Ranking NBA’s 25 Best Players Under 25

25. Justise Winslow — Miami Heat

Age: 22

The Heat paid a pretty penny to lock up Winslow. According to sources covering the league, multiple teams — including Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics — made lucrative deals to try and acquire the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft for the chance to select the sliding Blue Devil.

Through two years, the Heat looked like they had made a grave mistake. Winslow’s poor outside shooting was even worse than advertised, and he struggled to stay on the court for lengthy stretches.

Now in Year 4, Winslow is just starting to look like the player so many teams coveted leading up to the draft. The absence of point guard Goran Dragic has given Winslow more opportunities to act as the team’s main facilitator. His size and versatility make him a unique player — able to defend power forward’s on one end and control the offense on the other. His shooting has even improved, having knocked down just under 38 percent of his three-point attempts over the past two years.

Winslow is just approaching 23 years old, and projects to be a serviceable player who can switch on defense and create for others.

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24. Lonzo Ball — Los Angeles Lakers

Age: 21

Ball’s strengths are incredibly evident. He’s an awesome defender (both individually and as a helper), rebounds well, makes smart decisions, shares the ball, and has explosive athleticism. The 21-year-old has Jason Kidd-like potential with his ability to see the floor and dish the rock.

His weaknesses are just as well-documented. Ball is a poor shooter, and it doesn’t help matters when you consider the unorthodox nature of his shooting form. He’s attempting over five threes per game thus far in the NBA, and is converting on just 31 percent of his (mostly open) attempts. Even more concerning is his free throw percentage which lies in the mid-40’s. Ball is in dire need of a shooting coach who can help him develop into the same type of shooter Kidd became towards the end of his career.

Even with a broken jump shot, Ball is just 21 years old and has shown a great feel for the game.

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23. Jaren Jackson Jr. — Memphis Grizzlies

Age: 19

Trading Marc Gasol signaled an end of an era in Memphis, but the Grizzlies shouldn’t be too broken up about it. Memphis’ front office found themselves a stud in the 2018 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-11 Jackson fits the bill of a modern big in today’s game. He can play either front court spot, and his mobility, three-point shooting, and shot-blocking allow for all sorts of fits alongside him. Given the Grizzlies’ recent pedigree of strong defenders, expect Jackson to make more than a couple All-Defensive teams over his career.

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22. Jaylen Brown — Boston Celtics

Age: 22

Despite the slow start to the 2019 season, Brown remains one of the more intriguing wing prospects in the league. The Cal product is a gifted athlete who attacks the rim with aggression. Brown was excellent during Boston’s improbable run during the 2018 NBA Playoffs. Playing without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, Brown flourished, putting up 18.0 PPG including two impressive 30-point performances versus the Bucks in the first round.

Although his teammate Marcus Smart might be a bit more valuable as of this moment, Brown has plenty of room to grow and could eventually develop into a go-to scoring option on a good team.

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