In the new issue of Dime Magazine, we took a look at the best â€“ and worst â€“ the game has offered since the turn of the century. From the players to jerseys to sneakers to teams to even trends, you can relive the past 12 years by scooping up the new issue currently on newsstands nationwide. In those pages, you’ll find the following feature…
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The future. That’s what it’s about these days. And with the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs all on the prowl, most teams are building for a superstar conglomerate era. There are many great players across the league, some with the misfortune of languishing in mediocrity or small markets. But the recent NBA trend is a youth movement, with younger players taking over the spotlight and earning superstar status.
The league isn’t just about the young guys taking over the game though. It’s also about the administrative powers. Here are the next 10 who will change and shape the future of our game.
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10. DAMIAN LILLARD
One and done is the name of the game. Damian Lillard didn’t play that game. He spent four full years at Weber State, a small college that fit his needs. He tore it up there, averaging 24.5 points per game last season, good for second in all of Division I. In summer league, Lillard didn’t stop. All the talk about the weak competition he faced in college dissipated as he absolutely destroyed his NBA opponents, dropping 23 points and seven assists in his debut, followed by 31 and seven, 27 and three, and 25 and four.
But Lillard’s place on this list isn’t so much about his basketball potential as it is his path to the NBA. It’s been a while since a truly small school produced such a high-caliber player, and nowadays it’s rare to see top players stay in school for more than two seasons. If Lillard does succeed in the league, he may give confidence and assurance to prospects considering smaller schools outside of the Big Six conferences, and let them know that staying for a few years of college doesn’t hurt either.
9. ANDREW WIGGINS
He’s already the most talented player in the class of 2014, and easily one of the top high school players in the country. Wiggins still has a ways to go before college rolls around (unless he reclassifies to 2013), but there’s no doubt we’ll be hearing his name called in the NBA Draft real soon. If you really needed proof that Andrew Wiggins is legit, look no further than his performance against Julius Randle, the No. 2-ranked prospect in the class of 2013, at Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina. Wiggins dropped 28 points and grabbed 13 boards, and also demanded to guard Randle. He shut down the highly touted recruit, using his supreme athleticism to turn Randle into a run-of-the-mill forward. Thus far in his career, Wiggins has never met a challenge he could not overcome, let alone dominate.