By: Mike Wagenman (@mjwags23)
The legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years of age, but there are plenty of NBA players who have yet to legally enter a bar. Normal 19 and 20-year-olds are working a part-time job, maybe going to college. The lucky ones, however, are multi-millionaires who get the privilege of playing basketball for a living.
On the day of the NBA Draft Lottery, the league readies to welcome a whole slew of new under-21-year-olds, but before that, here is a team comprised of the best NBA players under age 21.
Hopefully this team doesn’t win any titles in the next year or two, because there won’t be any champagne showers in the locker room post game.
G – Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards (19 years, 323 days old): Right off the bat, here’s the team’s late game go-to-guy. Beal was the feature guard and scorer for the Wizards as a rookie in John Wall’s absence. Flip Saunders trusted him late in the game, and he even buried this game winner earlier in the year.
He started all but 10 of the 56 games he appeared in, before a right leg injury ended his season. Beal’s 21.6 points per 48 minutes is the highest for a Wizards rookie since Juwan Howard’s 22.6 per 48 for the 1994-95 Bullets (via Elias). He averaged 13.9 points this season, and although he averaged just 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists, he still had three double-doubles, proving he can rise to the occasion. He also will provide this under-21 team with a three point shooting threat, as he knocked down 38.6 percent of his shots from deep.
G – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats (19 years, 233 days old): The youngest player in the NBA with the potential to be one of the league’s most explosive. He started 77 of 78 games for the dreadful Bobcats and averaged 9.0 points and 5.8 rebounds. While those may not be gaudy numbers, remember, he played for the Bobcats.
He is still a bit raw on offense and is not much of a shooter, but he is a perfect slasher for this team. He is also a long defender who can contain a multitude of positions. Being a complementary player on this team will help MKG excel.
F – Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors (20 years, 352 days old): Barnes brings a bit of playoff experience and experience playing on a winning team to this squad. He, like Kidd-Gilchrist, is a great slasher, but Barnes can also play a complete offensive game. He is a good shooter, and can bury a three every now and again.
Barnes averaged 9.2 points this season, but really upped his game in the playoffs. He averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 boards in the post season, and had four 20-plus point performances.
F – Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans (20 years, 67 days old): Davis can play either the power forward or center positions, and did so this season alongside Robin Lopez and Ryan Anderson. That will help give this lineup versatility and will add to the incredible length in the starting lineup.
Davis is a fantastic defender and one of the league’s best young shot blockers. He averaged 13.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks this season and shot 51.6 percent from the floor. Don’t forget, Davis is a National Champion and a Gold Medalist, so he has a ton of experience to bring to the table.
C – Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons (19 years, 280 days old): Drummond is extremely raw, but his game improved leaps and bounds this season. He is developing a low post game, and is a true rim protector on the defensive end. He also, like Davis, has experience playing both the center and power forward positions.
Drummond scored 7.9 points per game, grabbed 7.6 rebounds per game and swatted away 1.6 shots per. His athleticism, coupled with the freakish athleticism of everyone else on this team, can cover for any bad shooting day, as the team can counter off days with play above the rim.