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The All-under 25 NBA team

By: Francisco Osornio

While most players begin to fully reach their potential past the age of 25, they’re are a select few who find a way to make it towards the top just a couple of years into their professional careers. Whether it comes from having a signature ability or just simply filling up the stat sheet. All these players have one thing in common, they all play huge roles in their team’s success. Each player is considered as the future of their teams and will likely be at the top of their respective positions soon. All the players that are about to be listed off will all be under the age of 25 by the time the regular season begins.

Point Guard: Kyrie Irving – Age 23

Kyrie Irving

After being chosen with the first pick in the 2011 NBA draft, Irving quickly established himself in the league as a rookie, earning Rookie of the Year honors. As his game continues to grow, Irving has showcased elite ball handling ability as well as a consistent deep ball shot. Prior to the 2014-2015 year, Irving had yet to lead the Cavaliers to the playoffs as the lead man. However, with Lebron James returning, Irving was able to play the role of Robin to James and help put the Cavaliers back into the playoffs. Even while under this role, Irving was still able to put up one of his best years statistically yet. Playing in a career-high 75 games, Irving was able to put up 21.7 points per game while shooting 46.8-percent from the field and 41.5-percent from beyond the arc.

Compared to other point guards under the age of 25, Irving blows all them out the water. The only player in which an argument could be made for is Michael Carter-Williams. Carter-Williams, albeit in far less games, has been a better facilitator and defender than Irving, averaging 0.8 assists more and 0.4 more steals. While Carter-Williams averages more than Irving in those categories, Irving has consistently played at a higher level than Carter-Williams and has showcased his elite ball handling skills on a nightly basis. Irving still has plenty of time to truly establish himself as one the best guards from this era, but he is off to a great start so far.

Shooting Guard: Bradley Beal – Age 22

Bradley Beal

Despite dealing with injuries for a vast majority of his career, Bradley Beal has already separated himself from the competition at a young age. With just three years under his belt, Beal has proven to be a threat from beyond the arc with a career average of 40.0-percent. With his continuous improvment from the three through his career, it is safe to say Beal’s points per game will also rise. In Beal’s first year the Washington Wizards were no where close to the contenders that they are today. In large part due to the youth between the franchise players: John Wall and Beal. While both spent time and developing together, the Wizards entered the playoffs in Beal’s second year. Going into year three, the Wizards badly missed Beal’s production while he dealt with an injury. However, Beal was able to play in all 10 playoff games for the Wizards, leading the team in scoring with 23.4 points per game and steals with 1.6 per game showcasing his value on the team.

The competition for Beal as the top shooting guard under 25 is not to stout, there is one player who can give him a run for his money. Orlando Magic guard, Victor Oladipo, edges Beal in nearly every statistical category, except for 3-point percentage. Once again it is a case of a player having a strong signature ability over better stats. Beal’s dynamic ability to shoot the 3 pushes him over the top as the best shooting guard under the age 25. With being at such a young age, expect Beal to remain in this lineup for several more years.

Small Forward: Kawhi Leonard – Age 24

Kawhi Leonard

The oldest player in this lineup, Kawhi Leonard is the exact opposite of that on a veteran, championship winning team. After being blessed with the opportunity to be traded to the San Antonio Spurs on draft night in 2011, Leonard has seen his role steadily grow as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili get older. This past year Leonard shot a career low 47.9-percent from the floor, but saw himself achieve career highs in points, assists, rebounds, and steals. However, the real reason why Leonard makes this lineup is for his accolades. Defensive Player of the Year, NBA Finals Champion, and NBA FInals MVP makeup for everything that he has won so far in his young career.

Leonard faces tougher competition for this spot than the two players previously listed. Tobias Harris is a player who had a career year last year, averaging more points than Leonard. Another player who could potentially challenge Leonard for this spot is rookie sensation, Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins came out strong in his first year of the league, claiming the Rookie of the Year Award. While both these players are immensely talented for their age, neither have done what Leonard has done in their time in the league.

Power Forward: Anthony Davis – Age 22

Anthony Davis

Perhaps the most talented player in this lineup, Anthony Davis has asserted himself into the MVP discussion in just three short years. With his game growing each year, Davis has established himself on each end of the court. Averaging a career high 24.4 points per game and a league-leading 2.9 blocks per game last year, it’s no question that Davis is at the top of his position. While the New Orleans Pelicans did get swept in the first round, Davis gave trouble to the best defensive team in the league. Davis consistently put up more than 25 points each game and recorded a double-double in 75-percent of his games.

There is no question that Davis is the future of the Pelicans and perhaps the league. No one even comes close to challenging Davis for this spot in lineup, expect to see the Brow here for a couple more years.

Center: Andre Drummond – Age 21

Andre Drummond

The youngest player to make in this lineup, Andre Drummond has sneakily established himself in the league as a double-double machine. While he may not put up high scoring numbers like other members in this lineup, Drummond still provides strong rebounding and defensive play. That is something that a team could build around at the center position. Add in the fact that he has only missed one game these past two years and you get a healthy, young, double-double averaging center, which is a rarity in this league. Drummond has yet to reach the playoffs as a member of the Detroit Pistons, but this is largely due to the lack of help that he has received from his fellow teammates.

Drummond, perhaps, faces the toughest competition for this spot. Both Rudy Gobert and Jonas Valanciunas challenge Drummond as the best center under 25. Each shoot a higher field goal percentage and were each able to dish it out from the post more successfully than Drummond. However, neither were able to average a double-double for the 2014-2015 season. Drummond has earned this spot in the lineup for now, but both Valanciunas and Gobert are nipping at his heels.

Overall

How would this lineup fare against the rest of the league. Well, it would likely win upwards of 50 games in the weak Eastern Conference and likely earn a top 4 seed. It would be able to compete with a LeBron James-led team thanks to Leonard. However, it could have some trouble against point guards such as Derrick Rose or Wall. Irving’s defense, or lack there of, would be an issue that could prevent them from being able to reach the Finals. Meanwhile, in the West, they would likely win somewhere around 40 to 45 games and earn a bottom 4 seed. They would be able to compete with teams that win with their big men.

Both Davis and Drummond could hold their own against a team like the Memphis Grizzlies, whose team runs through Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Though, it would likely face similar issues it had in the Eastern Conference. Irving and Beal would not be able to stop the likes of James Harden, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, or Klay Thompson on a nightly basis. In order for this lineup to succeed it will have to rely on high scoring numbers from their guards, strong defending from Leonard, and big time rebounding and rim protection from the two bigs. Overall, this team has future stars at each position, expect to see all of them in All-Star Games for years to come.

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Francisco Osornio

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