On Wednesday, three ESPN experts assessed the NBA's under-25 players and came up with their top-25 players in that category, with Orlando Magic center Nik Vučević coming in at 22nd. Friday, Amin Elhassan, one member of that panel, revealed the 10 players who only narrowly missed that cut. Two of Vučević's Magic teammates appear on that list.
Victor Oladipo, the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, ranks second on Elhassan's list. "Oladipo's combination of top-shelf explosive athleticism and incredible drive and work ethic give him a great shot at fulfilling his potential as a devastating combo guard with lockdown defensive capabilities," writes Elhassan.
Oladipo is averaging 14 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game in his rookie season, spending plenty of time at point guard after playing exclusively off the ball in his collegiate career at Indiana. He's tweaked his jumper, with great results, in recent days, a positive sign for his development.
Reserve big man Andrew Nicholson comes in sixth in Elhassan's list, a ranking which may surprise some readers, whom Elhassan urges to drop their "pitchforks and torches." As the ESPN scribe notes, Nicholson provides a rare combination of jump-shooting and rebounding. "Nicholson's inside-outside offensive game (not to mention his midrange proficiency) make him a unique and valuable offensive weapon, despite not receiving much recognition," he writes.
In his second season, Nicholson is averaging 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on 50.5 percent shooting from the floor and 36.7 percent shooting on three-pointers. In addition to increasing his range to the NBA three-point arc, Nicholson has changed his approach to the game, earning praise from Magic coach Jacque Vaughn for doing so.
What do you make of Elhassan's rankings? Should Tobias Harris, the Magic's leading scorer in 2012/13, have made the cut? How confident are you in Rob Hennigan's eye for young talent? Let's hear your thoughts on those subjects and more in the comments section.