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Hey, the Sixers Have Two of the 20 Best Players Under 25

Jan 22, 2013, 2:06 PM EDT

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I approached ESPN’s list of the Top 25 Players Under 25
the same way I’ll be approaching the roll-out of the All-Star reserves
later this week: Bracing myself for self-righteous outrage. I figured no
way would Jrue Holiday be ranked high enough for my liking, the rest of
the NBA world being continually prejudiced against him for his team’s
lack of success and/or his underwhelming peripheral advanced stats. I
just hoped he managed to crack the Top 25.

Turns out, I needn’t
have been so concerned. Kevin Pelton and David Thorpe not only found
room for The Damaja on their list, they put him in the dang ol’ top
half—#12, to be exact, higher than such NBA blue-chippers as Anthony
Davis and Greg Monroe. “A borderline All-Star already, Holiday’s game
truly will explode when
he’s surrounded by better talent, as he has the hoops IQ to make
everyone better,” predicts Thorpe. “Based on this season’s leap forward,
Holiday’s upside is immense,” agrees Pelton, also pointing out that of
the 11 plays ranked higher than Jrue on the list, only Kyrie Irving is
younger.

What’s more, he’s not the only Liberty Baller on the
list. It didn’t even occur to me to check for Thaddeus Young—not only do
I tend to take him for granted, but he’s been on the Sixers for so damn
long (this is his sixth season) that I wouldn’t have even thought of
him as still being under 25. (Indeed, he won’t be able to legally rent a
car until June 21st.) “Young is a dynamic athlete who knows his limits
– a rare thing in
today’s game,” writes Thorpe. “Young can have a big impact on an offense
because he
almost always makes the right decision with the ball or his own
movements. Thus, he is a perfect on-court teammate.”

You wouldn’t
really think of the Sixers as a team perceived as being loaded with
young talent, so to see two of our guys on this list—and neither of them
are the guy who we took with the #2 pick in the draft just three
summers ago, or the guy we might be giving $100 million to in the
off-season—it’s a nice little pick-me-up about the Sixers’ future
prospects. Even though that loss last night was still pretty rough.