With players from past eras retiring and the amount of great talent entering the league every year in the NBA draft, the league’s best continue to get younger and younger. Some would say we’re even entering a new era of generational talent. Based on their careers thus far and the great amount of potential they all possess, we present to you the Top 25 NBA players, 25 and under (Excluding rookies, since they are unproven to this point). Each of these players has had a great impact on their team’s success and some have already surpassed players that came before them.
13. Jaren Jackson Jr- Memphis Grizzlies Forward/Center
The 2023 Defensive Player of the Year has steadily improved since his rookie year and is now one of the best players in his position. The Grizzlies have been one of the better young teams in the league thanks to his play.
12. Paolo Banchero- Orlando Magic Forward/Center
The 2023 Rookie of the Year looks to build off the great rookie season and cement himself as one of the brightest future stars in the league. He has shown early on in his career that he can be a piece the Magic build around for the future.
11. LaMelo Ball- Charlotte Hornets Guard
The talented young guard has been great for the Hornets since being drafted in 2020. Becoming an All-Star in just his second season, Ball has what it takes to be one of the best guards in the league for years to come.
10. Tyrese Haliburton- Indiana Pacers Guard
The playmaking point guard for the Pacers has impressed many across the league with his craftiness on the court. Expected to be the cornerstone for Indiana’s future, Halliburton is a special talent that will continue to build on the All-Star season he had last year.
9. De’Aaron Fox- Sacramento Kings Guard
Fox’s play last season was a huge part of the Kings’ success, bringing them to the playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons. The All-Star guard has really developed his game since his rookie season and looks to further solidify himself as one of the best guards in the league.
8. Zion Williamson- New Orleans Pelicans Forward/Center
A living highlight reel, Williamson took no time to become one of the best forwards in the league. After dealing with various injuries, Zion is hoping to return back to his All-Star level of play and help the Pelicans make the playoffs this year.
7. Trae Young – Atlanta Hawks Guard
Trae Young was ranked as low as eighth but crowned the seventh spot. The “Ice Trae” has embraced his role as a villain, especially after his iconic series against the New York Knicks in 2021. This sharpshooting guard has led the Hawks to the playoffs three out of the five seasons of his career, even landing himself in an Eastern Conference Finals. Young has already made two All-Star appearances, an All-NBA Honors, and even a WWE appearance. As his career unfolds, the playmaking 6’1″ guard will probably face a lot of haters, but that’s what gives the villain the motive to succeed in the end.
6. Bam Adebayo – Miami Heat Forward/Center
Bam Adebayo was initially ranked as low as eighth on the list, but he ultimately landed at the sixth spot. Although he is often underrated, Adebayo is an absolute force on the court and perfectly embodies the “Heat Culture.” He has played a critical role in the Heat’s success, contributing significantly to their two Finals appearances in 2020 and 2023. Adebayo has become one of the most versatile and top-tier defenders in the entire NBA, having been named to four All-NBA defensive teams and earning two All-Star appearances.
5. Anthony Edwards – Minnesota Timberwolves Guard
Anthony Edwards, who was given an honorable mention in the fourth spot, now ranks at number 5. Edwards is an exceptional player with impressive skills in attacking the rim, a smooth jump shot, and great rebounding from the wing. He has showcased some remarkable highlights in his young career and has made the Timberwolves a must-see team. With one All-Star appearance and a Team USA appearance already under his belt, there is no doubt that Anthony Edwards is destined for even greater stardom in the coming seasons.
4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander- Oklahoma City Thunder Guard
SGA was listed as high as number four and as low as number five. In just six seasons, Shai’s career has taken many shapes – from a rising star with the Clippers to a mentee under Chris Paul with the Thunder, and finally to leading the same franchise and becoming an All-NBA player and first-time All-Star last season. With the roster improving, Alexander’s performance should help the Thunder return to prominence and reach the playoffs in the near future.
3. Ja Morant – Memphis Grizzlies Guard
Ja Morant, who also ranked as the number three pick on our board, deserves the recognition he gets. He is one of the most electrifying and thrilling players to watch in the league. During his first four seasons, Ja went from winning Rookie of the Year in 2019 to being named Most Improved Player in 2022 while leading his team to three playoffs out of four seasons. Although the young guard is currently serving a 25-game suspension, fans eagerly anticipate his return and the excitement he brings to the court.
2. Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics Wing
It was an easy decision to vote for Jayson Tatum as the second-best player on our board. The 25-year-old wing has proven himself in big games and essential moments, leading his young Celtics team to an NBA Championship appearance and five Eastern Conference Finals. In addition to these achievements, Tatum has been selected as an All-Star four times and named to the All-NBA team three times. Many would even consider him a Celtics legend. Overall, Tatum’s accomplishments speak for themselves and undoubtedly make him one of the best players in the league.
1. Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavs Guard
At the top of the list is Luka Doncic, one of the most talented players in the NBA. At just 24 years old, he earned 4 All-Star selections and 4 First-Team All-NBA honors, tying the Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki for the most in franchise history. Although the Mavericks missed the playoffs last season, Luka’s impressive numbers make him a strong contender for the coveted MVP award. If he avoids any injuries or setbacks, he should be able to lead the Mavericks back to the playoffs on his own and further submit himself among the greats.