One could easily argue the past few years have seen the greatest influx of talent the NBA has ever experienced.
From men brought over via overseas to those bred right here in the States, the league is set up for future success with the caliber of player that has arrived since the 2014 NBA Draft.
As such, we decided to rank the 25 best under the age of 25.
Some are just hitting their stride, others are rookies surprising the league with their play while others still are legitimate MVP candidates.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
25. Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers
2017-18 Stats: 14.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic hasn’t quite found the form he had late last season. After arriving in the Pacific Northwest following a trade with the Denver Nuggets, the big Bosnian averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest over a 20-game sample size.
Thus far this season, his raw statistics are down all across the board. Nurkic is also shooting merely 45.4 percent from the floor – the third-lowest mark among centers playing at least 25 minutes per night.
What’s more, the only two big men with lower accuracy from the floor are Dirk Nowitzki and Marc Gasol, who both space the floor from beyond the arc, a luxury which Nurkic does not provide.
Even so, the Blazers are a better team with their starting center in the game. And he’s still just 23 years old; Nurkic’s best days remain ahead.
24. Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 Stats: 12.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.9 apg
Los Angeles Lakers big man Julius Randle appears to have found his niche. And it involves coming off the bench.
The fourth-year pro has seen his minutes go down this season, but his numbers per 100 possessions are better than ever.
As a game-changing reserve, the Kentucky product uses his ferocity near the rim and quick feet defensively to have major impact in his (relatively) limited playing time, which can be proven by looking at Los Angeles’ net rating with Randle in the game: a ridiculous +9.1 mark.
His impending restricted free agency will be one to watch, as his play could garner a solid payday next summer.
23. Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 Stats: 16.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.1 apg
Another young Laker, Brandon Ingram checks in at No. 23 on our list. After a bit of a slow start to 2017-18, the 6-foot-10 wing has taken his play to another level over recent weeks.
Since Nov. 15, Ingram is putting up 18.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists nightly. If he were to maintain that form for the entire season, he would become just the third player in league history to average at least 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in their age-20 season. To this point, the only two other men to do it were Magic Johnson and LeBron James.
Not bad company to be in for the spindly forward with superstar potential.
22. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 Stats: 16.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.5 apg
The steal of the 2017 NBA Draft, Kyle Kuzma is already one of the most promising young players in the league.
Although at 22 years old he’s a bit old for his rookie status, the former Utah Ute uses a mixture of freakish agility at 6-foot-9 and a smooth jumper to rank No. 8 in bench scoring at 16.3 points per contest.
The next step in Kuzma’s development will be to improve his court vision and work on his distribution abilities in order to become a more well-rounded threat with the ball in his hands.
21. Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets
2017-18 Stats: 16.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.1 apg
One of the most underrated shooting guards in the league, Gary Harris has maintained the upward trajectory he set off on in 2016-17.
Harris is a quiet menace in multiple facets of scoring; he’s lighting quick in transition, he knocks down spot-up jumpers and he can aptly run the pick-and-roll.
This year, the Denver Nuggets are outscoring opponents by an obscene 15.6 points per 100 possessions with their starting 2-guard in the game.
Harris may never blossom into a full-blown superstar, but he will be one of the league’s silent assassins for seasons to come.
20. D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 Stats: 20.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.7 apg
Before going down with a knee injury (that eventually led to arthroscopic knee surgery), D’Angelo Russell appeared to be the perfect combo guard for Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson‘s system.
Even despite hitting a paltry 29.5 percent of his threes through 12 contests, Russell was still comfortably putting up nearly 21 points per night while shooting a healthy 46.3 percent from the floor overall – by far the best rate of his young career.
Russell was also shattering career marks in Box Plus/Minus (BPM), Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and Win Shares per 48 (WS/48) prior to going down.
Although it’s understandable why Los Angeles felt the need to package the third-year scorer to a trade involving Timofey Mozgov just to get rid of the latter’s absurd contract, it’s hard not to daydream about the potential partnership he could have formed with Lonzo Ball in the Lakers’ backcourt for years to come.
19. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
2017-18 Stats: 14.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.2 spg
Despite losing their highest-paid player five minutes into the season, the Boston Celtics boast the Eastern Conference’s best record one-third of the way through the league year.
Much of the credit belongs to Al Horford and Kyrie Irving, who are running head coach Brad Stevens’ system exquisitely. However, they don’t do it all on their own, obviously; two of their primary helpers are actually a pair of young contributors.
One of them is 21-year-old Jaylen Brown.
The Cal product’s tough-nosed brand of defense and prowess from beyond the arc makes him a near-perfect complementary piece. Thanks to his role-playing abilities, Brown ranks third on the Celtics in on/off differential at +7.5, trailing just Horford and plus/minus God Marcus Smart.
18. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
2017-18 Stats: 14.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.4 bpg
Due to a mixture of bad injury luck and poor form, Myles Turner hasn’t had the breakout campaign many expected him to have in 2017-18.
Even so, the Indiana Pacers big man leads the league in nightly blocked shots while knocking down 35.0 percent of his three-pointers. If he maintains this pace, Turner would become just the fourth player ever to average at least 2.5 three-point attempts per game with 35.0 percent accuracy, while swatting away 2.4 shots per outing.
That blend of elite rim protection and apt three-point shooting makes Turner one of the league’s rarest talents.
Oh, and he’s still just 21 years old.
The Pacers clearly have a franchise player on their hands.
17. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
2017-18 Stats: 13.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.3 apg
Along with the aforementioned Brown, surprisingly destructive rookie Jayson Tatum has helped carry the load for Boston in 2017-18.
Among players with at least 75 attempts from beyond the arc on the year, Tatum leads all of them in accuracy at a preposterous 51.5 percent.
And according to Synergy, the Duke product ranks in the “excellent” range as a spot-up shooter, in transition, as a scorer out of the pick-and-roll and when posting up.
For a 19-year-old to rate that absurdly well in multiple play types legitimately defies logic. It’s entirely plausible once Tatum hits his prime, he’ll be putting up 25 points per night with ease.
16. Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 Stats: 18.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.8 apg
Like Turner, Andrew Wiggins‘ start to 2017-18 has been a bit disappointing.
Nevertheless, he’s still a 22-year-old putting up over 18 points on a nightly basis.
Wiggins needs to improve his defensive awareness and three-point shooting, as well as his chemistry with new addition Jimmy Butler. Regardless, a player with his freakish tangible gifts should be able to eventually get it figured out.
Considering the Minnesota Timberwolves handed him a five-year, $148 million extension just before this season, they had better hope he does.
15. Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks
2017-18 Stats: 19.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 6.7 apg
Only six players are averaging at least 19.0 points, 6.5 assists and 1.0 steals in 2017-18: LeBron James, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, John Wall and Dennis Schroder.
That’s an impressive list for the German floor general to find himself on, and speaks to his vast improvement under head coach Mike Budenholzer.
Schroder’s efficiency pales in comparison to the other All-NBA talents putting up similar numbers, but at the very least, you can see him begin to turn the corner and become an above-average point guard.
14. Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 Stats: 13.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Thus far this season, Steven Adams is averaging career-highs in points (13.7), rebounds (8.8), field-goal percentage (63.5), BPM (2.4) and PER (21.0).
Adams is finally beginning to live up to the four-year, $100 million extension Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti signed him to just over a year ago.
Although the New Zealand-born center doesn’t space the floor like some of his more modern counterparts at the position, he knows his limitations and plays to his strengths extremely well.
13. Clint Capela, Houston Rockets
2017-18 Stats: 13.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.8 bpg
If it weren’t for Victor Oladipo, Clint Capela would be far and away the front-runner to win Most Improved Player this season.
Like Adams, Capela is shattering career marks in multiple metrics – both raw and advanced. It probably doesn’t hurt that the Swiss big man is getting set up by two of the best point-creators league-wide in Harden and Chris Paul, but nevertheless, he deserves credit for his improved hands and motor defensively.
According to Synergy Sports Tech, among players with at least 50 opportunities as the roll man in pick-and-roll sets, Capela places third in scoring efficiency at 1.36 points per possession (PPP).
That, plus his elite paint protection, is helping him blossom into an absolute two-way monster for the Houston Rockets.
12. Otto Porter, Washington Wizards
2017-18 Stats: 14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.5 spg
Superstars not included, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect modern wing than Otto Porter.
In fact, one could even argue the Georgetown product is a superstar, just not in the traditional sense, but rather, a superstar role player.
Among qualified small forwards, Porter places in the top 10 in Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DBPM). Additionally, out of those 10 wings, Porter is first in three-point percentage by a fairly wide margin.
That interesting tidbit tells us one thing: Porter makes a strong case for the NBA’s best 3-and-D wing, as few players can match his level of two-way production at such a low usage rate.
11. Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
2017-18 Stats: 18.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.2 apg
The massive step Aaron Gordon has taken thus far in 2017-18 could make the Orlando Magic regret not extending his contract prior to this season.
Instead, now he’s set to hit restricted free agency next summer, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see a rebuilding team with money to spend – like the Dallas Mavericks or Atlanta Hawks – splurge on the athletic forward.
Gordon is setting career-highs in points (18.3), rebounds (8.0) and assists (2.2) per game, but more importantly, after being a paltry 28.9 percent three-point shooter through his first three campaigns, he’s now knocking down 40.1 percent of his triples.
If that last number proves to be sustainable, the Arizona product could become one of the most well-rounded combo forwards in the NBA.
10. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
2017-18 Stats: 24.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.1 apg
Though he’s known mostly for his scoring accolades – like, for example, that one special night in the TD Garden – Devin Booker has become a more well-rounded player in this, his third season as a pro.
After boasting an all-too-ordinary true shooting percentage of 53.3 percent through his first two campaigns, Booker has improved his mark all the way up to 57.3 percent this year.
He’s also distributing the basketball better than ever before, totaling over four assists nightly in 2017-18.
Most interestingly, however, Booker is on pace to become just the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 24 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in their age-21 season.
The prior three?
Michael Jordan, Tracy McGrady and LeBron James.
No matter what you may think of the Phoenix Suns’ budding star – whether you believe he’s too much of a gunner or too limited of a defender – Booker is putting up numbers nearly unheard of for a player of his age.
And if he continues on this path, it’ll be scary to see what he becomes once he hits his athletic peak.
9. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
2017-18 Stats: 23.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg
The first step in Bradley Beal becoming an All-Star-level talent was to take fewer mid-range jumpers and more three-pointers.
He accomplished that in 2016-17.
Then, he needed to become a better finisher on rim attacks – an area he somewhat struggled in prior to this year.
Well, he’s done just that, as Beal is converting a career-best 67 percent on shots from within three feet of the rim in 2017-18.
Now that he’s a more complete scorer, the Florida product is well on his way to turning into one of the NBA’s top shooting guards.
8. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 Stats: 17.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 7.8 apg
Despite the potential he flashed as a prep prospect, few could have foreseen the rookie year Ben Simmons was about to embark on.
Even lacking any semblance of a jump shot, Simmons has still been able to put up over 17 points per night while knocking down over 50 percent of his shot attempts.
He also cleans up on the glass and distributes the rock like an elite floor general, while providing the switchability defensively that every coach covets.
If Simmons maintains his current statistical pace, the Philadelphia 76er will become only the second player ever to average at least 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for an entire season as a rookie, joining the legendary Oscar Robertson to form a ridiculously impressive list.
7. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
2017-18 Stats: 13.9 ppg, 14.9 rpg, 3.8 apg
Just a few months ago, Andre Drummond appeared to be on the outs with the Detroit Pistons.
Rampant rumors flooded the basketball collective regarding head coach and team president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy seeking out suitors for his behemoth center to no avail.
Whether the scuttle was true or not, Van Gundy is probably glad it didn’t come to fruition as Drummond has completely turned the corner this season.
With improved maturity, fewer post-ups and more swinging of the basketball, the 24-year-old center has blossomed into quite the unique talent. Through just 30 games, Drummond has already destroyed his previous career-best total in assists for a season.
A seven-footer who can create buckets for others, as well as dominate on the glass and protect the paint is about as desirable a player as there is. And that’s precisely who Drummond has become.
6. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 Stats: 24.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 3.5 apg
It’s safe to say The Process was a rousing success.
As if having Simmons wasn’t enough, the 76ers also have another freakish young talent in the form of Joel Embiid.
Although his three-point shot has seemingly abandoned him (hitting just 26.2 percent in 2017-18), the former Kansas Jayhawk is still putting up over 24 points and 11 rebounds on a nightly basis.
Men of Embiid’s stature shouldn’t be as swift as he is, or possess the soft touch he does as a shooter.
His ability to deter opponents near the rim is scary, he can make plays for others and his face-up game resembles that of a freakazoid version of Hoodie ‘Melo.
If Embiid can stay healthy, he and Simmons could one day form the next John Stockton/Karl Malone superstar pairing.
5. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
2017-18 Stats: 15.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 4.5 apg
Initially, Nikola Jokic struggled to get acclimated with new frontcourt partner Paul Millsap. Then, he hurt his ankle and was forced to miss a couple of weeks of action.
All in all, those are the two primary reasons as to why the big Serbian hasn’t found his 2016-17 magic. At least not yet.
For the most part, however, Jokic is still the dime-dishing, rebound-gobbling, post-up menace he was last season.
The Denver Nuggets center is fourth in the NBA (among qualified players) in scoring out of the post at 1.06 PPP, according to Synergy. He’s fifth in point-producing off of put-backs at 1.45 PPP.
At 22 years old with improving defensive abilities, Jokic is a piece the Nuggets will gladly build around for seasons to come.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 Stats: 20.7 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg
Over the final 41 games of last year, Karl-Anthony Towns was putting up a preposterous 28.2 points and 12.6 rebounds per outing.
Like Jokic, though, Towns has somewhat struggled to find his form from late last season as he attempts to acclimate with two new teammates in Butler and Jeff Teague.
It should be noted that even despite his relative struggles, the Dominican seven-footer is still putting up nearly 21 points and 12 boards per night.
If Towns can improve on the less glamorous side of the ball, he may find his way up our list by the time next season rolls around.
3. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
2017-18 Stats: 25.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.1 bpg
A unicorn in the truest sense, Kristaps Porzingis is a once-in-a-lifetime type of talent.
With his prowess from beyond the arc and ability to swat away shots defensively, the Latvian big man is set to become the only player in NBA history to average at least two blocks and two three-pointers for an entire season if he maintains his current numbers.
How the New York Knicks continue to build around him will determine their fate, but at least they have the most difficult piece of the puzzle in their possession: a franchise player.
2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 Stats: 25.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg
Injury concerns aside, Anthony Davis is currently enjoying the best season of his career.
He boasts an absurd 64.2 true shooting percentage along with a healthy 58.7 effective field-goal percentage – both by far the best marks as a professional.
Playing next to Cousins, Davis has turned into the best complementary piece in the league. (Cousins has taken over the role of primary playmaker for the Pelicans, as his 34.2 percent usage rate will attest to.)
Davis rates in the “excellent” range according to Synergy in multiple facets of secondary scoring, such as in transition, off of put-backs and as an off-ball cutter.
And when it’s his turn to get buckets, he can do just that. Per Synergy, the Pelicans power forward is fifth in iso scoring efficiency at 1.18 PPP.
Davis can do it all, on both ends of the floor.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 Stats: 29.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 4.5 apg
In the modern NBA, it’s difficult to fathom a player putting up nearly 30 points per night without a reliable three-point shot, but Giannis Antetokounmpo is doing just that.
And judging by his 54.4 shooting percentage, he’s doing it with ease, too.
For all intents and purposes, Antetokounmpo is a wing who possesses the capacity to average double-digit rebounds and block almost two shots nightly.
His freakish wingspan, relentless ferocity near the rim and striding long steps make him an absolute load to defend, even without an outside shot.
If he were to develop a reliable three-pointer on top of all that, he’d become a multi-time MVP winner. As is, he’s well on his way to receiving MVP votes for his contributions this season.
The sky is truly the limit for the one everyone refers to as the Greek Freak.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Just barely missed a spot on our list. The spectacular Utah Jazz rookie leads his team – as well as all first-year contributors – in scoring at 17.7 points per game, while also averaging 3.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.3 three-pointers nightly.
What’s more, considering Gordon Hayward’s departure and Rudy Gobert being in and out of the lineup due to multiple knee injuries, no one would have expected Utah to be in the running for a Western Conference playoff spot. And yet they’re in thick of it, currently sitting just one game out of the No. 8 spot.
They have Donovan Mitchell to partially thank for that.
Mitchell’s mightily impressive play has turned heads (DeMarcus Cousins called the rookie a star after he dropped 41 points on the New Orleans Pelicans), and if he sustains this form, there’s no doubt he’ll find himself high up on this list come next season.
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks
Before injuring his knee for the second time in three years last February, Jabari Parker was beginning to turn the corner.
As a third-year player, the Duke product was putting up 20.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 three-pointers per outing, all career-best marks.
Unfortunately, the knee injuries are a major concern for his future outlook as a pro. It’ll be interesting to see how he looks once he does return the lineup, which many expect to be in February.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter @frankurbina_.
Longform, Rankings, Top, Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards