Back then, NBA players needed to finish college first before entering the NBA, but that changed in the ’70s when the NBA decided to give high school graduates a chance to enter the NBA. The rules were changed again in 2005 and changed the age limit to 19 years old.
Even though these players are too young, they still managed to compete with grown men in the league. They made astounding stats and gave themselves a break in their basketball career.
Today we are going to look at the youngest NBA players ever, and how their career played out after joining the league. Let’s start!
1. Andrew Bynum (18 Years 6 Days)
Born on October 27, 1987, Bynum was the 10th pick in the first round of the 2005 NBA draft. He was selected as an All-American player in his high school and he immediately decided to go to the NBA and he was drafted by the L.A. Lakers. Andrew Bynum won two championships with the Lakers and earned an award as the All-time NBA Team.
Bynum’s career did not go well after the Lakers traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers. He played seven seasons for the Lakers before he was traded to the 76ers and joined many teams in the NBA throughout his career. Bynum last played for the Indiana Pacers before he retired in 2014.
2. Jermaine O’Neal (18 Years 53 Days)
Jermaine O’Neal was born on October 13, 1978, he made outstanding stats in high school before he entered the NBA. He was the 17th pick of the Trailblazers in the 1996 NBA draft. O’Neal spent four seasons with the Trailblazers and he was traded to Indiana Pacers in 2000. Jermaine O’Neal played 8 seasons with the Pacers and got an award of Most Improved Player in the 2001-2002 NBA season.
Jermain was a six-time All-star and was voted for the All-NBA team three times. He also played for various teams, he played with the Raptors, Heat, Celtics, and Warriors before he retired.
3. Kobe Bryant (18 Years 72 Days)
Kobe is one of the greatest of all time, he started competing with grown men when he was 18 and it is not surprising. Bryant was drafted in the NBA by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA draft and after the draft night, he was traded to the Lakers.
Bryant won multiple titles, he was 18-time-All-star and was voted to the All-NBA Team 15 times. He won the league’s scoring title in the 2005-2006 NBA season. He scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors and was the second-highest points scored by a single player in one game.
Bryant was the youngest player to attain 30,000 career points at the age of 31. Bryant won five NBA championships, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team. He was also the 2008 NBA most valuable player and a two-time finals MVP.
4. Darko Milicic (18 Years 133 Days)
Darko was drafted by the Detroit Pistons as the 2nd pick in the 2003 NBA draft. He became famous for being drafted between Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony. Darko was the youngest player to ever make it to the NBA championship finals at the age of 19. After playing for the Pistons, Darko played for the Magic, Grizzlies, Knicks, and Timberwolves before retiring with the Celtics last 2012.
Darko left the NBA to pursue kickboxing and moved to Serbia to be an apple farmer.
5. Stan Brown (18 Years 139 Days)
Stan Brown was the youngest player to ever join the NBA before Kobe snatched his record. Brown was drafted by the Philadelphia Sphas in 1946 while he was still in junior high. His debut was in October 1946 and he participated in 34 BBA and NBA games. He passed away at the age of 80 last August 2009.
6. Bill Willoughby (18 Years 156 Days)
Bill was born on May 20, 1957, he was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. Bill’s basketball career did not go so well as he played for six teams in a span of eight years.
Bill’s career came to an end when he was 26 and he decided to go back to college. NBA sponsored his education and he graduated at the age of 44 with a degree in Communications in 2001.
7. Tracy McGrady ( 18 Years 160 Days)
After his astounding basketball career in high school, Tracy Mcgrady joined the NBA. He was selected by the Toronto Raptors as their 9th pick in the 1997 NBA draft. He was a young talent with a lot of potentials and he won multiple awards throughout his career.
Tracy was known for scoring 13 points in 35 seconds against the San Antonio Spurs. He is a seven All-Star who was voted to the All-NBA team twice and led the league in scoring in 2003-2004. Due to some injuries, Mcgrady decided to retire in 2013 and currently an analyst at ESPN.
8. Yaroslav Korolev (18 Years 181 Days)
Korolev was born on May 7, 1987, he began his pro career with the Russian club Avtodor before entering the NBA. He was selected as the 12th overall in the 2005 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. Korolev only played two seasons in the NBA for the Clippers, he decided to play overseas after he was waived by the Clippers.
9. Andris Biedriņš (18 Years 217 Days)
Biedrins was drafted as the 11th pick in the first round by the Golden State Warriors and was the youngest player during his rookie season. He did not have a good rookie season as he failed to improve so much. Biedrins was ridiculed for his low free throw percentage and inability to stay out of foul trouble; he was called “The One Minute Man” by the fans because of his inability to play without a foul longer than 60 seconds.
After playing for the Golden State Warriors, Biedrins was traded to the Utah Jazz but he was waived. Biedrins was also a national player for Latvia.
10. C. J. Miles (18 Years 241 Days)
C.J. Miles was the 34th pick of the 2005 NBA draft and was selected by the Utah Jazz and became the youngest NBA player in Jazz franchise history. The Utah Jazz decided to let Miles play in the D-league so that he can have more experience. After some good improvements, the Jazz kept Miles to the team and he was the sixth man for the Utah Jazz.
Miles played for the Cavaliers, Raptors, and Grizzlies after playing for the Utah Jazz. He is currently playing for the Washington Wizards.
Every player can succeed, old or young doesn’t matter, as long as a player is so talented and has a will to play basketball passionately they will succeed. Now the league is filled with young talents with lots of expectations and soon will be a hall of fame.