It’s 2018. The NBA is loaded with stars and great athletes. Some teams have multiple stars, while other teams have no stars. But, in just five short years, everything could be different, including who the top players in basketball will be. In five years LeBron James will be 38 years old, he will have slowed down by then, right? Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Russell Westbrook will all be 34 years old. James Harden will be 33 years old, and it will be time for the next generation of basketball to step in.
5. Kyrie Irving: Age in five years: 30
“Young Mamba” and “Uncle Drew.” These are just two of Kyrie Irving’s nicknames used by NBA fans around the world. Kyrie Irving is currently 25 years old, and he is averaging 24.8 PPG, 5.1 APG, and 3.7 RPG this season with the Celtics. Irving was traded from Cleveland to Boston over the summer in hopes of leading his own team to a championship. Being just 25 years old, and improving every season, Irving has the potential to turn into one of the league’s top five players. In order to get there, Irving will not only need to continue to put up points, but he will need to become an all-around player on the defensive end. When Irving is on the floor this season, the opponents hold a five-point better offensive rating than when he’s on the bench. If Irving can improve on the defensive side of the ball, he will be an even greater force to be reckoned with in the coming seasons.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns: Age in five years: 27
The first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft is coming off of his first NBA All-Star selection in this year’s game, and it will not be his last, that’s for sure. Towns is averaging 20.4 PPG, 12.2 RPG, and 2.4 APG this season while shooting a career-best 41.4% from three-point range. Towns has helped the Wolves hold a winning record, and he is trying to lead Minnesota (without Jimmy Butler) back to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Towns has all the potential in the world, he just needs to be better at using that potential. For example, KAT likes to have the ball in his hands, and if he doesn’t get the ball in his hands enough, he starts to take wild shots and become disengaged on defense. If Towns can learn to be more patient with the ball and find the open man when he gets double-teamed, he has the potential to be the face of the NBA in no time. Towns has the passing potential, which he shows off on the dime to Taj Gibson below, he just needs to be more patient and use that skill set.
3. Kawhi Leonard: Age in five years: 31
What a season it has been for the San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard, but not necessarily in a good way. Kawhi Leonard has played just nine games this season because of an injury, and according to several reports, tensions between him and the Spurs are growing. In all likelihood, Leonard and the Spurs will work it out. Meanwhile, all tensions aside, Leonard is already one of the best players in the NBA at 26 years old. He averaged 25.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 3.5 APG last season and was in the race for MVP. Leonard is perhaps the best two-way player in the NBA, and at just 26 years old, Leonard will keep improving like he has every season. Once Leonard gets back on the court, he will be back to his normal self, and in five years, he will be a top-five player in the NBA.
2. Anthony Davis: Age in five years: 29
My oh my. What a run it has been for Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans of late. New Orleans has won eight straight games, and they sit in the fourth spot in the Western Conference. After DeMarcus Cousins went down with an injury a little over halfway through the season, it looked like all hope was lost for the Pelicans. But, Davis put together an unforgettable month of February where he averaged 35.0 PPG, 13.0 RPG, and 1.5 APG. He was named Western Conference player of the month for February, and most importantly, he still has the Pelicans in the playoff hunt. By the way, Anthony Davis is just 24 years old. In five years, Davis will be in the prime of his career, and still destroying the competition night in and night out. More likely than not, Davis will wrap up an MVP award before his career is all said and done. Look out NBA.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo: Age in five years: 28
The Greek Freak is having his best season as a professional basketball player. However, the Milwaukee Bucks are 34-29, seventh in the Eastern Conference. Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.3 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 4.9 APG, unreal numbers for a 23-year-old. Giannis’ game continues to improve every season, and if he can add a three-point shot this offseason, he will be able to take his game and his team’s play to an entirely different level. In order to be considered the top player in the NBA in five years, Antetokounmpo will need to lead the Bucks to an NBA Finals victory, which he has the capability to do, but doesn’t have the experience yet to do it. In the coming seasons, if Antetokounmpo can continue to improve his game, we will not only be talking about where he ranks in terms of the best NBA players for that season, but his name will come up when talking about some of the best players to ever play the game.
Photo Credits: AGONAsport