Future Faces of the NBA: Who’s the MVP in 5 Years?

Take a moment and close your eyes. Now, picture in your head how the NBA will look like in 2025. No Dirk, no Wade, no Vince, and probably no more Lebron. Before you start to get goosebumps, ask yourself this: Who do you see dominating the league in six years?

As we’ve seen this year, the future of the NBA is certainly bright. Ben Simmons and Nikola Jokic racking up triple doubles, 19-year-old Luka Doncic coming up in the clutch, and don’t forget the Duke phenom entering the league next year with “the next Lebron” expectations. The NBA’s future is in good hands.

Now, returning to my question, who is going to dominate the NBA in six years? Because you know what they say; the youth of today are the stars of the tomorrow. Here are the top five NBA players under 25 who are bound to be the faces of the league in the future.

*All statistics as of 1/20/18. All statistical rankings are filtered with a minimum of 35 games played this season

5. G/F Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Date of Birth: February 28, 1999 (19 yrs, 328 days)

2018-2019 Per Game Stats: 20.0 pts, 6.8 reb, 5.2 ast, 43% FG

Don’t get me wrong, but there are some players under the age of 25 who are better than Luka at the moment. However, the things Doncic is doing at 19 years old and the potential that oozes off him is extraordinary. Just recently, on MLK day, Luka became the second youngest player in NBA history to record a triple double. The kid has demonstrated all year that he’s special.

It isn’t just his statline that’s been impressing the league, but his high basketball IQ, vision on the court, and especially his performance in the clutch are all attributes foreshadowing his eventual domination of this league. Luka is currently No.2 in the league in clutch FG% (FG% in final three minutes of the game) at 57.1% and tied for No. 4 with Kyrie in clutch points scored this season with 55 pts. Doncic is not afraid of the moment and he won’t be for the next decade, so watch out NBA.

4. PG Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Date of Birth: July 20, 1996 (22 yrs, 184 days)

2018-2019 Per Game Stats: 16.5 pts, 9.5 reb, 8.1 ast, 57.6 FG%

Yes, I know his jumper is wack, but Simmons is still a problem on the court. Playing point at 6’10, Simmons is No. 2 out of guards in the league in rebounds per game and 4th in assists per game. At 22 years old, Simmons is also currently No. 2 in the NBA in triple doubles with seven. He’s killing the stat sheet and in the process of doing so, helping lead the 76ers to the No. 4 seed in the East.

Simmons’ defense is one of the scarier attributes in his game, being able to guard every position on the court and effectively. A spectacular athlete weighing 230 lbs alongside a 7’0 wingspan make for a dominant guard in every aspect of the game. As the years go on and Simmons continues to work on his jumper, we could be seeing a future DPOY and MVP in the making.

3. C Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Date of Birth: February 19, 1995 (23 years, 340 days)

2018-2019 Per Game Stats: 19.8 pts, 10.3 reb, 7.7 ast, 50.4 FG%

The Joker is an underrated menace on the floor. He’ll put your head on a swivel with his fancy yet precision passes and then he’ll drain a jumper from anywhere on the court… in your face.

Deservingly, Jokic has stayed as a darkhorse for MVP all year. Averaging a near triple double a game, the Joker’s true impact on the Nuggets is creating opportunities for his teammates. He’s top ten in assists per game while also being No. 4 in the NBA in assist ratio. Jokic’s feel for the game makes life hundred times easier for his teammates with his high court IQ, spacial awareness, and ability to squeeze the ball in to cutters.

Although a MVP caliber player, Jokic has been criticized for his defensive ability. His only defensive knack on paper is ranking No. 4 in steals per game for centers, but his defensive impact comes from his ability to crash the boards, grab rebounds, and create a fastbreak as if he was a point guard.

Because of Jokic, the Nuggets sit as one of the top teams in the NBA. He isn’t carrying them like Harden or Giannis with dominance, but he’s making everyone on the floor better. He’ll be in the league for a while, and potentially grab a MVP award before he retires. Until then, keep an eye out on the Nuggets.

2. C Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Date of Birth: March 16, 1994 (24 yrs, 314 days)

2018-2019 Per Game Stats: 27.2 pts, 13.3 reb, 3.5 ast, 49.1 FG%

“Trust the process!” Since the birth of the phrase in 2016, the process has more than delivered for the city of Philadelphia, and the scary part is he’s just getting started.

Standing at seven feet and weighing 250 lbs, the 76ers star has been one of the most dominant centers in the NBA for the past two years. Leading all centers in scoring with 27.2 ppg, Embiid’s offensive game is hard to stop; he’ll make a fadeaway jumper one possession, splash a open three in the next, and then posterize you right after he blocks you. Embiid’s doing extraordinary things on defense too, having a top ten defensive win share and placing No. 7 in blocks per game with two bpg.

No. 4 in the league in rebounding and efficiency, Embiid’s recently added to his resume with an Eastern Conference All Star starter selection, his second All-Star selection in three seasons. In only his junior season, Embiid has emerged as one of the best and most terrifying players in the NBA, and he’s not planning on slowing down. Offenses and defenses are bound to have trouble facing the Cameroon native in the next decade.

1. F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Date of Birth: December 6, 1994 (24 yrs, 51 days)

2018-2019 Per Game Stats: 26.6 pts, 12.6 reb, 5.9 ast, 58.1 FG%

Hailing from Athens, Greece, the recently named All-Star captain has done nothing short but take over the league by storm. You’ve seen the highlights; he’s not human.

Ranked No. 2 in plus minus and No. 3 in overall net rating, Antetokounmpo has made himself a nightmare for defenders with his ball-handling skills, aggressiveness to the basket and improvement in his jump shot. The Bucks star is the sole player in the NBA to net more than 400 two point field goals (417) while keeping a 59.3 EFG% (effective field goal percentage) and averaging 17.7 points in the paint per game. He’s not only doing it offensively though; Giannis also leads the league in defensive win shares and is No. 3 in overall defensive rating. A 7’3” wingspan doesn’t make scoring on him any easier.

The Athens native’s value speaks a lot more volumes however in the Bucks’ performance. Leading them to a league best record of 35-12 so far, Antetokounmpo leads the NBA in player impact estimate rating with 21.2. He’s bound to be a MVP contender and with the way he’s dismantling teams on both sides of the floor, a Finals appearance is also in sight.

Not even 25 years old, Giannis is already in the highest tier of the NBA. He makes men seem like boys with jaw dropping posterizers, and if he can stay healthy, I pray for whoever has to play against him in the future.

-Mateo Gutierrez

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