Looking around the NBA, there are quite a few teams with a talented, up-and-coming nucleus. But of all these teams, which franchise has the best young core? We asked our BasketballNews.com writers to share their thoughts.
Which NBA team has the best young core?
Alex Kennedy: Give me the New Orleans Pelicans' young core. Zion Williamson (20 years old) and Brandon Ingram (23) are both All-Stars with insane upside. Williamson could become the face of the NBA if he realizes his full potential. Lonzo Ball (23) is another franchise cornerstone who continues to make huge strides. However, this young core is also deep, with Nickeil Alexander-Walker (22), Jaxson Hayes (20), Kira Lewis Jr. (20), Naji Marshall (23), Wenyen Gabriel (24) and Didi Louzada (21). Steven Adams (27) and Josh Hart (26) aren't as young as the others, but they are great complementary pieces. The Pelicans project to have a top-10 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, so they'll likely add another top prospect to this core; plus, they'll receive multiple first-rounders from the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks over the next few years (due to the Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday trades).
Nekias Duncan: I’d go with the Phoenix Suns, narrowly edging out the Memphis Grizzlies for me. Devin Booker is a foundational talent. Mikal Bridges is one of the best wing defenders in the league, while also providing value as a shooter and cutter. Deandre Ayton has serious two-way potential. Those three plus Cam Johnson give you a pretty darn good quartet under 25.
Spencer Davies: If we’re talking about the here and now, my answer would be the Atlanta Hawks. Trae Young, De’Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic and John Collins (if he returns) is a solid core and they're about to get their first taste of playoff basketball. They’re all guys with four years of experience or less. This goes without mentioning Cam Reddish, a defensive-minded wing with size who was out for a good part of this year with an injury, and Onyeka Okongwu, the No. 6 overall pick from this past draft who has shown signs of his development with big second-unit minutes. Even Clint Capela just turned 27, and he was one of the most underrated centers in the NBA this season, serving as a perfect partner for Young on lobs and a menace on the glass.
Ethan Fuller: The Oklahoma City Thunder, without any hesitation. OKC has already locked in a surefire star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The franchise boasts budding role-players and specialists (Lu Dort, Kenrich Williams, Theo Maledon, Svi Mykhailiuk), athletic upside swings (Darius Bazley, Isaiah Roby, Moses Brown) and one player who's in his own tier due to his game-changing potential in Aleksej Pokusevski. That doesn't even account for the 2021 NBA Draft; the Thunder could nab a top prospect with their own pick, and then get another if Houston's pick lands outside the top-four. This is a masterclass in asset accumulation.