Most Intriguing Young Cores

Troy Pierce | June 27th, 2019

The 2019 NBA offseason has already become one with widespread ramifications, and free agency has yet to begin.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers got things started when they agreed in principle to a trade that will send all-star big man Anthony Davis to Hollywood.

Although, the trade felt anti-climatic in a way. The Lakers have long been enamored with Anthony Davis, and they were finally able to land him after a tumultuous trade deadline. As a result, the Pelicans acquired some of the most intriguing young talents the league has to offer in the form of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.

The former second overall picks in their respective drafts will be placed alongside this years first overall pick, Zion Williamson.

Where do the Pelicans’ young trio rank among the other young cores in the Association? Let’s find out!

Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks have a bright future. Trae Young looks every bit like the franchise cornerstone many felt he could become, separating himself as the only challenger to Luka Doncic for the 2019 Rookie of the Year award.

The former fifth overall pick finished the 2018-19 season averaging just over 19 points a game, and, a rookie record, eight assists. His ability to toy with defenses in the half court, combined with his long-range ability has drawn comparisons to Steph Curry and Steve Nash.

Kevin Huerter has shown himself to be a reliable deep threat to the tune of 38.5% from three on nearly five attempts per game. While his defense leaves something to be desired, Red Velvet is listed at 6’7″ with a wingspan to match. An athletic off-guard, and near perfect pairing next to Ice Trae in the backcourt.

John Collins has proven himself to be a difference maker on the scoreboard and with his rebounding on both ends of the floor. The Wake Forest product just finished an eye-popping second season, improving in nearly every statistical category; this includes raising his scoring average from 10.5 to 19.5!

On the glass, Collins has a tremendous impact thanks to his nearly 10 boards a game. He boxes out well and knows how to get himself in position for the rebound. Collins is also a fantastic athlete and gets off the floor quickly, helping to nearly four rebounds a night on the offensive end.

In the 2019 Draft, Atlanta was able to land Duke product Cam Reddish, helping solidify an athletic core four in A-Town. While Reddish struggled in the March Madness tournament following injuries to Williamson and RJ Barrett, the 6’6″ wing should fit in seamlessly. Reddish has the ability to get his own shot despite his inconsistency shooting the basketball; sharing the floor with two 20-point scorers (Young and Collins) and an up-and-coming sniper (Huerter) will take the pressure off of the former Blue Devil.

Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets are somewhat forgotten about when it comes to the conversation of the top young cores in the NBA, but with an average age of 24.4 years old, there is a ton to be excited about in the Mile High City.

Nikola Jokic has already been heralded as having one of the highest basketball IQ’s the league has to offer, and almost certainly when it comes to the smartest big men in the NBA. Jokic earned league-wide recognition this year with his first all-star appearance and having his name thrust into the MVP conversation.

Jamal Murray has proven himself to be a dynamic player. He can score at every level and will make defenses pay from the free throw line. The Blue Arrow’s greatest asset is his ability to get under the opponent’s skin with his antics on the floor. When a player can get the opponent off their rhythm before the opening tip, you know he’s built to win.

Murray and Jokic, along with a slew of contributing role players, they are on the brink of taking the West by storm. Adding a healthy Michael Porter Jr to the mix, and this year’s 44th pick Bol Bol to the mix makes the Nuggets that much more intriguing.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans are far and away the most intriguing group of young players the league has to offer right now and we’re still about four months from the start of the regular season. Lonzo, Ingram, and Zion are a perfect fit on paper, especially when you add former third overall pick Jahlil Okafor to the mix.

The unfortunate thing for New Orleans, all of this intrigue is solely based on the potential of the newly formed group. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram were showing steady improvement before being shut down due to injury. However, neither of the former number two picks have lived up to their potential.

Zion Williamson will have the good fortune of being paired with complementary players that are also close to his age, and on a similar trajectory to this point in the careers and development. However, in an offense that will feature the likes of Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram as the main scoring options, don’t expect Zion to break out right away.

Dallas Mavericks

While the Mavs young core is actually just a duo, they are certainly one of the more lethal young groups.

Luka Doncic has already cemented himself as an all-star caliber player, cruising to the top of the rookie ladder and winning the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year award. While there were some questions about how his game would transfer going from Europe to the NBA, Doncic has silenced the doubters.

Kristaps Porzingis has shown promise early in his career. However, he has dealt with injuries on a regular basis since making his way to the NBA. Most recently he was sidelined by an injury sustained to his ACL. Following a rocky start with the Knicks, he demanded a trade and was immediately granted his wish.

While there are definitely question marks surrounding Porzingis’ health, the Mavericks still have an extremely interesting duo. Dallas has had success in the past with European players (some guy named Dirk Nowitzki?) and Doncic and Porzingis are ready to carry the torch.

Verdict

Young talent abounds in the NBA, and there is no shortage of excitement when it comes to the future of the league. With many teams looking past the Golden State Warriors era for the next dynasty, these squads have got a chance to be the next great NBA dynasty.

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