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Top 10 Rising NBA Stars

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Spencer Sher

Script written by Spencer Sher

Trust us: these are the guys you want to keep an eye on. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Rising Sports Stars – Basketball.


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Script written by Spencer Sher

Top 10 Rising Sports Stars – Basketball

Trust us: these are the guys you want to keep an eye on. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Rising Sports Stars – Basketball.

For this list, we’ll be breaking down the NBA’s hottest up-and-coming players.

#10: Jaylen Brown

Selected third overall by the Boston Celtics in 2016, Jaylen Brown proved to be an effective bench player for the team throughout the season. By year’s end, he’d helped the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals and was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team. The following year, he made the jump from bench player to starter, and saw his numbers increase almost across the board. He averaged 30.7 minutes per game, setting career highs with 14.5 PPG and 4.9 RPG. Brown is a key part of a Celtics squad that looks primed to take over the vacuum left by LeBron James’ departure to the Los Angeles Lakers.

#9: Nikola Jokić

Between Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, the Denver Nuggets boast one of the NBA’s hottest trios of up-and-coming talent. Leading the way is the big man, whose 6’10” frame allows him to dominate opponents with regularity. Jokić joined the squad in 2015 and immediately made his presence felt, appearing in 80 games and averaging seven rebounds and 10 PPG. Since then, the Serbian center’s numbers have continued to climb, and in February 2018 he recorded the fastest triple-double in league history; achieving it within a mind-boggling 14 minutes and 33 seconds. He’d finish the night with 30 points, 17 assists and 15 rebounds. Jokić is a budding superstar who’s as consistent as he is talented.

#8: Jayson Tatum

Despite just one professional season under his belt, Jayson Tatum has already cemented himself as one of the league’s brightest young stars. A third overall pick by the Boston Celtics in 2017, Tatum started 80 games and averaged 13.9 PPG and posted a .434% three point percentage in his rookie year. Alongside teammate and fellow list-maker Jaylen Brown, Tatum helped the Celtics reach their second Eastern Conference Final in as many seasons, and made the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team. Though he wouldn’t take home basketball’s ultimate prize, Tatum still managed to prove his worth; becoming the youngest player in history to score at least 20 points in four consecutive playoff games. Boston sure can draft.

#7: Brandon Ingram

The second overall pick in 2016, Brandon Ingram has experienced some growing pains in his first couple seasons with the Lakers. However, he managed to considerably increase his offensive output in his sophomore season, posting career highs in every category except games played. Standing 6’9” with a wingspan of seven feet and three inches, Ingram has the size to be an effective player on both sides of the court, showing that he’s equally at home dropping threes as he is stifling opposing players. On a team that now includes the best player in the league in LeBron James, we think it’s safe to assume Ingram’s stock is about to go up in a big way.

#6: Karl-Anthony Towns

Still just 22 years old, Towns has not so quietly developed into one of the league’s most fearsome centers. As a rookie, he started all 82 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves, putting up 18.3 PPG and walking away with the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award. He followed it up the next season by posting career highs in points, minutes, rebounds and assists per game. In 2018, Towns’ on-court dominance helped the Timberwolves make their first playoff appearance in 14 years. Despite being bounced in the first round, Towns’ play provides a glimmer of hope for a franchise that hasn’t had a legit superstar since Kevin Garnett left in 2007.

#5: Kristaps Porziņģis

Playing in one of the NBA’s most unforgiving markets, Kristaps Porziņģis seems to have handled the challenge gracefully. A 7’3” power forward/center, Porziņģis was selected fourth overall by the Knicks in 2015, and finished his rookie season as a member of the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team and second in Rookie of the Year voting. Since entering the league, the Latvian big man has set several team and league records. However, for him the goal has always been to make the playoffs, and staying healthy has been an issue in recent years. When he’s 100%, though, there aren’t many players who can match his mix of speed, power and skill.

#4: Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell seems to have played his 2017-18 rookie season with a chip on his shoulder after being traded by the Denver Nuggets to the Utah Jazz on draft day. How else can you explain the eye-popping numbers he put up in 79 games with the squad? Mitchell averaged 20.4 PPG and finished with a true shooting percentage of 54.1%; numbers good enough to earn him a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team. He also became the first rookie in seven seasons to bag 40 points in a game and broke Karl Malone’s record for the most 20+ point games in a rookie season… and he only turned 22 in September.

#3: Joel Embiid

Despite being 24, Embiid has only played in two NBA seasons, with injuries keeping him out of both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. He may be a bit older than others on this list, but he remains one of the NBA’s most talented young players. After playing just 31 games in his rookie year, Embiid exploded during the 2017-18 season; putting up career highs in numerous categories and being named an All-Star. If the 7-foot center from Cameroon can stay healthy while continuing to dominate opponents in the paint, the 76ers should be perennial favorites for years to come.

#2: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Nicknamed the “Greek Freak” thanks to his insane on-court abilities and 6’11”, 222 lb frame, Giannis Antetokounmpo made the jump from bench player to starter in 2014 and hasn’t looked back. In 2017, the 23-year-old forward/guard took a huge step forward, setting career highs in assists, steals and blocks before being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player. The two-time All-Star has shown he can hang with the best of ‘em, and is well on his way to becoming one of the league’s premier players. The next hurdle will be getting the Bucks past the first round of the playoffs, something they’ve failed to do since the 2000-01 season.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Lonzo Ball

Devin Booker

Lauri Markkanen

#1: Ben Simmons

This Philadelphia 76ers point guard is arguably the hottest of basketball’s many rising stars. Simmons burst onto the scene during the 2017-18 season, nabbing Rookie of the Year honors and leading the team to its first playoff berth in six seasons. Simmons is that rare combination of size, skill, vision and intelligence; a two-way player who can make passes, burn you in the paint and get back in time to break up the play on defense. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before he enters the MVP conversation. If you were constructing a franchise from scratch, Ben Simmons is an excellent piece to build around.


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