NBA’s Best Young Cores Under 25: Western Conference Playoff Teams
Every year, young talent enters the NBA from all over the globe. Certain franchises are given high draft picks to build a team, while others do what they can with later-round picks.
Here is a look at the top young cores in the Western Conference: Playoff Teams Edition.
New Orleans Pelicans:
Core: Zion Williamson (22), Brandon Ingram (22), Dyson Daniels (19)
Other players 25 and under: Herb Jones (24), Trey Murphy III (22), Jaxson Hayes (22), Jose Alvarado (24), E.J. Liddell (21)
The New Orleans Pelicans are in a unique position, not quite like the other teams above. The Pelicans have managed to put themselves in a position to advance in their rebuild that was started by trading All-Star Anthony Davis.
The Pelicans reached the playoffs this past year without their franchise player, Zion Williamson. The former Duke Blue Devil missed the entire season following an injury that required surgery and had setbacks in his recovery. It didn’t stop NOLA from giving the Phoenix Suns a battle in the first round, led by CJ McCollum.
Adding a healthy Williamson to this squad alongside McCollum and another Duke alum, Brandon Ingram, could mean trouble for the NBA.
With numerous future picks in their arsenal, New Orleans and general manager Trajan Langdon could add more youth to this talented roster or use their picks in a package to acquire another star player in pursuit of a championship.
Core: Ja Morant (22), Jaren Jackson Jr. (22), Desmond Bane (24)
Other players 25 and under: Brandon Clarke (25), Ziaire Williams (20), Xavier Tillman Sr. (23), Santi Aldama (21), Jarrett Culver (23), David Roddy (21), Kennedy Chandler (19)
The Memphis Grizzlies finished last season as the second seed. Before being eliminated in the Western Conference semi-finals, the Grizzlies gave the Golden State Warriors all they could handle, even after the injury of Ja Morant. A group this young, who could have advanced to the next round barring an injury to the heart and soul of this squad, is a group most teams should be monitoring.
The Grizzlies have only one player on their active roster over the age of 30, Danny Green. The sharpshooter was acquired on draft night in a salary dump from the Philadelphia 76ers. While the plan for Green is currently unknown, it shows how young this squad in Memphis is.
The Grizzlies were on the brink of a number one seed, and a deep playoff run before injuries changed the course of their season. With the offseason additions made by general manager Zach Kleiman, the young group in Memphis looks ready to run it back and prove they will be a tough team to compete with for years to come.
Building a young contender is a blueprint many teams would like to follow. These two franchises are positioned to be dominant forces in the league for years to come.