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Exploring the NBA’s most promising under-22 duos

Let’s assess where Victor Wembanyama and Jeremy Sohan stand among the up-and-coming stars in the league.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is filled with youthful talent, showcasing breakout performances each season from emerging stars like Anthony Edwards. While it usually takes time for players to hit their stride, their potential often shines through from an early age. So, let’s explore the league and pinpoint the most promising duos under the age of 22.

Honorable Mentions

Golden State Warriors

Jonathan Kuminga (21) & Moses Moody (21)

These 2021 draft picks are in their third NBA season. Despite the underwhelming start, the challenging development environment in Golden State might explain their slower progress. Still, their potential merits acknowledgment.

Charlotte Hornets

Marc Williams (21) & Brandon Miller (21)

Brandon Miller, the 2023 NBA draft’s second overall pick, has showcased promise in his rookie season. Meanwhile, Williams is shaping up as a reliable complementary player for years to come.

Portland Trailblazers

Scoot Henderson (19) & Shaden Sharp (20)

Though Henderson’s Portland journey has faced early challenges, it’s premature to dismiss his potential. Conversely, Sharp has shown substantial improvement in his second season, providing major optimism for the Trailblazers.

The Top Five

5: Detroit Pistons

Jalen Duren (20) & Ausar Thompson (20)

Despite the Pistons enduring a challenging winless November, Duren’s consistent double-double performances (averaging 12.2 points and 11 rebounds per game) and Thompson’s impressive debut as a rookie merit acknowledgment. Thompson’s rapid ascent in the rookie rankings has seen him become the fourth favorite to clinch the Rookie of the Year award, as per Vegas odds.

4: Orlando Magic

Paolo Banchero (21) & Anthony Black (19)

While Frans Wangner might have contended for the number two spot alongside Paolo, his age places him outside this list’s criteria. Hence, the spotlight remains on Banchero’s journey towards establishing himself as a consistent star. Additionally, Black’s commendable performance as a replacement for the injured Markelle Fultz has been noteworthy.

3: Oklahoma City Thunder

Chet Holmgren (21) & Josh Giddey (21)

As Shai Gilgeous-Alexander guides the Thunder, Holmgren’s emergence as a versatile center has earned him the Rookie of the Month award, setting the stage for his potential long-term presence in the all-star discussions. Meanwhile, Giddey’s promising trajectory as a guard forecasts a remarkably bright future for Oklahoma City.

2: Houston Rockets

Alperen Şengün (21) & Jabari Smith Jr. (20)

Şengün’s remarkable growth and impactful performance (21 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists per game) position him as Houston’s cornerstone. His leap in 2023 will most likely earn him his first All-Star nomination. Smith Jr.’s efficiency and potential for impact make him an invaluable asset over guard Jalen Green for my list. Needless to say, the Rocket’s future is very bright.

1: San Antonio Spurs

Victor Wembanyama (19) & Jeremy Sohan (20)

Wembanyama’s rookie dominance, displaying prowess on both ends of the court, anchors this duo’s top ranking. He’s poised to contend for both Defensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in his prime—a unique talent with limitless potential. However, let’s not overlook Sohan’s consistent performance, particularly in shooting, hinting at valuable contributions as a wing alongside Wembanyama. His role echoes shades of Draymond Green’s versatile playstyle, adding depth to their partnership.