Updated: Jun 8, 2020
These are my top 10 rising stars in the NBA today. I will only include players that are currently in their first or second year in the league. Please do not get offended as these are my opinions.
10. Collin Sexton
Collin Sexton was selected 8th overall in the 2018 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. This year in 65 games, he has put up 20.8 ppg, 3 assists, and 3.1 rebounds. We have not yet seen him make much of an impact on a very bad Cavs team, and that is the reason he is at the bottom of this list.
9. Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jaren Jackson Jr. was the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft. He is a notable player on a very young Memphis roster. Jackson Jr. is a 3 point shooting big man. In 54 games this season, he is shooting 39.7 from 3 with 16.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. The reason Jaren Jackson Jr. is rated so low on this list is because of his injuries. He has had a couple of knee problems since the start of the year that have held him back. In the years ahead Jackson Jr. could become and absolute star and create a filthy offense on that Memphis team along with Ja Morant.
8. Deandre Ayton
Deandre Ayton was the number 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. He has definitely not been what the Suns expected him to be, but he has still put up some solid numbers. Ayton only played 30 games this season due to a 25 game suspension. This suspension was issued due to a failed drug test in the Suns season opener. Ayton has still managed to put up 19, 12 and 1.9 this season, which are definitely not bad numbers. The Suns should make a deal to trade away Ayton for a point guard. Rickey Rubio is currently their starting point guard and I believe they need a better fit to pair in the backcourt alongside their star, Devin Booker. I do not think Ayton will ever become a superstar during his career, but he could become a solid center.
7. Kendrick Nunn
Nunn is a point guard for the Miami Heat. He went undrafted in the 2019 draft and the Heat picked him up. Do not let the fact that he is undrafted fool you, he is an extremely good point guard for a contending team. In 62 games this season he has put up 15.6 points, 2.7 boards, and 3.4 assists. Nunn has played a crucial part in the Heat's success this year. He can develop into a top point guard in the league in years to come.
6. Brandon Clarke
Brandon Clarke was drafted with the 21rst overall pick in the 2019 draft. He was drafted by OKC and then was immediately traded to Memphis. In 50 games he has put up 12 points, 5.8 boards, and 1.4 assists. Clarke shoots the ball very well for a big man. He is shooting 62.3 from the field, and he is shooting 40.4 from 3 (although with few attempts). Still, offense is not the best part of his game, as Clarke is an outstanding defender and has been a significant contributor to the Grizzlies playoff run this year.
5. Zion Williamson
Zion was the number 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. He was a superstar in his freshman year at Duke and has possibly been the most hyped up player since Lebron. In only 19 games this season, Zion has put up 23.6 points along with 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists. There are 2 reasons that I have not rated Zion higher on this list. The first one is that we have not seen enough. 19 games is just too small of a sample size to rate him higher. My second reason is injuries. Zion is a freak of nature: his vertical jump is very high for someone so heavy. He is carrying so much muscle that the load when he lands after jumping suggests that he will be prone to injuries. We have already seen this problem early in his career, as he missed most of his first season due to a knee injury. If Zion finds a way to not get constantly injured over the course of his career, he could certainly develop into being a true superstar in the league, which would put him much higher up this list.
4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Shai was drafted as the 11th pick in the 2018 draft. He spent his first year with the Clippers and was traded to OKC in the Paul George deal this past off-season. This year, Shai has proved to be an incredible young player. In 63 games Shai has put up 19.3 points, along with 6.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists, and has played a major role in OKC's playoff push. I am very excited to see how this native of Toronto, Canada performs in the future.
3. Ja Morant
Ja Morant was drafted as the number 2 pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2019 draft. He has come into the NBA and proven why he was a top pick and is a lock for rookie of the year this season. He is averaging 17.6 points, 3.5 boards, and 6.9 assists. He has led a young Memphis team to the 8 seed in the West. Ja is on the road to becoming a true NBA superstar.
2. Trae Young
Trae Young was drafted 5th overall in the 2018 draft. He was selected by Dallas and then was immediately traded to Atlanta. He has become a top point guard and scorer in the league in just his second year. He is tied for 3rd in the ppg category this year, scoring 29.6 points, along with 4.3 rebounds and an amazing 9.3 assists in 60 games. The Hawks front office has to make some moves to put some more solid players around Trae. We have yet to see Trae play in the playoffs and it will be interesting to see how he performs under more pressure.
1. Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic is an obvious pick at Number 1. In just 2 years, he has become an NBA superstar as an elite scorer and playmaker. Luka is a perfect fit on a Mavs team that has already been designed to fit around him. In his short time in the league, he has also become a fan favourite. He is ranked 6th in the 2020 ppg category with 28.7 points. He has also put up 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game. Luka is without question the best rising star. I would love to see the mavs acquire Bradley Beal to pair alongside Luka and Porzingis. I believe that they could trade a few young assets and picks to acquire him from the Wizards. This would create a fearsome trio that would definitely put the Mavs on a short path to championship contenders.
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