NBA superstar LeBron James is 30 years. He’s still a young man — except in the NBA, where he’s getting close to old age. And that makes you wonder: Who will be the next NBA star? Who will carry the torch once LeBron retires? Kevin Durant, at 26, is maybe the most obvious choice. But there are other players in the league who can pick up where King James leaves off.
Here are five guys who could maybe step into LeBron’s big shoes. One’s a crack shot, another a freak rebounder. There’s a scorer, a dunker, and an all-around great player. Here’s what I think each brings to the court, and what their chances are of becoming the next face of the NBA.
Out of all the people on this list, “Most Likely to Succeed” goes to Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. He’s a complete offensive player and is one of the stars on the Northwest Division-leading Trail Blazers. He’s a hard-worker, a quality that I feel is very important and, he and LaMarcusAldridge form an excellent 1-2 punch. Also, it doesn’t hurt that last year he averaged 20.7 points a game. Oh, and he also won Rookie of the Year after the 2013-2014 season. If any of the players on this list become the next LeBron James, Lillard will be it.
This may be a shock to you, but there are three-point shooters not named Steph Curry or Klay Thompson in the NBA. Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons is one of them. His resume is amazing. He has a better three-point percentage than the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, and Nick Young. The best part is, Parsons is only 26 and his prime years are still ahead of him. He holds the record for most three pointers in a half, hitting 10 in a row last season. If Parsons' overall game was as good as his silky step-up jumper, he would be in contention to be called the next Michael Jordan.
Yes, Canadians can play basketball. And in the case of Minnesota Timberwolves rookie guard Andrew Wiggins, this particular Canadian is pretty good at it. So good, in fact, that of all the players in college basketball, he was the number one selection in the 2014 NBA Draft. Now he’s leading the Timberwolves at the tender age of 19. Not only is Wiggins the ninth youngest player in the NBA, he’s also one of the best, averaging a smooth 15.2 points per game. Wiggins is a beacon of hope to young basketballers all over Canada — and he has a bright future ahead of him.
Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond’s time is finally here and he can be considered one of the best plyers in the NBA. Drummond is putting up great numbers this year, averaging 12.6 points per game and an astonishing 12.8 rebounds per game. That’s second in the NBA! Pretty good for a 21-year-old. But there’s more to come. Drummond is entering his prime years, which means there are more of these stats to come. And his team, the Pistons, once considered a joke, is now loaded with young potential and is ready for a drive to the playoffs. If the Pistons charge for the playoffs, Drummond is sure to be leading it.
By now, if you are a basketball and you don’t know Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine, it’s practically a crime. He electrified the crowd at the Barclays Center during the All-Star Game Skills Competition a couple weeks ago with his jaw-dropping dunks. He looks like he might have the potential to have the popularity — but maybe not the skill set — of a player such as LeBron James or Kevin Durant. So he may not become a superstar like the others on this list, but he should continuously blow our minds with his dunks for years to come.
Photos: Scott Halleran/Getty Images (Lillard), Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images (Parsons), Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images (Wiggins, LaVine), B. Sevald/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images (Drummond)