NBA's Best Young Cores in the East, Rebuilding the Pacers and Hornets


Aug 9, 2022

The Eastern Conference has no shortage of young talent. With teams often having to go through several rebuilds to find the right combination of players, there are a few teams with their eyes set on making a push to be atop the Eastern Conference.

Nonetheless, let’s take a look at some of the best young cores in the East

Indiana Pacers:

Core: Tyrese Haliburton (22), Bennedict Mathurin (20), Jalen Smith (22)

Other players 25 and under: Isaiah Jackson (20), Aaron Nesmith (22), Oshae Brissett (24), Chris Duarte (25), Terry Taylor (22), Goga Bitadze (23), Andrew Nembhard (22)

The Indiana Pacers committed to a strategic rebuild following the trade of Domantas Sabonis. At the time, the trade made little to no sense to fans around the league. However, it became clear as day when, in return, the Pacers acquired a promising young star in Tyrese Haliburton. The rebuild had started.

Since then, Kevin Pritchard has accomplished filling the roster with players who hold high potential but haven’t been given the ability to work towards their ceiling. Names that come to mind may be players such as Aaron Nesmith and Jalen Smith. Head coach Rick Carlisle has already committed to Smith as the starting power forward next season following his encouraging play in little time with the team last year.

Indiana was close to stealing star center Deandre Ayton from the Phoenix Suns before Phoenix matched the offer sheet Ayton signed with the Pacers. Though Indy wasn’t able to bring in the big man, it’s clear that other players are intrigued with the idea of playing next to these other young talents.

Charlotte Hornets:

Core: LaMelo Ball (20), Miles Bridges (24), Mark Williams (20)

Other promising players under 25: James Bouknight (21), PJ Washington (23), Nick Richards (24), JT Thor (19), Bryce McGowens (19), Jalen McDaniels (24)

The Charlotte Hornets have an exciting squad moving forward. Highlighted by their young and promising star, LaMelo Ball. Following the departure of Kemba Walker, the Hornets are finally in a position to press the restart button.

Charlotte has assembled a decent amount of draft picks and young players to build around Ball. With viable trade chips like Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier, who don’t fit the team’s youthful timeline, the Hornets have an array of options to sort out.

The Hornets were dealt an interesting hand this offseason. Entering free agency, the Hornets had plans to lock up restricted free agent Miles Bridges. The forward had a breakout season in the fourth year of his rookie contract. However, right before NBA free agency began, Bridges was accused of domestic violence. While the punishment for the Michigan State alum is undecided, as the case is still up in the air, it still puts a damper on Charlotte’s future plans.

Regardless, majority owner Michael Jordan and general manager Mitch Kupchak have a young team with a bright future. With the return of an old friend, Steve Clifford, as head coach, it will be interesting to see the next steps in Buzz City’s rebuild.

The race to be on top in the Eastern Conference is in full swing, and these young guns aren’t shying away from the moment.

Thumbnail photo via USA TODAY Sports Images

Picked For You