The end of an era is nearing, whether we notice or not. Today’s stars simply can’t play forever. Taking that in mind, I made a list of players that have shown star potential within their first three seasons:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
The former 2nd overall pick for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2015 draft has taken strides and shown signs. After the Lakers didn’t make the playoffs again for the 3rd straight season, fans were quick to credit Russell for team’s dismay. However, with teams in such a rebuilding situation like the Lakers, these things take times and player development. Something Russell has shown us here this season.
After the scandal with Nick Young and phone recordings went and passed, fans wondered if Russell could be the mature point guard the Lakers need. He answered all doubt this season, averaging: 15.3 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game. This season, Russell has posted fifteen games with 20 or more points, and in eight of those he recorded 5+ assists. He’s learning to space the floor and really run an NBA offense.
The chaotic mess that is the Lakers cannot be blamed on the point guard alone. He’s shown that he will be a part of the solution when it arrives in LA, which is why he was selected for this lineup.
SG: Devin Booker
The Phoenix Suns selected Devin Booker with the 13th overall pick, and it was a steal. The future of Phoenix, Booker is a scoring machine. Averaging 20.8 points per game in his sophomore season, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that he already is a star. However, with the foundation he laid, he can only go up.
Last season, before the Suns realized what they had acquired, Booker saw 51 starts and only missed five games of the season. He averaged 13.8 points and saw the Suns fall to a 23-59 record. This season, with 15 games left, the Suns are one win shy of their win total of last season with a 22-44 record. Sure, Phoenix won’t make the playoffs this year, or maybe even the next. But Booker’s progression is nothing but apparent and he’s learning to lead this team like the star he will soon become.
The young shooting guard has posted ten games with 30+ points, including two back to back games where he scored 39. I think this selection speaks for itself, and will speak volumes for the years to come.
SF: Jaylen Brown
A dark horse rookie of the year candidate, Brown was selected 3rd overall in this years NBA draft. Although his averages don’t show it, the young forward has made huge leaps in Boston.
An unsung hero, Jaylen Brown has been a big part of Boston’s success this season. He’s a natural play maker, and great defender during crunch time. In his first season, Brown is averaging 6.5 points and 2.8 rebounds a game. That’s for the season. With playoffs approaching, the rookie has received a bump in minutes, previously averaging around sixteen a game. In the month of March, Brown is averaging: 10.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game, on 54% shooting from the field!
Should he continue his current pace, Brown could become a real threat for the rookie of the year award. With his true potential still undecided, watch for Brown’s production in the playoffs. In my opinion, this young forward was the best pick of the top 10 in this year’s draft, which is why I selected him for this lineup.
PF: Myles Turner
A natural center, I placed Turner at the 4 simply because, I make the rules. Surging as a real threat in Indiana, Myles isn’t receiving enough attention in my opinion. Selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, he’s done nothing but make Indiana better.
In his rookie season, Turner averaged: 10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. That enough is impressive in itself. Now, in his sophomore season he has improved in every stat across the board averaging: 14.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. He has recorded 11 double-doubles this season, and the Pacers are 8-3 when he does. In addition, there have been 22 games where he blocked 3+ shots.
Myles steady incline through two seasons shows he hasn’t found his ceiling yet. Hell, even if this was his ceiling, he’d been doing just fine. Watch for this young shot blocker in the future, most likely at the center position.
C: Willie Cauley-Stein
The 6th overall pick of the 2015 NBA draft, Willie Cauley-Stein has been great. For someone who has had to play as the back up to the best center in the league, he’s certainly met my qualifications for respectable game play.
In his rookie season, at only 21.4 minutes per game, Cauley-Stein put up averages of: 7.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game. He shot 56% from the field, and recorded three double-doubles. This season however, behind the shadow of DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins he hasn’t fared so well. His averages dropped as they currently sit at: 6.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game. Now though, Cousins has been infamously traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, leaving Cauley-Stein as the starting 5. In the first game without Cousins, we saw just a taste of what this young center can offer. He posted 29 points and grabbed 10 boards, on 64% shooting.
The Sacramento Kings are in a current state of turmoil, and we won’t take it out on Willie. Furthermore, in the last six games and month of March, Cauley Stein has averaged: 12.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.4 steals. As a young center on the rise, he has certainly flashed displays of in the pit defense, and offense itself. A starting player now, expect Willie to impress at the minimum.
All stats and information provided by ESPN, featured image provided by zimbio.com.