The future of the NBA is quite literally in great hands.
On any given night, you can turn on a game and catch a glimpse of the talent that will be considered among the best in the league in just a few years' time. Among these players are 21-year-old Ja Morant and 22-year-old Trae Young, two point guards that were slated to face one another for the fourth time in their young careers before a hip injury to Morant put the meeting in jeopardy.
Still, the two serve as the faces of a young crop of point guards that stand to emerge among the league's best in the coming years.
But who among the next generation could be the league's top guard in five years? For argument's sake, 22-year-old Luka Doncic has already established himself as a top-five point guard in his third season and has grown out of the category that features the likes of Morant, Young, LaMelo Ball and De'Aaron Fox, among others.
Our NBA.com Staff discusses…
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): If it's not Doncic, I really think it's gotta be LaMelo Ball.
He just has it.
The youngest player in league history to record a triple-double, Ball quickly established himself as a favourite to win Rookie of the Year this season and, despite an injury that will hold him out for at least two more weeks, is still the frontrunner to win the award.
At 19, LaMelo has a magnetic energy and the ability to bring the best out of those around him. He's already a solid floor general and has so much room to grow it feels like it will only be a matter of time before he makes good on the potential he continues to show.
That's THREE consecutive Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards for @MELOD1P! 🏆🏆🏆#AllFly pic.twitter.com/xJOxPH6J2T- Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) April 1, 2021
If he's already averaging 19.5 points, 6.2 assists and 5.8 rebounds as a 19-year-old starter before the game even slows down for him, I could only imagine the impact that he'll be able to have on the game once he turns 24 and his game and body continue to mature.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): I don't know how anyone can watch Ja Morant play today and not think he's going to be one of the best players in the league in five years.
So with that in mind, Ja Morant is my pick.
Projecting five years from now, Morant should be smack in the middle of his prime and if he's this good now, just imagine how good he'll be then.
A daily reminder that @JaMorant is a basketball magician. pic.twitter.com/OOSqbPzvpa- Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) April 5, 2021
Morant is already averaging 18.8 points, 7.4 assists. Could he be more efficient? Sure, he'll get there. Can he be more effective from 3-point range? Sure, I'm assuming he'll be able to get to the mid-30s.
The bottom line is he's only played just over 100 games in his NBA career, and he's already one of the most dynamic playmakers in the game. As the game slows down and he gets stronger - he'll be not only one of the best point guards in the league but one of the best players in the NBA.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'd like to side with Gil because I think LaMelo Ball is going to be one of the 25 best players in the NBA as soon as next season, but for the sake of getting another name into the mix, why not Trae Young?
It seems like Young has fallen off the hype train this season and it doesn't make any sense to me why that is. As a sophomore in the league, he averaged 29.6 points and 9.3 assists per game, ranking fourth and second in the league, respectively, and was nominated as a starter in the All-Star Game for his efforts. He solidified himself as one of the league's premier scorers while continuing to showcase that he doubles as one of the best passers in the game today.
The two knocks on him were his defence and that his team wasn't winning games. Empty calorie stats, if you will.
So this season, Young goes out and averages 25.3 points and 9.5 assists per game, ranking him 13th and third in the NBA, respectively, and he was omitted as an All-Star selection entirely. His team is currently three games over .500 and hold the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. You can say want about his lacklustre defence, but you can no longer say that what he does on the floor doesn't impact winning.
If he's already averaging 25-plus points and nine-plus assists in just his third season in the league at 22-years-young, what else could this superstar have in store for us over the course of his career?
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