As one chapter of basketball history is closed, another one opens and begins to write it’s own story. The 2010s were historic in their own right with some crazy free agency signings (LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Kevin Durant), some mythical runs (Derrick Rose and Jeremy Lin), some champions (The Splash Brothers, Kawhi Leonard, Dirk Nowitzki), and some all-time legend careers come to a close (Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan). However, with a crazy amount of young talent in the NBA, the 2020s seem to be in good hands. Today, I’m discussing five stars that will dominate the 2020s. Let’s jump right in.
#5: Lamelo Ball
While his brother (Lonzo Ball) has failed to live up to the hype and expectations placed on him when he first entered the league, Lamelo Ball has had no such problem adjusting to the NBA. In fact, Lamelo claimed that he could have played in the NBA as a 14 YEAR OLD (seriously)! Don’t get me wrong, Lamelo is an amazing player, but I think he may be just a little delusional there.
Averaging 16, 6, and 6 on good shooting numbers, Ball has made an impact on the Charlotte Hornets that no other lottery pick for the team the past decade has done. While Kemba Walker struggled for years to get the job done and had to endure a lack of help from other teammates (including a 7-win season), Ball has propelled the Hornets to what would normally be the 8th seed in the playoffs, but is now the play-in. The addition of Terry Rozier helped a lot, and so did the development of Miles Bridges and Devonte Graham, but Ball averaged 2.8 win shares per game (a statistic that shows how much you help your team win), which for a rookie, whose team was previously at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, isn’t bad.
#4: Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum is an NBA superstar, and at this point in time, that is a fact. He is now the number one option on the Boston Celtics, although the team hasn’t been successful this year, in part due to injuries and in part COVID-19 protocol and restrictions. While this postseason in all likelihood won’t be that successful (if they make it through the play-in, their first-round matchup consists of the Philadelphia 76ers or the Brooklyn Nets), Tatum and Jaylen Brown have established themselves, as Tatum is averaging 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists on 45.9% shooting (and was named an NBA All-Star starter when Kevin Durant was injured), while Brown is averaging 24.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists on 48.4% shooting (while also being named a 2021 NBA All-Star). While there are tensions and kinks in the knot that need to be worked out before this team can really succeed, Celtic Nation ought to have another couple of banners before the decade is over.
#3: Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson has been a monster this season. In just his second season, with minutes restrictions flung out the window, we have seen just how truly amazing Williamson is. A first time All-Star this season, Williamson is averaging 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game on 61.1% shooting, which is incredible! The Pelicans aren’t in the playoff or even play-in picture, but that is hardly Zion’s fault; the team acquired a lot of assets and are still getting used to playing with one another. When teammates Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram reach their primes, they could be one of the few teams in the league with three All-Stars, and they will then certainly make headlines. While I doubt they will win a championship in the next year or two, they could win later down the line in the 2020s, and if Williamson doesn’t pick up at least one MVP, I will be shocked.
#2: Donovan Mitchell
Coming into this year, everyone knew Mitchell would be great. An All-Star in 2020, Mitchell has never averaged less then 20 points per game in his career, and should have won Rookie of the Year in 2018. His numbers have steadily risen in every statistical category, and the Utah Jazz just gelled together this year, as the three-headed monster of Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Mike Conley stormed through the Western Conference (which was at its best in years) and grabbed the number one seed in this year’s playoffs. However, what solidified Mitchell as a true superstar and threat to NBA legends was when Kevin Durant was so salty that the Jazz were first in the West that he picked Mitchell last in the All-Star game draft (Rudy Gobert, Mitchell’s fellow All-Star, was also taken last, by captain LeBron James). I believe the Jazz will win at least one championship in the coming decade (who knows, it may be this year), and that Mitchell will be a first ballet Hall-of-Famer when it’s all said and done.
#1: Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic is by far the best young talent in the NBA. The only reason Doncic isn’t more highly recognized is because that he has disappointed in the playoffs, something that has less to do with his play and more with Kristaps Porzingis’ injuries. Whatever the case, Doncic has already shown MVP potential, averaging 28, 9, and 8 this season. He was named to the 1st Team All-NBA last year, which no other player on this list has done. He is a two-time All-Star, and once guys like Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and Greg Poppovich retire, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win multiple MVPs and championships. It’s very safe to say that Doncic is the future of the league.
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