In what will undoubtedly be a completely uncontentious topic, we have decided to rank the Top 25 NBA players under the age of 25 for the 2020-21 campaign.
Considering the outrageous amount of top-tier young talent the Association currently boasts, this was far from an easy exercise, and we used input from each and every one of our writers to come up with these rankings.
Lonzo Ball, New Orleans (23 years)
He may not have developed into the star some thought he could be coming into the NBA, but New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball has blossomed into a very unique player, capable of shooting the ball, rebounding and defending at a high level for his position and creatively setting up teammates for easy looks.
In particular, Ball’s ascent as a three-point shooter has been impressive, going from being a 30.5 percent outside marksman as a rookie to 38.1 percent this season, a more accurate rate than various stars around the league:
Lonzo Ball has made more threes this season than:
He also has a higher 3P% than all of the above players. pic.twitter.com/F8Olg4gCVl
— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 11, 2021
Ball’s immediate future with New Orleans may be unclear, as there are reports he could be dealt ahead of the deadline, but wherever Ball does end up, be it with another team through trade or free agency this offseason, whoever picks him up will be getting a very promising, still-young piece.
For the latest Lonzo Ball rumors, click here.
Michael Porter, Denver (22)
In his first full year as a starter, Michael Porter has only just started to touch his huge potential for the Denver Nuggets, averaging 15.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting a borderline-elite 43.0 percent from beyond the arc.
What’s scary is, Porter has so much room to get better, at just 22 years old and with a blend of physical tools and a skill level completely rare for a man of his size.
Even so, Porter already ranks as a very good spot-up shooter and excellent transition scorer, per Synergy Sports, hinting at what is undoubtedly an enormous upside for the Missouri product.
Porter will need to continue working on his defensive awareness and effort, as well as on his one-on-one scoring, to really unlock his full upside, but the sky is the limit for the Nuggets’ young swingman.
For the latest Michael Porter rumors, click here.
Myles Turner, Indiana (24)
Although Myles Turner’s offensive game never really developed the way the Indiana Pacers may have hoped, the 24-year-old still aptly fills a unique-but-important modern archetype of the floor-spacing rim-protector, able to knock down threes on one end and swat away paint attempts on the other.
Among players who have defended at least 600 field-goal attempts from within five feet of the basket, Turner ranks No. 1 overall in opponent field-goal percentage, allowing just 56.3 percent of those looks to be converted.
That’s a slightly better mark than two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert (57.5 percent), as well as than the reigning Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo (58.7 percent).
Turner’s rebounding and shooting – he’s hitting just 33.3 percent of his outside shots over the past two seasons – may leave something to be desired, but overall, he’s still a net positive during his time on the floor for Indiana, as the Pacers are 5.6 points per 100 possessions better with Turner in the game as opposed to when he sits, proving how important his defensive impact is for the club.
For the latest Myles Turner rumors, click here.
Mikal Bridges, Phoenix (24)
One of the top role players league-wide this season, Mikal Bridges has developed wonderfully into a modern-day Shane Battier type, specializing in one-on-one perimeter defense against opposing teams’ best wings, as well as in three-point shooting.
Bridges is shooting 42.1 percent from beyond the arc this season, the 14th-best mark among players with at least 150 three-point attempts on the year, and he grades out as an excellent scorer in transition and on off-ball cuts, as well as a very good one as a spot-up shooter, per Synergy Sports.
The advanced analytics likewise all love Bridges’ impact, as Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), Box Plus/Minus (BPM) and Win Shares per 48 Minutes (WS/48) all rank the Villanova product as a Top 32 player in the NBA this season.
There’s a reason why the Phoenix Suns have turned the corner this season as a franchise, looking like a lock to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009-10, and it hasn’t solely been thanks to their big offseason addition, Chris Paul; Bridges making the jump and becoming an elite complementary piece has also been massive for the team.
For the latest Mikal Bridges rumors, click here.
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix (22)
Our second Suns player in a row on these rankings, Deandre Ayton, now in Year 3, is already a very good NBA player with a chance to become a truly great one over the coming campaigns.
Ayton is averaging 14.4 points, 11.2 rebounds (No. 9 league-wide) and 1.1 blocks per contest this season while shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor. The Arizona product also grades out as an excellent finisher out of the pick-and-roll, per Synergy Sports, though it’s only his fourth-most used play-type this season, something the Suns might want to up as they get closer to playoff time.
Ayton still hasn’t developed the three-point shot many thought he’d be able to use as a weapon when he was drafted first overall back in 2018, but his midrange shooting prowess gives him a face-up game nonetheless, and his athleticism and length make him a fantastic finisher down low.
Regardless, Ayton should be making a more consistent nightly impact, and odds are, he will as he continues to develop under the tutelage of Chris Paul and Monty Williams.
For the latest Deandre Ayton rumors, click here.
Dejounte Murray, San Antonio (24)
His outside shooting may leave a lot to be desired, but 24-year-old point guard Dejounte Murray has still developed into a great piece for the San Antonio Spurs on both ends of the floor, particularly defensively.
Not only do Murray’s 1.6 steals per game rank eighth in the NBA this season, but his point-of-attack defending against opposing guards and wings has been a huge part of the Spurs’ ninth-ranked defense on the campaign.
And for what Murray lacks as an outside shooter, he’s a great rebounder for his position, his drive-and-finish and slashing game are solid and he has improved as a playmaker a great deal since first reaching the NBA.
There’s a reason why the Spurs have been 7.8 points per 100 possessions better with Murray on the floor this year.
For the latest Dejounte Murray rumors, click here.
Collin Sexton, Cleveland (22)
The advanced analytics may not love Collin Sexton’s impact this season, but it’s impossible to argue with his production, as the third-year point guard is averaging 23.9 points, 4.3 assists and 1.2 steals on tidy 48.4/39.1/80.9 shooting splits – borderline All-Star raw numbers.
Synergy Sports ranks Sexton as an excellent spot-up shooter and as a very good scorer out of the pick-and-roll and in transition, all of which can be easily verified when watching the tenacious, super high-energy floor general play.
Sexton’s high-effort style of play is contagious, and it’s easy to see why he’s so highly thought of by his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates.
For the latest Collin Sexton rumors, click here.
Jarrett Allen, Cleveland (22)
A top-notch rebounder and rim-protector, Cleveland big man Jarrett Allen also possesses excellent hands, length and touch around the rim, making him one of the best finishers in the NBA at a mere 22 years old.
Among players with at least 125 field-goal attempts from within five feet of the basket, Allen’s 73.5 percent accuracy from that zone is the fifth-best mark, just ahead of LeBron James (73.3 percent), while his 1.596 points per possession (PPP) on putback attempts places him in the Association’s 97th percentile, per Synergy Sports.
Allen may not be the prototypical modern big man due to his lack of outside shooting and face-up skills, but there is still huge value in such an elite finisher, as those types of big men can create a gravitational effect that opens up lanes for drivers and shooting pockets for teammates.
For the latest Jarrett Allen rumors, click here.
John Collins, Atlanta (23)
Supremely explosive big man John Collins has seen some Year-4 regression this season, but he remains one of the top young big men in basketball thanks to his athletic ability and shooting touch from the outside.
Collins is hitting a healthy 38.7 percent of his shots from three over the past two seasons while his 1.051 PPP on post-up looks in 2020-21 is the fourth-most productive clip of any player with at least 75 such attempts on the campaign, per Synergy Sports.
He still needs to work on continuing to improve his defensive impact, as well as on passing, as too often Collins becomes a black hole with the ball in his hands, but overall, he’s got all the tools to be a prototypical modern power forward for years to come.
For the latest John Collins rumors, click here.
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte (19)
The second Ball brother in our ranking, first-year guard LaMelo Ball has almost instantly helped turn the Charlotte Hornets from an afterthought into a must-watch League Pass team thanks to his downright thrilling style of play.
Ball’s flashiness as a scorer and playmaker isn’t just for show, either, as the 19-year-old is already an analytics darling thanks to his efficiency even in Year-1 of his career.
Ball ranks 33rd in VORP on the campaign (among all players, mind you, not just among those under 25) as well as 31st in BPM, per Basketball-Reference, extremely impressive marks for any player, let alone for one who isn’t even 20 years old yet.
What’s more, Ball is the first teenager in NBA history to post a 15/6/6 stat line, according to StatHead, providing further evidence how special the start to his career has been.
For the latest LaMelo Ball rumors, click here.
Ja Morant, Memphis (21)
Despite his three-point shot abandoning him to this point in Year 2, explosive lead guard Ja Morant has maintained his status as an elite up-and-comer thanks to his scoring and playmaking, as the Murray State product is averaging 19.7 points and 7.8 assists per game this season for the Memphis Grizzlies.
And unlike many of the players on this list, Morant has actually been tasked with being his team’s on-court leader, without his best teammate in Jaren Jackson Jr., another player who would have earned a spot in these rankings had he been available to play this season, being available due to injury, and he’s responded by keeping Memphis in the thick of the playoff race in the brutal Western Conference at 17-18.
That’s an impressive feat for the young point guard, one that helped his position in this ranking greatly.
For the latest Ja Morant rumors, click here.
De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento (23)
His team may still be a mess, but that’s no fault of De’Aaron Fox’s, as the southpaw point guard has been one of the most athletic and productive floor generals in the league this season.
Fox is one of just seven players averaging at least 23 points and seven assists in 2020-21, per StatHead, and the other six guys on the list are a who’s who of the NBA’s best players, placing Fox in elite company with his production this year.
Fox’s game would be even more analytic-friendly if he could just knock down a higher rate of his six-plus nightly free-throw attempts, as his overall numbers get brought down by his 68.1 percent accuracy from the foul stripe, as well as if his three-point percentage (33.8) could see an uptick, but overall, Fox is already a topnotch NBA point guard in just his fourth season.
For the latest De’Aaron Fox rumors, click here.
Jamal Murray, Denver (24)
He may not have carried over his outrageous form from the bubble, but the confident shot-making Jamal Murray is still having his best season according to both Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and WS/48, and the raw numbers appear to back that up.
Murray is averaging 20.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists this season while shooting 39.0 percent from three and 47.3 percent from the floor, both career-best marks. Synergy Sports also ranks Murray as a very good scorer out of the pick-and-roll and on dribble hand-off sets, and as an excellent spot-up shooter.
Overall, Murray, thanks to off-ball abilities as well as improved playmaking chops, has continued to develop into a fantastic No. 2 piece for the Denver Nuggets and an excellent sidekick for Nikola Jokic.
For the latest Jamal Murray rumors, click here.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City (22)
It hasn’t happened yet, but there’s no doubt there’s an All-Star berth in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s future, and likely, with the way he’s improving yearly, more than one.
In 2020-21, Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 23.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists, one of just seven players with a 23/5/6 stat line on the campaign, and he’s shooting 51.0 percent from the floor, 40.5 percent from three and 80.3 percent from the foul line to boot. In hindsight, it seems pretty questionable how he didn’t make the All-Star Game this year.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s unorthodox but extremely effective game, predicated upon herky-jerky movements, rock-solid ball-handling and fantastic finishing skills, have already made him one of the most exciting young players in the league, and a legit building block for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For the latest Shai Gilgeous-Alexander rumors, click here.
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana (24)
One of just three players putting up a 20/11/6 stat line this season, along with Jokic and Antetokounmpo, Domantas Sabonis earned his second All-Star nod this year thanks to his strong play with the Pacers thus far in 2020-21.
Despite not being one of the NBA’s most ridiculous athletes, Sabonis is still an excellent finisher down low, converting 67.9 percent of his looks near the basket, the sixth-best mark among players with at least 250 such chances, and a lot of that has to do with his great touch down low and his bruising right shoulder.
Sabonis can also knock down shots from the midrange and beyond the arc, post up on smaller foes and create for teammates, making him an extremely well-rounded and versatile big man, one with a bright future in Indiana.
For the latest Domantas Sabonis rumors, click here.
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans (23)
It may feel like Brandon Ingram has been in the NBA forever now, but the Pelicans swingman is still shockingly just 23 years old, indicating he may still have another level he can reach despite already having one All-Star bid under his belt.
As is, Ingram is already a top do-everything small forward for New Orleans, averaging 23.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists with a nearly 60 percent true shooting mark, despite a relatively high degree of difficulty on the majority of his shot attempts.
With two players already on our ranking and one more to go, one who you’ll see nearly at the top of this list, the Pelicans appear to have an extremely high future as long as they begin to value the defensive side of the floor.
For the latest Brandon Ingram rumors, click here.
Trae Young, Atlanta (22)
A young floor general in the mold of a Stephen Curry, Trae Young’s off-the-dribble shooting prowess has helped get him off to a special start to his career through two-and-a-half seasons thus far.
Although Young was an All-Star in Year-2 before missing the festivities this season, indicating regression of some sort, the Oklahoma product has actually improved this season based on his WS/48 and BPM marks, which probably has to do with him cutting down on turnovers just a bit (from 4.8 nightly last year to 4.4) and by upping his three-point shooting (career-high 37.9 percent this season, up from 36.1 percent in 2019-20).
And despite it being a contentious topic among fellow players and coaches, Young’s somewhat ugly foul-drawing prowess (he’s shooting nearly 10 free throws per game this year, the No. 3 mark in the NBA), where he shoots 87.3 percent, has really helped him make him one of the most efficient players in the league.
Young’s defense still needs work, and he probably won’t ever be more than an average ball-stopper due to his physical limitations, but he’s such an explosive offensive player that he’s still well-deserving of his place in this ranking.
For the latest Trae Young rumors, click here.
Jaylen Brown, Boston (24)
Jaylen Brown’s year-to-year improvement with the Boston Celtics has been nothing short of incredible to this point in his career, as he has gone from purely a 3-and-D rookie in 2016-17 with some off-the-dribble scoring potential to an All-Star this year, one putting up 24.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals and one who is an elite wing defender who can defend positions 1-4.
Brown’s offensive game has improved so much, in fact, that Synergy Sports grades him as a good scorer out of the pick-and-roll and in transition and as an excellent spot-up shooter, giving him a good amount of diversity to his offensive game.
And considering the Celtics have another wing player coming up on these rankings, their young core remains one of the most impressive in the NBA.
For the latest Jaylen Brown rumors, click here.
Bam Adebayo, Miami (23)
One of the most versatile big men in basketball regardless of age, Bam Adebayo does a bit of everything for the Miami Heat – and on both ends of the floor, not just on offense.
Offensively, Adebayo – a post-up, face-up and off-the-dribble threat with the ball in his hands – averages 19.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists, one of just six players this season with a 19/9/5 stat line, while shooting 56.3 percent from the floor.
All Adebayo is really missing on that side of the court is to at least start letting the corner three fly more frequently, but he has developed a reliable mid-range jumper, which he even shoots off the dribble, in 2020-21. Maybe the three-point shooting comes next year.
And defensively, Adebayo is one of the most switchable bigs in the league, able to body up fellow bruising big men and switch against pick-and-rolls and ably slow down opposing ball-handlers, including point guards.
Miami has done a great job developing of Adebayo, who came into the league as mostly just a lob threat with some finishing ability around the basket, not as the playmaking, ball-handling big man he is now.
For the latest Bam Adebayo rumors, click here.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah (24)
He’s developed a reputation among NBA fans as being slightly inefficient at times, but something has to be said for Donovan Mitchell being the top perimeter player on a Utah Jazz team that leads the league in wins (28) and net rating (+8.1) to this point in the season.
Though Mitchell’s field-goal percentage in 2020-21 (41.9 percent) has been ugly and he still doesn’t draw enough fouls for a star ball-handler (5.5 nightly free throws), the 24-year-old is shooting a career-high 38.1 percent from beyond the arc and putting up a 25/5/5 stat line, which is nothing to scoff at.
Mitchell is also the rare star player who isn’t afraid to dive on the floor or into the stands for a loose ball, and get after it defensively, so overall, his value for Utah is still extremely high, despite the ugly shooting marks.
For the latest Donovan Mitchell rumors, click here.
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia (24)
Like coaching legend Gregg Popovich recently said: No, Ben Simmons can’t shoot, but he’s already elite, so who gives a damn?
Gregg Popovich says Ben Simmons making jumpers would obviously "enhance" his game but, "He's so elite already, who gives a damn if he can't shoot?"
— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) March 14, 2021
And there’s no doubt Popovich is right (not like he needed us to verify that, obviously).
Simmons is arguably the Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner this season thanks to his ability to legitimately guard all five positions at a high level while being an elite disruptor when jumping passing lanes – his 1.6 steals per game are tied for sixth in the NBA – and even does a solid job protecting the basket.
That’s while filling the role of point guard on offense while standing at 6-foot-11, 240 pounds, where, this season, Simmons is averaging 16.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game to go with a 58.1 field-goal percentage.
So no, Simmons doesn’t shoot threes like most modern perimeter (and interior) players, but when he’s so good in every other facet of basketball, it really doesn’t matter.
For the latest Ben Simmons rumors, click here.
Devin Booker, Phoenix (24)
Now that the one knock that could previously be used against Devin Booker – that his Suns teams didn’t win enough games – is out the window, there’s no way to deny his status as one of the NBA’s very best 2-guards regardless of age.
In 2020-21, Booker is averaging 25.1 points and 4.6 assists behind solid 49.7/36.2/84.3 shooting splits while leading Phoenix to a 25-12 record and the league’s third-best net rating, outscoring opponents by 6.0 points per 100 possessions this year.
Booker’s off-the-dribble scoring expertise and deep range as a shooter helped morph him into a special talent, and now playing alongside likewise talented teammates like Chris Paul, Ayton and Bridges, it’ll be exciting to see how the clutch Kentucky product handles playoff competition for the first time in a few months.
For the latest Devin Booker rumors, click here.
Jayson Tatum, Boston (23)
The popular age-related meme about Jayson Tatum aside, it really is crazy that the Celtics forward only just turned 23 years old and already has two All-Star Games and one 3rd Team All-NBA under his belt.
Tatum has continued to improve annually, too, with the Duke product averaging 25.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists this season, along with 1.3 steals and 2.6 triples.
Really, the only thing preventing Tatum from being a truly elite, top-of-the-line offensive player, is his inability to draw more fouls, as Tatum gets to the line fewer than five times nightly, a farcry from what most elite scorers do at the stripe these days.
Even so, Tatum is still putting up over 25.0 points per game, so we’re really nitpicking here.
The Celtics ball-handler is unquestionably a special talent, one that has proven he can do it even on the biggest stage of basketball, in the NBA playoffs, so Boston fans have to be thrilled with what they have in the still-young Tatum.
For the latest Jayson Tatum rumors, click here.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans (20)
A game-changing talent in every sense of the term, Zion Williamson is bringing bully-ball back to an NBA that had grown soft lately due to three-point shooting and abandonment of strong interior frontcourt play.
Now, teams loaded with lighter forwards and big men who are more equipped to switch on the perimeter than to use their size to body up opponents down low, are left with one question when they face New Orleans: How the heck do we slow down Zion?
Williamson’s body control coupled with his outrageous size and quickness at 6-foot-7, 280-plus pounds, has made him a truly unstoppable force in just his second season, as he has the size to finish through any sort of contact and the agility to blow by the rare opposing like-sized big he has to face.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Williamson has already made one bit of history, becoming the player off to the fastest scoring start through their first 60 games since Michael Jordan himself, with a chance to make even more: If Williamson can average 26.2 points over his next 33 games, he’ll become the first player ever to average 25.0 points before even turning 21 years old.
Needless to say, that would be an absolutely ridiculous accomplishment for the young Pelican, one that wouldn’t be shocking to see him pull off considering his level of play lately.
For the latest Zion Williamson rumors, click here.
Luka Doncic, Dallas (22)
When you really think about it, it’s truly somewhat surprising how easily Luka Doncic was able to assimilate into the NBA, starting off strong right away as a first-year player, taking home Rookie of the Year, and now, in just Season-3, already being a two-time All-Star and a 1st Team All-NBAer.
Doncic isn’t showing signs of plateauing either, averaging 28.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 9.1 assists this season while improving his field-goal percentage (47.6) and three-point percentage (34.9).
The Slovenian superstar also ranks fifth on the campaign in VORP, seventh in BPM and eighth in PER, indicating he’s been a borderline MVP candidate based on impact and production for the Dallas Mavericks in 2020-21.
And what’s scary is Doncic still has plenty of room to get better, particularly as he continues to improve his outside shooting and his physique as he matures, a scary notion for opponents in the West.
Regardless, Doncic is still clearly the best player under 25 years old right now, and our voting as a team reflected that: All seven of our voters had Doncic No. 1 in their individual rankings.
That seems about right.
For the latest Luka Doncic rumors, click here.
The other players who received votes for this exercise but just missed the cut to make the Top 25 are OG Anunoby (Toronto), Tyrese Haliburton (Sacramento), Lauri Markkanen (Chicago), De’Andre Hunter (Atlanta), Malik Beasley (Minnesota), Immanuel Quickley (New York) and Jalen Brunson (Dallas).
The ones with the strongest cases there have to be Anunoby, Hunter and Beasley, who have all proven to be legit rotation players this year, Anunoby as a 3-and-D swingman with off the dribble scoring ability, Hunter as a stout two-way forward who can score and defend and Beasley as a 20-point-per-game scorer in 2020-21.
And as we mentioned before, Jaren Jackson Jr. also would have made the Top 25 if he were healthy this season, as he’s an already established modern big man who protects the paint and spaces the floor at high levels.
Alas, we only had 25 spots to use and the NBA is too loaded with young talent for everyone to earn a spot in these rankings.