NBA players usually have a path to follow for them to become superstars. They start as rookies, waiting for opportunities to show off their talent. After honing their craft for a bit, they eventually make their way into the star category. The players take the league by storm as they dominate the league. There are a lot of star players in today’s NBA. But there are very few people who can claim to have reached superstar status. Let’s take a look at the next wave of NBA superstars.
Tatum is the first person that comes to mind when thinking of the next NBA superstar. At only 23 years old, he has already been the number one option on two teams that have made the Eastern Conference Finals. He led Boston to the three-seed during the bubble-shortened season and has not shied away from the playoff spotlight.
Ever since he made the transition to stardom late in the 2019-2020 season, his playoff averages are 26.8 points, nine boards, five assists, a steal, and 1.3 blocks per game. Those alone are superstar stats. Let’s not forget that he also has had a 50 point game, a 40 point game, and six 30 point postseason games.
The biggest reason why he is on the fast track to superstardom this year is because of his enormous workload. After the departures of all-star guards Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker in previous seasons, the Celtic offense now belongs to him. He will be the point forward who will score 30+ every night while also dishing out five dimes per night. His role is similar to what Kevin Durant had in Oklahoma City when Russell Westbrook tore his ACL. Durant won MVP that season.
Tatum will follow in Durant’s footsteps and put up crazy numbers this year, as well as joining the elite superstar club.
Last season, Trae Young had arguably the greatest inaugural postseason performance of all time. In his first career postseason game, he went into the world’s most famous arena and lit up the place. He tallied 32 points, ten assists, seven rebounds, and the game-winning floater, silencing a raucous New York crowd. He went on to lead the Hawks to an easy five-game series win.
After that, however, things started to get tough. Atlanta was set to face the top-seeded Sixers in the second round, the first real challenge of Young’s career. He made his presence felt right away, dropping 35 on Philly as Atlanta stole game one on the road. In a pivotal game five matchup, Trae came through again as he scored 39 and recorded three steals, leading Atlanta to a tight 109-106 win.
He decided to save the best for last. In Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, Trae scored a whopping 48 points, and Atlanta again pulled off a major upset defeating the eventual champions Bucks on their home turf. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle in game three and wasn’t the same after that. Young has excelled against the best of the best, and under the brightest of lights.
Trae is now the focal point of one of the best teams in the NBA. That alone screams superstar. And with a penchant for big numbers and flashy plays, Young should be a superstar sooner rather than later.
Over the last two NBA postseasons, Donovan Mitchell has arguably been the best player in the league. In the bubble, he became only the third player ever to record two 50-point games in a single playoff series. (Jamal Murray became the fourth player to do that later in the series.) Then in the 2021 postseason, he had two 30 point games in the first round against Memphis while barely playing 30 minutes in each of them. He really popped off in the second round, scoring 30+ in five of the six games against the Clippers, even though Utah eventually fell in six.
What sets Mitchell apart from the pack is his innate ability to make the players around him better. Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Rudy Gobert have all played some of their best basketball alongside Spida. As well as making other players better, he has also steadily improved his stats year after year.
One more year of continued improvement could land him in the thick of the MVP race. Spida has proven to be a winner in this league. He has taken average-level teams to the playoffs. He has been the driving force of a Utah Jazz team that boasted the best record in the entire NBA last season.
Mitchell is a terrific NBA player who will just continue to get better as he matures, maybe all the way up to the top.
Coming into the 2019 draft, Zion Williamson was the most hyped prospect since LeBron James. His explosive athleticism and highlight-reel plays made him a can’t miss player. In his first career NBA game, Williamson scored 22 points and went off in a tight fourth quarter, hitting four consecutive triples to keep the game close.
Ever since day one, he’s been running roughshod over his opponents, dominating the paint with ease. He is also the most efficient scorer in the NBA. Last season, Zion broke Shaq’s record for most consecutive 20 point, 50% shooting games in NBA history.
This past season, Zion had arguably the greatest season by a 20-year old ever. He scored 20+ points in 54 of the 61 games he played in. Although he already has a career of 25.7 ppg on average, he is only scratching the surface of his scoring potential.
Hopefully, injuries don’t slow him down, because he’s on the fast track to an MVP award.
In conclusion, the NBA is in good hands with the next wave of talent. There are already players as young as 19 who are poised to become the next faces of the league. However, these four are the cream of the crop. Each of them possesses an elite and unique skill set, and they will show the world what they can do in 2022.