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NBA

Predicting the top 10 players in the NBA in five years

Matchups like reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo against rookie phenom and No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson serves as a healthy reminder that the future of the NBA is in good hands.

When these two generational talents take the floor to face off for the first time in their careers on Wednesday, we'll know that even when the LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Hardens of the league move on, we'll still be left with future all-time greats to take their place under the NBA's brightest spotlight.

Antetokounmpo is already there while Williamson is in the beginning stages of carving out his legacy after missing the first half of the season with a knee injury. This matchup between two 25-and-under players had our NBA.com Staff excited, looking to the future to predict who the top 10 players in the NBA will be five years from now.

After accumulating answers from eight staffers from our NBA Global team, we've averaged out the responses to create this list below.

Whether you agree or disagree with the order, these players got next in the NBA. Take a look.

This list is made up of players in the NBA today. Future prospects were not taken into account.

T-10. Kawhi Leonard

Current age: 28 years old

Highest ranking: 5

Lowest ranking: Not ranked

Leonard is the oldest player on this list and will be 33-years-old when we check back to see how accurate this list becomes. A player that many believe to be the best in the NBA today after his historic postseason run last year that led to his second championship and Finals MVP, Leonard was well-respected enough to still be considered one of the top players in the league five years down the line.

T-10. Devin Booker

Current age: 23 years old

Highest ranking: 7

Lowest ranking: Not ranked

Booker may have been left off of this year's All-Star team, but he wasn't left off this list of the best players in five years. The Suns guard has proved to be one of the best scorers and playmakers in the NBA in his four-and-a-half seasons in the league and as his efficiency continues to improve, he's only going to get better. Having the most efficient season of his career to date, his team's competitiveness is finally starting to reflect his production as they're in the hunt for a playoff spot in the West.

9. Donovan Mitchell

Current age: 23 years old

Highest ranking: 4

Lowest ranking: Not ranked

Mitchell has shown improvement in each of his three seasons in the NBA so far, with his performance this season earning him his first career All-Star bid. Falling out of the top-10 in the 2017 NBA Draft, Mitchell has played with a chip on his shoulder in leading the Jazz to the playoffs in each of his first two years in the league and is well on his way to going 3-for-3 on playoff appearances.

8. Jayson Tatum

Current age: 21 years old

Highest ranking: 5

Lowest ranking: Not ranked

Back in 2017, Tatum made a major splash as a 19-year-old rookie by helping lead his Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals, falling just one game short of knocking off LeBron James' reign in the East. After a lateral sophomore season, Tatum has been terrific this year with his first of many future All-Star bids to show for it.

7. Trae Young

Current age: 21 years old

Highest ranking: 5

Lowest ranking: Not ranked

The Hawks were scrutinized for trading the pick that would become Luka Doncic to get Young, but it turns out that Atlanta will be just fine with the player they got. Young has been nothing short of amazing in his first two seasons in the NBA and has even played well enough to become an All-Star starter as a sophomore. The future is bright for the playmaking sharpshooter.

6. Ja Morant

Current age: 20 years old

Highest ranking: 3

Lowest ranking: 9

In a draft class that included Zion Williamson, it was nearly impossible for other players to draw the attention of the public eye. Morant has been so stellar in his rookie campaign that he has done just that, proving he has the potential to be one of the most electrifying players in the NBA. The 20-year-old is the heavy favourite to win Rookie of the Year and will surely be one of the best guards in the league in the near-future.

5. Joel Embiid

Current age: 25 years old

Highest ranking: 5

Lowest ranking: Not ranked

As one of the most dominant players in the NBA when healthy, a 30-year-old Embiid cracks the top-five on this list. He's a force in the paint, a consistent Defensive Player of the Year candidate and is nearly unstoppable when he's locked in and engaged. As long as Embiid stays off the injury report, there's really no arguing that he'll be a top talent in the league five years from now and all seasons between now and then, too.

4. Zion Williamson

Current age: 19 years old

Highest ranking: 3

Lowest ranking: Not ranked

There isn't much explanation needed for this one. Williamson is a one-of-a-kind type talent and has already shown in just a handful of games - on a minutes restriction, no less - that he has all the tools to be a force in the NBA. His size, strength and athleticism is unmatched and he's only going to get better as he fine-tunes his skillset with age.

3. Anthony Davis

Current age: 26 years old

Highest ranking: 2

Lowest ranking: Not ranked

For as great as Davis already is, there is no doubt that he will still be dominating the league at age 31. The freakishly athletic forward is finally getting the chance to showcase his skills on a championship contender and his production has reflected that of an MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Davis can score from anywhere on the floor and can defend just about any player in the league, and it doesn't appear any of that will change in a short five-year span.

2. Luka Doncic

Current age: 20 years old

Highest ranking: 1

Lowest ranking: 2

Doncic was the only player that could take first-place votes away from the No. 1 ranked player on this list. In just his second year in the NBA, Doncic is already solidifying his place as one of the best players in the world, making a case for league MVP at 20 years old. Just imagine how great he's going to be five years from now.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Current age: 25 years old

Highest ranking: 1

Lowest ranking: 2

To no one's surprise, Antetokounmpo received six of eight possible first place votes. The only surprise might be that he wasn't unanimously selected No. 1. The reigning MVP is already a top player in the league at 25 and as he continues to improve his game year after year, there is no doubt he'll still be the league's top talent at age 30. The Greek Freak is a heavy favourite for back-to-back MVPs and he's only getting better - that's a scary thought for his current and future opponents.

Honourable mentions

Karl-Anthony Towns, Ben Simmons, Nikola Jokic, De'Aaron Fox, Pascal Siakam and Brandon Ingram all received votes, but their average placement dropped them out of the top-10.

Towns appeared on four of the eight ballots, Simmons was only left off of two ballots and Jokic was ranked as high as five on one particular ballot. Fox appeared on two different ballots, while Siakam and Ingram only appeared on one ballot each.

No other players received votes.

Below, you can find each of the eight NBA.com staffers polled, along with their Twitter handle if you agree or disagree with their list!

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

2. Luka Doncic

3. Anthony Davis

4. Zion Williamson

5. Jayson Tatum

6. Joel Embiid

7. Trae Young

8. Devin Booker

9. Ja Morant

10. Ben Simmons

Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay)

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

2. Luka Doncic

3. Zion Williamson

4. Donovan Mitchell

5. Ja Morant

6. Trae Young

7. Devin Booker

8. Jayson Tatum

9. Ben Simmons

10. Brandon Ingram

Leandro Fernández (@FernandezLea)

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

2. Luka Doncic

3. Zion Williamson

4. Anthony Davis

5. Joel Embiid

6. Kawhi Leonard

7. De'Aaron Fox

8. Ja Morant

9. Trae Young

10. Karl-Anthony Towns

Agustín Aboy (@AboyAgustin)

1. Luka Doncic

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo

3. Anthony Davis

4. Zion Williamson

5. Donovan Mitchell

6. Trae Young

7. Karl-Anthony Towns

8. Ja Morant

9. Nikola Jokic

10. Kawhi Leonard

Alex Novick (@ANov_SN)

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

2. Luka Doncic

3. Ja Morant

4. Anthony Davis

5. Nikola Jokic

6. Joel Embiid

7. Trae Young

8. Karl-Anthony Towns

9. De'Aaron Fox

10. Ben Simmons

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

2. Luka Doncic

3. Anthony Davis

4. Zion Williamson

5. Kawhi Leonard

6. Ja Morant

7. Joel Embiid

8. Pascal Siakam

9. Karl-Anthony Towns

10. Ben Simmons

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)

1. Luka Doncic

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo

3. Zion Williamson

4. Anthony Davis

5. Jayson Tatum

6. Trae Young

7. Joel Embiid

8. Ja Morant

9. Devin Booker

10. Ben Simmons

Benyam Kidané (@BenyamKidane)

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

2. Anthony Davis

3. Luka Doncic

4. Zion Williamson

5. Trae Young

6. Ja Morant

7. Ben Simmons

8. Joel Embiid

9. Devin Booker

10. Jayson Tatum

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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