Sheridan'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 NBA columnist Chris Sheridan's picks:

Sheridan's Ballot
Rank Player Comment
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Small Forward
Age: 23
Should we start with a big man, a playmaker … or the single greatest under-23 talent we've ever seen, who brings along with him the superstar cachet that makes him the quintessential franchise player? Gotta go with that last factor as the clincher for putting him at No. 1, 'cause he's also going to put fannies in the seats.
Dwight Howard
Orlando Magic
Age: 22
The days of needing a dominant big man to ensure success may be over in some folks' opinion, but I'm still of the old school of thought that a one-man wrecking crew under the basket is preferable to the alternative. This guy is dominating like Shaq did a dozen years ago, but we'd still need to find him a free-throw coach.
Chris Paul
New Orleans Hornets
Point Guard
Age: 22
We risk the wrath of the state of Utah by going with CP3 over Deron Williams, but we'll take a little extra speed and a little extra dexterity when it comes to finding someone to hit with the open pass.
Carmelo Anthony
Denver Nuggets
Small Forward
Age: 23
Gotta have an inside-out player, so we'd tab Melo and order him to make -- not shoot, but make -- 500 shots a day from the NBA 3-point line, reminding Anthony how much it helped his game last summer when he wanted to prove to everyone that he could be a killer shooter from the FIBA 3-point line.
Monta Ellis
Golden State Warriors
Shooting Guard
Age: 22
We don't want a chucker at the shooting guard spot; we want someone efficient. This guy is knocking down shots at a 53 percent clip, and it's exceedingly rare to see a guy at the 2-guard position flirting with 50 percent, much less surpassing it.
Kevin Durant
Seattle SuperSonics
Shooting Guard
Age: 19
That line above about not wanting a chucker? That's keeping KD out of our fave five -- although it hasn't gone unnoticed that he has improved his shot selection and field goal efficiency by leaps and bounds over the past two months.

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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