Joel Embiid Credit: Bill Moore photo

In the NBA, stars rule. It is impossible to win a title without one and in most instances more than one. That is an immutable fact. The Boston Celtics’ and Los Angeles Lakers’ dynasties spanning multiple generations had numerous Hall of Famers. The Detroit Pistons went to three straight finals from the 1987 through 1989 seasons and won back-to-back championships with Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman.

Micheal Jordan’s Bulls had three players—him, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman voted among the 75 greatest players of all time, a group honored at this past February’s All-Star Game. The San Antonio Spurs’ five titles were led by David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, all either inducted or future Hall of Fame inductees.

The Miami Heat boasted LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Ray Allen and Chris Bosh. Last season, two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, a transformational talent, substantially aided by three-time All-Star forward Khris Middleton and three-time NBA All-Defensive selection Jrue Holiday captured the crown.

We’ll see the same this season. Whether it is the Phoenix Suns, a Bucks repeat, the Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets or another eventual champion, they will be led by a Hall of Fame player or players to be. Certified franchise players such as Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and the Memphis Grizzlies’ dynamic 22-year-old point guard Ja Morant have proven they possess the physical gifts to pull their teams deep into the playoffs.

As they further etch their status as superstars, other young lions are emerging, notably the New Orleans Pelicans’ 24-year-old forward Brandon Ingram, the Warriors’ electric 22-year-old guard Jordan Poole, and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 6-foot-4, 225-pound, 20-year-old force of nature Anthony Edwards.

They reflect the NBA’s abundance of gifted players 25 and under, a list that includes the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic, the Boston Celtics’ tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young, and the 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey, whose teams are all participating in this year’s postseason, who will help maintain and grow the global appeal of the game well into the next decade.

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