The NBA is currently housing some of the best young players in their history. With a spike in athleticism and outside shooting, more and more players have been dubbed with being “The Next Big Thing”. With this said, who are the top prospects for NBA stardom?
*NOTE: These players cannot have previously named to an All-Star Team*
3. Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum was arguably the best prospect in the 2017 draft class; his game is at a much higher level than a standard rookie. A combination like Tatum’s – his smooth jumper and prime athleticism – is surely a matchup nightmare for most teams, and it has proven to be that way so far this season. Tatum is averaging 13.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. What has been setting Tatum apart from most young players and most players around the league is his shooting ability. He is shooting 47.5% from the field, which ranks him 7th at his position. His 3-point shooting has been even better; he is shooting 42.7% from 3 and putting himself in 5th at his position and 12th among all NBA players.
His potential is at an all-time high now; the injury to Gordon Hayward immediately put him in the starting lineup and into the 2nd scoring option role behind Kyrie Irving. His level of play will only increase while he continues to thrive as one of the Celtics’ young leaders and will continue to do so for many years to come.
2. Nikola Jokic
From a seemingly unimportant pick to 2014 draft steal to a borderline superstar, Serbian player Nikola Jokic has made a name for himself. It seemed like another international player with a dream to take his game to the next level, but it definitely didn’t end up being that way. After almost a year after his draft day, Jokic signed a contract with the Nuggets and played in 80 games that season (starting in 55). He averaged 10 points and 7 rebounds that season. He has steadily improved his play this season and is now averaging 16.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 5.9 assists.
Jokic isn’t your prototypical center; he is not just a scorer and rebounder. Jokic can shoot the 3-ball better than almost any big men and his passing game is one of the best in the league. He is shooting 36.3% from three, which puts him 3rd among all centers. His passing game is also incredible; he can produce perfect behind-the-back passes, over-the-head passes, and other varieties of assisting.
Nikola Jokic is on the highway to stardom in this league, and is setting the tone for future big men coming into the league.
- Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is not human, it’s that simple. Coming out of LSU in 2015, everyone knew that Simmons was going to be a star in the NBA. He has premier ball-handling skills, unmatched athleticism, and a basketball IQ comparable to only the best in the game. Simmons is just too good for any player to match up against, disregarding the few top-tier defenders. If you press up on him on defense, he’ll blow by you with an incredibly fast first step and either drive or pass for an easy basket. If you sag on defense, he’ll do the same thing. His incredible court vision combined with his athleticism and craftiness gives you a virtually unstoppable player.
He can’t shoot, however, but that hardly matters. He’s going to make a play, whether it be passing or driving. Simmons is too big and strong for any guard and too fast for any forward. This is what makes him truly dangerous. He can play all five positions on the basketball court. There isn’t another term for Simmons besides a basketball wizard.
In less than one season, he has already placed himself in the top 10 at any position he plays in. Point Guard, Power Forward, you name, he’s already there, and there’s more where that came from.