Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NBA Future Under A Great Insurance Policy

The NBA sure sounds like an all-state insurance company commercial: meaning that they are in good hands.

For many of the big superstars the league has leaned upon since the mid to late 1990s, it appears there ability is waning. Shaquille O’Neal has played sparingly over the past few years, former high school draft picks Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant are starting to break down, and former franchise stars like Tracy McGrady and Baron Davis are now relegated as role players.

Those players listed above (as well as others who fit that criteria) have been supplanted by the youngsters during their prime, who are now the superstars and marquee names they used to be. The faces of Lebron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade are plastered everywhere when it comes to headlining games and promotions for the league.

Yet, with all the promise of their current talent, the NBA faces the issue (as all sports do) about the next generation and if they can maintain the popularity when your stand out players near the end of their career?

The NBA faced that problem after Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson left, but were lucky that the next line of players picked up where they left off (that group is the one first discussed with headliners like O’Neal, Bryant, and McGrady). Now that torch is passed on to James and his fellow comrades.

So who will be next in line when that group nears the end of their route and need to pass the baton?

Here’s a look at the next line of stars (all 25 years old or younger) in the NBA that have potential to represent the next generation:

Blake Griffin – Forward – Age: 21

It’s the evolution of the big men: Darryl Dawkins to Shawn Kemp to Amar’e Stoudemire to the next one – Blake Griffin.

The top pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Griffin was unable to showcase his talents in his inaugural season after he had to sit out with a knee injury. A devastating blow to a Los Angeles Clippers organization known for its bad luck, it actually became a blessing in disguise when the 2010-11 year got under way.

As the season progressed, it has become “the Blake Griffin Show” with the way the former Oklahoma Sooner has been playing. He is the talk of the NBA and fans come out to see his extraordinary combination of strength and quickness. He dunks the ball with such ferocity, that rims appear to quake when he rises up towards them. He also has a strong knack for swallowing up rebounds like a vacuum sucking dirt off the carpet.

He continues to develop his overall game and gives opposing coaches nightmares when they imagine how great of an inside presence he could become.

Monta Ellis – Guard – Age: 25

Sometimes, evolving into the greatness a player could be takes trials, tribulations, and time to reach. When they finally begin to meet that criteria, it is definitely bitter sweet.

Monta Ellis is the epitome of how tough life can be for an NBA player who wants to become elite. After being drafted out of high school as a second round pick in 2005, his career has been like an ocean: sporadic waves that hit highs and lows.

First, he was named the most improved player in his second season, then signed a big multi-year deal to be the face of the Warriors after his third season. He would then get into a moped accident that kept him out for most of his fourth season, and was thrown around in numerous trade talks during his fifth season.

Now in his sixth season, Ellis is finally becoming an all-around player and a leader for the Golden State Warriors. He is the fourth leading scorer in the NBA and is becoming a dangerous shooter from all spots on the court. Match that with his deceptive quickness and his boldness for attacking the rim for a man of his stature, and you’re looking at the rise of one of the best guards in the league.

Kevin Love – Forward/Center – Age: 23

For many of the new, youthful faces that join the NBA, they enter as a high draft pick that usually means playing for a small market and/or an inferior.

Add former UCLA big man Kevin Love to that list. The 23-year-old phenom is one of the best kept secrets in the league primarily because he plays for a franchise that has been in the doldrums of the NBA for years.

That hasn’t stopped the combo forward/center from playing at a lights out level this season. While he’s not the freakish athlete that Griffin is, Love’s toughness and high basketball IQ allows him make the right play and be in the right position all the time. This uncanny ability is the reason he is currently the NBA’s leading rebounder over others with flabbergasting leaping ability like Stoudemire or Dwight Howard.

He’ll probably never win a high jump or a 100-yard dash match, but Love makes the game look easy and will continue to do so in the future.

John Wall – Guard – Age: 20

A dance isn’t the only way the public will know about this young sensation after a few more NBA seasons.

Just on the very of growing up at the young age of 20, John Wall is quietly making the jump from collegiate leader of the Kentucky Wildcats to the savior of the Washington Wizards.

The reason for the silence is mostly attributed to Griffin, who is the hottest rookie that people are talking about this season. Despite that, the speedy point guard is deserving of equal accolade with how his play this season. He’s currently fifth in the league in assists and is completing that task with little support on a rebuilding team.

Along with his vision running the offense, the speed and quickness he possess is remarkably frightening. Sometimes he looks so fast that it seems as if he’ll never be able to stop himself right when he approaches the rim. The problem for those defending him is that he’s so strong and composed, even with that breakneck velocity, he’s always able to score or make a great pass.

After some refining and polishing, Wall won’t be just dancing for the fans, but by every defender in the NBA as well.

There will always be new and promising players that enter American professional sports outlets; it is the NBA, though, that appears to have the edge in the hopeful outlook for the future. There are even current superstars that are extremely young, such as Howard (25), Kevin Durant (22), Derrick Rose (22) and Rajon Rondo (24) that will only get better in time.

The public’s got to feel a great assurance with the future of pro basketball; because like a good neighbor, the NBA will be there.

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