NBA's Best Young Cores in the West, Assembling the Thunder and Rockets
The NBA is filled with talent league-wide, and every roster has its fair share of generational talent. With the Western Conference being home to many title contenders, several franchises have hit the rebuild button to form the right team.
Here is a look at some of the best young cores in the West.
Core: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (24), Josh Giddey (19), Chet Holmgren (20)
Other players 25 and under: Luguentz Dort (23), Aleksej Pokusevski (20), Tre Mann (21), Darius Bazley (22), Jalen Williams (21), Jaylin Williams(20)
Sam Presti decided to start from scratch and rebuild the Oklahoma City Thunder roster following the trade of Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Following the trades, the GM has put together the youngest team in the league. While the Thunder roster may be the youngest in the league, there is no shortage of talent on the roster. OKC has also amassed a plethora of future draft picks.
Due to their ability to absorb larger contracts with their cap space, Presti has collected draft picks left and right. The Thunder have collected 38 future draft picks, not including any protections, swaps, or other rights they mayhold. The Thunder can pivot when needed, thanks to the team’s 19 first-round picks and 19 second-round picks at their disposal. The Thunder and Presti can continue to collect young talent, or they have the picks to put together a package to acquire any star player that may become available in the future.
The talent on the roster alone makes the Thunder’s future exciting, and with Presti at the wheel, who knows what move could come next.
Nonetheless, with the young group in Oklahoma and Presti’s addiction to collecting picks, they will be a team to monitor moving forward.
Core: Jalen Green (20), Jabari Smith Jr. (19), Kevin Porter Jr.(22)
Other players 25 and under: Alperen Sengun (20), Josh Christopher (20), Tari Eason (21), Kenyon Martin Jr. (21), Daishen Nix (20), Marquese Chriss (25), TyTy Washington Jr. (20), Bruno Fernando (23)
The Houston Rockets have had the luxury of pairing two top-three picks together in back-to-back drafts. Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. will be a fun and explosive duo to watch moving forward, with Kevin Porter Jr. also in the mix.
The Rockets have also found themselves striking with late-round picks in the last couple of years, Alperen Sengun and Josh Christopher immediately come to mind. Still, it looks like Houston may have struck gold again in this year’s draft with the selection of Tari Eason.
Rafael Stone, the team’s general manager, has strung together a massive number of future draft picks for the team to use in theirrebuild. If the Rockets can keep this core together and allow the young group to build chemistry, the sky is the limit.
It’s safe to say that the future of the NBA is in good hands. One of these young squads out West could be the next title contender in the years to come.
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