You might have heard the term “young core” tossed around the NBA community. Some people have different definitions for what exactly a young core is. Well to me, a young core is a collection of two or more young players with one or two players usually being better than the rest. Otherwise known as the stars.
Some of these “young cores” are superior to that of other cores because they might have more than one player with star potential. Most of the time they are comprised of one superstar and one complimentary star, but sometimes it can consist of one superstar and two complimentary stars, or in extremely rare circumstances, two superstars and one complimentary star.
Let us take a look at which teams, in my opinion, have the best set of young cores in the NBA within my qualifications.
5. Atlanta Hawks:
Prior to the season starting, I had the Atlanta Hawks circulating within my top 3 young cores in the NBA. However, that ranking would not make sense based on what has transpired this season.
Yes, Trae Young has proven to be a rising superstar and has taken the next step in his game, but the surrounding pieces around him haven’t.
John Collins, who I expected would take the next step into All-Star territory along with Trae Young, has statistically remained stagnant and has been less of a positive NET impact compared to last season. Not to mention he’s had off the court issues which led to a 25 game suspension.
Situations like that prevent a team like the Hawks from being higher up in these rankings because being suspended for that long doesn’t provide that player the opportunity to get better and it also takes away from the team. Not to mention both of the Hawks top 10 picks, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, have both been nothing short of mediocre this season.
Atlanta would have been higher up in these rankings if they had more of a positive track record to provide, but their talent alone earns them a top five spot within these rankings.
4. Memphis Grizzlies:
The Memphis Grizzlies are a very interesting case. Although they do have stars, the main reason they earned a top 5 spot is because not only does their young core comprise of young stars, but it also consists of key rotation pieces.
They have Ja Morant as their headlining future superstar, Jaren Jackson as the complimentary star caliber player, and Brandon Clarke as their potential third star. But their rotation pieces are what makes them a scary young core.
It consists of Dillon Brooks, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, Josh Jackson, and Grayson Allen. All of whom are very solid NBA players and can fit into their role easily in any rotation the Grizzlies put out on the court.
Although the Grizzlies do have potential star power, their rotation is what makes them such a lethal young core and is what earns them a top five spot in these rankings.
2B. Boston Celtics:
The reason the Boston Celtics are at 2B is because although they have a better team than the team at 2A, their young core isn’t better than the team 2A’s young core but that doesn’t mean it isn’t spectacular.
Boston has Jayson Tatum, who is the face of the franchise and their rising superstar, and Jaylen Brown as their complimentary All-Star caliber player. Those two alone grab them a top three spot because of what they’ve been able to do since the moment they’ve entered the league.
Both of them have had great playoff performances including being one game away from an NBA Finals appearance as the team’s main contributors.
I believe that Tatum is already starting to find his place in the league, but for the Celtics to be legitimate championship contenders, Jaylen Brown needs to find his place too.
2A. Dallas Mavericks:
The reason I have the Dallas Mavericks ahead of the Boston Celtics is because their young duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis is better than the Celtics’s duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Luka Doncic, the Mavs Superstar, is the best young player in the NBA, and is already a top 10 player in the league. Most importantly, he is better than Jayson Tatum, which was a major contributing factor to why the Mavs are above the Celtics.
Luka has Tatum beat in almost every statistical category except Tatum is the better defender, but in the modern NBA, having the ability to score and make plays is more important than just being a two-way wing.
Luka’s Mavs are also only three games behind Tatum’s Celtics in terms of win-loss record despite Tatum having the better supporting cast and Luka missing time.
Kristaps Porzingis and Jaylen Brown, both of whom are the complimentary stars in this equation, are on the same level, so they don’t factor much into the determination of these rankings. It’s all about the future superstars in this one.
1. New Orleans Pelicans:
This shouldn’t be too long of an explanation, as it is the most obvious ranking on this list. Not only is this team loaded in multiple future superstars and All-Stars, they also have a young and talented bench as well.
They have the 2019 number one pick in Zion Williamson as their future superstar and face of their franchise, Brandon Ingram as the complimentary future SUPERSTAR (first team with two players with superstar potential), and Lonzo Ball as their complementary All-Star.
Their young bench core consists of Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart, Jahlil Okafor, and Frank Jackson. This group of players consists of four former first rounders. Their big three are all former top two picks and are all a very good fit together.
Lonzo Ball is the playmaking point guard who can shoot and defend, Brandon Ingram is the versatile swiss-army knife who can score on all three levels, and Zion Williamson is the dominant paint presence on both ends of the court.
New Orleans also acquired multiple first-round picks via trade and they still have their own first rounders. The New Orleans Pelicans are set to be the next NBA dynasty.
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