Our take on the best crop of young power forwards in the league. This piece features 5 players that are 23 and younger as part of our NBA’s Emerging Stars 2018 series.
5. Marquese Chriss
RICH PEDRONCELLI/ AP PHOTO
Marquese Chriss just turned 20 years old, and remains one of the youngest most electric young players in the league. Chriss runs the floor like a gazelle and has the ability to hit shots from deep and finish with authority at the rim.
After executing consecutive poster dunks down the stretch of last year, Chriss became one of the most exciting players to watch and a ‘Twitter sensation.’ The Suns have a fun young nucleus going forward with a polished scorer in Devin Booker and a solid shooter and shot-blocker at power forward in Marquese. Chriss looks to refine his game this offseason which means he needs to be bulking up in the weight room, and working on his ball-handling and midrange game.
This guy was consistently dunking on cats at 19 just imagine what he can do at 25!!
Marquese picked up basketball in High School and he still has 5+ years till he reaches his prime which could be scary for any team not from Phoenix.
2016-17 Avgs: 9.2 PPG, 0.7 APG, 4.2 RPG, 0.8 STL, 0.9 BLK 45% FG, 32% 3P, 62% FT
4. Nerlens Noel
RONALD MARTINEZ/ GETTY IMAGES
In an extremely savvy trad,e the Mavs locked down their big of the future in Nerlens Noel. Noel is one of the most tenacious big men in the league as he possesses a solid inside game built around his raw athleticism, high motor, and superior mobility. As Dirk winds down the end of his career, Noel should get a chance to play over 30 minutes a game for the first time since his rookie year.
If he can stay healthy, expect the 23-year-old big man to develop a rhythm in Dallas and approach season averages of 15 points, 10 boards, and 2 blocks. We love Noel’s upside and think he can become one of the NBA’s best shot blockers and rebounders going forward.
2016-17 Avgs: 8.7 PPG, 1.0 APG, 5,8 RPG, 1.3 STL, 1.0 BLK 60% FG, 0% 3P, 65% FT
3. Dario Saric
Originally from Croatia, Dario was drafted 12th in the 2014 draft. As a rookie, Saric made a significant contribution across the board for the 76ers. Saric has fantastic footwork for a big man, and has shown an ability to knock down difficult shots from the perimeter and in the paint.
Super Dario possesses guard skills to break down most traditional bigs, and post skills/strength to bully smaller guys in the post. The Sixers are staking their claim in a weak Eastern Conference, and if Dario can build off his rookie performance don’t be surprised if they get into the postseason this year.
As a member of the newly named FEDS(lol look it up) Saric is part of a group of young, talented starting 5 which features two first-overall picks playing in their first NBA action. Saric vows to improve his 3 point shot in the offseason. Even if he takes less shots, expect Saric to make a huge impact on an improving team next year.
2016-17 Avgs: 12.8 PPG, 2.2 APG, 6.3 RPG, 0.7 STL, 0.4 BLK 45% FG, 34% 3P, 78% FT
2. Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon is one of the most unpredictable players under 23. His 6’ 9 frame coupled with his speed, strength, and leaping ability has already made him one of the most entertaining highlight-reel players in the game. Gordon is in an ugly situation as part of an Orlando franchise that perennially overpays underachieving assets. However, AG is still just 21 years of age.
Gordon is a hybrid power forward who can handle the ball, defend, and finish at high levels. He is still struggling to find a three point shot in the league as he is shooting just 29% from three despite shooting 36% in college.
After increasing his scoring output for three years from 5.2 to 9.7 to 12.7, Gordon looks to make the leap this year as a consistent scorer, defender, and leader for the Magic.
Look for AG to cement himself as a star in the NBA, not just for his dunks, but for his solid play on either end of the floor.
2016-17 Avgs: 12.7 PPG, 1.9 APG, 5.1 RPG, 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK 45% FG, 29% 3P, 72% FT
1. Kristaps Porzingis
New York Knicks
RAJ MEHTA/ USA TODAY
Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis can shoot threes, protect the rim, rebound, and run the floor. He is 7’ 3” unicorn!
Taken with the 5th pick in 2015 Porzingis was thought to be a “project” that needed years to make an impact on the NBA landscape. However, Porzingis (rookie of the year runner up in 2015) has been dubbed the face of New York, and after two years, proved he is one of the most promising young players in the NBA.
From his rookie to sophomore year, Kristaps increased his scoring output from 14.3 to 18.1 and his fg% from 42% to 45%. Now that Phil Jackson’s triangle system is out the door, and with Carmelo Anthony soon to follow, Kristaps has a chance to go bananas as THE player on the Knicks. His height and shot have drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, perhaps the best international player of all time.
Porzingis has some room for improvement, but his quest to become an elite player in the East has just begun.
2016-17 Avgs: 18.1 PPG, 1.5 APG, 7.2 RPG, 0.7 STL, 2.0 BLK 45% FG, 36% 3P, 79% FT