Even if you’re not that into basketball, you’ll have heard of names like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal. It’s players like these who transcend the sport and open door for others to become household names.
In NBA odds, you’ll find the Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks as the current favourites to win the NBA, each at a price of 3/1. While they may be the favourites to finish the season victorious, they don’t currently possess the most sought-after young players in the game. Here we will run through our three NBA youngsters that you need to watch out for.
Lauri Markkanen – Chicago Bulls
He’s surrounded by talent in the form of Zach LaVine and Wendell Carter Jr, but make no mistake about it, Lauri Markkanen is one to watch this year. The 22-year-old 7 foot forward has been with the Bulls since 2017 and began with a points-per-game (PPG) average of 15.2 in his first season. He improved on that in the second season, hitting 18.7 PPG, and now it’s time for him to reach the next level.
His current PPG for this season is 15.3, just a tad over his rookie season with the Bulls. The Finnish forward has the potential to do great things, he just needs to realise his potential before it’s too late.
DeAndre Ayton – Phoenix Suns
As a rookie, it’s fair to say that DeAndre Ayton wasn’t particularly noticed, even after being the number one pick in the 2018 NBA draft. The Phoenix Suns centre has seemed his usual self recently, and has spent more time on the bench than he’d like. But it appears that he still has the drive and desire to succeed in the NBA.
Suns’ coach Monty Williams has begun to see an improvement in Ayton’s game, particularly when coming off the bench. It might soon be the case that Williams promotes him to a starter if his form continues in this upward trend, or he may continue to use him as an impact sub. He’s currently averaging 15.4 PPG, which isn’t too bad, although it is currently below his career average of 16.2 PPG.
Don’t write 6 foot 11 Bahamian off just yet. The 21-year-old might be struggling at the moment, but everyone knows he has the potential, which is why he’s been compared to former San Antonio Spurs centre David Robinson and current LA Lakers centre Anthony Davis.
Zion Williamson – New Orleans Pelicans
He may not have played a game yet in the new season, but forward Zion Williamson is well worth looking out for. He injured his knee during preseason and it now seems as though he is close to a return, which is good news for fans of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Williamson was dominant in his one season with the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team, which earned him the first pick in the 2019 NBA draft. The 19-year-old stands at 6 foot 6, and there are plenty of people tipping him to be the future poster boy of the association.