At some point, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are going to give way to the next group of MVP winners, and we have so much to look forward to.

LeBron James is the old head of his generation. Curry is sneakily old, and I attribute that to his late-onset facial hair. Durant is also approaching 30, along with a host of other guys like Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The term “old” is different for athletes. Typically, they start to slow down once they approach 31 and 32, and, once that happens, we slowly shift away from them and focus on the next generation. It happens all the time. While the older guys are still great, we’ve seen them dominate for at least a decade, and a lot of the younger guys are just getting their stuff together once they reach their mid-20s.

Once that happens, things change. LeBron may very well be in the MVP race at 36-years-old, and he could probably win if he wanted to. Of course, this is because James is a once-in-a-generation talent. It’s remarkably tough to stay relevant for that award each year — just look at Curry. He’s one season removed from winning his second-straight MVP, the latter of which was unanimous. That 2015-16 season was truly spectacular, and he showed us a level of marksmanship that we had never seen before. This year? He’s not even top-four. Some may Steph at five, but that’s because of Durant’s injury. If he were healthy, there’s no doubt he’s bumping Curry down to six, at least on my ballot.

The most absurd part is that Steph put together a season that 99.99998 percent of NBA players never did. And he did it for the second year in a row. Since the league brought in the three-point line, two players (excluding Curry) have averaged at least 25 points and six assists a night while shooting better than 40 percent from downtown — LeBron and Larry Bird. Steph is the only one to do it fewer than 36 minutes. Statistics are among a myriad of factors weighed when awarding MVP, and the Warriors’ dominance certainly hurts Curry to an extent.

Projecting the wildcards for the next generation of NBA players is the hardest part about looking ahead and picking the next wave of MVPs. Qualifying for this list is easy: any player who’s under-25 on Feb. 1 is eligible. Of course, only those producing eye-catching numbers will be considered. There are, however, going to be late bloomers.

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

There’s a chance that Embiid walks away with the Rookie of the Year award despite playing just 31 games. I won’t be voting for him. However, after missing two entire seasons, the former Kansas question mark delivered way more than expected, and he’s going to be a dominant center for years to come. Of course, injuries are the only thing holding him back. When he wasn’t hurt, the Sixers had him on a minutes restriction. For the season, Embiid averaged 25.4 minutes but was ludicrously productive during that time. His 20.2 points were first among rookies, and he shot 46.6 percent from the floor thanks to his versatility. Embiid’s got great footwork and moves very fluidly on the block, but his willingness to pull from deep is what separates him.

As a seven-footer, he boasted a 36.7 percent clip from three and was good for at least one a night. At that point, he’s nearly indefensible. Once Embiid’s lower half is fully healed, Brett Brown’s leash will get longer and longer, and Embiid has the potential to give 25-28 quality points a night because of his polish. Once Philly surrounds him with more weapons, the possibilities are endless. What’ll add to his potential MVP case is his play on the other end of the floor, and the Sixers were an elite defense — yes, elite — for the portion of the year that Embiid played.

He swatted 2.5 shots a night (yes, that also led all rookies) and pulled down 7.8 boards (see the previous parentheses). The rebounding numbers seem a bit small, but always keep his minutes in the back of your mind. When they’re adjusted, Embiid’s hauling in more than 11 rebounds a night per 36 minutes. That’s impressive, and any big who puts together a 26-11-2.5 stat line is certainly in the MVP conversation.

I have Embiid in the unknown group because, after all, he just finished up his rookie year. The next few seasons could go well, or they could go bad. I sincerely hope it’s the former because Embiid is too incredible of a talent to have a derailed career. Regardless, I want to see his durability improve. He won’t need to play 82 games each year, but getting above 65 would be a great start.

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Quin Snyder’s anchor barely makes the cut. The 7-1 potential Defensive Player of the Year turns 25 at the end of June, but he’s taken strides to making his name household. Occupying the middle of Utah’s defense, Gobert’s jobs are very simple — block shots and rebound. He averaged 2.6 rejections a game and had 214 total — both of which led the league — and was one of the finest glass cleaners to take the floor. Only three guys hauled in more rebounds than Gobert, and he became the first player in Utah’s history to have a season with more than 1,000 boards.

Gobert does two things incredibly well, and the debate for the best defensive center has been interrupted with gusto. In today’s NBA, we don’t marginalize defense, but the crazy efficient offenses make it look dumbed down. Gobert hasn’t yet joined the scoring party. He set a career-high with 14 points a night, but he’s unable to create his own shots, and Utah’s inability to manufacture points means fewer opportunities. Of course, their entire system would change if Gobert became a more refined offensive player, and he still has time to do that. If you think about it, all he needs to do is develop one go-to move and then a counter for that.

Let me play trainer for a minute: imagine Gobert spends all summer working on a right-handed hook. He’s long, athletic and that’s his dominant hand, so, in theory, he could rise above pretty much whoever. If that one move gets him three buckets, he’s a 20-point scorer. Next, he’ll need a counter. When defenders take away that hook, all it’ll take to generate a decent look is a reverse pivot to the opposite side. Explaining it is easier than executing it, but if that countermove gets him two more baskets, Utah has a guy who could go for 24-12 on any given night in addition to blocking more than two shots. That’s impressive.

My only question with Gobert is his willingness to better his offense. He may very well want to be a defensive-minded center, and that’s totally okay. He’ll make a lot of money doing that, but, the only way for him to be considered an MVP candidate will be to develop an unassisted offense.

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

With about three hairs on his face, Booker became the youngest player ever to score 70 points in a game. With that, he joined an exclusive list. Since the start of his rookie year, Booker’s been someone who we’ve watched from afar. He’s not a physical specimen, nor is he an electrifying athlete, but there’s something about him that makes it impossible to look away for too long.

In all likelihood, it’s his instantaneous heating up. Booker’s a pure scorer who’s very fundamental, and he wriggles his way through defenses to find the best shot possible. At first glance, he’s not too efficient, but Booker’s overall field goal percentage stayed the same over his first two years, and campaign number two saw the Suns rely heavily on their baby-faced All-Star (hopefully). In one year, Booker saw his minutes rise by 26.4 percent (27.7 to 35.0), shot attempts by 60.5 percent (11.4 to 18.3) and scoring by 60.1 percent (13.8 to 22.1). With all of that going on, he maintained the same shooting clip of 42.3 and improved from downtown to 36.3. Booker became more aggressive and focused on attacking downhill more often, and, expectedly, he became more acquainted with the free throw line.

At this rate, Booker can end up being the next premier scorer. He can only improve, and the mid-range is an area he’s already got figured out. Being able to convert from all three levels makes his life easier because guarding him becomes almost impossible. If you take away the drive, he’ll shoot. Take away the shot, and he’ll drive. And if you move quick enough laterally, he’ll out-quick you and pull-up from 17 feet.

The future’s bright for Booker because, eventually, the Suns are going to move on and he’s going to be the primary playmaker. A lot of his buckets are unassisted because he’s Phoenix’s go-to scorer, but expanding his versatility and being a 26-5-5 guy would be best for him and his team. Additionally, maybe not being such a defensive liability would help, too, but that also falls on the rest of the team to build a defense where players don’t have to worry about their backside.

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

If there’s a line separating the two groups of potential MVPs, it’s Jokic. In just his second season, the Joker came out of nowhere and made the Nuggets worth watching. His skillset is typical of European bigs, but the way he dices up defenses and goofily shreds schemes make him an unlikely future MVP. Contrary to most of the centers and forwards today, Jokic isn’t an explosive athlete, nor can he stretch the defense thin. Jameer Nelson, who’s 35, wholeheartedly believes he can outjump the Nuggets’ centerpiece, and Jokic only shot 32.4 percent from downtown this year. Luckily for Denver’s offense, only 16.2 of his total attempts came from three, and his absurd two-point percentage of 62.6 helped bumped his overall clip to 57.7.

Those are radically efficient, and Jokic is still experimenting with his offense. When he’s off the ball, he lurks. The Nuggets aren’t to the point where they can dump the ball down to him and let him work, but I don’t believe he’s that kind of player anyway. He loves to facilitate. When Jokic is coming out of the pick-and-roll, defenses have to be ready for him to make that dump-off dish to whoever’s on the baseline while also worrying about him pulling up for a little floater in the lane.

Above everything else, though, his vision and execution at his size make him a nightmare, and almost every MVP winner has some superhuman talent to them. Throughout the NBA’s history, 19 guys 6-10 or taller — including Jokic this year — have averaged at least 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists for a season. Hall of Famers like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are on this list, and Kevin Garnett and Jokic are the only ones to average that line at 22-years-old or younger. As we dive deeper, only Kareem during 1979-80 had a better true shooting percentage than Jokic this year.

(Quick note: Basketball Reference’s database uses the age of a player on Feb. 1. Jokic didn’t turn 22 until Feb. 19.)

Now we have the fun part. Just to be clear, the four guys above aren’t the only four who have a chance to win the MVP. Just like Kawhi and Steph, the next generation has players who might not even begin to show signs of stardom until they’re four or five years in. However, from what they have displayed, they’re on the right trajectory.

These next three guys have been around for a couple of years, but what they’ve been doing is historic. They are, undoubtedly, the next set of heavy weights. The way I’ve ordered them is completely random — actually, I’m doing it alphabetically to remain unbiased.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

I’d be remiss not to mention the historical greatness of what Giannis did. He became the first player to finish in the top 20 in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks and he singlehandedly put Greek basketball on the map. The death of Vine hurts us NBA fans more than anyone else because Giannis is literally a walking Vine. There isn’t one player in the NBA who can travel 167 feet with one dribble. (Okay, 50, tops. But still.) In one sequence, Antetokounmpo can swat a layup, pick it up and throw down a nasty poster on the other end. He’s an extraordinary talent and one of the two players who can take the heir to LeBron James.

He scores almost at will because no one can stop his spin move, and his extraordinary length lets him finish over whoever he wants. Furthermore, he’s developing incredibly well as a passer and Jason Kidd experimented with him as the Bucks point guard throughout the year. Giannis posted career-highs across the board, and — he’s still just 22 — only has one major flaw in his offense. Luckily (for him and the Bucks, not their opponents), it’s an easy fix. Giannis is an awful shooter, and opponents get off the hook because of it. Once he develops that jumper, we’re going to have a situation similar to what we have with LeBron where, no matter what, he’s nearly unstoppable, and the best chance you have at slowing him down is to let him get 35 and shutout the rest of the team. It’ll be fun to watch. Even now, Giannis has shot better than 50 percent from the field each of the last two seasons.

What’s going to set him apart is that he might win a Defensive Player of the Year award. With the NBA’s evolution, it’s rare to see DPOY and MVP candidates in the same debate. So much effort is put on carrying a team offensively that the star doesn’t get the chance to post wild numbers on defense. Giannis is an exception. In addition to his scoring (22.9), rebounding (8.8) and playmaking (5.4), he led Milwaukee in blocks and steals per game with 1.9 and 1.6, respectively. It’s remarkable. His size obviously plays a huge role in it, and his reckless abandon also helps.

Of the next group, he’s the most versatile. Typically, players who do a little bit of everything get named MVP because it’s a testament to how much their teams rely on them.

Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

It feels like an MVP is the only thing missing from Davis’ resume. He just wrapped up the fifth season of his career. Already, Davis has been to four All-Star Games, landed on an All-NBA team (first, 2014-15), an All-Defensive team (second, 2014-15) and the All-Rookie team (first, 2012-13). Technically, he’s already got a Most Valuable Player trophy from this season’s All-Star Game, but I don’t believe they mean the same. Rounding out the accolades, he finished fifth in voting back in 2015, and he’ll eventually bring one home if he continues at this pace.

After coming into the league an unpolished scorer whose primary asset was blocking shots, Davis has willed his way into the top-10 and, frankly, spent most of this year playing like a top-five player. His 28 points a night is a career-best, as well as the 11.8 boards he averaged. The transformation in Davis’ offense is mind-boggling at times because he has a full array of post moves and the best floater in the league. On top of that, he’s long, athletic and has packed on tremendous size since he was 19. What’s more encouraging than anything else is Davis’ health. He suited up for 75 games this year after being in the 60s for the last four. When at 100 percent, Davis can hold his own with anyone, but the supporting cast needs to be up to snuff since he’s not in the position to create for others.

The Pelicans have a good thing going with Jrue Holiday and DeMarcus Cousins, and Davis’ play improved post-All-Star. Thanks to that boost, he became the third player to average 28-11-2 while being younger than 25, joining the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Bob McAdoo.

Davis has seen his role get bigger and bigger each year, and he hasn’t let that impact his defense. As I mentioned earlier, he made a name for himself at Kentucky by being a feared rim protector, and that’s stayed true over his five-year journey. Over that stretch, DeAndre Jordan (810) and Serge Ibaka (888) are the only two guys to have swatted more shots. Now, injuries come into play.

I don’t believe we’re going to see another huge leap from him. However, incremental improvements will come. Davis spent time this season tampering with his three-point shot, and it’ll be a scary sight seeing him extend his range out beyond 22 feet. Additionally, the Pelicans might actually get their offense together and have a concrete plan. New Orleans’ offense was giving the ball to AD and hoping he did something good. It’s worked to an extent. But it’s unsustainable for team success. Once they figure out how to properly harness his talent, well, it’s going to be a long couple of seasons for Western Conference bigs.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

If the Wolves didn’t have Towns lurking in the middle, they wouldn’t get nearly as much coverage as they do. In just two years, KAT has gone from a relative nobody at Kentucky to, arguably, the NBA’s best center. For the second-straight season, Towns suited up for all 82 games and put together a historically good campaign. His points cracked 25 (25.1), and he also improved by nearly two rebounds a night (12.3 from 10.5). In the history of the NBA, 11 players had put up 25 and 12 in their first or second year. All of them are in the Hall of Fame. Towns became the 12th to average those stats, so his career is on the right path.

He’s not a physical freak like Davis or Giannis, but his height and length are by no means a liability. Additionally, Towns is an exceptional athlete who moves very well on both ends of the floor, and that allows him to have a diverse skill set on offense while guarding multiple positions on the other end. As a rookie, Towns was great in the low-post (65 percent inside of five feet) and complemented it with an excellent midrange jumper (47 percent). In year two, he remained consistent around the basket (66.6 percent) but dropped off the farther he got. To remedy that, Towns experimented with his three-ball and posted a solid 36.7 percent on 3.4 attempts a night.

There’s a very talented center in Minnesota, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Towns will eventually turn into an MVP-level star. Offensively, he’s only going to get better — even if he doesn’t and stays the same, there isn’t anyone else stuffing the scoring and rebounding columns like Towns. On top of his steady offense, his defense is only going to get more and more disciplined. With the way the NBA is evolving, Towns is the best-equipped center to adapt. He moves so well laterally, and the Timberwolves don’t have to worry when he switches out onto guards. Combine that with his length and athleticism, and he’s going to be a thorn in coaches’ sides for a very long time.

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