The evolution of basketball is bringing in a variety of intriguing talents to the NBA. In the past decade, centers have become unfavored as flashy guards took over and became the most integral parts to basketball teams. However, in recent years, the dominant centers of the NBA are back but not how you remember them! From the point guard all the way to center, versatility is highly valued in today's game. Take a look at our list of 10 young NBA talents who are destined to make the league competitive again against the Cavaliers and Warriors!
6. Andrew Wiggins
Why? After being traded away by the Cleveland Cavaliers to acquire Kevin Love, Wiggins is really making a name for himself on the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s only 21 years old averaging 22/4/2 and has deservedly achieved Rookie of the Year 2014-2015, which says a lot about how special he already is. Standing 6’8” at 200 lbs, Wiggins has the ability to become an elite scorer and dominate in the years to come.
What needs to happen: Unfortunately, he isn’t the best player when looking at the numbers closely. Wiggins needs to improve his efficiency as a scorer to be able to take his game to the next level. He shoots 44% from the field, 34% from three, and 73% from the line. To fulfill his potential and dominate the league, Wiggins must improve to around a 50% FG, 40% 3FG, and 80% FT.
7. Nikola Jokic
Why? Arguably the most underrated big man in the NBA right now: Nikola Jokic. At only 21 years of age, he’s averaging 15 pts, 8 reb, and 4 ast as a center. He is the ideal big man in today’s NBA with his versatility at the center position. He’s able to stretch the floor with his shooting, run the floor, and pass the ball effectively at 6’11”. Jokic was third on the rookie of the year ladder and achieved All-Rookie First Team honors. He is a beast on my NBA fantasy team and he’s just going to get better.
What needs to happen: Consistency is the key. Jokic was phenomenal in his rookie year and it’s evident in his season averages and accomplishments. However, he had quite a slow start to his second year. The Denver Nuggets head coach, Mike Malone, experimented Jokic at power forward and he wasn’t able to adapt and play at his full potential. After being dropped to the bench, Jokic returned to the starting lineup and has been dominating as of late. I have high hopes for this kid and he’ll dominate in years to come as long as he remains healthy and consistent.
8. Jabari Parker
Why? Jabari’s having himself an excellent season averaging 21 pts, 6 reb, and 3 ast. He stands 6’8” at an intimidating 250 lbs. He was the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in 2011 and first-team All-American in 2014. Jabari’s only 21 years old and plays as the second option on the Milwaukee Bucks under Giannis Antetokounmpo. His ability to bully players in the paint and exhibit formidable strength is second to none. Jabari and Giannis form a dynamic duo and give hope to the fans of Milwaukee.
What needs to happen: While he shoots a satisfactory 49.3% from the field and 41% from three, Jabari shoots a poor 72% from the line. If he can improve his free throw shooting, he’ll be a much more effective player considering he does most of his work in the paint. However, the biggest area he needs to focus on is taking care of his body. Jabari tore his ACL halfway through his rookie year and lost more than half a season of potential development as a player to recovering from his season-ending injury.
9. Zach Lavine
Why? After his admirable victory over Aaron Gordon in the dunk competition, Zach Lavine became a regular household name. He averages 20 pts, 3 reb, and 3 ast and achieved the All-Rookie Second Team. The best part about him is his ability to score the ball in different ways. He’s a great shooter and showcased his ability in the paint in the dunk contest. My favorite quality of Lavine is his impressive efficiency. He shoots 46% from the field, 41% from three, and 86% from the line.
What needs to happen: He plays as a third-option for the Minnesota Timberwolves behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. While all youngbloods have so much potential, I see Zach Lavine taking on a similar role of Klay Thompson’s under KD and Steph. He will need to accept his role on the Timberwolves and thrive within the system under KAT and Wiggy. Despite his individual scoring ability, Lavine needs quite a bit of improvement on the defensive end. He’s physically inferior to most opposition players and struggles to stay in front of his man and fight through screens. If he can become a solid two-way player, the Minnesota Timberwolves will be a scary team considering three of their young and talented players made this list.
10. Myles Turner
Why? After sending the veteran high profile name Al Jefferson to the bench, Pacers coach Nate McMillan gave the starting center spot to Myles Turner. This gave Myles the opportunity to get minutes and develop as an NBA player. Myles is only 21 years old and averages 16 pts, 8 reb, and 2 blk. He stands at 6’11” and 243 lbs. Despite his intimidating structure, Myles is very athletic for a center and runs the floor well. He’s the ideal versatile center that the NBA values today due to his floor spacing ability to shoot three pointers with an accuracy of 41%. He’s also very efficient from the field at 53% and from the line at 80%.
What needs to happen: One of the staples of the NBA in this era is the pick and roll. Myles had the third highest usage rate in the NBA in pick and roll situations. However, he just wasn’t that good at rolling and had the second worst field goal percentage in pick and roll situations. Myles isn’t the best when it comes to back to basket offense either. Under the veteran mentoring of Al Jefferson, Myles has the luxury of learning from an experienced and highly skilled center. If Myles learns to effectively execute the pick and roll and develop post moves, coupled with his athleticism and floor spacing ability, he will become one of the most feared centers in the NBA.