LeBron James is Still Around, but He Won’t be Around Forever
Chris Bosh is gone.
Dwyane Wade is gone.
It sure seems like Carmelo Anthony is all but done in the NBA as well.
The storied 2003 NBA Draft will go down in history as one of, if not the greatest Draft in the history of the league, producing the likes of David West, Chris Kaman, and Kyle Korver along with the aforementioned names. It also produced LeBron James, who along with Korver are the only two players still signed on with NBA teams. Korver has already considered retirement previously and at 38 years of age, this may very well be his last dance.
As for LeBron, well he’s 34 years old. A 17-year NBA veteran who realistically will not be amassing 75-plus games a season for much longer. In fact, those days may be over as we know it.
Let’s take a deeper look at the NBA – the league that for years has been held on the backs of players drafted during the last decade is getting younger.
Dwight Howard is no longer dominating the NBA. Chris Paul’s style of play is no longer the norm for point guards. Blake Griffin’s freakish athleticism has faded a couple notches and Kevin Durant is now in his 30’s, rehabbing the worst types of injuries a basketball player can endure – a ruptured Achilles Tendon.
Sure, the league still has the Russell Westbrooks, the Steph Currys and the James Hardens, all drafted just before the turn of the decade, but it is very likely that each of the three are in the midst of their playing career’s final big-money contracts.
Like I said, the league is getting younger and it is important for the NBA that the star power remains consistent. In fact, it is crucial that the star power of the current generation of players exceeds that of the previous generation’s due to the boom of social media and the NBA’s continued global expansion efforts.
James is quite possibly the biggest star the league has ever had with Steph Curry looking very much like a distant second. The two Akron natives are in their 30’s and before long, it will be on others to shoulder the weight of the NBA.
But who may that be?
Leaving the league in the hands of the next generation is a very delicate question as there is a clear distinction between a star and a superstar. Stars help win games, but superstars carry everything and the NBA has a number of names, five in particular, who can become those superstars of the future. Superstars that the league can confidently trust.
5. Bronny James Jr., TBD
He is the heir to the throne.
It’s just that simple.
The 14-year old is already a Duke commit. He is the eldest son of the greatest basketball player to ever live. He is the biggest star on the AAU circuit because of his bloodline and moreover, the charismatic 6-foot-2 teen has been handling all the media buzz as well as anyone possibly could. At his age, he already carries himself like a star. He is wired differently.
The NBA is looking to absolve it’s one-and-done rule by 2022, Bronny’s class year.
The next generation is coming.
4. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Built in a similar mold as Stephen Curry, Young’s collegiate career in Oklahoma and rookie campaign with the Hawks has done nothing more but continue to prove that Young could become that undersized, dynamic shooter and scorer that so many kids gravitate to.
3. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
People forget that coming out of the draft, Ben Simmons was compared to the likes of Magic Johnson and LeBron James.
It’s not often that you see a point guard with such phenomenal vision and passing ability be trapped in the body of power forward. Let’s remember, Simmons is only 23 and is just entering his third year in the league (well fourth). As he looks to be developing a reliable jump shot, Simmons is still a few years away from even entering his prime. With Jimmy Butler out of the picture in Philly, it will be up to Simmons to establish himself as a true superstar and run the Sixers offence. This upcoming season will be very telling in what the longterm future holds for the LSU alum.
2. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
He is unlike anything we have ever seen.
Built like an NFL bruiser with the athletic ability of a LeBron James or a Blake Griffin, Williamson is the definition of rookie hype overload. That being said, judging by the smile often seen on Zion’s face, the man-child does not seem remotely phased by the pressure. Nevertheless, the NBA expects big things from a prospect who can explode into superstardom instantly if he’s collegiate dominance translates over to the NBA level.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The NBA is now a global game, which makes it a perfect coincidence that it’s future face is that of Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. The reigning League MVP is only 24 years of age and looks to only be getting bigger and better. The marketable personality is beginning to develop and his ability to dominant on the court should be an easy sell as is.