NBA’s Best Young Cores? Cavaliers & Hawks Represent the East
Every year, generational talents from all over the world enter the NBA. Some draft classes are superior to others, and some draft classes have hidden gems in the later rounds.
Here is a look at the top young cores under 25 years old in the Eastern Conference: Playoff Teams edition
Core: Darius Garland (22), Evan Mobley (21), Jarrett Allen (24)
Other promising players 25 and under: Isaac Okoro (21), Collin Sexton* (23), Lauri Markkanen (25), Ochai Agbaji (22)
The Cleveland Cavaliers have one of the most intriguing groups of young cornerstones. Regardless of age, the Cavs played some of their best basketball since the LeBron James era ended in 2018.
The rebuilding in Cleveland has come together faster than expected. The young ball club appears to be on the verge of a playoff berth in the coming years, thanks to the moves of the team’s President of Basketball Operations, Koby Altman.
With a mixture of fresh legs and seasoned veterans such as Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Rajon Rondo, this team is positioned to make a leap next year and set the tone for the young group moving forward. Not to mention, the Cavs could potentially bring back their restricted free agent, Collin Sexton. The guard is another youngster who can immediately contribute to the team after recovering from an injury that ended his 2021 season.
Cleveland has put itself in a spot to make strides with its growing team.
Core: Trae Young (23), Dejounte Murray (25), John Collins (24)
Other promising players 25 and under: De’Andre Hunter (24), Onyeka Okongwu (21), Jalen Johnson (20), AJ Griffin (19), Aaron Holiday (25)
The Atlanta Hawks have one of the most explosive young trios in the NBA. With the acquisition of Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs, the Hawks have put together one of the best backcourts in the league.
It was believed the Hawks would move on from Wake Forrest standout John Collins. However, it now looks like Collins will stay put in their new look system. A fairly new shaped supporting cast for the Hawks could look to give the squad more of a push when needed, the opposite of last season. Led by head coach Nate McMillan, Atlanta looks to return to the Eastern Conference finals again following their trip in 2021.
With a combination of future first-round and second-round picks, the Hawks can keep adding to this group, whether through the draft or a trade. Regardless, behind Trae Young, the Hawks will be competitive for years to come.
Not all playoff teams in the NBA have the luxury of being successful with a young core, but these two Eastern Conference teams look to be among the handful of teams with that ability. These young cores look to be the future of the NBA and have the chance to prove it this upcoming season.