We continue the countdown of the NBA Top 25 Under 25 with part three in this five-part series. These next five players rank between 15 through 11. While these players may have missed out on the top ten, there is plenty of potential in this class that is primed for improvement come the 2022 season. We may see a leap into the next tier in the hierarchy of young NBA talent come then from some of these names. Let’s continue.
NBA Top 25 Under 25 In 2021 – #15-11
15. De’Aaron Fox (23)
The growth of De’Aaron Fox up to his fourth season in the NBA this year has been nothing short of exponential. What has failed him to this point has been the Sacramento Kings‘ inability to build around the margins for Fox. Fox has star potential written all over him, and it is criminal to watch it go to waste in the trenches of the Kings organization.
Nonetheless, Fox is deservedly in the top 15 of the NBA Top 25 Under 25. If his growth continues in the upward trend it is currently on, he may climb up those rankings even higher. Arguably the best speedster in the NBA, Fox’s ability to put the ball on the floor, blow past defenders, and finish at the rim is at an elite level. Despite the Kings being a bottom-feeding organization in the NBA, Fox is a special talent that has been failed to due outside factors beyond his control.
14. LaMelo Ball (19)
In just 51 games his rookie season, LaMelo Ball has established himself as a future star in this league in short time. A nightly triple-double threat, Ball is a walking highlight reel, with his elite court vision, handle, and ability to create offense through passing and scoring. Ball has nearly single-handedly reestablished Charlotte Hornets fandom in the state of North Carolina, something that rarely existed even in the Kemba Walker era of Hornets basketball.
Ball just needs to build consistency moving forward as he leaps into his sophomore season. While Ball was able to electrify on the court in an unprecedented environment this season, one has to wonder if he can repeat this sort of performance when the lights are brightest. Ball enjoyed a stronger first impression in the league than his eldest brother Lonzo, so if he is bound for a higher ceiling, then he certainly has a place in this league for years to come.
13. Jamal Murray (24)
If the 2021 Denver Nuggets playoff run proved anything to Nuggets fans, it is that the team desperately missed the offensive lift that Jamal Murray provides them with. After an inspiring 2020 Playoff Bubble run a year ago, Murray put the league on notice that he is capable of rising to the occasion when the spotlight is directly upon him. Murray going down with a torn ACL devastated Denver fans, as not only did it rule him out the rest of the 2021 season, but likely a good chunk of the 2021-2022 season as well.
The Denver Nuggets look like a viable contender in the Western Conference. With Nikola Jokic securing the 2021 NBA MVP award, Murray’s return in 2022 is bound to put the team to the next level, hopefully returning to the playoff picture to avenge their second-round sweep by the Phoenix Suns.
12. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22)
Perhaps the NBA’s most underrated star in the league, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one special talent that deserves more recognition around the association. Once a throw-in piece in the Paul George trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, Gilgeous-Alexander rose to prominence in his first two years on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Under the tutelage of Chris Paul in 2020, SGA was given the keys in 2021 and he ran with them. While the Thunder are in the midst of a monster rebuild, with the King’s ransom of picks and assets at their disposal, SGA is the man in charge of this retool in OKC.
SGA finds himself just short of the top ten in the NBA Top 25 Under 25, but he arguably holds one of the higher ceilings of anyone on this list. Oklahoma City is under a tiny microscope compared to the larger markets in the NBA, but he single-handedly points the team in either direction they see themselves in. Much of the workload is his doing, and it has polished him to becoming one of the best young two-way players in the NBA. Keep an eye on SGA and the Thunder these next few years, because if all goes according to plan during this retool, then we could be seeing the foundations of the next Western Conference powerhouse in the works.
11. Ja Morant (21)
Few point guards in the NBA have adapted to the pro level as quickly as Ja Morant has in just his second season. After a sensational rookie year, Morant looks quite comfortable out on the floor, avoiding the infamous sophomore slump and propelling the Memphis Grizzlies to the NBA playoffs in 2021. While they did not find much success, the Grizzlies look like a team bound to return to the playoff picture year after year. The team has a hungry, gritty identity that has existed within the organization for so long, and that identity was reinvigorated thanks to Morant’s arrival.
Morant embodies what Memphis basketball is all about, as his teammates have also bought into the team’s brand of physical, team basketball. Not a powerhouse in the West just yet, but Memphis is a formidable opponent for any team to find themselves up against any given night. Morant is one of the most battled-tested players in this class, and that should pay dividends to his growth and development moving forward as one of the league’s best point guards it has to offer.
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