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Listing the five most exciting young cores in the NBA

Christopher Eluemuno
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No. 3: New York Knicks

RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks dribbles during the second half of their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on November 12, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks dribbles during the second half of their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on November 12, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The New York Knicks have one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, bolstered by many talented players under 25 who have prospects for great careers.

RJ Barrett, the No. 3 pick in 2019, leads the wave of young talent. The small forward displayed improved efficiency in his shooting during the 2020-21 season, posting a 40.1 3-point percentage and 44.1 percent from the field.

RJ Barrett puts the❗️on the @nyknicks comeback win at MSG. https://t.co/yEoHbZEX3Q

The presence of second-year player Immanuel Quickley (No. 25, 2020) and the return of Mitchell Robinson (No. 36, 2018), whose defensive ability is on par with the best in the league, from injury has increased their stock as one of the most valuable young teams in the NBA.

While rookies Quentin Grimes (No. 25 in 2021) and Miles McBride (No. 36 in 2021) and Obi Toppin (No. 8 in 2020), have a lot to prove, they provide able depth from the bench.

Core: RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride


No. 2: Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks reacts to a call while taking on the Denver Nuggets in the second quarter at American Airlines Center on Nov. 15, 2021, in Dallas.
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks reacts to a call while taking on the Denver Nuggets in the second quarter at American Airlines Center on Nov. 15, 2021, in Dallas.

Much of the Dallas Mavericks' second-placed position on this list is generated by the presence of Luka Doncic, the No. 3 pick in 2018. He has proven himself to be a generational talent.

According to The Ringer, the 22-year-old's 68.2 win above replacement player (WARP) rating going coming into the 2021-22 NBA season is higher than both Jayson Tatum’s (43.5) and LaMelo Ball's (41.0) ratings. The pair ranked second and third. The NBA's sixth-placed player in the league MVP voting is highlight-reel worthy on a nightly basis.

Shooting guard Josh Green (No. 18 in 2020) and the latest addition, Moses Brown, who went undrafted in 2019, provide quality depth. Brown came to the Mavs after posting commendable stats last season for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Core: Luka Doncic, Moses Brown, Josh Green


No. 1: Phoenix Suns

Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball at Footprint Center on Nov. 17, 2021 in Phoenix, Ariz.
Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball at Footprint Center on Nov. 17, 2021 in Phoenix, Ariz.

The 2020-21 NBA championship finalists rank first on this list. After keeping the core of the team that went to the previous season's NBA Finals, their position should come as no surprise.

Devin Booker, picked No. 13 in 2015, assured his status as one of the best talents of his generation, averaging 27.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists in last season’s run to the Finals. He provided a world-class performances in a 47-point showing against the LA Lakers and LeBron James, sending the superstar to the first opening-round loss of his career.

Devin Booker pulled off this ridiculous move during the Suns’ 10th win in a row! https://t.co/HlPfO2JDc1

While Deandre Ayton’s defensive masterclass, despite being only 23 years old, helped push the Suns to the finals, the center finished with 15.8 points and 11 rebounds. The No. 1 pick in 2018 also posted a remarkable 65.8% from the field to cement his position as one of the best players at his position. Sophomore Jalen Smith, the No. 10 pick in 2020, rounds up their young, exciting core.

Core: Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, Jalen Smith


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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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