We are in the midst of the abyss that is the break between NBA Basketball/NHL Hockey and the NFL Football season, meaning that right now all we have to satisfy our sports needs are MLB Baseball and vigorously overanalyzing offseason moves for the other major sports. Any casual Philadelphia sports fan has probably picked up on the shift happening in Philadelphia sports, noticing that all of our teams seem to have a plan (except the Eagles) and are in possession of tons of young talent. With the MLB, NBA, and NHL Draft happening so recently and close together, and the Flyers, Sixers, and Phillies all had relatively important draft picks that will surely prove themselves in upcoming years, I figured it would be nice to rank the young talent just to see what the city is working with.
That being said, this is a list analyzing not only who has been accomplished within there respective sports, but also taking into account how high their potential ceiling is. Breaking down the Top 10 Athletes in Philadelphia under the age of 25 was not a simple task due to the plethora of young talent.
There are a few names you WILL NOT be seeing on this list, I would like to at least mention why they are not on the list:
Fletcher Cox – Because he just recently turned 25, making him not eligible for this list, if he were under 25 I would consider him in the top 3 for this list.
Mickey Moniak & German Rubtsov – Both of these athletes are 18 years old, there potential is unknown for the most part and I would not be surprised if we don’t see them in the MLB/NHL until 2018-2020.
Jordan Matthews & Nelson Agholor – Both of these players are not good enough to be on this list, they meet every other requirement, but they are both lackluster at best thus far.
Cody Parkey – Pro Bowl Alternate, great stats, tons of potential, still a Kicker.
On the Bubble, but not Top 10 yet:
JP Crawford – age 21 – Knowing the Phillies they are going to keep the 6th ranked prospect in Lehigh Valley until he’s 23. I would like to see Crawford come play some MLB Baseball in Late August this season. Once Crawford comes up, I can’t imagine we will be seeing much of Freddy Galvis anymore. With a Batting Average of .268 and an .341 OBP, I’d like to see JP experience MLB level competition then develop in Triple A for half of next season.
Dario Saric – age: 22 – The Croatian born, Euroleague Power Forward for Anadolu Efes, who just signed with the 76ers. He is a 6 foot 10 inch tall swing forward capable of playing the 3 or 4, currently shooting 40.9% from 3 point range, and each year his percentages have improved. He has won monthly MVP honors in the Euroleague and is signed to a sponsorship deal with Kia. He’s only on the bubble, because it’s unsure how his game will transfer over to the NBA. Watching highlights gives me faith that he will be successful in the NBA, but sometimes the foreign players just don’t seem to pan out.
Aaron Nola – age: 23 – The problem with evaluating pitchers is that sometimes they can only be as good as their team is, 5-8 this season and 11-10 all time doesn’t exactly shout star to me. This could change, he is young, when this team improves and develops Nola will grow with them. He will not have a 4.41 ERA 3 years from now.
Top 10 Philadelphia Athletes Under 25:
10.) Nerlens Noel – age 22 – It pains me to have Nerlens Noel all the way at 10, but stats are stats. Nerlens Noel averaged 11.1 points per game, as well as 8.1 rebounds per game, and 1.8 steals last season through 67 games. The Power Forward/Center is also the highest percentage shooter on the team who has participated in more than 40 games last season at 52.1%. Nerlens Noel is one of the longest tenured players on the 76ers despite only playing in two seasons. The rim protection and post defense that Noel provides for the Sixers is what makes him so valuable to this team.
9.) Maikel Franco – age 24 – Evaluating intangibles and reliability is difficult, especially if their stat line is lackluster. Franco is very early into his MLB career and is likely a cornerstone in the Philadelphia Phillies rebuilding efforts, but the young 3rd Baseman always seems to be inconsistent at the plate. Batting .258 with 15 home runs in early July shows room for improvement, but is acceptable for a player so early in their career. He is one of two Phillies on this list, and I honestly believe that Franco has a brighter future, but the Phillies player ranked higher than him is simply playing too well this season to not be above him.
8.) Odubel Herrera – age 24 – Stats do not lie folks, .303 Batting Average, .390 OBP, 10 Home Runs in 83 games. People underrate Odubel Herrera because his emergence wasn’t as highly covered as Aaron Nola or Maikel Franco. Herrera is a very real talent in the Outfield with a ton of room to grow. Herrera currently has the 16th best Batting Average in the National League and I don’t see him slowing down. It was nice to see him get an at bat in the All Star Game, but we all know that it’s because “every team has to be represented.”
7.) Brayden Schenn – age 24 – Brayden Schenn, not exactly a glamourous pick for the list and by no stretch of the imagination is he a fan favorite. But this Saskatoon born Center managed 59 points through 80 games, 33 assists, and 26 goals. Schenn ranked 15th in Power Play goals in the NHL, with 11 goals. A quietly impressive season, but since 2013, when he became an every game player, Schenn’s goal, assist, and point total have improved steadily.
6.) Jahlil Okafor – age 20 – The fact that this man ended 4th in Rookie of the Year voting can be almost completely attributed to the fact that he only played 53 games, whether or not his injury was as significant as his missed time can be disputed. The stat line of 17.5 Points per Game, 7 Rebounds, an assist and a block is only .8 points and 3 rebounds away from the unanimous Rookie of the Year’s stat line. If Big Jah played 75-82 games last season and took over this 76ers team the way we expected him to, Karl-Anthony Towns would not have been a unanimous Rookie of the Year. Across the board Jahlil Okafor was better than Kristap Porzingis, so pay no mind to the Rookie of the Year voting. Okafor was too under valued in the off season, that’s why he isn’t a Celtic right now.
5.) Jordan Hicks – age 24 – Going into his second season, I want expectations for this Linebacker to be high going into Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz’s systems. In only 8 games this 3rd Round Pick, we saw him look like a leader on the field, including a prime time Pick Six against the Dallas Cowboys. He will be a force to be reckoned with, 50 combined tackles, 43 individual, a sack, forced fumble, and 2 interceptions. This isn’t the Chip Kelly Eagles, the defense will have rest, you will see the Eagles Defense play way better this season and Jordan Hicks will be a major part of that.
4.) Joel Embiid – age 22 – How can you not be excited for this man to get on the court? The Cameroon born Center has been entertaining the city of Philadelphia for the past 2 years without even stepping on the court. The drama between his twitter antics, the Shirley Temples, gaining weight, losing weight, combined with highlights of him dunking in practice and shooting threes has the “Trust the Process” cult losing their mind. We haven’t seen him play a full game in years and he’s never played in an NBA game, but honestly, he was new to basketball when he got drafted, I’m hoping we will see him emerge as a brand new shiny player with a good basketball brain given to him by two years of just being around the league with no real scrutiny.
3.) Carson Wentz – age 23 – We may not even see this man play for another two years, which is an extremely frustrating reality. I wish I had more faith in Wentz, the 2nd Overall Pick in the NFL Draft should be more of a “sure thing” but the reality of the situation is that busts happen, Joey Harrington went 3rd Overall and Jake Locker went 8th Overall. We must be cautious, I wish he would’ve went to a more reputable school, but it would be too cynical and pessimistic to put him outside of the top 3. He is being shown as the Eagles Quarterback of the future and until he shows us anything negative I am fine with it. I’m excited to see his size, speed, and arm in Eagles green.
2.) Shayne Gostisbehere – age 23 – In his first full season, Shayne Gostisbehere was ranked 17th in Points among defenseman and 6th in Goals among Defenseman despite only playing 64 games in the regular season. Gostisbehere has an undeniable presence on the ice and confidence, this showed clearly in the playoffs, in which he was the only Flyer with both a goal and an assist. If things stay as is, he will be a first line Defenseman for the Flyers for years to come. 46 points in 64 games is an incredible way to start a career in the NHL and he is expected to improve immensely in years to come.
1.) Ben Simmons – age 19 – Ben Simmons was 3rd in the Utah Summer League averaging 7.5 Rebounds a game and leading the Utah Summer League in Assists. Six Foot Ten, leading in assists, third in rebounds, can handle the ball, wants to play point guard, and has undeniable talent. I was a Ben Simmons skeptic, I always wanted the 76ers to draft him, but I was skeptical. Now I have no doubt that Ben Simmons is the future of the 76ers, he makes basketball look effortless, and he is only 19. There doesn’t seem to be any real problems with him, people want to knit-pick at his jump shot, to those people I say when Lebron James and Kobe Bryant were nineteen years old, they both had Field Goal Percentages of .417% which in both circumstances are far under the average Field Goal Percentages of their respective years. Right now we are watching Summer League, but when Ben Simmons is out there with Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and a veteran point guard, his true colors will show.
Thank you for reading through, agree or disagree, let me know on twitter @JpetersTSR
- Ben Simmons
- Shayne Gostisbehere
- Carson Wentz
- Joel Embiid
- Jordan Hicks
- Jahlil Okafor
- Brayden Schenn
- Odubel Herrera
- Maikel Franco
- Nerlens Noel
- Dario Saric
- JP Crawford
- Aaron Nola
- Cody Parkey
- Jordan Matthews