15 of the youngest NBA players to ever have been drafted

15 of the youngest NBA players to ever have been drafted

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been home to the greatest players of all time, including Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal. The association is also known for nurturing young talents that later become the best players in the future. These players are selected straight from high school, colleges, or overseas leagues and passed through rigorous training to become hardcore names we adore today. Who is the youngest NBA player ever to join the association?

who is the youngest nba player
From left to right, the late Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and Andris Biedrins. Photo: Kevork Djansezian, Kevin Mazur, Ezra Shaw (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The NBA draft is one of the crucial occasions on the NBA calendar. It is the time when those teams that did not perform well in the previous season are allowed to select fresh players from high school and college to change their future performance. Although these young players may lack adequate experience, they get the chance to compete with basketball pros and grow their profiles.

Who is the youngest NBA player to ever have been drafted?

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The list consists both NBA Hall of Famers and unpopular players. Here are the 15 youngest NBA players to ever have been drafted in history.

1. Andrew Bynum (17 years, 249 days)

who is the youngest nba player
Andrew Bynum #21 of the Cleveland Cavaliers smiles wide following the victory over the Chicago Bulls at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: David Liam Kyle
Source: Getty Images

Andrew Bynum, who is the youngest NBA player ever to be drafted, started his career at 17 years and 249 days. The former American basketballer was drafted by the Lakers as the 10th overall pick in the 2005-2006 season.

Although Andrew struggled due health issues, he managed to form an incredible pair with Paul Gasol to assist Kobe bag the 2009 and 2010 titles.

He later played for other teams like Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers and won two NBA titles, one All-NBA Team selection, and one All-Star Team appearance. Upon retirement, Andrew, who was the youngest NBA player to get drafted, had 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks.

2. Jermaine O’Neal (17 years, 261 days)

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youngest nba player ever
Jermaine O'Neal #7 of the Golden State Warriors in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Photo: Rocky Widner
Source: Getty Images

Jermain O’Neal was drafted at 17 years and 261 days by the Portland Trail Blazers as the 17th pick in the 1996 NBA draft. He played for four seasons before being traded to the Indian Pacers.

Jermaine later become one of the best youngest NBA stars who used his handles to dominate his space on the court. He retired as a 6-time All-Star and a 3-time All-NBA player with 13.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game.

3. Kobe Bryant (17 years, 312 days)

youngest nba player drafted ever
Kobe Bryant smiles while backpedaling on defense against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Noah Graham
Source: Getty Images

Despite being drafted at only 17 years and 312 days, Kobe Bryant became one of the greatest basketball players of all time within no time. He was picked by the Charlotte Hornets on the 13th overall in the 1996 draft but was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers on the draught night where he played for his entire 20-year-career.

He also took only one year to become one of the best youngest players in the NBA to form an unbreakable duo with Shaquille O'Neal. His impressive career profile includes 5 NBA championships, 18 All-Star titles, 15 All-NBA memberships, 12 All-Defensive Team memberships, 2008 Most Valuable Player, and 2 NBA Final MVP titles.

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4. Darko Miličić (18 years, 1 day)

youngest nba players
Darko Milicic poses for a portrait during Media Day at the Boston Sports Club in Waltham, Massachusetts. Photo: Brian Babineau
Source: Getty Images

As one of the biggest bursts in history, Darko Miličić was selected by the Detroit Pistons as the 2nd overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft. However, the choice was not received well since Darko’s 10-year career was full of disappointments.

He was also the youngest NBA player drafted ever from 2003 to 2013. His career record includes 6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game.

5. Bill Willoughby (18 years, 13 days)

who was the youngest nba player to get drafted
Former NBA basketball player Bill Willoughby is now back in college at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Photo: Keith Torrie
Source: Getty Images

Atlanta Hawks selected Bill Willoughby as the 1st pick in the second round of the 1975 NBA draft. He played for two seasons before moving to various franchises during his 8-year career.

He was also among the youngest NBA players who managed to block Kareem Abdul on the court. His career average is at 6.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks per game.

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6. Tracy McGrady (18 years, 37 days)

youngest players in nba
NBA Legend, Tracy McGrady participates in the ceremonial ball tip before the game between the New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Fernando Medina
Source: Getty Images

Tracy McGrady is among the successful youngest players in NBA history, having been drafted by the Toronto Raptors at 18 years and 37 days. Although he recorded poor performance at the beginning, he was named the Most Improved Player in 2001.

He went on to become a 7-time NBA All-Star, 7-time All-NBA selection, and 2-time NBA scoring champion. He averaged 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game.

7. Ersan İlyasova (18 years, 49 days)

youngest players in nba history
Ersan Ilyasova #7 of the Milwaukee Bucks on the court in the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo: Justin Casterline
Source: Getty Images

The Turkish basketball player Ersan İlyasova enjoyed a long career playing for seven different franchises. He was drafted as the 36th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks at 18 years and 49 days and developed a unique set of skills as an outside shooter and rebounder.

With 13 years on the field, Ersan averaged 10.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 0.4 assits per game.

8. Yaroslav Korolev (18 years, 57 days)

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youngest nba stars
Yaroslav Korolev #8 of the Los Angeles Clippers rests during the game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Noah Graham
Source: Getty Images

Yaroslav Korolev is one of the youngest basketball players, who joined the NBA at only 18 years and 57 days. The Russian small forward was picked 12th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2005 draft.

He went on to appear in 34 games over two NBA seasons with the same team, averaging 1.1 points and 0.5 rebounds per game.

9. Amir Johnson (18 years, 63 days)

youngest basketball players
Amir Johnson looks on during the game against the Aliens during BIG3 - Week Four at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Cooper Neill
Source: Getty Images

Chosen by the Detroit Pistons in the 56th pick in the 2005 NBA draft, Amir Johnson has had an impressive career. He was picked straight from high school, making him one of the final youngest NBA players to be drafted before the implementation of the “one-and-done” rule.

He played the first four seasons with the Detroit Pistons before joining other big names like Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and Delaware Blue Coats.

10. Bob Santini (18 years, 71 days)

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Bob Santini is another youngest players drafted into the NBA. The former NBA legend was drafted by the New York Knicks in 1953 in the 5th round and was its 41st overall pick. Unlike many players, he had a short career at the team. He averaged 2.8 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per game.

11. Andris Biedriņš (18 years, 88 days)

who is the youngest nba player
Andris Biedrins poses for a photo during 2013 Media Day at Zions Basketball Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak
Source: Getty Images

Taken by the Golden State Warriors as the 11th overall in the 2004 draft, Andris Biedrins had a good time in the field due to his blocking and rebounding skills that deterred his opponents.

He was also among the 2007 "We Believe" Golden State Warriors that knocked off the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. Starting his NBA career at only 18 years and 88 days, Andris averaged 6.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game.

12. C.J. Miles (18 years, 107 days)

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youngest nba player ever
C.J. Miles shoots the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: David Sherman
Source: Getty Images

Although he was not among the explosive youngest NBA stars, C.J. Miles was selected by the Utah Jazz as the 34th overall in the 2005 draft. The 6'6" wing shooter ended up having a great career that lasted 15 NBA seasons.

He also averaged 10 points in six seasons, including 4 straight double-digit scoring seasons between 2014 and 2018. He played for seven different teams during his time, averaging 9.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks per game.

13. Al Harrington (18 years, 132 days)

youngest nba player drafted ever
Former NBA Player Al Harrington speaks onstage during the 2022 Revolt Summit at 787 Windsor in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Paras Griffin
Source: Getty Images

Al Harrington is another youngest NBA player ever drafted when he was only 18 years and 132 days. He was selected 25th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 1998 draft and established a solid career with his unique playing style of scoring inside and outside.

He appeared in 21 games during his rookie season before moving to New York Knicks and Atlanta. Al Harrington averaged 13.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 0,3 blocks per game.

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14. Andrei Kirilenko (18 years, 136 days)

youngest nba players
Former player Andrei Kirilenko is recognized for his achievements during the 10 years of his career at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak
Source: Getty Images

Andrei Kirilenko was selected as the 24th overall pick by the Utah Jazz in the 1999 draft. He was one of the excellent youngest players in the NBA the team chose, with super defensive and forward skills.

His field capabilities won him 3 All-Defensive Teams and 1 All-Star title. The physically strong scorer averaged 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. He also recorded the highest BPG during the 2005 season with 3.3 blocks per game.

15. Bruno Šundov (18 years, 139 days)

youngest nba player drafted ever
Bruno Sundov stretches before the preseason game against the New York Knicks at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant
Source: Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks picked Bruno Šundov in the 1998 NBA draft due to his huge figure, though the young player did not meet the team's expectations. Bruno was only 18 years and 139 days when he joined the field as a rookie.

He went on to play for five different teams, appearing in 102 games. His entire career did not also average over 3.9 points per game, making him one of the youngest NBA players with a disappointing record.

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Who is the youngest current NBA player?

Jalen Duren is currently the youngest NBA player ever selected by the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th overall in the 2022 draft. At only 19 years, Jalen has already appeared in 15 games, averaging 7.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

The National Basketball Association continues to draft younger talents every year. For this reason, it will not be a surprise to see another youngest NBA player making it to the list and dethroning Jalen Duren of the Detroit Pistons. Although these teen players come with less experience, they are lucky to find basketball pros who take them through the learning process.

Legit.ng recently published an article 15 richest men in Africa in 2023. The African continent is endowed with brilliant minds, talented entrepreneurs, and accomplished professionals. Africa's richest man is worth billions of dollars.

There are several other billionaires on the continent who are involved in a variety of sectors. The continent's wealthiest people do not have a single source of income. Learn about the richest men in Africa, their age, and how they became wealthy.

Source: Legit.ng

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