Bucher's Ballot: Best 23-and-under players

Originally Published: April 1, 2008
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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 The Magazine senior writer Ric Bucher's picks:

Bucher's Ballot
Rank Player Comment
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Small Forward
Age: 23
A 6-8, 240-pound forward with a point guard's speed, vision and handle? If he develops post and midrange games, he will be the game's most unstoppable force.
Dwight Howard
Orlando Magic
Age: 22
A bigger, stronger interior version of LeBron. The difference is that I'd still need a point guard to get the ball to Dwight, whereas LeBron is self-sufficient.
Deron Williams
Utah Jazz
Point Guard
Age: 23
He has the size and speed and fearlessness necessary to be a force at both ends, inside or out.
Chris Paul
New Orleans Hornets
Point Guard
Age: 22
No one's more clever or steadier. He's this low only because I'm banking my future on him and that serious foot injury last year makes me nervous.
Kevin Durant
Seattle SuperSonics
Shooting Guard
Age: 19
He's been buried under the burden of carrying a distracted, dispirited team. But the glimpses of greatness are there and he hasn't stopped working -- two bankable qualities.
Andrew Bynum
Los Angeles Lakers
Age: 20
An early, severe knee injury is like a crack in the foundation -- beware of building around it. But if this is merely a blip, Bynum has the gifts to be, in time, the game's most dominant center.

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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