Top 10 NBA Young Cores Right Now: 6-10
The NBA is stacked with young talent heading into the 2018-2019 season as teams around the league look to build cores capable of eventually toppling the Golden State dynasty. Looking towards the future, here are the ten most promising compilations of 25-and under talent around the league. Rankings are based on a combination of both quality and quantity, but favoring the cores with the most All-Star level talent, since it’s a star driven league.
10. Sacramento Kings (De'Aaron Fox/Marvin Bagley/Bogdan Bogdanovic/Harry Giles/Buddy Hield/Skal Labissiere/Frank Mason)
Sacramento has one of the greatest quantities of young players, with their prospects going two deep at every position, but they also have the greatest amount of uncertainty regarding the star quality of those players of any team on this list. De’Aaron Fox showed star level flashes as a rookie last year, but needs to make major strides on his outside shooting to reach that level. Marvin Bagley III has even greater potential, but he needs to greatly improve his defense and adjust his game to NBA length. If those two can develop, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield and Frank Mason all look like solid contributors who could help in a future playoff push, giving Sacramento some hope of finally returning to the postseason in the near future after over a decade of missing out on playoff action.
9. Dallas Mavericks: (Dennis Smith Jr./Luka Doncic/Jalen Brunson)
Dallas may have fewer young players than other teams on the list, but the star potential of their young backcourt is great enough to merit inclusion. Doncic’s playmaking should help make Smith, who had a monstrous 28.9% usage rate as a rookie, become more efficient, while the reigning MVP of the Euro League should similarly benefit from open looks as defenses collapse to try and slow the uber athletic Smith Jr’s drives to the basket. After years of avoiding a youth movement in a misguided attempt to compete with Dirk, the Mavs finally have a pair of young building blocks.
8. New Yorks Knicks (Kristaps Porzingis/Kevin Knox/Frank Ntilikina/Mitchell Robinson)
The unicorn is no longer the lone face of the rebuild in New York, as the Knicks will be led by summer league darling Kevin Knox and defensive stud Frank Ntilikina while Porzingis recovers from a torn ACL. They also have rookie Mitchell Robinson, who sat out the season at Western Kentucky but was one of the top high school recruits and looked extremely promising in Summer League. Still, the future of the Knicks is aligned with Kristaps Porzingis and his continuing development, which isn’t a problem as long as the lanky Latvian can stay healthy.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves (Karl-Anthony Towns/Andrew Wiggins/Tyus Jones/Josh Okogie)
Towns and Wiggins may not be proving to be the dynamic duo T-Wolves fans had hoped, but Towns is still a superstar already, and Wiggins still has every tool to become a star, although he’s already being paid like one. Towns still has lapses defensively, but he made improvements on that end last season and has every tool to be a top defender at the center position. Wiggins similarly has the skillset of a superstar, but his effort and shot selection have been less than ideal at times. The future in Minnesota is going to hinge on those two rounding out their games, but if they do, Jones and possibly Okogie would be a solid start on a supporting cast around them.
6. Chicago Bulls: (Lauri Markkanen/Jabari Parker/Kris Dunn/Zach Lavine/Wendell Carter/Chandler Hutchison/Denzel Valentine)
Chicago has a bevy of youngsters who should be seeing a majority of the minutes available in the Windy City this year, but it’s fair to question the stability of the roster. The frontcourt pairing of Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen is a great fit, but newcomer Jabari Parker should also be playing the bulk of his minutes at the four instead of blocking the paths of Valentine and Hutchison at small forward. There are also plenty of questions regarding how good the backcourt of Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn can be given the various flaws in each of their games, but there’s also a chance the defensive minded Dunn could be a compliment to Lavine’s lights out-scoring if things break right for the Bulls.