Commentary

Brooks' Ballot: Best 23-and-under players

Originally Published: April 1, 2008
By   | ESPN.com

We asked our writers two questions:

Rank 1 to 5: Which players age 23 or under would you want as the foundation of your team?

Wild card: Who else has the greatest upside?

Here are ESPN.com editor Maurice Brooks' picks:


Brooks' Ballot
Rank Player Comment
 
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Small Forward
Age: 23
With everything that the freakishly athletic James has already accomplished, it is mind-boggling to think the Oscar Robertson clone is only going to get better. If he keeps improving his jumper, his game will be flawless.
 
Dwight Howard
Orlando Magic
Center
Age: 22
From his jaw-dropping performance at the Slam Dunk contest to his off-the-court antics, Howard's popularity continues to soar at a pace normally reserved for all-time media and fan favorite Shaquille O'Neal. While Howard's personality will help sell tickets in Orlando, it is his ever-improving play that has him so high on this list.
 
Chris Paul
New Orleans Hornets
Point Guard
Age: 22
My pick at this stage in the season to win MVP, Paul has wrestled the title of best point guard in the league away from Phoenix's Steve Nash. It is easier to get a dominant guard than a superstar big man, so Paul finds himself one spot behind Howard.
 
Carmelo Anthony
Denver Nuggets
Small Forward
Age: 23
Despite sharing top billing in Denver with Allen Iverson, Anthony is already one of the league's most explosive scorers. He is on pace to put up career highs in field goal percentage, rebounds, steals and blocks this season, numbers that will only improve as he continues to mature as a player.
 
Deron Williams
Utah Jazz
Point Guard
Age: 23
Although there are a lot of reasons to want to build a team around D-Will, what gets him into the top five is his size. At 6-3, 210 pounds, he has a physical advantage over most other point guards. Plus he has the foot speed and defense to match.
WILD
CARD
 
Kevin Durant
Seattle SuperSonics
Shooting Guard
Age: 19
The favorite for rookie of the year is the face of the franchise in Seattle at the ridiculously young age of 19. Yes, he needs to improve his shot selection, defense and physique. Still, with averages of 20 points, 4 boards, 2 assists, a steal and block a night, he is doing a lot of things right. The sky's the limit.

MORE BALLOTS:
Henry Abbott | J.A. Adande | Jon Barry | Maurice Brooks | Chris Broussard | John Hollinger
Ric Bucher | Chad Ford | Chris Palmer | Jalen Rose | Chris Sheridan | Marc Stein | David Thorpe

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