Top 10 NBA Players 24 and under

Because everyone loves a good old Top 10 ranking. I’m using NBA 2k11’s Player Finder to provide me with the years so if there is a difference due to birth months or whatever then please excuse me.

I cut it off at 24 because LeBron is 25 (and LeBron James is evil).

#10 – Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets

The third year big man out of Stanford is an Asian man’s injury away from claiming the spot of the second best Center in the league. Unless of course you are a sad Laker/Blazer fan who still believes in Bynum or Oden. I expect Brook to have similar or better numbers and the Nets to actually win some games this season. If the Nets can be around 10th in the East at the All-Star break, I think an All-Star spot would be more than reasonable for Brook.

#9 – Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

Blake Griffin makes his NBA debut this season! The Power Forward used to be the deepest position in the league but with those guys getting old and a lack of quality young guys to succeed them (don’t “Bosh” me) it has almost become as weak as the Center position in terms of Stars. Blake Griffin has the power to change that. If a basketball career was a girl, Baron Davis would be a huge cockblocker. I still have a lot of respect for Baron, but he’s not what this team needs right now, so the Clippers should look to get rid of Baron before the deadline. I’ve watched Blake play a lot in preseason and I would say he definitely has the talent to be better than Chris Bosh.

#8 – John Wall, Washington Wizards

The number one pick is off to a good start in preseason. Some people are starting to put him ahead of Derrick Rose but I’m not going to get too caught up in the hype. His numbers are reasonable for a rookie point guard. His 3 point shooting numbers are a little low but Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo have shown that you don’t need that much range to be successful in the league. Having a personality like Gilbert Arenas on the squad is helpful for Wall, and he should learn a thing or two from Agent… Nine.

#7 – Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks

Surprise? While I certainly think that Josh Smith could never be a guy you could lead a team with, Josh Smith is a very good player who gets underrated because of his lack of scoring. Apart from thunderous dunks, Josh Smith brings a lot on the defensive end and won’t hurt you on offense. If he ever left Atlanta, he’d be a very very good second player or a very very very good third player depending on how deep the team is. His unique skillset overlaps with very few players in the NBA and he is just a super role player.

#6 – Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Curry is amazing and I’m not being a homer (maybe a little). In a few more years I can see him joining the 50-40-90 club with the likes of Steve Nash, Larry Bird, Dirk Nowitzki, Reggie ¬†Miller and Mark Price. I like Monta and all but I feel like the Warriors should trade him so Stephen becomes the leader of the Warriors. STEPHEN CURRY IS AMAZING. I feel like 3 point shooting among the top young players has become rare so extra points for Steph’s marksmanship. His point guard skills are still a little underdeveloped when you compare them to the elite, but his ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor and ability to score in other ways makes him a really good player. Go Stephen!!

#5 – Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

Similar with Josh Smith, Rondo would not be a guy I would start a franchise with. At Rondo’s very best, he would be a superstar role player. He is an excellent rebounding and defensive guard, and he has shown that he has the ability to step out a little and hit the jumpshot. He has the raw physical tools to be great and he’s shown that he can utilize his physical talents unlike Tyrus Thomas and Gerald Green and Javaris Crittenton and every athletic guy who ever touched a basketball.

#4 – Tyreke Evans – Sacramento Kings

I don’t know why some people are being mean to Tyreke Evans, but similar to how Roy made a jump to stardom and how Durant made a jump to stardom, I think Tyreke Evans is next. Or maybe Rose because I think he needs to establish himself as a star more. Tyreke is a proud member of the 20-5-5 club as a rookie joining Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Yes that is some good company. If DeMarcus Cousins has a good rookie campaign, Tyreke and DeMarcus will become the modern day Penny and Shaq. An electrifying duo, both young, and if neither of them bolt, the Kings should be a very exciting team to watch for the years to come.

#3 – Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls

It was amazing watching Derrick Rose play with Kevin Durant during that Team USA basketball crap and it is going to be ridiculous if it turns out that John Wall is a better Derrick Rose. Having Boozer out will hurt this Bulls team but that’s ok because the Bulls got Kyle Korver. Not exactly. I’m actually really excited to see this Bulls team play because they have a lot of good players and a couple of young guys that they are waiting on to contribute.

#2 – Dwight Howard – Orlando Magic

The only good Center in the NBA? It’s hard to believe Dwight is so young and he’s already done so much, but it’s even harder to believe that LeBron James was better than Dwight at this age. Dwight worked with Olajuwon and obviously Dwight will never be at his level in terms of craftiness in the low post, but Dwight Howard with half of Olajuwon’s skill set automatically makes Dwight the best Center in the NBA. If Dwight can shake off a defender or two and score, the Miami Heat are going to want to be careful.

#1 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder

Hop on the hype train! Kevin “Luke Skywalker” Durant is the new face of the NBA and LeBron “Darth Vader” James is evil! While I don’t see Kevin averaging something crazy like a 35-10-5, I have high expectations for Durant and I am expecting a Top 4 finish in the West and the Thunder to make the second round of the playoffs. Two days until the season starts!!

– Jordan

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