25-under-25

For the first part of this season, Jamal Murray will be an inanimate object for the Denver Nuggets. What happens when he comes back to life? These injury timetables are like forgettable Wyclef Jean songs. You’re gone until you’re not. Everyone is lucky if it’s only until November. But the Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray will
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  Brandon Ingram is just five years into his NBA career but once again finds himself in the unfortunate position of being defined by his relationship to others. Brandon Ingram has established a healthy NBA resume. He’s averaged 23.8 points per game for two consecutive seasons. He’s made an All-Star team and won Most Improved
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Bam Adebayo has quickly become one of the most dynamic centers in basketball, and the 24-year-old’s growth will be key to Miami’s pursuit of an NBA title. A full appreciation of Bam Adebayo begins with the understanding that he isn’t a first option. The Heat’s 24-year-old Swiss-Army knife center doesn’t singlehandedly lift his team into
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Memphis has always been a city of music. Here are three songs that sum up the city’s newest young star, Ja Morant. Great NBA players have a tell, some signature tic or stylistic element that makes them who they are. Observant viewers could see a silhouette of Kevin Durant’s jumper or of Chris Paul bringing
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Heading into a contract year, can Jaren Jackson Jr. re-establish himself as a core piece of the Memphis Grizzlies alongside Ja Morant? One year ago, Jaren Jackson Jr. appeared to be headed toward a max contract extension. He was fresh off a sophomore season in which he averaged 17.4 points while shooting 39.4 percent from
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Cade Cunningham is a franchise-changing talent. But the Detroit Pistons will need to be patient with him as he grows into himself. The night Cade Cunningham went first in the draft to the Detroit Pistons, Kendrick Perkins called him the most complete draftee since LeBron James. Anthony Davis and Luka Dončić may disagree, but simply
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Can Michael Porter Jr. cement himself as one of the NBA’s top up-and-coming scoring dynamos in 2021-22? Michael Porter Jr. is a walking bucket. During his first season as a full-time starter with the Denver Nuggets, he averaged 19.0 points on 54.2 percent shooting. He was one of only two players leaguewide who knocked down
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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was an incredibly efficient creator despite carrying the entire load for the Oklahoma City Thunder. What if they put more talent around him? By the box score, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander already looks like a star for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He averaged 23.7 points, 5.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game last season on
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After cashing in this summer, can Gary Trent Jr. cement himself as a fixture of the Toronto Raptors’ post-Kyle Lowry era? Gary Trent Jr. is waltzing into a golden opportunity in 2021-22. With Kyle Lowry now in Miami, the Toronto Raptors will be reinventing themselves. Fred VanVleet figures to take over as their full-time point
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How can OG Anunoby take the next step as an offensive threat, without sacrificing the defensive intensity that’s made him so essential to the Toronto Raptors? As he enters his fifth season, OG Anunoby is trying to become something that may or may not actually exist. The idea of a two-way wing holds an outsized
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Already a generational scoring talent, Zion Williamson may only be scratching the surface of his potential as a player. Even in an era when young stars take less time than ever to ascend, Zion Williamson’s rise is exceptional. With fewer than 100 NBA games under his belt, the 21-year-old has already established himself as one
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How can we measure Luka Doncic’s greatness against expectations when he just keeps smashing them each season? Much of an NBA player’s reputation rests on what is expected of them, and whether or not they meet those expectations. If fans assume a player will offer very little and they then display consistent competence, it may
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If you think a Scottie Pippen comparison is hyperbolic for Tyrese Haliburton, maybe you need to watch more of Tyrese Haliburton. Scottie Pippen has become the archetypal second-best guy. That’s kind of what happens when you win six championships as the wingman for arguably the greatest player in basketball history. But the legacy that’s been
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De’Aaron Fox is fast. But is he fast enough to outrun the chaotic legacy of the Sacramento Kings, and strong enough to carry his team with him? Plastic bullets fill the air. Bone claws slowly protrude from skinned knuckles. Jim Croce’s voice offers sad reservations about time and bottles. And there is De’Aaron Fox, at
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Will the Phoenix Suns’ run to the 2021 NBA Finals help propel Deandre Ayton into having a career year? Heading into the 2021 NBA playoffs, Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton was one of the league’s biggest wild cards. Fresh off a run to the NBA Finals, he now appears poised to cement himself as one
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Mitchell Robinson has carved out a niche with the New York Knicks with insane highlights and absurd numbers. Now he’s ready for more. There can be beauty in simplicity. Catch ball. Dunk ball. Stand here. Jump. Swat ball. That’s not to call Mitchell Robinson’s basketball responsibilities simple. He is often playing as the defensive anchor
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Lonzo Ball hasn’t ascended to stardom, but the 24-year-old is one of the smartest players in the NBA and only getting better. Lonzo Ball is not a star, and each facet of his game is grounded in that fact. Where many NBA players stretch themselves beyond their limits, Ball seems to work under no delusions
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Ja Morant is the Memphis Grizzlies‘ latest superhero but with great power comes great responsibility. I am watching Into the Spider-Verse and thinking about Ja Morant. I am watching Into the Spider-Verse and thinking about how with great power there must also come great responsibility. I am watching Into the Spider-Verse and thinking about great
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The Sacramento Kings just gave De’Aaron Fox a max contract extension and he’s earned every penny. This season is his chance to make the leap to a superstar. The Sacramento Kings have not been a successful NBA franchise for quite some time now. Despite routinely finding themselves in the lottery, they have yet to really
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The Oklahoma City Thunder will look vastly different this season. It’s now Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s team. Can the 13th-best young player deliver? Praise showered down from the heavens — and from the keyboards of fans and journalists alike —  when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded star wing Paul George to the L.A. Clippers in the summer
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Michael Porter Jr. was once thought to be the next great prospect, injuries stalled him initially, but now he is ready for the spotlight. The Denver Nuggets are ready. After compiling talent through the draft — whether in the lottery (Jamal Murray) or second round (Nikola Jokic) — they surged to a surprise trip to
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