doncic showed that he has the qualities to be a team leader.
Kristaps Porzingis, Date of 25th birthday: August 20, 2020
When the New York Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis, I vividly remember that image of a child crying and the fans booing because they didn’t think he was worthy of being the 4th overall pick. But they were all proven wrong as Porzingis quickly developed into a 7-3 Latvian Unicorn. Fast forward to 2019, Porzingis was traded to the Dallas Mavericks and now it’s Mark Cuban and Luka Doncic who will have the luxury of having a 7-3 unicorn by their side. Porzingis is coming off an ACL injury but given his age, I have no doubt he will return to form and that he is going to make the Knicks fans cry again.
Jayson Tatum, Date of 25th birthday: March 3, 2023
Jayson Tatum was the product of a brilliant move by the Boston Celtics. In 2017, Danny Ainge traded their #1 overall pick to the Sixers for the #3 pick and a future second-rounder. The Sixers picked Markelle Fultz while the C’s drafted Jayson Tatum. The rest, as they say, is history. Tatum immediately blossomed into a reliable scorer and starter for Boston. He is an excellent finisher who can also hit the three point shot. Tatum also moves very well without the ball and he can also act as a secondary playmaker. You can’t see Tatum’s value in his numbers because the Celtics are so loaded with talent. But don’t let stats deceive you, Jayson Tatum is a thoroughbred, no doubt.
Brandon Ingram, Date of 25th birthday: September 2, 2022
The Slender Man was the Lakers’ #2 pick in 2016, after Ben Simmons and before Jaylen Brown. As his nickname is, his lean and lanky frame has always been perceived to be his weakness but last season, his last for the Lakers, Ingram displayed better ability to take contact and finish plays. I mean this is a guy who is a super-talented scorer who can score any way you want him to. His long arms would make him a potential defensive nightmare and his soft hands make him nearly impossible to stop on offense. I hope to see BI getting more stronger this season. Then he can be an All-Star,
Devin Booker, Date of 25th birthday: October 30, 2021
Known for his lights out shooting, Devin Booker is one of the pure scorers in the league. Don’t give this man daylight because he will shoot the lights out of any stadium. But not only is booker a super shooter and scorer, but he is also a terrific playmaker who is willing to make the pass to an open teammate. Booker is also fast and athletic. He can run the break and finish by himself or give up an assist to a teammate. He’s not your typical pass-first point guard but he’s just as dangerous with his ability to put up points in a hurry. No question, Devin Booker is one of the best under-25 players in the league right now.