From Luka Dončić to Zion Williamson to Trae Young, the NBA is full of incredible young talent. Despite not having much experience, these young players are already blossoming into superstars. However, many young players in the NBA are playing stellar basketball but aren’t getting as much recognition. Today, we’ll look at some of these players and the underrated seasons they are having.
Despite only being 24 years of age, Dejounte Murray has established himself as an excellent all-around player. He is a great finisher and a phenomenal rebounder for a guard. However, the part of his game that most impressive is his elite defense. In 2018, Murray became the youngest player ever on an all-defensive team, at 22. This is an incredible feat for a player his age. As he begins to enter his prime, he will only continue to improve on the defensive end.
This season, Dejounte Murray is averaging an excellent 15.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 5.2 APG, and 1.5 SPG on 45.6% shooting. He is helping lead the Spurs to a playoff spot in a stacked Western Conference, where many thought they would miss the playoffs altogether. Murray has had some excellent games this season, including 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 steals against the Warriors, and 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists against the Lakers.
Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker, and Devin Vassell form a young and promising core in San Antonio. The Spurs organization is arguably the best at developing young players. This Spurs team may very well be a threat in the Western Conference for years to come.
Michael Porter Jr.
The Nuggets selected Michael Porter Jr. fourteenth overall in 2018; a back injury caused him to slip in the draft. Unfortunately, the injury also caused him to miss the entirety of his rookie season. He didn’t see much playing time last season until the bubble, where he averaged a solid 14.2 PPG and 7.2 RPG on 50.4% shooting.
Michael Porter Jr.’s game has taken a giant leap this season. He is averaging 16.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG on a highly efficient 53.4% shooting and 45% from 3. Given that Porter Jr. averages 5.5 three-point attempts per game, this is especially impressive.
Porter Jr.’s best games this season include 30 points, eight rebounds on 6/10 from downtown against the Mavericks, and 30 points, ten rebounds, and two blocks against the Kings. At just 22 years of age, Porter Jr. still has plenty of room for growth. He will likely develop into a star as his career progresses.
The Nuggets are looking like strong contenders in the Western Conference. The Nuggets are tied as the fourth seed in the West with a depleted Lakers team, and Porter Jr. is a big part of this. Along with Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray, and newly acquired Aaron Gordon, the Nuggets are a force to be reckoned with this season. Porter Jr. is only getting better, and he will continue to be a key contributor for Denver for many years.
At 20 years old, Barrett is the youngest of these three players. Picked third by the Knicks in 2019, Barrett is playing stellar basketball for New York this season. Barrett has improved in every major statistical category except steals this season.
Currently, at the sixth seed, The Knicks have been a pleasant surprise this season. Seeded higher than teams like the Celtics and Raptors, they are doing much better than expected this season. RJ Barrett is a big reason for this, averaging a superb 17.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 3.1 APG on a decent 44.4% shooting.
Barrett’s best games this season include 32 points, five rebounds, three steals against the Thunder, and 26 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists against the Hawks. Since the all-star break, Barrett’s game reached a new level. He is averaging 20.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.0 SPG since then.
At just 20, Barrett has a very bright future and a high ceiling. Along with Julius Randle, he is a huge reason why the Knicks are a top-six seed in the East. As the Knicks look to continue their playoff push, Barrett will continue to shine as a solid second option for New York.
The NBA is riddled with young talent. While the current generation of NBA is sadly starting to end, the NBA will be in excellent hands in years to come. The next generation of NBA players is very talented, and the future is very bright for the league.