- David Thorpe, NBA
In looking at the list of the top 25 NBA players under 25, plus the "Next 10" top players that were either not eligible to make the list due to injuries or just missed the cut, we see how the NBA is a young man's game in a way no other major American team sport can rival.
It is often said, and rarely debated, that the NBA features the greatest collection of pure athletes among any league in the world. When height, athleticism, power and agility are factored collectively, the NBA stands alone.
Young, fresh legs are the foundation for every athlete, and they are a huge asset in a league built around speed and jumping. Sure, veterans hone the craft to a higher level, but as defenses evolve toward crowding the ball as quickly as possible, usually the edge goes to the players who are the superior athletes. The following group has everything -- great athletes, great skill and great minds -- and many of the players routinely top the league rankings.
Here are seven standout NBA players under 25 years old who already have become the league's best in terms of specific skills:
Best pure scorer: Kevin Durant
It's perfectly fair to say that LeBron James could lead the league in scoring if that was his primary goal. He is the world's best player, and fittingly for this piece, has the best combination of skill and athleticism we have seen since Michael Jordan. He plays like a younger man. But as far who is the better pure scorer, Durant gets the nod. Not because he has led the league in scoring three times -- though that is part of the proof -- but because of his once-in-a-generation talent. His size and length, combined with his ballhandling skills, allow him to get uncontested shots at almost any time.
David Thorpe outlines seven top NBA players under 25 years old who already have become the best at specific skills, including Kevin Durant (best pure scorer), Blake Griffin (best dunker) and Larry Sanders (best shot-blocker).