The Golden State Warriors tried to have their cake and eat it too, balancing a contending team with adding three lottery picks over two years. They did win the 2022 title, so it’s not like it was a true failure, but over the past year, they have come to grips that maximizing Stephen Curry’s window of contention meant leaning into win-now players. They traded James Wiseman, Jordan Poole, Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins in exchange for Gary Payton II and Chris Paul.
That doesn’t mean they have moved on from all of their young players, however, and both Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody have developed into full rotation players for the Warriors. They haven’t had the same opportunities as lottery picks on bad teams, but they’ve also grown better by the pressure on them to compete at the highest level.
Both find themselves among the next wave of young players that is exploding in the league right now. Many of the faces of the league are aging into their twilight years, but the group coming behind them looks ready for the mantle. ESPN released their list of the 25 best players under 25 this week, and the top of the list contained some true stars like Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton and Zion Williamson, not to mention rookies like Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren.
The competition is fierce
There are significantly more than 25 players who deserve recognition for their future potential, so the list had to leave off some exciting names. With that being said, a few of the names left off seem like blatant mistakes, as their combination of production and upside plants them clearly in the top 25 above other players who made the list.
Let’s look at three players who should have made the list, including one Warrior who was snubbed by ESPN’s committee of voters. We’ll start with a player who doesn’t have the draft pedigree of some of his peers but is having an incredible start to the season and deserves to get his due.