These are the most promising NBA squads of 25-and-under talent

Image for article titled Youth is wasted on the young, unless you are these NBA teams

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The Core: Zion Williamson (23), Trey Murphy III (23), Herb Jones (25), Dyson Daniels (20), Naji Marshall (25)

The Case: Even with Zion out most of last season due to health, weight and internet thots, the Pelicans remained competitive. With Zion, they can beat just about anyone on paper. The main core, including CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram, have yet to get enough reps together. Once they do, and Zion fully commits to conditioning and playing hard every game, they will fulfill their destiny. Otherwise, like Chris Paul and Anthony Davis, Zion could be the next great Pelicans player who asks out of town.

The Ceiling: Western Conference semifinals. This season feels like a make-or-break for the Pels. Zion has to choose to stay or go. And the franchise has to commit to him as the face of the franchise, accepting his Bourbon Street-sized warts. If Zion is healthy and decides New Orleans is where he wants to make his legacy, this team could reach a new level. That is a massive “if.”

What’s Missing: Shooting. McCollum and Murphy are respected shooters, but they need consistent shooting from the point guard position, which is also in flux. They can find this in the middle of the draft, where they have been selecting recently. The team’s depth around Zion and Ingram was built primarily through the draft, with Jones, Daniels, and Murphy’s critical pieces for the present and future.

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