It’s been less than two weeks since the Toronto Raptors shocked the world by defeating the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Since then, we’ve seen the Lakers trade two recent No.2 overall picks and 24 year-old Josh Hart to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis, along with each of the 30 teams in the league adding a few young players to their respective rosters in the NBA Draft. The Warriors, whose formerly young core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green helped bring the team to five straight NBA Finals, have taught us that assembling a strong young core is the biggest step to building a dynasty.
With that being said, which teams have the best young (24 and under) cores in the NBA that can possibly become the next great NBA dynasty?
1. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets may not seem like the first team that comes to mind when you think of young core but that’s because it seems as if most of their players have been in the NBA for many years already. The Nuggets best player is Nikola Jokic, 24, who was a dark-horse MVP candidate and an absolute stud in the playoffs, averaging 25.1 points, 13 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game. Their second best player, Jamal Murray, 22, can shoot the lights out from three point range and has begun to master the point guard position. Asides from those two players, Gary Harris, 24, and Malik Beasley, 22, played large roles in the Nuggets making it to the second round of the playoffs. The team also has three former first round picks with NBA experience in Juan Hernangomez, Trey Lyles and Tyler Lydon while 23 year-old Monte Morris became a solid backup point guard this season. Finally, the Nuggets will have two injured college stars making their NBA debuts this season in Michael Porter Jr., 20, and Bol Bol, 19. If both of these players can live up to their potential, the Nuggets may become the new dynasty in the Western Conference.
2. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks GM Travis Schlenk helped built the Warriors dynasty before moving to Atlanta in 2017 to fix the Hawks. In his first year, he drafted Wake Forest’s John Collins, 21, who has incredible hops and has begun developing an outside game. In 2018, the Hawks drafted their own Splash Brothers in Oklahoma’s Trae Young and Maryland’s Kevin Huerter. Young, 20, took the world by storm in college and translated his skills to the NBA effortlessly. The long-range shooter finished second in Rookie of the Year voting while Huerter, another marksman from three-point range, made all-rookie second team. In last week’s draft, the Hawks had a pair of top-10 picks and took Virginia’s Deandre Hunter and Duke’s Cam Reddish. Hunter has drawn comparisons to Kawhi Leonard and helped leaded Virginia to a championship while Reddish, who didn’t live up to his potential in college, has all the skills to become a star. The team also has two young back-up big men with great potential in Omari Spellman, 21, and Bruno Fernando, 20.
3. New Orleans Pelicans
When Anthony Davis requested to be traded from the Pelicans in the spring, it seemed as if the Pelicans were on a downward spiral towards either dysfunction or a halfhearted rebuild, considering that they had a small chance at a top-3 pick. Fast-forward three months later and the Pelicans are young, loaded and have a chance to be a sneaky playoff contender. The Pelicans somehow won the NBA lottery and drafted Zion Williamson, the most hyped NBA prospect since LeBron James. Williamson can do it all and quite honestly, he may be an All-Star in his rookie season. A month later, the Pelicans traded Davis to the Lakers and received PG Lonzo Ball, 21, and F Brandon Ingram, 21. Both of these young players aren’t great shooters but Ball is an amazing passer and Ingram developed a scorer’s mentality towards the end of last season. Additionally, the team received a young shooter in Josh Hart. They also drafted a 20 year-old Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who was a fantastic guard at Virginia Tech, and still have a former top-3 pick in center Jahlil Okafor. This team may have more talent than the Hawks but the lack of shooting and spacing hurts their championship potential.
4. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks don’t have a lot of young guys on their team but two of the players that they do have are uber-talented. Luka Doncic looked like a future MVP in his rookie season, averaging 21.1 points, 6 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game. The Rookie of the Year was an unstoppable force and might be the best under-24 player in the NBA. The Mavericks will pair him with Kristaps Porzingis, who was an All-Star in 2017-18 before tearing his ACL and then demanding a trade from the Knicks. Porzingis was traded along with Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee for Dennis Smith Jr., Deandre Jordan, Wes Matthews and picks. When healthy, the 7’3″ Porzingis has an outside shot with deep range. Additionally, while his defense is suspect, he’s a block machine. Combine these two with former Villanova star Jalen Brunson and former UNC star Justin Jackson and the Mavericks have a solid young nucleus of players.
5. Sacramento Kings
The Kings have been treading in mediocrity since 2006, which happens to be the last time that they made the playoffs. Luckily, they’re on the precipice of playoff contention in the Western Conference. Led by super quick point guard De’Aaron Fox, 21, the Kings have a guy who can blow by any player in the league. Fox’s passing has always been a skill of his but he has begun to look for his shot more often. Speaking of looking for their shot, the Kings have Buddy Hield attracting tons of attention, which leaves Marvin Bagley III down in the post to go 1 on 1. Bagley seems like a Chris Bosh clone and has the potential to become one of the best big men in basketball. Another Duke big man with tons of potential is Harry Giles III. If he can come back to the player he was before he tore his ACL, him and Bagley could be the best 4-5 combination in the NBA. The team also just drafted Virginia’s Kyle Guy, who was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, and has the shooting and defense to develop into a legitimate NBA player.