25-under-25

Michael Porter Jr. was once thought to be the next great prospect, injuries stalled him initially, but now he is ready for the spotlight. The Denver Nuggets are ready. After compiling talent through the draft — whether in the lottery (Jamal Murray) or second round (Nikola Jokic) — they surged to a surprise trip to
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Brandon Clarke clocks in at No. 21 on our 25-under-25 list, thanks to his impressive balance and finesse moves in a traditional power skill-set. Brandon Clarke being on this list might be a surprise to the casual observer. There’s a lot of young talent in the NBA right now, and spending one of our 25
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Is Jaren Jackson Jr. the NBA’s next great unicorn big man, or is he the second coming of Myles Turner? Every time a 3-point-shooting, shot-blocking big man comes into the NBA, he instantly gets slapped with the “unicorn” label. Memphis Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. is among the latest examples. The No. 4 pick
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Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz has shown us what makes him special right from the start. There’s something about playing basketball with the Utah Jazz that allows for a sense of flying under the radar and that’s what Donovan Mitchell has kind of done. But wasn’t he on the All-Rookie team, second in the
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The Sacramento Kings just gave De’Aaron Fox a max contract extension and he’s earned every penny. This season is his chance to make the leap to a superstar. The Sacramento Kings have not been a successful NBA franchise for quite some time now. Despite routinely finding themselves in the lottery, they have yet to really
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Devin Booker seized his moment the first chance he got in the NBA spotlight. After the 8-0 bubble run, what’s next for the star of the Phoenix Suns? Ever since he entered the 2015 NBA Draft pegged as a spot-up shooter, Devin Booker has spent the first five years of his career defying expectations. And
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Four years into his NBA career, Ben Simmons remains somewhat of an enigma. That’s what makes him so fascinating moving forward. What is Ben Simmons? Is he a point guard? A power forward? A point forward? Does it matter? What sounds like a philosophical quandary may go a long way toward determining whether the Philadelphia
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The Oklahoma City Thunder will look vastly different this season. It’s now Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s team. Can the 13th-best young player deliver? Praise showered down from the heavens — and from the keyboards of fans and journalists alike —  when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded star wing Paul George to the L.A. Clippers in the summer
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Brandon Ingram’s game has worked well with the New Orleans Pelicans, an environment that makes the most of who he is. The thing about Brandon Ingram is that I feel the vague connection us peons feel with famous people who grew up in areas we know really well. My parents retired quite a few years
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Zion Williamson comes in at No. 10 on our list, but with his potential and skill set, his ceiling is limitless. If he stays healthy while diversifying his game, he could rise even higher. As far as hype and anticipation go in watching someone play basketball, Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans is at
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D’Angelo Russell is playing for his fourth team in five seasons, looking for an opportunity to finally establish himself as a championship building block. It’s not unusual for NBA players to hop around the league a lot. Most players are expendable, archetypes slotted in and out of line-ups in the hopes that they can provide
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Whether or not Tyler Herro is in the starting lineup, he’s proven essential to the Miami Heat’s present and future. The murmur at the AmericanAirlines Arena was reserved for Tyler Herro and him alone. During what was the longest rookie season in NBA history, there were moments — before the Finals, before every new shot
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The Miami Heat have championship aspirations and the versatile excellence of Bam Adebayo is the foundation on which they rest. In the third quarter of a January game against the Raptors, Bam Adebayo brought the ball up the court to initiate the offense. It was not necessarily standard for Adebayo, the team’s center, to lead
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Ja Morant is the Memphis Grizzlies‘ latest superhero but with great power comes great responsibility. I am watching Into the Spider-Verse and thinking about Ja Morant. I am watching Into the Spider-Verse and thinking about how with great power there must also come great responsibility. I am watching Into the Spider-Verse and thinking about great
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Myles Turner has demonstrated that he can be great at both ends of the floor. But can he be great for these Indiana Pacers? Every year when our writers begin working on the profiles for our 25-under-25 list, I always remind them to focus on the player, not the list itself. The list is the
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Domantas Sabonis is quickly becoming one of the best offensive big men in the game. Domantas Sabonis has had quite the evolution during his four-year stint in the NBA. In the first year of his career, which was spent with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the former Gonzaga star looked like a bust, as his 39
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Jamal Murray was explosive in the NBA bubble, now he’s ready to bring that version of himself to every game. Jamal Murray is 23, and the biggest moment in his NBA career took place inside the NBA Bubble. If you blinked, maybe you missed it. If you changed the channel to check on a baseball
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The 25-under-25 is a celebration of the best young players in the NBA, but 25 is never enough. Here are the best players who just missed the cut. For the fourth year in a row, The Step Back is honoring the best young players in the NBA with our 25-under-25. The list is exactly that
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There aren’t many areas in which Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown is elite, but in having no real weaknesses, he reaches an equally rare class of players. In the current age of position-less, star-centric basketball, there may be no player type more coveted than a skilled, physically imposing wing who can create efficient offense for
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John Collins was one of only two players to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, and shoot 40 percent on 3-pointers last year. So why aren’t more people talking about him? Since being drafted 19th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, John Collins has done two things at an elite level: score and rebound.
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Trae Young has set the NBA world on fire in his first two seasons. Last year he finished in the top five for both points per game and assists per game. What’s next? In high school, Trae Young was a dynamic, high-scoring guard that was a McDonald’s All-American, but his size left scouts puzzled about
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OG Anunoby is already one of the NBA’s preeminent defenders. Can he become more than that and help the Toronto Raptors stay in the league’s upper tier? As the prevalence of supersized, ball-dominant offensive creators rises, so too does the importance of versatile defenders who can slow them and offensive role players who complement them.
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Heading into his third season, with heightened expectations for the Phoenix Suns and Chris Paul alongside him, it’s gut-check time for Deandre Ayton. The Phoenix Suns‘ 8-0 run in the NBA bubble gets more and more remarkable with each passing day, not only because it helped make the organization look more attractive to established, talented
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The “role player” label is too good for Mikal Bridges, who’s on the verge of breaking out into a special two-way player with the Phoenix Suns. The Phoenix Suns are finally relevant again, and all eyes are turning to their foundational stars: Devin Booker, who’s toiled away for years with lackluster teammates, deprived of the
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Karl-Anthony Towns is undeniably great, but there are still two big questions about his future with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns is unquestionably very good. He’s a 23-year-old seven-footer who can score from anywhere on the floor and do anything he’s asked to do on that end. That includes 3-point shooting, where three seasons’ worth
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