NBA 25 under 25: Ranking Anthony Edwards, Evan Mobley and top young stars based on future potential

The future of the NBA is in good hands — literally.

The league’s best young point guards are rising to the top in our latest rankings of the top 25 players under 25, as nearly half the spots on the list — and seven of the top 10 — are occupied by some of the game’s best floor generals.

Which rookies made the cut? Where will Zion Williamson land after the New Orleans Pelicans forward was forced to miss the entire regular season with a fractured right foot? Which young stars are destined to climb the list over the next few seasons?

ESPN NBA Insiders Bobby Marks, Kevin Pelton and Mike Schmitz are ranking their top 25 under 25 based on future potential, including where Williamson, Luka Doncic, Ja Morant, Trae Young and LaMelo Ball check in.

Note: Each writer’s individual rankings are listed at the bottom of this story. These rankings are an average of those ballots. You can find the 2021 version of these rankings here.

25. Jaren Jackson Jr. | PF | Memphis Grizzlies

Age: 22.6
2021-22 stats: 16.3 PPG | 5.8 RPG | 2.3 BPG
Last year’s ranking: NR

Fully healthy after 2020 knee surgery, Jackson has grown into the defensive force the Grizzlies imagined when they drafted him No. 4 overall in 2018. Jackson has built a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year with his ability to both protect the rim — he led the league in blocks per game and block rate — and chase smaller opponents on the perimeter at power forward.

The next step for Jackson is recapturing the offensive success he enjoyed in 2019-20, when he hit a career-high 39% of his 3s before dropping to 32% this season.

— Pelton


24. Tyrese Maxey | PG | Philadelphia 76ers

Age: 21.4
2021-22 stats: 17.5 PPG | 4.3 APG | 42.7 3P%
Last year’s ranking: NR

The 21-year-old makes his 25-under-25 debut as one of the most improved young guards in the NBA. Maxey is leading the 76ers in total minutes thanks to his nonstop energy. He has improved his 3-point percentage from 30.4% as a rookie to 42.7% this season, tops on a Philly squad that ranks seventh in the NBA in 3-point accuracy.

He’s one of the least turnover-prone guards in the league (3.65 assist-to-turnover ratio) while putting pressure on opposing defenses with his speed. Continuing to improve as a decision-maker will help Maxey work his way up this list as his game matures.

— Schmitz

23. John Collins | PF | Atlanta Hawks

Age: 24.6
2021-22 stats: 16.2 PPG | 7.8 RPG | 52.6 FG%
Last year’s ranking: 22

Like his teammate Young, Collins adapted quickly during his first playoff run, proving capable of defending a variety of opposing power forwards. That two-way play came at a cost to Collins’ offense, which has been trending the wrong direction.

Since averaging a career-high 21.6 PPG on the lottery-bound 2019-20 Hawks, Collins has seen his scoring average decline both per game and per minute over the past two seasons.

— Pelton

22. De’Aaron Fox | PG | Sacramento Kings

Age: 24.3
2021-22 stats: 23.2 PPG | 3.9 RPG | 5.6 APG
Last year’s ranking: 6

If we were ranking the 25-under-25 list on games played after the All-Star break, Fox would be back in the top 10. In the 11 games since mid-February, Fox averaged 29.3 points and 7.5 assists. Last year, he averaged 28.5 points and 6.6 assists after the break.

However, because we look at the body of work during a full season, Fox takes a tumble of 16 spots.

— Marks

21. Jalen Green | SG | Houston Rockets

Age: 20.2
2021-22 stats: 17.3 PPG | 3.4 RPG | 2.6 APG
Last year’s ranking: NR (rookie)

Green is among four members of the 2021 rookie class to make the cut. Green showed exactly why he was the No. 2 pick in the draft over his last 10 games, averaging 26.1 points on 54% from 2 and 41% from 3, highlighted by the type of pull-up 3s and ferocious dunks you typically see from NBA All-Stars.

Green’s defense and consistency as a playmaker need considerable work, but I ranked him 14th on my personal list, as I’m expecting an Anthony Edwards-like sophomore jump given his combination of shot-making, burst and bounce at 6-foot-6.

— Schmitz

20. Tyler Herro | PG | Miami Heat

Age: 22.2
2021-22 stats: 20.7 PPG | 5.0 RPG | 39.9 3P%
Last year’s ranking: NR

Do not let Herro’s sixth man role fool you. Despite being the only player on the 25-under-25 list who has not started more than 15 games, Herro averaged starter minutes (32.7) this season.

The guard had 20 25-point games off the bench, the most in a season since Ricky Pierce in 1990-91. The Heat were 28-9 in games in which Herro scored at least 20 points. The guard is extension eligible this offseason.

— Marks

19. Deandre Ayton | C | Phoenix Suns

Age: 23.7
2021-22 stats: 17.2 PPG | 10.2 RPG | 63.4 FG%
Last year’s ranking: 20

After an eight-point, three-rebound game against the Knicks in early March, Ayton was on the verge of being left off the 25-under-25 team. However, since that lackluster effort, the center has averaged 19.6 points and 11.5 rebounds.

For the season, Phoenix was 12-1 in games in which Ayton scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The big development from Ayton has been his ability to shoot the 3-ball. Although it is a small sample, Ayton shot 6-for-17 from deep this season (7-37 over the prior three seasons). After failing to reach an extension last year, Ayton is a restricted free agent in July.

— Marks

18. Jarrett Allen | C | Cleveland Cavaliers

Age: 24.0
2021-22 stats: 16.1 PPG | 10.8 RPG | 67.7 FG%
Last year’s ranking: 23

Effective in a supporting role as a rim runner with the Brooklyn Nets, Allen blossomed into an All-Star during his first full year in Cleveland. He became a bigger part of the offense thanks to his partnership with Garland, averaging a career-high 16.1 PPG on nearly 68% shooting — second among qualifying players leaguewide.

Allen also grew into a defensive anchor. Opponents made just 51% of their attempts within five feet when Allen was the primary defender, per Second Spectrum tracking on NBA Advanced Stats, fifth lowest among players who defended at least 250 such shots.

— Pelton

17. Desmond Bane | SG | Memphis Grizzlies

Age: 23.8
2021-22 stats: 18.2 PPG | 4.4 RPG | 43.6 3P%
Last year’s ranking: NR

Bane makes his 25-under-25 debut, ranking the fourth highest among players from his class after boosting his scoring average from 8.9 to 18.2 points while evolving into a true weapon from 3. He’s the only player in the NBA making at least three 3s per game at a clip over 42%. He’s the best above-the-break shooter in the league, and ranks in the top five in scoring efficiency out of off-ball screens and handoffs. He has added a midrange game, is improving as a passer and has even played some backup point guard this season.

As Bane told me during our recent film session, evaluators underestimated his “willingness to improve.” Drawing more fouls, improving around the rim, tightening his left-hand passing and adding more ways to create separation off the bounce are the next steps for the 23-year-old.

— Schmitz

16. Miles Bridges | SF | Charlotte Hornets

Age: 24.1
2021-22 stats: 20.2 PPG | 7.0 RPG | 3.8 APG
Last year’s ranking: NR

Bridges has taken a leap in his development, posting career highs in points (plus-7.6 from a year ago with nine 30-point games), rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. After the All-Star break, Bridges averaged 21.2 points on 52% shooting and 40% from deep.

Per ESPN Stats & Information research, he is one of five players averaging 20 points, 50% field goal percentage and 40% 3-point percentage since the break. (The other four players are Karl-Anthony Towns, Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum and Devin Booker.) Bridges is a restricted free agent in July.

— Marks

15. Evan Mobley | C | Cleveland Cavaliers

Age: 20.8
2021-22 stats: 15.0 PPG | 8.3 RPG | 50.8 FG%
Last year’s ranking: NR (rookie)

The likely Rookie of the Year, Mobley lands in the top 15 (and 11th on my personal rankings) thanks to his defensive versatility and offensive skill level. The 20-year-old is already one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA at 7 feet tall with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and held opponents to the third-lowest field goal percentage in the NBA on shots within six feet, according to He has all the makings of a future Defensive Player of the Year.

On offense, Mobley is a lob threat who also showed a unique handle, agility and feel. For Mobley to truly work his way into the next tier of this list, he’ll have to build on the traces of 3-point shooting he showed early in the season before finishing the campaign at just 25% from beyond the arc.

— Schmitz

14. Tyrese Haliburton | PG | Indiana Pacers

Age: 22.1
2021-22 stats: 15.3 PPG | 8.2 APG | 41.4 3P%
Last year’s ranking: 21

Haliburton’s brief tenure in Indiana since the trade deadline is an indication that the Pacers got a cornerstone player. In the 24 games since he was acquired from the Kings, Haliburton averaged 17.4 points, 9.6 assists, 49.5% shooting from the field and 42% from deep. He is the only player who averaged 9.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and shot at least 40% from the field and 3 since the deadline.

— Marks

13. Scottie Barnes | SF | Toronto Raptors

Age: 20.7
2021-22 stats: 15.3 PPG | 7.5 RPG | 3.5 APG
Last year’s ranking: NR (rookie)

Barnes is the definition of positionless basketball as a 6-foot-7 savant who can defend 1 through 5 in a pinch, bring the ball up the floor like a point guard, play out of the short roll like a center and do pretty close to everything in between while at times looking like a mini Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Among rookies, Barnes is the only player to rank in the top five in points, rebounds, assists, minutes, steals and blocks, joining Ben Simmons, LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins, Vince Carter and Chris Webber. While I gave Mobley the slight edge over Barnes on my list given his size and length, Barnes is clearly one of the best in this class.

Finding more consistency as a defender and improving his shooting (29.3% from 3) could catapult him into the top 10 of next year’s list.

— Schmitz

12. Brandon Ingram | SF | New Orleans Pelicans

Age: 24.6
2021-22 stats: 22.7 PPG | 5.8 RPG | 5.6 APG
Last year’s ranking: 11

Zion’s absence forced Ingram to take on more shot creation than ever before. Both his 29% usage rate and 5.9 assists per 36 minutes were new career highs. Ingram’s efficiency strained a bit under the load, largely because he made just 33% of his 3s after being north of 38% his first two seasons in New Orleans.

Nonetheless, Ingram’s importance was obvious in his own absence. The Pelicans went 29-26 (.527) with Ingram on the court and a dreadful 7-20 when he was sidelined.

— Pelton

11. Anthony Edwards | PG | Minnesota Timberwolves

Age: 20.7
2021-22 stats: 21.3 PPG | 4.8 RPG | 3.8 APG
Last year’s ranking: 19

In terms of sheer ability when he’s at his best, you could make an argument Edwards belongs in our top five. Few players in the NBA can get a bucket with sheer burst, force and bounce or beat you with skill. Averaging 21.3 points on 52% from 2 and 36% from 3 at just 20 years old on a play-in team, Edwards has proved he can do both with the type of space creation you rarely see from players his age.

His decision-making and off-ball defense still have a ways to go, but Edwards is evolving as a passer and has shown glimpses of incredible one-on-one defense against stars like Doncic, Tatum and Devin Booker.

— Schmitz

10. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander | PG | OKC Thunder

Age: 23.8
2021-22 stats: 24.5 PPG | 5.0 RPG | 5.9 APG
Last year’s ranking: 10

Despite regressing from 42% beyond the arc in 2020-21 to 30% this season, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged a career-high 24.5 PPG without sacrificing his playmaking before being shut down by ankle soreness in late March.

Though Gilgeous-Alexander showed the ability to stretch his usage to a career-high 31%, ideally that will go down with more help next season as Oklahoma City’s rebuild starts to round the corner.

— Pelton

9. Darius Garland | PG | Cleveland Cavaliers

Age: 22.2
2021-22 stats: 21.7 PPG | 8.6 APG | 38.3 3P%
Last year’s ranking: NR

Garland was named to his first All-Star team and has played a lead role in the Cavaliers doubling their win total from the past two seasons. Since March 1, Garland averaged 25.2 points and 10.8 assists and is one of two players — Trae Young the other — who averaged 25 points and 10 assists during that span. Garland also ranked first in assists since March 1. He is rookie extension eligible this offseason.

— Marks

8. Bam Adebayo | C | Miami Heat

Age: 24.7
2021-22 stats: 19.1 PPG | 10.1 RPG | 55.7 FG%
Last year’s ranking: 9

One of the more versatile players in the NBA, Adebayo has anchored a Heat defense that has an average ranking of eighth in defensive efficiency over the past five seasons.

Four months shy of his 25th birthday, Adebayo had three games of 20 points and 15 rebounds in 2021-22, the most for a season in his career. He became only the fifth player in Heat history to record 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in multiple games.

— Marks

7. Zion Williamson | PF | New Orleans Pelicans

Age: 21.7
2021-22 stats: N/A
Last year’s ranking: 2

There’s no player on this list more challenging to rank than Zion in the wake of a regular season lost to a fifth metatarsal fracture suffered last summer. It’s easy to forget how dominant Williamson was during a healthy 2020-21, when he averaged 27 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 3.7 APG while making 62% of his 2-point attempts and was voted an All-Star reserve by coaches.

However, Williamson has now missed extended stretches in two of his first three seasons. Because no other ability matters without availability, we had to drop Zion five spots.

— Pelton

6. Cade Cunningham | PG | Detroit Pistons

Age: 20.5
2021-22 stats: 17.4 PPG | 5.5 RPG | 5.6 APG
Last year’s ranking: NR (rookie)

Although unlikely to win Rookie of the Year honors after a slow start, Cunningham was our unanimous choice for top rookie on this list, landing ahead of several established All-Stars.

As Bobby noted in his Pistons offseason guide, Cunningham was only the sixth rookie since the merger to average 20-5-5 after the All-Star break, regularly going toe-to-toe with the NBA’s elite. He showed he’s more than comfortable functioning as Detroit’s primary ball handler (27.7 usage rate), and his efficiency (50.4 true shooting percentage) should improve as the Pistons add more shooting and young talent with a potential top-three pick in June.

Cunningham needs to cut down careless turnovers, stabilize his 3-ball (31.4%) and continue improving as a finisher. But if the Pistons, who ranked 29th in 3-point percentage this season, can add Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith or Paolo Banchero, I’d expect an All-Star-caliber Year 2 from the smooth Cunningham.

— Schmitz

5. LaMelo Ball | PG | Charlotte Hornets

Age: 20.6
2021-22 stats: 20.1 PPG | 7.6 APG | 38.9 3P%
Last year’s ranking: 3

Ball dropped two spots largely because of the emergence of Morant and Young as two of the league’s top point guards. Ball is still on track to develop into the potential superstar that we projected after a sensational sophomore campaign in which he improved in each major statistical category.

He’s already one of the NBA’s best passers, and Ball has quickly answered any pre-draft concerns about his durability — he played 75 games in 2021-22 — and shooting, as he’s the youngest player in league history to make over 200 3s while ranking third in effective FG% on above-the-break 3s.

For the 20-year-old Ball, turning Charlotte into a playoff contender like Morant has done in Memphis, while improving as a defender and finisher, should be his offseason focus.

— Schmitz

4. Trae Young | PG | Atlanta Hawks

Age: 23.6
2021-22 stats: 28.4 PPG | 9.7 APG | 38.2 3P%
Last year’s ranking: 16

Admittedly, we overthought Young’s placement a year ago, when he ranked 16th and wasn’t higher than 14th on any individual ballot. The concern was how Young’s size might limit him in the playoffs. Whoops! Atlanta unexpectedly reached the conference finals thanks to Young’s playmaking verve.

Although the Hawks have dropped back in the play-in this year and rank 26th in defensive rating, it’s now clear Young’s offensive talent outweighs his defensive shortcomings. The big question is whether Young will earn All-NBA honors, which would boost his rookie extension by a projected $35 million.

— Pelton

3. Ja Morant | PG | Memphis Grizzlies

Age: 22.7
2021-22 stats: 27.4 PPG | 5.7 RPG | 6.7 APG
Last year’s ranking: 15

Morant has made the biggest superstar leap in the NBA, climbing from 15th on this list to No. 3 while leading the run ‘n’ gun Grizzlies to the second-best record in the NBA at age 22. At this time last year, Morant was shooting just 25.4% from 3 and slotted behind De’Aaron Fox in the rankings. He’s now a true face of the NBA and one of only six players to average at least 27 points and 6 assists. He has boosted his shooting to 34.4% from distance while terrorizing opposing defenses as one of the league’s top paint scorers.

On top of that, Morant is the driving force in a college-like culture perfect for a small-market franchise like Memphis. Continuing to improve his durability and defense are the next steps for Morant, who could challenge for No. 2 on this list next year.

— Schmitz

2. Jayson Tatum | SF | Boston Celtics

Age: 24.1
2021-22 stats: 26.9 PPG | 8.0 RPG | 4.4 APG
Last year’s ranking: 5

We can write an entire article on why Tatum is a franchise player. The forward has elevated himself from a perennial All-Star to now a player who will see his name on the All-NBA team this year, while also receiving votes for MVP. Since the All-Star break, Tatum is one of three players — Kevin Durant and Devin Booker the others — to average 30 points while shooting 50% from the field and 40% on 3s.

— Marks

1. Luka Doncic | PG | Dallas Mavericks

Age: 23.1
2021-22 stats: 28.4 PPG | 9.1 RPG | 8.7 APG
Last year’s ranking: 1

For the third consecutive year, Doncic tops our list, albeit not unanimously this time around. At 23, Luka still has another season of eligibility here before aging out. He has taken another step in his precocious development during Year 4 in the NBA, leading the Mavericks to 50-plus wins for the first time since 2014-15 behind a career-high 37% usage rate.

Next for Doncic: translating his dominant performance in first-round losses to the Clippers the past two years into a deeper playoff run with home-court advantage this time around.

— Pelton

The ballots


  1. Jayson Tatum
  2. Luka Doncic
  3. Ja Morant
  4. Trae Young
  5. Bam Adebayo
  6. Cade Cunningham
  7. Brandon Ingram
  8. Zion Williamson
  9. Darius Garland
  10. LaMelo Ball
  11. Deandre Ayton
  12. Miles Bridges
  13. Scottie Barnes
  14. Desmond Bane
  15. Tyrese Haliburton
  16. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  17. Evan Mobley
  18. De’Aaron Fox
  19. Tyler Herro
  20. Josh Giddey
  21. John Collins
  22. Jarrett Allen
  23. Tyrese Maxey
  24. Anthony Edwards
  25. Jalen Green


  1. Luka Doncic
  2. Jayson Tatum
  3. Ja Morant
  4. Trae Young
  5. LaMelo Ball
  6. Anthony Edwards
  7. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  8. Darius Garland
  9. Bam Adebayo
  10. Zion Williamson
  11. Cade Cunningham
  12. Tyrese Haliburton
  13. Jarrett Allen
  14. Scottie Barnes
  15. Brandon Ingram
  16. Desmond Bane
  17. Miles Bridges
  18. Evan Mobley
  19. Jaren Jackson Jr.
  20. John Collins
  21. Robert Williams III
  22. OG Anunoby
  23. Tyler Herro
  24. Jalen Green
  25. Tyrese Maxey


  1. Luka Doncic
  2. Jayson Tatum
  3. Ja Morant
  4. Cade Cunningham
  5. LaMelo Ball
  6. Anthony Edwards
  7. Trae Young
  8. Zion Williamson
  9. Shai Gilgeous Alexander
  10. Darius Garland
  11. Evan Mobley
  12. Scottie Barnes
  13. Bam Adebayo
  14. Jalen Green
  15. Brandon Ingram
  16. Tyrese Haliburton
  17. Miles Bridges
  18. Desmond Bane
  19. Tyrese Maxey
  20. Tyler Herro
  21. De’Aaron Fox
  22. Jarrett Allen
  23. Deandre Ayton
  24. Jaren Jackson Jr
  25. Robert Williams III

Mike Schmitz is an NBA draft expert and a contributor to, a private scouting and analytics service used by the NBA, the NCAA and International teams.

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