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Top-10 Players in the NBA Under 23 Years Old

Taking a look and reacting to how the Dunc’d On Basketball Podcast ranked the young Wolves amongst the other best prospects in the NBA.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Dunc’d on Podcast is a near-nightly podcast hosted by Nate Duncan and Danny Leroux that covers the most recent happenings in the NBA. Amidst game breakdowns and touching base on the current status of each team in the league, they have annual podcasts. Earlier this week they released this annual podcast— Top-10 Prospects in the NBA 2016.

The term prospect needs a bit of a definition. Duncan and Leroux define a prospect as 23-years-old or younger. This number is chosen because, generally, these players would still be in college if they would not have left early, or would be one year out of college.

The Wolves have three players mentioned. As a Wolves fan, it is easy to get trapped in a cyclical bubble of largely only understanding the players on the Wolves roster. It is a League Pass world, but most of a Wolves fans understanding of the surrounding players in the league comes from box scores, Zach Lowe articles, or the few games in which a player plays the Wolves. This cycle can lead a fan in to biases related to the players on the Wolves roster and to not knowing the full picture of the other hundreds of players in the NBA.

Duncan and Leroux lend a lens into the view of Towns, Wiggins, and LaVine from a national media perspective and how that understanding is juxtaposed across the other young players of the 23 and under ilk.

Top-10 Prospects in the NBA 2016

Nate Duncan Tier 1

1. Anthony Davis: 23-years-old

“It’s possible that he already will have had two seasons by the end of this year that’s better than anyone else on this list will ever have. That is why I had him in tier one the other guys are just a little bit too far away.”

Danny Leroux Tier 1

1. Anthony Davis: 23-years-old

2. Karl-Anthony Towns: 21-years-old

“Something to remember about this is that Towns last year had a year that was fairly similar in a lot of ways to what Anthony Davis did, but last year was not Anthony Davis’s best year. So you’re not comparing apple to apples in that way. I put them in the same tier because of the idea of potential outcomes. I’m becoming less comfortable with the idea that Davis is going to be the dominant defender we all hoped he would be.”

Nate Duncan Tier 2

2. Karl-Anthony Towns: 21-years-old

“When you consider his development, he usually is guarding the Power Forward on the other team while Dieng guards the Center so he is not looking like he’s gunna get a chance to develop those great Center defensive skills that had us so excited early on last year. And he also is just not going to get in the post and beast guys there because there is not going to be the spacing around him... He’s still number two on the list for me, although I actually struggled with making him number two.”

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo: 22-years-old

“I was very close to actually putting Giannis above Towns... Giannis is contributing to winning basketball. Giannis is, I think, a top-15 player in the league so far this year... Giannis is so much better of a player, right now, than Towns and only being 11 months older it really made me think about it.”

Danny Leroux Tier 2

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo: 22-years-old

“Where is he best suited? With Towns, it’s so simple to kind of piece together what his best form is.”

Nate Duncan Tier 3

4. Kristaps Porzingis: 21-years-old

5. Joel Embiid: 22-years-old

Danny Leroux Tier 3

4. Kristaps Porzingis: 21-years-old

5. Joel Embiid: 22-years-old

Nate Duncan Tier 4

6. Andrew Wiggins: 21-years-old

“He is the category of player that naturally I don’t care for that much. Just only scores that’s about it. Doesn’t have great feel, that kind of guy. I’m naturally predisposed not to like those guys that much.”

7. Jabari Parker: 21-years-old

8. Ben Simmons: 20-years-old

“Is it too early to have him in this range?”

9. Andre Drummond: 23-years-old

Danny Leroux Tier 4

6. Jabari Parker: 21-years-old

7. Ben Simmons: 20-years-old

“A 6’10” Rondo would be a lot better than a 6’2” Rondo, that’s just the functional value of size.”

8. Myles Turner: 20-years-old

9. Andrew Wiggins: 21-years-old

“Wiggins has a spectacular ceiling. Maybe it is covering Harrison Barnes since his rookie year, but I’m sitting there wondering why he gets so much credit for things that he’s not doing yet when a lot of other guys don’t... He’s gotten a lot better, but he hasn’t defensively... I don’t believe that he can be... the best offensive player on a good team. And so if he can’t be the best defensive player and he can’t be the best offensive player, that’s a different guy.”

10. Andre Drummond: 23-years-old

Nate Duncan Tier 5

10. Jamal Murray: 19-years-old

Duncan and Leroux Honorable Mention

D’Angelo Russell: 20-years-old

Bradley Beal: 23-years-old

Zach LaVine: 21-years-old

“His ability in transition is ridiculous... LaVine for whatever reason uses his athleticism to get his jumper off whenever he wants... but in the half court just doesn’t get to the basket that much. Part of that is due to the teams he has been on.” -Duncan-

“So let’s say what Beal’s doing so far is real... I think that would be a pretty great result for Zach LaVine. It’s not his ceiling because LaVine’s athleticism is at a different level and I think he could become a good defender if everything else worked out... This would be a great Zach LaVine career.” -Leroux-

Devin Booker: 20-years-old

“Booker hasn’t actually ever made three-pointers in the NBA. 32 percent, or something, career shooter.” -Duncan-

Nikola Jokic: 21-years-old

Steven Adams: 23-years-old

Jaylen Brown: 20-years-old

Brandon Ingram: 19-years-old


Nate Duncan Top-10 Prospects

1. Anthony Davis

2. Karl-Anthony Towns

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

4. Kristaps Porzingis

5. Joel Embiid

6. Andrew Wiggins

7. Jabari Parker

8. Ben Simmons

9. Andre Drummond

10. Jamal Murray

Danny Leroux Top-10 Prospects

1. Anthony Davis

2. Karl-Anthony Towns

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

4. Kristaps Porzingis

5. Joel Embiid

6. Jabari Parker

7. Ben Simmons

8. Myles Turner

9. Andrew Wiggins

10. Andre Drummond

Everyone loves lists! What are your thoughts? Is Towns in Davis’s tier? Is considering Antetokounmpo over Towns a slap in the face to the KAT? Parker, Simmons, and Turner over Wiggins!? LaVine below Jamal Murray?