The Young Superstars of the NBA



Dylan Pulver

In the first full NBA season since the summer lockout of 2011, many young players are becoming well-known thanks to their tremendous play. In a time when future Hall-of-Famers such as Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant are bound to retire in the next few seasons, these seven players will take over their place as the NBA’s superstars of

the future.

Kyrie Irving (PG, Cleveland Cavaliers): Kyrie Irving has already solidified himself as a star in the NBA. As a rookie with the Cavs, he averaged 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds a game, leading him to his 2012 Rookie of the Year award.  This season, as an All-Star, Irving is sporting similar numbers in assists and rebounds, and scoring more (24 points per game), all while drawing every fan’s attention with his quick moves and clutch shots. No one can deny that this kid makes buckets.

Paul George (SF, Indiana Pacers): When Danny Granger was ruled out for a few months due to a knee injury at the beginning of the 2012-2013 season, fans wondered if Paul George would finally emerge as the superstar that he was thought to be when he was drafted in 2010. Three months later, it is safe to say that George has done that and more. Not only has he, along with David West, helped the Pacers come back strong from a bad start to the season, but he is tallying career-highs with 18 points, four assists, eight rebounds and 38 minutes per game, and has become an All-Star in the process. With some jaw-dropping performances (17 rebounds and nine three-pointers in separate games), George has left us all

eager to see what else is up his sleeve.

Jrue Holiday (PG, Philadelphia 76ers): After a subpar lockout-shortened season, Jrue Holiday was not expected to turn it up like he has this season. In his first season without Andre Iguodala by his side and in the absence of 2012 All-Star center Andrew Bynum, Holiday has been the impetus for the Sixers (who are currently ninth in the East) by putting up 19 points, nine assists and four rebounds per game. These numbers are high enough to get him his first All-Star nod. When Andrew Bynum finally suits up, the rest of the league should watch out for the Sixers.

Damian Lillard (PG, Portland Trail Blazers): Spending four years playing college basketball has helped Damian Lillard flourish as a rookie in the NBA. With very solid averages of 18.5 points, 6.5 assists and three rebounds per game, Lillard, the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, has become a great floor general for a Blazers team that’s been looking for one these past few seasons. Lillard is the unexpected sole 2013 Rookie of the Year candidate, and if he expands his game even more, he could without a doubt reach elite status.

Andre Drummond (PF/C, Detroit Pistons): Prior to the 2012 NBA Draft, NBA scouts believed that Andre Drummond would be a huge work in progress and thought reaching his potential would require a lot of work. Even though Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank has kept Drummond to just under 20 minutes a game off the bench, the young gun is making the most of his minutes. With averages of seven points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks a game, Drummond currently leads all players playing under 20 minutes a game in Player Efficiency Rating. Who knows if Drummond could perform at the same level with more time on the court? Whether the answer is yes or no, the basketball world is eager to watch Andre as he grows.

Eric Bledsoe (PG, Los Angeles Clippers): While Eric Bledsoe has played in a reserve role for the majority of his NBA career, he has proven himself as one of the league’s major upcoming talents, and not just because all of his teammates (Chris Paul, especially) rave about his skill. In 12 games throughout January and February where Chris Paul was out, Bledsoe amassed double digit points in all but one game, at least one steal in all but one game, at least one block in all but one game and five to six rebounds and assists per game. This stretch ended with a monster performance against the Orlando Magic, in which Bledsoe played 41 minutes, scored 27 points, and recorded three assists, six rebounds, three blocks and six steals in a winning effort. If Bledsoe gets the opportunity to play as a full-time starter, he will be deadly.

Anthony Davis (C, New Orleans Hornets): As the number one pick in last year’s draft, Anthony Davis has not become the superstar people expected him to be, especially because he has missed 14 of the Hornets’ 51 games. However, in another year or two, Davis should be the defensive superstar he was at Kentucky against the world’s best competition. Thirteen points, 7.5 rebounds and two blocks are great numbers for someone in his rookie year. As Davis starts to develop into the main asset for the soon-to-be Pelicans, expect his numbers and reputation within the league to start rising.