As all the NBA sites anywhere gear up for the 2022-23 NBA season, writers are ramping up the content to get their readers excited for what should be a great season. One excellent exercise is the “25 under 25” format, which ranks the 25 best players under 25 years old.
Given the expectations for the 2022-23 NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs will not usually find themselves on the top of the list. They will be in a race to the bottom next year, hoping to land Victor Wembanyama or another star in the 2023 Draft.
As FanSided counts down their 25 under 25, they naturally started with five honorable mentions, ranked from worst to best: Anfernee Simmons, Jalen Green, Keldon Johnson, Franz Wagner, and Grant Williams.
Keldon Johnson is still grossly underrated, even among young players
I fail to see how there are 27 players under the age of 25 better than Keldon Johnson. Sure, Ja Morant, Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Zion Williamson, Tyler Herro, Cade Cunningham, and Trae Young are all better than him, I’ll grant that every single day. It’s worth noting that the full rankings have not come out yet, but consider Herb Jones.
Jones has not been listed in the rankings yet, but I think it’s a safe assumption that he will be. This list is not based on potential, it is based on immediate impact and value. Jones is a superb defender, but Johnson is well above average and he puts up nearly twice the points that Jones does on better shooting.
Franz Wagner, who has been confirmed as being one spot above Johnson, is also laughable. Wagner is a great scorer who could be better than Johnson at putting up points, but Johnson is efficient, can score from anywhere, and is a positive presence on defense. Wagner is not.
I do not think Johnson is a top ten young player in the league, but putting him as an honorable mention doesn’t make sense to me. As mentioned in his ranking, “On paper, Johnson was a beast last season.” If you’re going to call someone a beast, a top 20 spot seems like a lock.