Basketball has grown in popularity in the UK over the last 10 years, and it’s never been easier to watch matches from basketball’s highest level, the NBA. Athletes like LeBron James have crossed over from basketball players into other realms, with the LA Lakers superstar set to star in Space Jam 2. Likewise, Love Island star Ovie Soko is a professional basketball player and the Forward has attracted a new audience to watch the sport.
With 1230 games scheduled for the season, there are NBA matches on frequently and with the internet quite literally at our fingertips, it’s easy to keep track of the live sports on today. But as LeBron enters the last few years of his career, in this article, I’ll look at who the stars of tomorrow are.
1) Zion Williamson:
The most hyped prospect in an NBA Draft since LeBron James, Zion Williamson is almost halfway through his second season in the league with the New Orleans Pelicans. Early injuries prevented Zion from taking the league by storm last year, but now he’s recovered and the superstar in the making is asserting dominance we haven’t seen in a 20-year-old since Shaquille O’Neil.
Zion has been directly compared to Shaq and he’s just become the quickest player to reach 1000 career points since the hall of fame. A walking highlight reel, Zion has lit up the NBA with signature dunks and alley-oops, but he’s starting to add more to his game. Zion is putting up higher numbers in points, assists, and rebounds than his first season and he’s developing a fruitful partnership with fellow budding all-star Brandon Ingram.
With a signature ‘Z’ emblazoned into the side of his signature fade, Zion has style and substance. The Forward looks set to take over LeBron’s mantle as the league’s standout athlete over the next few seasons and keep NBA fans’ jaws dropping across the globe.
2) LaMelo Ball:
The youngest of the Ball brothers, LaMelo is already proving to be the best of the trio. The rookie was selected number three in the 2020 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets and is looking like a guarantee for the Rookie of the Year award as we approach the halfway point of the season. Having played professionally in Lithuania and Australia already, the former five-star recruit has already gained supporters across the world.
LaMelo is an elite ball handler and has already become a starter for the Hornets after putting up impressive numbers from the bench in the first quarter of the season. LaMelo became the youngest player to record a triple-double when he compiled 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists against a talented Atlanta Hawks side in January.
Standing at 6’6’’, LaMelo is tall for a Point Guard, but that doesn’t seem to have an impact on his dribbling or passing. The Chino Hills born prodigy already has a vision that is matched by few in the league and at only 19 years old, the potential upside of his game seems limitless. LaMelo made a name for himself at the high school level for pulling up at half court and knocking down deep three-pointers. Whilst Ball’s shooting has been patchy through his young NBA career so far if he can replicate those crowd-pleasing shots then it’s a matter of time before he gains all-star recognition.
3) Tyler Herro:
Tyler Herro almost made the perfect start to his NBA career when his Miami Heat team fell at the final hurdle to a deeply talented Los Angeles Lakers in last year’s finals.
The former Kentucky Wildcat was selected 13th overall pick in the 2019 draft but has outperformed that selection, especially when it mattered most. Herro has quickly gained a ‘clutch’ reputation by making key shots in the playoffs to drag the Heat past more naturally gifted teams.
The first player born in this millennium to play in an NBA final, Herro dropped an impressive 37 points in the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, inspiring the underdogs to victory.
At 28/1 to win the Championship this year, it may be a step too far for Herro’s Heat to go one better than last season, but a man of such quality will no doubt challenge for the Larry O’Brien trophy again soon.