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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Top 25 Under 25: Best and worst case

Kevin Durant, just 24 years old, has the potential to be one of the greatest players ever.

The release of our NBA "25 Under 25" rankings Tuesday showcased just how much young basketball talent is in the league these days. But let's not jump to conclusions and expect every name on the list to eventually become a Hall of Famer.

While a chosen few will end their careers with those kinds of numbers, it's easy to forget that similar lists from the past would be littered with names such as Darius Miles, Joe Smith, Eddie Griffin and Tim Thomas. These are players with vast potential who -- for one reason or another -- failed to follow the path to superstardom laid out before them by scouts and pundits.

As human beings, we have a strong tendency to remember the successful predictions and forget the unsuccessful ones, underestimating the error bars we should put around any future predictions. One remedy for this, though, is to develop statistically based predictions, looking to the past to see how accurate such predictions were. That's what I did for the first 10 names on our "25 Under 25" list, creating a most likely career value projection -- but, more importantly, creating confidence intervals that show just how little we can trust early-career predictions.

The width of these intervals underscores the saying: "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

Read the entire list here.