There is no doubt that LeBron James is the face of the NBA and has been for nearly his entire career. LeBron has created a career that might be untouchable both stat-wise and ability-wise. LeBron has redefined the word dominance in the NBA when he appeared in eight consecutive Finals. He is also the only player in NBA history to be top ten in career points and assists. Pick any of the narratives that define LeBron’s greatness and they’re all accurate.
Now let’s face the facts here. LeBron is getting older, while he is still in phenomenal shape, every player has their time and they know when to hang it up. All of the greats knew when to retire and pass the torch to the next generation of talent.
With the new generation of Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Zion Williamson, and many more. The real question is who will be the next “face of the NBA”? Who out of the next-gen of NBA talent will replace King James atop the NBA’s totem pole? Let’s check it out:
1.) Zion Williamson (25.7 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game)
Zion is already a household name despite only two seasons in the NBA. He came into the NBA as one of the most popular draft picks before he touched the stage. I would say the last player with that much hype and buzz around him even in high school, would be one LeBron James, funny how that works right?
While Zion was hit with the injury bug in most of his first season, he still put up good numbers in the 24 games he got as a rookie. Zion is easily one of the most marketable players in recent memory. He brings the new era game where it is all about huge dunks and highlight plays.
Zion has already made the cover of NBA 2K and has his own signature Jordan brand shoe. In case you all forgot, Zion, is only 21 years old and has already shown he can be the face of a brand.
Not many players come into the NBA with his level of marketability alongside the basketball talent he has. While we have not seen playoff Zion, he has plenty of time to accomplish that feat. Until then, Zion is a heavy favorite to become the next face of the NBA. He has the marketing part down and the talent is there, it is only a matter of time at this point.
2.) Luka Doncic (25.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game)
Luka has emerged as one of the prime young talents in the NBA. He can do it all on the court and has shown a level of maturity and basketball IQ far better than most 22-year-olds. Not only has he shown he can lead a team in the regular season but Doncic has proven he is a premier playoff performer. While his team has not made it past the first round so far, Doncic has played at an elite level in the playoffs.
In this season’s playoffs, Doncic put up an incredible 35.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 10.3 assists per game. That first-round series against the Clippers also made Doncic the youngest in NBA history to average 35 points in a series. He appears to be one of the brightest sparks in the NBA moving forward. I would bet on Doncic becoming very rich and center stage in the NBA soon.
1.) Giannis Antetokounmpo (20.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game)
While Giannis has been in the NBA for eight seasons, he is still one of the best players in the NBA. Giannis has led his team to their first Finals appearance since 1974. The Greek Freek has won two MVP awards and defensive player of the year already.
It is undeniable that Giannis has emerged as an elite talent in the NBA and one of the biggest names in the game. If he can manage to lead the Bucks to a long-awaited NBA title, he will solidify himself among the best in the league.
Like I said before, Giannis is now an NBA veteran, so he is not in the “obvious picks” due to his age. Giannis is still a perennial talent in the NBA though. He is redefining his position with his mobility and athleticism but obviously, he is limited by his shooting ability. However, Giannis can still score with the best of the best even if he scores it all in the paint.
Giannis will easily be running the eastern conference for the foreseeable future. Giannis is a big piece of the NBA’s future and rightfully so.
2.) Jayson Tatum (18.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game)
Tatum is yet another example of young talent that exploded into an elite company. In the playoffs this season, Tatum averaged 30 points, four rebounds, and five assists. Tatum has led the Celtics to the eastern conference finals twice in four seasons and has not disappointed. Tatum has proven he can lead a team both in the regular season and playoff time which lands him on this list.
While Tatum still has plenty of room to improve maybe in closing out a series, Tatum will be a problem in the NBA for a long time. Tatum has improved his stat line every season so far and if he keeps on pace, he will easily win an MVP in the next five years. Tatum has a high ceiling and it is all on him to prove if he can push himself and his team to new levels.
There you have it, some of the best options to become the face of the NBA after LeBron. There are so many names that could be here but these guys stand out to me. Luka and Zion are the future as well as Tatum. Giannis will be a top dog for the next five to six years. Based on that, I would say the NBA is in good hands for the future.
Stats from nba.com, basketballreference.com, and espn.com
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