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Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

What stuck out on ESPN’s Top 25 NBA players under 25 list?

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ESPN’s “Top 25 NBA Players Under 25” list annually garners attention, serving as a barometer for the growing talents poised to shape basketball’s future. The 2023-24 list, rich with diverse young stars, offers a fascinating glimpse into what lies ahead for the NBA. Featuring players who have already begun to leave their mark on the league, the list not only celebrates their current achievements but also hints at the potential that these athletes hold to redefine the game in the years to come.

Here are some notable names from this year’s list.

1. Luka Dončić

Dončić, positioned at the pinnacle of the list, is a decision that resonates well with his unparalleled accomplishments at such a young age. His statistics, highlighting his versatility and efficiency, set him apart through his impactful scoring, playmaking and rebounding abilities. His leadership has not only elevated the Dallas Mavericks in the standings but also in the realm of championship contenders. His blend of high basketball IQ, scoring prowess, and clutch performances render him not just the top player under 25 but one of the best in the league overall.

2. Anthony Edwards

Edwards’ ascent to the second spot reflects his meteoric rise in the NBA. Edwards has emerged not just as a high-flying scorer but also as a formidable two-way player. His improvement in defensive play is notable, showcasing a commitment to becoming a more complete player. Offensively, his ability to create his own shot and finish at the rim, coupled with an improved outside shooting, makes him a nightmare for defenses. His role in elevating the Minnesota Timberwolves and his potential to lead them further cements his status as a top talent.

3. Victor Wembanyama

Wembanyama, at third, is a remarkable choice given his rising status in the league. His early demonstrations of skill, particularly for a player of his size, have been extraordinary. Wembanyama has shown a rare blend of size, skill, and basketball IQ, making him a unique talent. His ability to impact both ends of the floor, with shot-blocking prowess and scoring versatility, indicates a player with the potential to redefine his position. If the list accounts for potential, his placement is not just justified but perhaps even conservative, considering his ceiling.

4. Tyrese Haliburton

Haliburton’s placement at four is a recognition of his quiet yet substantial impact on the Indiana Pacers. Haliburton has demonstrated an exceptional ability to manage the game. His high assist numbers combined with efficient scoring and a knack for timely plays have been instrumental in his team’s success. Leading a much improved Pacer’s squad that possesses the highest offensive rating in the NBA, Haliburton has established himself as one of the premier young guards in the league.

5. Ja Morant

Morant at fifth is a position that elicits mixed reactions. On the court, Morant’s athleticism, scoring ability, and electrifying play are undeniable. He has been the driving force behind the Memphis Grizzlies’ rise in the Western Conference. However, off-court issues have somewhat marred his reputation and perhaps impacted his ranking. While his talent is unquestionable, these extracurricular concerns have introduced complexity to his evaluation, balancing his undeniable skill with the potential distractions he brings.

7. Zion Williamson

Williamson, ranked seventh, embodies a blend of explosive athleticism and untapped potential hindered by injuries. His impact when healthy is undeniable, as he offers a dominant inside presence for the New Orleans Pelicans. However, his recurring injuries raise concerns about his long-term reliability and ability to lead a team throughout a rigorous NBA season. This balance of immense talent and fragility rightly places him in a high yet cautious position on the list.

8. Darius Garland

Garland, occupying the eighth spot, is a topic of debate. Garland is undoubtedly talented, particularly as a playmaker and shooter. However, compared to peers like Tyrese Maxey, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, and Scottie Barnes, questions arise about his overall impact and ceiling. These players have shown flashes of higher potential and impact, which could arguably warrant higher rankings than Garland.

11. Tyrese Maxey

Maxey’s current ranking seems to undervalue his contribution to the Philadelphia 76ers. His candidacy for the Most Improved Player award, coupled with impressive statistical improvements, highlights his significance. Maxey’s ability to score efficiently, coupled with his defensive improvements, makes him a crucial piece in the 76ers “process.” His dynamic play alongside Joel Embiid has been instrumental in Philadelphia’s strong start, suggesting a need for a higher spot on the list.

13. Chet Holmgren

Holmgren’s placement, if based on potential, deserves a reevaluation. His early performances have showcased an exceptional ability to stretch the floor, protect the rim, and impact the game in various ways. Comparatively, Holmgren presents a higher potential ceiling than a more established but perhaps less versatile player like Jaren Jackson Jr., who is three spots higher than Holmgren on the list at ten. Holmgren’s unique skill set as a shooting, and defending big man indicates a future shift in how centers contribute in the modern NBA.

14. Paolo Banchero and 15. Scottie Barnes

Banchero and Scottie Barnes have displayed qualities that argue for higher rankings. Barnes, in particular, has shown exceptional versatility and leadership qualities for the Toronto Raptors. His ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor, coupled with his improved scoring, makes a compelling case for a higher spot on the list.

18. Joshua Giddey

Giddey, ranked at 18, might be an overestimation, considering the depth of talent in Oklahoma City. His playmaking is noteworthy, but offensive limitations and the presence of other rising stars like Shaivonte Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren, and Jalen Williams suggest that Giddey’s role and impact might be less significant in the team’s future blueprint.

23. Scoot Henderson

Henderson’s position at 23, particularly given his rough start, raises questions about his current ranking. His teammate, Shaedon Sharpe, with a strong start to his sophomore season, presents a case for being on the list over Henderson.

25. Alperen Şengün

Şengün at 25 seems to be a significant undervaluation of his impact on the Houston Rockets. Şengün has emerged as a pivotal piece in the Rockets’ offense, showcasing a blend of post play, passing and a growing defensive presence. His versatility and effectiveness should arguably place him above teammate Jalen Green, who is six spots higher than Şengün at 19 and warrants a much higher ranking.

While ESPN’s “Top 25 NBA Players Under 25” list captures a snapshot of the league’s young talent, it is not without its debatable placements. Some players appear overvalued, while others, who show tremendous potential or have delivered impressive performances, seem undervalued. Despite these discrepancies, the list overall successfully highlights the diverse and evolving pool of young talent shaping the future of the NBA.

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About the Contributor
Aramis Santiago, Staff Writer

Hey, I'm Aramis (he/him). I am a 22 year old, freshman, communication major here at UTSA. He has a  passion for sports, specifically football and basketball, and to a lesser degree, baseball and UFC as well. My goal is to have a job lined up after graduating for journalism where I can talk and write about sports for a living. I also love food and listening to music. I enjoy eating from any place and mainly listen to reggaeton, R&B, and hip-hop. My hobbies whenever I am not working or going to school are watching sports, working out, hanging out with friends, listening to music, playing video games, and I've recently started reading as well. I was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in 2000, moved to Baltimore, Maryland with my parents in 2006, and moved to San Antonio, Texas in 2010 where I’ve stayed ever since. I’m also a diehard fan of the Baltimore Ravens, haven’t missed a game since 2014 and will continue watching them for as long as I can breathe.

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