Youngest Player In NBA: All-Time & Active Player of 2020-21 Season

Do you know who is the youngest player in NBA history? Is it Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, or LaMelo Ball? In fact, all these guys are the youngest player in NBA history.

Back in the days when NBA first introduced to the basketball world, a player usually completed their four years of college basketball career before they’re listed in NBA draft.  In the 1970s, there were major changes in requirements for the NBA draft. The NBA committee allows high school graduates to join the NBA draft night without completing four years of college.

This new rule changes many younger players who want to take their skills to the professional level.  Throughout NBA history, the youngest player in the NBA before 2005 was 18 years old.  But the rules changed again in 2005, and the NBA set the age limit to declared their eligibility for the NBA draft is no less than 19 years.  The new rules set to prevent 18 years old players to join the league.

In this list, we included the youngest player in NBA All-time from 1975 to 2019.  We also included the newest young player to join the league during the NBA 2020 draft.

You may also want to read Oldest NBA players of All-time & active players

All-Time Youngest Player In NBA

1. Andrew Bynum

Andrew Bynum born on October 27, 1987.  He declared his NBA draft in 2005 when he was 18 years, 6 days.  Bynum is the youngest player ever in NBA history that were drafted straight out from high school, and he was the last batch of players who can go to the NBA after high school.   Bynum joined the La Laker in the 10th overall pick.

The Lakers hired the hall of farmer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to train Bynum.  He is young and fearless because, on January 16, 2006, Bynum went head to head with former Lakers’ center Shaquille O’Neal from Miami Heat.  His performance of impressive as he returned a favor to Shaq with a dunk after Shaq dunk on him.  They both got into the technique foul when Shaq reacted to Bynum shoving Squa with his elbow during the transition.

Bynum helped the Lakers won two of their Championships during 2009 and 2010.  Although he suffered knee injuries for three conservative years during 2008-2010, he did not back down on his duty as a center for the Lakers. Bynum postpones his knee surgery only after the 2010 playoff.  He continues to suffer knee problems throughout his career, and Indiana Pacers released his contract after two games due to swelling and soreness in his right knee in 2014.  He still working to return to NBA in 2018, but no news of his returning as of the 2020 season.


2. Jermaine O’Neal

Jermain O’Neal is the second-youngest player in NBA history.  He born on October 13, 1978, joined the 1996 NBA draft when he was 18 years and 53 days old.  He was selected by Portland Trailer Blazers in the 17th overall pick.  O’Neal was traded to Indiana Pacers after failing to make it to the first team.

O’Neal spends eight years in Pacers and helped the Pacers reach NBA Playoffs for six seasons.  He was voted as the most improved player in the 2001-02 season.  He was voted by fans in NBA All-Star for six times, and he made it to the All-NBA team three times.  O’Neal played for seven different teams in 18 years.  He declared his retirement for the 2014-15 season after he played with Golden State Warriors, even though multiply teams are interesting to put him in their lineup.

3. Kobe Bryant,

Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history.  It was very sad to see him left us so early.  Kobe born on August 23, 1978, joined LA Lakers in 1996 when he was only 18 years and 72 days old.  He averaged 7.6 points per game in his rookie year.  He had multiples battle against the legendary Michael Jordan and became great friends.  Kobe had a season-high 24 points in his rookie year against Golden State Warriors on April 7, 1997.

Kobe helped the Lakers franchise won five NBA championship titles, 2x NBA Finals MVP, MVP in 2008, voted 18 NBA All-Star, 2x NBA Scoring champion, and Slam Dunk Contest Champion.  His scoring ability on the court is so great that he had a career-high 81 points against Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006.  Kobe also ends his career with 60 points on his last game in his career against Utah Jazz.

Kobe is definitely one of the best youngest players who play in the NBA without attending college.

4. Darko Milicic

Darko Milicic born on June 20, 1985, joined the 2003 NBA drafts at age 18 years, 133 days.  He was selected by Detroit Pistons as 2nd overall pick along with Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony.  Milicic became the youngest NBA player to become champion at age 19.  His career was not as successful as James or Anthony, he averaged 1.4 points per game on his rookie year and 6 points per game in his career.  He failed to live up to the expectation in the NBA and became the worse NBA draft choice in history.


Many people later ask if Pistons made the correct choice in drafting Milicic because they missed the opportunity to acquire superstar Camelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, or Chris Bosh.

Milicic was release by Boston Celtics in 2012 and left the NBA since.  He only played five minutes for the Celtics on his last NBA season.

Milicic became the fourth-youngest player to drafted in NBA history.

5. Stan Brown

Stan Brown was one of the earliest young players to play in the NBA at the age of 18 years, 139 days. Brown born on June 27, 1929.  He played for Philadephia Warriors (1947-48, 1951-52) for 34 games.  He was the youngest player to ever join the NBA with the record for 48 straight years before Kobe Bryant broke his record.  Brown averaged 3.6 points per game in his NBA career.

6. Bill Willoughby

Bill Willoughby is the 6th youngest player to join the NBA.  He born on October 23, 1975, drafted by Atlanta Hawks in 1975 in the 19th overall pick when he was 18 years, 156 days.  His NBA career years were from 1975 to 1984.

7. Tracy McGrady

Tracy McGrady or TMac is born on May 24, 1979, October 31, 1997.  He was the 7th youngest NBA player who skipped college and joined the 1997 drafts at 18 years, 160 days.  He was selected by Toronto Raptor in the 9th overall pick.  TMac plays with his cousin Vince Carter in Raptors but later plays for total of7 teams.

Shoulder and knee injuries have caused him to missed many games.  At times, he needs to take pain killers or injection to play.  He still shows his greatness on the court with career-high 62 points win against Washington Wizards when he represented the Orlando Magic.  He averaged 19.6 points per game.

Tmac left the USA for the Chinese Basketball Association in 2012-13 and later return to San Antonio Spurs in 2013.  He retired in the same year.

8. Yaroslav Korolev

Yaroslav Korolev is born on May 7, 1987.  He started his professional career at age 16 with Russian professional basketball Avtodo Saratov.  Korolev later joined Los Angelos Clippers in 2007 drafts when he was 18 years, 181.  He became the 8th youngest NBA player to join the NBA.

9. Andris Biedriņš

Andris Biedriņš born on April 2, 1986.  He started his professional career at age 16 at the Latvian team BK Skonto.  He joined the 2004 SNA drafts when he was18 years, 217 days.  Biedrins was selected by Golden State Warriors in 11th overall picks and played for two teams (Warriors and Utah Jazz) in his 10 years NBA career.  He played 6 games with Jazz before the team waived him.

10. C. J. Miles

C.J. Miles born on March 18, 1987, November 14, 2005.  He joined the 2005 NBA draft right after high school at 18 years, 241 days.  He was selected by Utah Jazz on 34th overall pick.  Miles averages 9.6 points per game.  He had a career-high 40 points against Minnesota Timberwolves on March 16, 2011.  Miles joined Washington Wizard in 2019-20, but later waived by the team after his left wrist surgery.


11. Amir Johnson

Amir Johnson is born on May 1, 1987.  He joined the 2005 NBA draft at 18 years, 268 days.  Johnson was selected by Deltoid Piston.  He later played for Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers.  Johnson is in the NBA G league now.

12. Darryl Dawkins

Darryl Dawkins was born on January 11, 1957.  He declared his 1975 NBA draft at 18 years, 289 days.  Dawkins was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers on the 5th overall pick.  He also played for New Jersey Nets, Detroit Pistons, and Utah Jazz.  Dawkins’s nickname “Chocolate Thunder” for his powerful dunk.  He averaged 12 points per game during his NBA career.

13. Joe Graboski

Joe Graboski was born on January 15, 1930.  His NBA career was from 1948-1967.  Graboski was 18 years, 296 days when he played in the NBA.

14. LeBron James

LeBron James is one of the top players as of the 2019-20 season.  He won his fourth NBA Champion title with the La Lakers during the 2019-20 season.  James is born on December 30, 1984.  He declared his 2003 NBA draft at 18 years, 303 days.  He was selected by Cleavland Cavelaiers on 1st overall pick.


Youngest Player in NBA 2020-21 Season

The players on this list follow the new rule set by NBA in 2005, which prevents players under 19 from joining the NBA draft.

1. Aleksej Pokuševski

Aleksej Pokusevski is the youngest NBA basketball player who was drafted in 2020.  He is 7 foot tall who play professional basketball in a Greek club call Olympiacos at age 17.  He was the youngest Euro League player in Olympiacos history.  Pokusevski was 19 years, 17 days on draft night. Minnesota Timberwolves selected him in the 17th overall pick.  He was traded to Oklahoma City Thunder two days later.

Pokusevski averages 3.1 points and 4 total rebounds per game.

2. Patrick Williams

Patrick Williams born on August 26, 2001.  He was 19 years, 139 days when he joined the 2020 NBA draft. Chicago Bulls selected him on the 4th overall pick.  During his debut game, Williams impress the fans with 16 points, four rebounds, one assist, and one block lost to Atlanta Hawks.  He averages 10.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

3. LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball born on August 22, 2001.  He was 19 years, 143 days during 2020 NBA draft night, and became the 3td youngest NBA player.  Charlotte Hornets selected him on 3rd overall pick.  His brother plays for New Orleans Pelicans.  Both LaMelo and his brother attracted national attention when they played together in high school.  LaMelo dropped 92 points in a winning game against Osos High School.

They are much expectation on Ball during his debuted night, but he surprises Pelicans fans with a scoreless with five missed shot attempted, three assists, and two steals.  After a scoreless game on his debut game, Ball’s fourth games score a season-high 22 points.  He maintains an average of 11.8 points, 6.1 assists, and 6.8 total rebounds per game. 


Ball has the potential to be the next star in Charlotte.

4. Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards is born on August 5, 2001.  He played for Georgia University for 1 year before decided to take his talent to the NBA.  He was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves as 1st overall pick during the 2020 NBA draft.  Edwards was 19 years, 160 days when he joined the NBA draft.   Edwards listed as a shooting guard with 6’4″ and 225 pounds.  His quickness and power demonstrate many monstrous dunks since his debut in the 2020-21 season.  He averages 15 points per game for the first 5 games, and had a season-high 26 points on January 7, 2021, lost against Portland Trail Blazers. 

Edwards may be the next rookie of the year if he continues with his aggressive play toward the basket.  He is frustrated for the no foul call on multiple plays. But his coach encourages him to continue attacking the basket even though the call is not his favor.

5. Killian Hayes

Killian Hayes July 27, 2001.  He was the 5th youngest player to join the NBA in the 2020-21 season.  At age 19 years, 169 days, Detroit Pistons selected him at 7th overall pick.  Hayes was from Lakeland, Florida, but he spends his childhood in France due to his father’s professional basketball in France.  He joins the France club Cholet at age 16, and professional basketball in Germany in 2019-20.  He was named MVP and won the gold medal during France 2017 FIBA U16 European Championship.

Hayes averages 21 minutes, and 4.6 points per game in the 2020-21 season.

6. Théo Maledon

Theo Maledon born on June 12, 2001.  Before NBA, he played French youth basketball before he joins the French professional basketball ASVEL at age 16.  He helped ASVEL won Pro A and French Cup title.  Maledon also won a gold medal representing France at the 2016 FIBA U16 European Championship.

Maledon declared his 2020 draft at 19 years, 214 days, and was selected by Oklahoma City Thunder on 34th overall pick. He averages 20 minutes per game, and 6.4 points per game.

7. Jahmi’us Ramsey

Jahmi’us Ramsey born on June 9, 2001.  Before NBA, he played for Texas Tech Red Raiders.  He had a recorded high 44 points and 12 rebounds win over Serbian professional team Mega Bemax during the preseason.  He was named Big 12 Freshman of the year and second-team All-Conference with an average of 15 points, and rebounds.

Ramsey declared the 2020 NBA draft at 19 years, 217 days. Sacramento Kings selected him in the 43rd overall pick.  He averages 1.3 points per game.  As of January 20, 2021, he was listed as inactive or did not play statues for 11 out of 15 games (only play 4 games).  He had an MRI scan and was confirmed with a left groin strain that prevents him to play.

8. James Wiseman

James Wiseman born on March 31, 2001.  He is 7 foot tall 240 lbs.  He played 1-year college basketball with Memphis Tigers before joining the 2020 NBA draft at 19 years, 287 days.  Golden State Warriors selected him in 2nd overall pick.  Teaming up with Stephen Curry, he quickly becomes a key player as a backup center with averaging 20.9 minutes, 11.4 points, and 6 total rebounds per game.

Wiseman has a season-high 11 total rebounds on January 3, 2021, and 20 points on January 20. 2021.  Wiseman will be an uprising rookie center if he continues to improve under head coach Steve Kerr’s guidance.


Final Thought

NBA is a place where young player’s goals.  Many players will gain four years of experience in college before they listed in NBA Draft. But some players will skip college or play 1 year in college before they take their skills to the national level (NBA).  We often can predict upcoming superstars in their rookie years like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, or Tracy McGrady.  So it is not a surprise to see more young players join the NBA at age 19.  During the 2020 NBA draft, there are fourteen NBA players who are at age 19.  Let’s see if these young players will become future superstars.

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