Kobe Bryant is nearing the end of his farewell tour. Tim Duncan, if he is indeed human, is nearing the end of his run. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have entered the second halves of their careers. But thanks to an influx of dynamic youth, the future of the NBA is as exciting as ever.The last few drafts (as well as the one coming this summer) have restocked the league’s talent pool with several who have the potential to be stars. As the old guard is phased out, these are the players who will capture our attention for years to come.The Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic is the prototype for new 5s. He can handle the ball on the perimeter and shoots and passes like a guard.Among the 68 players Jokic’s height (6’10”) or taller who are qualified for the minutes leaderboard this season, he’s third in assist percentage. His of 35.3 ranks in the upper half of players his size who’ve attempted at least 50 treys.Oh, and he does the things a big man typically does too. Among rookies, cheap nba jerseys
he’s second in rebounds and fifth in blocks per 36 minutes.His all around game and stat stuffing production have even led ESPN’s Jeremias Engelmann to declare Jokic this year’s best rookie. “Simplyput,” Engelmann wrote. “When he’s on the floor, he has been the best rookie, and by a large margin large enough for him to be my pick for rookie of the year.”Skill of the Future: Volume three point shootingfrom the 1Point guards who can shoot aren’t new, but point guards who can effectively launch in volume from deep are.Steve Nash, perhaps the sweetest shooting 1 of all time, averaged a career high 4.7 three point attempts per game during the 2007 08 season. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving has averaged that many or more in four of his first five seasons. To be able to do it effectively, you need smart defenders with length and athleticism.No one embodies those three traits on the defensive end as much as the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard. He can shut down a point guard’s drive off a pick and roll, stymie a wing with a close out as soon as he catches the ball and hold a big man at bay in the post.And he doesn’t just do it on the defensive end. Leonard is averaging 21 points and his three point percentage of 46.2 ranks second in the NBA.His dominance on both sides of the ball is why he led the league in Real Plus Minus until recently being overtaken by Stephen Curry.And it’s why tweets like the following from fellow Spur Kyle Anderson aren’t crazy: “Good win tonight. always fun to watch/be apart of! That man Whi is looking like the best player in the league!! MVP”Skill of the Future:Playmaking 4At the moment, Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker’s game is probably more traditional than futuristic, but the ingredients are there for him to be a versatile 4 who can create for himself and others.And since a much needed lineup change for the Bucks in Milwaukee, Parker is showing signs of becoming just that.Since Jason Kidd sent Michael Carter Williams and Greg Monroe to the bench (the latter eventually returned to the starting lineup) on February 9, Parker is averaging 18.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 50.3 percent from the field.His combination of size and athleticism has been on brilliant display over the last 20 games, as he stalks the baseline on drives by teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo. Their chemistry inside has led to plenty of glimpses of the future in which Antetokounmpo draws multiple defenders in the paint before hitting Parker for a baseline jumper or dropoff for a dunk.