The Western Conference has some of the best young players who are currently 23 years old or young. It has been the more competitive of the two NBA conferences for several seasons now. This, in large part, has been due to the constant influx of the youngest stars. Whether it’s through the draft or free agency, the West continues to find itself claiming the majority of the NBA’s elite.
Western Conference’s Top Young Players
5. D’Angelo Russell, Golden State Warriors
D’Angelo Russell was the second overall pick in the 2015 Draft but didn’t quite break out until last season. While on the Brooklyn Nets, Russell averaged over 21 points and seven assists per game. Russell led the Nets back into the playoffs but ultimately took his talents to the Bay Area this summer via trade in hopes of extending the Golden State Warriors‘ dynasty.
Russell is only 23 years old, but is one of the most fearless players in the league and is always willing to take the final shot. He knows he’s typically one of the best players on the floor and isn’t afraid to show it. Russell was a hot commodity this summer but ended up with the Warriors after Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant left for Brooklyn. Expect Russell to continue to put up great numbers being Stephen Curry‘s sidekick.
4. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
The league isn’t sure what to take away from Booker – is he actually an All-Star caliber player or are his stats a product of being surrounded by lesser talent? Booker, nonetheless, is a terrific scorer and shooter and has shown growth in his distribution. He can seemingly shoot from anywhere on the floor, and also averaged nearly seven assists per game last season. His average of 26.6 points per game was also one of the highest in the league.
Booker’s time as a young star is running out, however, and his team’s performance is what needs to improve for him to jump into the next tier.
3. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell has made quite the name for himself with back-to-back playoff appearances at such a young age. Mithcell has been the Utah Jazz’s best scorer and showed his ability to take a game into his own hands.
The Jazz were already talented, featuring the likes of Rudy Gobert, but Mitchell’s acquisition transformed the team. He’s shown that he’s already capable of being a leader at such a young age, and as impressive as his offensive outputs are, he should only continue to get better. Multiple All-Star game appearances are in the cards.
2. Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks
Luka Dončić is the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year. His stats were record-breaking on multiple levels for a rookie, putting up averages of 21 points, eight rebounds, and six assists per game. Besides being a major triple-double threat on several occasions, Dončić was constantly an elite clutch-time player with the ability to take over fourth quarters for the Dallas Mavericks.
The Slovenian star recorded three triple-doubles in the last five games of last season. During that span, his worst statistical output was scoring 19 points and registering eight rebounds and seven assists. Fans expect no less next season, where Dončić will launch a serious All-Star claim and a potential playoff bid with an improved supporting cast.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony Towns has seemingly become the NBA’s forgotten superstar, due in large part to the Timberwolves’ inability to provide him with a strong supporting cast. He’ll enter next season again with Andrew Wiggins as his expected second-fiddle, so another lottery berth is in the cards for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With that being said, Towns has reached the upper echelon of the league’s elite. He averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds per game in 33 minutes of play. Furthermore, as a big man, he contributed to an impressive average of over three assists per game and 40 percent three-point shooting.
Towns can score with the best of them and was improved on the defensive side last year. If the Timberwolves don’t improve quickly, Towns will be wasting away his great talent.
Fox and Murray are 21 and 22, respectively. Both of them will surely find themselves on next year’s list of top players 23 and under in the West.
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