Commentary

Thorpe's 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 Scouts Inc.'s David Thorpe's picks:

Thorpe's Ballot
Rank Player Comment
 
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Small Forward
Age: 23
He's already a top-five player in the world and can still improve a great deal. Plus, we know he can carry a franchise to the Finals.
 
Chris Paul
New Orleans Hornets
Point Guard
Age: 22
His pick-and-roll offense is already such a compelling force, and he might be the most competitive person in this group. His effort at propelling the Hornets to these heights shows what he can do for a team.
 
Dwight Howard
Orlando Magic
Center
Age: 22
Similar to the two above in that we know what he can do to improve a franchise. If he adds a little more skill to his "Superman" routine (in games, not contests) then he will become one of the all-time great centers.
 
Kevin Durant
Seattle SuperSonics
Shooting Guard
Age: 19
The month he just had is a sign of very big things to come. He'll end up being alongside LeBron and Melo as the top scorers of this group one day, and his defensive upside is greater than either of them.
 
Luol Deng
Chicago Bulls
Small Forward
Age: 22
Like the true professional he is, he dealt with numerous injuries and lots of intrafranchise changes this season. And he's the rare player who can score 20-plus points in a game while locking down his opponents' best scorer.
WILD
CARD
 
Joakim Noah
Chicago Bulls
Center
Age: 23
He could be a team's emotional leader and best rebounder and interior defender. Plus, he's the perfect teammate to draft around -- he's selfless and incredibly invested in winning every day.

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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