NBA Roundtable

Top Scorers Under 25 Years Old (part two)

In General NBA on March 16, 2009 at 11:40 am

I wrote a post earlier in the day listing the top 20 scorers under the age of 25 years old. I organized then organized them by points per game, position and age.

This post will now take a different view of these high quality young scorers, and it will do so by asking one question — Well we know they can score, but who on this list helps their team in additional ways outside of scoring?

The question will have three sub sections — Who’s a good defender? A good rebounder? A good passer/playmaker? — which we’ll use to help figure out who the exceptional talents truly are.

The List

Big MenAl Jefferson, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge — four players.

WingsLeBron James, Kevin Durant, Danny Granger, Kevin Martin, Brandon Roy, Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala, Al Thornton, Jeff Green* — ten players.

GuardsChris Paul, Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Ben Gordon, OJ Mayo, Nate Robinson — six players.

19 of these 20 players play between 35-39 minutes so it’s not really necessary to even out the minutes for comparison’s sake. The only player who does not play that many minutes is Nate Robinson, who himself plays 30 minutes.

Above Average Defenders

How many players amongst the above list of twenty players do you consider to be above average defensively? I count six players.

By Position

Who are above average defenders at their position?

Big MenDwight Howard — One out of four. Dwight Howard is a DpoY candidate.

WingsLeBron James, Andre Iguodala, Carmelo Anthony — Three out of ten. Both LeBron and Iggy are elite defenders. Melo has become a slightly above average defender over the last year.

GuardsChris Paul, Deron Williams — Two above average defenders but no elite ones.

Note One: Some players could boost their ratings significantly on this list by switching their position. Jeff Green (PF to SF) is the best example of this. Jeff Green was left off this list because he plays power forward, but he is an above average defender when played on the perimeter. Another example is actually a player on the list above and that is OJ Mayo (SG to PG), who may transition from a slightly above average defender into an elite one with a position change.

Note Two: Devin Harris did not make this list because his defensive effort since joining NJ has been sub-par, but he has shown us in the past that he is clearly capable of being a high quality defender. Ditto for Chris Bosh, who’s been slightly below average defensively this season but is capable of being an above average defender. Three other players — Granger, Gordon, Mayo — are currently mediocre defenders.

I count six defenders who are above average …. but do you rate anyone else on this list as an above average? Someone that deserves more consideration from myself for their defensive contributions?

It’s disturbing that only 30% of our twenty best scorers under the age of 25 play above average defense.


We’ll look at this from two views, firstly by their overall numbers and then by position:

Rebounds Per Game

How many players average more than five rebounds per game?

  • Dwight Howard — 13.9rpg
  • Al Jefferson — 11.0rpg
  • Chris Bosh — 9.4rpg
  • LeBron James — 7.4rpg
  • LaMarcus Aldridge — 7.2rpg
  • Jeff Green — 7.1rpg
  • Carmelo Anthony — 7.1rpg
  • Kevin Durant –– 6.6rpg
  • Andre Iguodala — 6.0rpg
  • Rudy Gay –– 5.6rpg
  • Chris Paul — 5.4rpg
  • Al Thornton — 5.2rpg
  • Danny Granger — 5.0rpg

By Position

Who are above average rebounders by their position?

Big MenDwight Howard, Al Jefferson and Chris Bosh — Dwight Howard is the league’s leading rebounder, and is joined by a second elite rebounder in Al Jefferson. Chris Bosh is not in their class but he is an above average rebounder.

WingsLeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Brandon Roy — LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are two of the best rebounding small forwards in the league. In time, I expect Durant to join them on that list, but for now he’s a couple of notches below them but still above average. Brandon Roy is the worst rebounder of the five, but he is above average for a two guard. Iggy has mainly played the small forward position over the past two years and he’s above average on the boards there, but he’d get a big bump from playing his previous position of shooting guard and would be placed in Melo’s/James’ class after accounting for position.

GuardsChris Paul, Nate Robinson — Chris Paul is a top three rebounding point guard in the league, just behind Kidd and Rondo. Nate Robinson pulls down four boards in just thirty minutes, and is well above average for his position too.

Note One: A couple of players, who I left off the above list because of the positions they currently play, would be above average rebounders if they switched positions. Jeff Green (PF to SF) and OJ Mayo (SG to PG) are the two best examples.

That leaves us with 10 players who are above average rebounders at their position, in other words half of this list are good rebounders and half are not good rebounders.


When it comes to elite scorers, my single favourite complementary offensive skill for those players to possess is the ability to create easy shots for teammates.

So here we have the twenty best scorers under the age of 25, some of the most exciting young talent in the league, but how many of them are legitimate playmakers also?

This is an incredibly tough list for a big man to crack and even the best passing bigs average low assist numbers (Pau Gasol — 3.5apg), so our primary focus here is on the perimeter players.

Assists Per Game

How many players average more than four assists?

  • Chris Paul — 11.0apg
  • Deron Williams — 10.6apg
  • LeBron James — 7.2apg
  • Devin Harris — 7.1apg
  • Andre Igoudala — 5.3apg
  • Brandon Roy — 5.1apg
  • Nate Robinson –4.0apg

By Position

How many players on the above list of 20 are above average passers+playmakers for their position? I count only six players.

Big MenChris Bosh — Slightly above average but not special. The three other big men are below average passers.

WingsLeBron James, Brandon Roy, Andre Iguodala — Brandon Roy is the best floor general, ball handler, playmaker, passer on this list … closely followed by LeBron James. Both of these players are capable of playing the point at an All-Star level. Andre Iguodala is another notch below but still very impressive in each regard.

GuardsChris Paul, Deron Williams — The two best point guards in the NBA.

That gives us five high level playmakers and one big man who’s slightly above average.

What I find most interesting about this list are the names who are not on my list — Kevin Durant, Danny Granger, Kevin Martin, Carmelo Anthony, Ben Gordon, OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Devin Harris, Nate Robinson, Al Thornton.


There were only three players who made the list in all three categories and ranked highly in each category — LeBron James, Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala.

There were five players who hit two categories — Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, Chris Bosh.

There were three other players who hit only one category — Kevin Durant, Nate Robinson, Al Jefferson.

And these where the scorers who failed to make any one of the above categories — Kevin Martin, Ben Gordon, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jeff Green*, Devin Harris, Al Thornton, OJ Mayo, Danny Granger — that is nine out of the twenty players who make a lack of contribution outside of scoring for their respective teams.

* Jeff Green — mainly due to the position he plays, and secondarily from not using the passing/playmaking skills that he clearly possesses often enough. Although it bears mentioning, that it is likely a position change would result in decrease in his numbers, particularly his scoring.


We have twenty high level scorers under the age of 25, all of whom score more than 17ppg and a dozen of whom score over 20 points per game. But how did they fare in each category?

  • Only 6 out of 20 made the above average defenders list
  • Only 10 out of 20 made the quality rebounders list
  • Only 6 out of 20 made the quality passers list.
  • Only 3 players made each category.

Final Thoughts — It’s easy to see why LeBron James is such a dominant player in this league. He was the only player to rank at the highest level in each of the four categories we’ve looked at — scoring, defense, rebounding, and passing.

Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala made it onto each of the four categories, but each player had one section where they fell down in comparison to elite players in that area. For Iggy it was his scoring, and for Paul it was his defense.

  1. compare bargnani’s #s for 2009 with aldridge’s. quite similar, in most aspects. both are improving, neither is likely to be an above-average rebounder or defender at their positions; but of the two, LA has likely reached a point where his level of output will likely level off over the next little while (i.e. will likely never be a consistent mid- to high-20 ppg player. bargnani, on the other hand, is just scratching the surface.

    i’m not suggesting that he deserves inclusion on this list by any stretch. but if we’re talking about SCORING, he has a chance to a legit scorer in this league, something i wouldn’t have thought until recently. he’s developed a comfort level we haven’t seen previously, and presents a match-up problem for many (most?) bigs. his team D is below-average, but getting better, as is his rebounding (though improving, slowly); individual D has been pleasantly surprising, and should only improve. he has all the tools, and appears to have the right mindset/personality.

  2. Hey Yertu, good call on Bargnani.

    Andrea Bargnani could definitely be on this list. He’s only at 15ppg for the season, and that’s why I missed him when I was writing it up. But as you said, his numbers for 2009 clearly have him amongst this company.

    Bargnani has started just under 50 games (48 games) on the season and is averaging 17.5ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.4apg, and 1.2bpg — I think 50 games is a large enough sample.

    Those numbers get better when you look only at Bargnani’s January, February and March games (19ppg, 6.5rpg). He’s been scoring efficiently too with a TS% of 57.5% over that period.

    If I were to include him on this list, I would not include him either of the three categories (defense/rebounding/passing) mentioned above.

    So Andrea would be grouped in alongside — Kevin Martin, Ben Gordon, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jeff Green*, Devin Harris, Al Thornton, OJ Mayo, Danny Granger.


    As for LaMarcus Aldridge, I’ve been very disappointed with the lack of development he’s shown this season. I thought he had another gear or two to go …. if he continues to display this lack of improvement, he could become a very big question mark on the Blazers’ future.

    A direct comparison of Aldridge’s + Bargnani’s numbers might make for an interesting post. I’ll get on that.

    Update: Here is a link to a comparison between Aldridge’s and Bargnani’s numbers.

  3. Dave,

    IMO … most Raptors fans have NO IDEA just how good Chris Bosh is, relative to the other players in the NBA today.

    What you wrote about his Rebounding and Defense and Passing is quite accurate.

    And … would only improve further if they would just play him at the Center position exclusively.

    re: Bargnani

    He belongs in the company of the other players where you put him in the list above.

    As a former No. 1 [overall] Selection in the Draft Lottery, he has not been able to live up to expectations, thus far, in terms of having the type of multi-dimensional game a team needs from that specific slot in the Draft.

    If I had to say which one is the better basketball player, between Aldridge and Bargnani, it isn’t close.

    Alridge’s mid-range game, on the block game, rebounding, and team defense make him a better player than Bargnani.

    If the Raptors had LaMarcus Aldridge right now on their team in place of Andrea Bargnani … playing beside Chris Bosh … they would have a lot more than 24 Wins this season.

  4. Khandor,

    I have to say I’m very disappointed with some of the Chris Bosh bashing that has been going on from Raptors fans.

    Unfortunately, this happens on so many teams. Lots of those fans, not all, see one team constantly and pick apart their players flaws … then only see other teams occasionally and fail to see the flaws in other players, and just how talented their guy is in relation to the rest of the league.

    On Bargnani and Aldridge,

    I fully agree that Aldridge is the pick.

    What I like about the question though, is that the response has changed from a one word answer to an actual discussion. Bargnani is actually making a case for himself nowadays.

    Watch Aldridge’s defensive rotations off the ball the next couple of times you watch Portland — very shoddy work. He’s slow to react and frequently fails to get in correct position in time, oftentimes giving up easy access to the rim. His team defense in one of the key reasons (my top three — perimeter D, Aldridge and Oden) why Portland have struggled so much defensively this season. Portland’s poor defense has been one of the nasty surprises of the season for me.

    I’ve been disappointed with Aldridge’s lack of development this season. He was one of the guys I mentioned as a possible Most Improved Player candidate in the offseason — I was expecting big things from him and they never materialized. Aldridge has a lot of work to do on his game.

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