The Up-and-Coming Stars to Watch in NBA 2020-21|
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The next NBA season is literally hours away now. The long wait is finally over. Of course, the NBA wouldn’t be the multi-billion-dollar sport that it is without iconic superstars that have committed decades of professionalism to the game. The likes of LeBron James, who is set to enter his 18th NBA season as he prepares to turn 36, have set the bar high.
But although it’s important to continue to celebrate and acknowledge the ageing heroes that have given so much to the world of NBA, it’s also exciting to pinpoint the young upstarts battling to take their place. Let’s take a look at six young guns looking to make their mark and cement themselves as part of the NBA’s next generation of MVPs.
20-year-old Zion Williamson is one of the first names on the lips of every NBA analyst right now. At a shade under two metres and approximately 130kg, Williamson is a powerhouse forward in every possible sense. His rookie season with the New Orleans Pelicans was hampered significantly by injury, but 2020-21 is set to be his year, even though it might not be the Pelicans’ year. New Orleans are priced as long as +650 in FOX Bet’s latest NBA odds for its Southwest Division Winner futures market. The Pelicans are one of the newest NBA franchises, which means people should look beyond their low all-time wins total, which places them beneath the Minnesota Timberwolves who are largely considered the worst performing franchise in NBA history. Under the tutelage of Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy, who nurtured Dwight Howard at Orlando during a similar time in his fledgling career, Williamson has a unique blend of technical and physical attributes that could see him become the new face of the NBA for years to come.
It’s fair to say that Luka Doncic has made even more of an impact than Zion Williamson on-court for the Dallas Mavericks. The 21-year-old has enjoyed plenty of game time and he was front and center of the most accurate and potent offense last season. Doncic’s individual performances earnt him a place in the top five of the end-of-season ballot for the league’s MVP. Doncic is a physical specimen of a point guard and his offensive attributes have already shown up time-served defenders such as Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Being nominated by his peers as a top-five NBA player just two years into his career should do wonders for Doncic’s confidence.
Denver Nuggets’ rising star Jamal Murray benefitted greatly from the Orlando bubble which closed the 2019-20 season. Murray averaged 26.5 points per game during the playoff campaign. If he can reach this figure during the 2020-21 regular season, it’s almost certain that he will achieve All-Star status within his Western Conference peers. Even LeBron James was quick to praise the form of Murray despite the Lakers’ narrow victory over the Nuggets in the Western Conference finals.
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Devin Booker may be the oldest player we’ve mentioned so far in this article, but the Phoenix Suns’ rising star was another to enjoy a fruitful 2019-20 season. Averaging 26.6 points per game, Booker’s stats are something for the likes of Jamal Murray to aspire to this season. Booker almost single-handedly led the Suns to eight successive victories at the end of the campaign and was named in good company with Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard for All-Bubble first-time honors. Phoenix’s clever addition of veteran Chris Paul will give them an additional offensive weapon, which could take some of the heat off Booker to do even more damage in 2020-21.
Towering center Nikola Jokic is already well-established as a key figure for the Denver Nuggets, but his 2019-20 season figures suggest there is still plenty of room for further development in his game. Although he may not have that power and speed to accelerate past his opponents, he remains one of the most clinical shooters in the game. Jokic has proven time and again that he’s capable of scoring from almost all angles on-court and the Nuggets’ hierarchy have already made him the focal point of their 2020-21 plans, suggesting that Jokic could even become part of this season’s MVP discussions.
Miami Heat’s very own versatile center also has the potential to become a great in the coming years. 23-year-old Bam Adebayo enjoyed an All-Star worthy season, including some impressive postseason displays during the Orlando bubble. Some argue that without Adebayo’s physical offensive attributes the Heat would not have qualified for the playoffs. In physical terms, Adebayo is not even close to fulfilling his potential and still has plenty of room to fill out his frame – much to the fear of the rest of the NBA.