The NBA playoffs have already given us some classic games and performances from some of the league’s biggest stars.
This year’s playoffs have been interesting in that it features some of the usual cast of characters – LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, etc. – but they have also showcased some young, rising stars like Kawhi Leonard, Isaiah Thomas, and Gordon Hayward.
In a league where so many players come and go, it can be fun to revisit just how far some of the league’s best players have come, both in appearance and skill set.
Take a look at how different some of the biggest stars remaining in the playoffs look today vs. their rookie years.
At 32 years old, LeBron James is still the NBA’s most dominant player and poised to lead the Cavaliers to another Finals appearance.
In 2003, James entered the league at 18 years old as a high-school phenom.
Manu Ginobili may be the oldest star of the NBA playoffs, coming off the bench for the Spurs at 39.
Ginobili came to the NBA at 25 years old in 2002 after a successful overseas career.
- Getty Images
Kawhi Leonard has become the leader of these Spurs at 25 years old.
He was just 20 when he joined the Spurs in 2011.
James Harden, 27, is trying to lead the Houston Rockets past the Spurs and into the Western Conference Finals.
Harden entered the NBA in 2009 at 20 years old and with significantly less beard.
Kyrie Irving, at 25, already owns a signature moment thanks to his big three-pointer in last year’s Finals.
When he was drafted at 19 in 2011, before LeBron’s return, the Cavs being in the Finals seemed impossible.
Kevin Love, 28, will play another big role in the Cavs’ success this postseason.
Love entered the league in 2009 at 20 years old and a little more burly.
Gordon Hayward was a first-time All-Star this season at 27 and has led the Jazz to a strong playoff showing.
He’s been one of the NBA’s consistently steady risers since being drafted at 20 years old in 2010.
At 29, Stephen Curry is trying to help the Warriors make their third straight Finals.
He’s come a long way from the skinny 21-year-old who entered the league in 2009.
Klay Thompson, 27, is now a key two-way player for the Warriors
People thought Thompson was strictly a sharpshooter when he entered the NBA at 21 in 2011.
Draymond Green, at 27, is considered the engine for the Warriors.
He, too, has been an unexpected rise from a 22-year-old second round pick in 2012.
Kevin Durant is hoping to win his first title at 28.
- Ezra Shaw/Getty
Durant has been a thin, dynamic scorer since being drafted by the Seattle Supersonics at 18 years old in 2007.
Isaiah Thomas, at 28, is improbably carrying the Celtics through the playoffs.
- Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
When he was drafted with the last pick in 2011, at 22, nobody knew he could be a franchise star.
John Wall had an MVP-level season at 26 for the Wizards this year.
He’s become even better than expected when he entered the NBA at 19 in 2010.
DeMar DeRozan has become the Raptors’ go-to scorer at 27.
DeRozan was known mostly as a high-flying dunker when he came into the league at 20 years old in 2009.
- Kevin C. Cox/Getty
Kyle Lowry made his third All-Star team with the Raptors at 30 years old this year.
Lowry began his winding career at 20 years old as a reserve for the Memphis Grizzlies.
- Doug Pensinger/Getty
J.R. Smith has become a vital sharpshooter and defender for the Cavs at 31.
Smith has come a long way from the immature gunner many considered him to be when he was a 19-year-old rookie in 2004.
- Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty
Iman Shumpert, 26, is a three-and-D wing and fashionable member of the Cavs.
- Jason Miller/Getty
When he entered the league at 21 in 2011, he rocked a more straight-forward look.
Now, revisit one of the biggest oversights in NBA Draft history…
- Maddie Meyer/Getty