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ESPN’s best 25 under 25: Devin Booker is top 10, Ayton is top 20

Let’s fight about Donovan Mitchell vs. Devin Booker.

Phoenix Suns v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

This week ESPN released their rankings of the NBA’s top 25 players under 25 years-old. They think there are nine players better than Devin Booker in a ranking based on future potential, but that only uses current stats as the baseline. No one has a crystal ball — Pascal Siakam and De’Aaron Fox weren’t even on the list a year ago, now are in the top 10.

That list:

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
  2. Joel Embiid
  3. Nikola Jokic
  4. Karl-Anthony Towns
  5. Ben Simmons
  6. Luka Doncic
  7. Donovan Mitchell
  8. Jayson Tatum
  9. De’Aaron Fox
  10. Devin Booker

On your boy Book, Bobby Marks writes:

It is deja vu all over again for Devin Booker. The Suns are headed to the lottery and Booker is on pace to average about 25 points per game. Sound familiar?

The lack of team success was evident when the All-Stars were selected this year. Of the players in the top 15 in PPG, Booker was the lone player not to be selected for a spot in Charlotte.

One concern is the impact that losing could have on Booker. The shooting guard ranks in the top 10 in technical fouls this season.

11. Kristaps Porzingis

12. Pascal Siakam

13. (Tied) D’Angelo Russell, Lauri Markannen

15. Clint Capela

16. Jaren Jackson Jr.

17. (Tied) Jamal Murray, Deandre Ayton

19. John Collins

20. Jusuf Nurkic

21. (tied) Marvin Bagley III, Caris LeVert, Kyle Kuzma

24. Lonzo Ball

25. Jaylen Brown

Kevin Pelton on Ayton:

By the box score Ayton’s rookie season has been an amazing success. The No. 1 overall pick is averaging 16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while shooting 59 percent. Per Basketball-Reference.com, Ayton’s 20.9 player efficiency rating is ninth best on record for a 20-year-old player averaging at least 30 MPG.

In an era where efficient scoring and rebounding are easy to find at center, Ayton must expand his game to help the Suns win. He has made progress as a defender but the 112.1 defense rating Phoenix allows with Ayton on the court (per NBA.com) would rank 29th in the league.

On one hand, it’s simply amazing that there are still two Suns in the Top 20 of players under 25 when they’ve won so few games together.

If you’re keeping track, Ayton is behind only Doncic and JJJ on this list from the 2018 Draft, and Devin Booker has been in the 8-10 range the last two seasons.

The only teammate duos ranked collectively higher than Booker and Ayton are

  • Embiid and Simmons (Sixers)
  • Doncic and Porzingis (Mavericks)
  • Jokic and Murray (Nuggets)

The Kings have Fox and Marvin Bagley III, the Celtics get Tatum and Brown and the Lakers have Kuzma and Ball on there as well, but collectively are lower than Booker/Ayton.

With the way Mikal Bridges is playing this year, and as his defense, shooting and passing mature, it’s quite possible he will make one of these lists in the coming season or two.

Let’s hear your hot takes!