It’s hard to predict how many current NBA players under the age of 26 will win a championship in the next few years, but some are so talented that it becomes unimaginable to see them retiring from the league without a Larry O’Brien trophy.
Dennis Schroder (22), Giannis Antetokounmpo (21), Victor Oladipo (23), Bismack Biyombo (23) and Emmanuel Mudiay (20) make up a group of first and second-generation African NBA players who are capable of following in the footsteps of Nigerian Festus Ezeli, who helped the Golden State Warriors win the 2015 NBA trophy at the age of 25.
Toronto Raptors centre Bismack, who played the first four seasons of his NBA career at Charlotte Hornets, is one of the most experienced of that group, and he seems to have reached the pinnacle of his career.
Toronto have qualified for the NBA playoffs in three consecutive years once (2000, 2001 and 2002), and they have an opportunity to match the franchise-record for wins in a season this year. And it’s fair to say that Biyombo, who will become a free-agent in the offseason, has played a significant part in the team’s recent success.
Will he continue with the Raptors next season? Well, his impressive numbers this season – he is averaging 5.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game – may attract a number of suitors, including some real title contenders.
Just like Biyombo, Atlanta Hawks point guard Schroder, Milwaukee Bucks swingman Antentokoumpo, Orlando’s Oladipo and Mudiay of the Denver Nuggets continue to show their potential night in, night out.
It wouldn’t really be a surprise to see them contending for an NBA title in the next two seasons. For most of these players winning a championship seems to be more than a possibility.
They say NBA maturity doesn’t come cheap. Reigning MVP Stephen Curry and LeBron James didn’t win their first NBA titles until the age of 27 years.
Time will tell if these young stars can claim the spoils before that.