ESPN confirmed this week what Nets fans have seen this season: that two of their top players —D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert— are among the best NBA players 25 or younger.
Chris Herring, Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton ranked their top 25 players under age 25 based on future potential. The top five are no surprise: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Karl Anthony Towns and Ben Simmons (all of whom have international passports).
In the rankings, Russell comes in at No. 13, tied with Lauri Markkanen. Pelton who had DLo ninth on his list, writes...
It took four years for Russell to make good on his potential as the No. 2 pick in 2015 by the Lakers, but improved 3-point shooting (2.8 makes per game on career-best 37 percent accuracy) and greater maturity translated into an All-Star selection.
Russell’s defensive limitations put a cap on his long-term potential, which explains why he rates behind younger players who are currently less productive. He’ll also have to prove his success is sustainable. Still, Russell’s breakout came at the right time, as he’ll be a coveted restricted free agent this summer.
LeVert, tied for No. 21 with Kyle Kuzma, was selected despite missing so much time with his leg dislocation. Herring, who had CLV at No. 16, writes...
The Brooklyn swingman was fortunate to avoid what, at the time, looked like it would be a season-ending injury when he suffered a dislocated right foot. But in the time he missed, D’Angelo Russell became an All-Star, perhaps forcing LeVert to take at least a half-step back in the offense while he regains his bearings.
Nonetheless, the 6-foot-7 wing has shown the ability to potentially average 20-5-5 in extended minutes, all while playing above-average D. It just may take him time to shake off rust -- or an opportunity to showcase his ability without having to split the ballhandling responsibilities with such capable players in Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie.
SThe Nets are among nine teams with two players on the list. The others are Philadelphia, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Denver, Boston, Dallas, Sacramento and the Lakers.
The ranking is a significant improvement for the Nets organization. Last year, none of the young Nets made the 25-under-25.