Photos of what the stars of the NBA playoffs looked like when their careers started

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.

What the stars of the NBA playoffs looked like at the start of their careers
See Gallery
What the stars of the NBA playoffs looked like at the start of their careers

At 32 years old, LeBron James is still the NBA's most dominant player and poised to lead the Cavaliers to another Finals appearance.

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

In 2003, James entered the league at 18 years old as a high-school phenom.

(Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

Manu Ginobili may be the oldest star of the NBA playoffs, coming off the bench for the Spurs at 39.

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Ginobili came to the NBA at 25 years old in 2002 after a successful overseas career.

(Photo by Chris Birck/NBAE via Getty Images)

Kawhi Leonard has become the leader of these Spurs at 25 years old.

(Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

He was just 20 when he joined the Spurs in 2011.

(Photo by D.Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)

James Harden, 27, is trying to lead the Houston Rockets past the Spurs and into the Western Conference Finals.

(Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

Harden entered the NBA in 2009 at 20 years old and with significantly less beard.

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Kyrie Irving, at 25, already owns a signature moment thanks to his big three-pointer in last year's Finals.

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

When he was drafted at 19 in 2011, before LeBron's return, the Cavs being in the Finals seemed impossible.

(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Kevin Love, 28, will play another big role in the Cavs' success this postseason.

(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Love entered the league in 2009 at 20 years old and a little more burly.

(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Gordon Hayward was a first-time All-Star this season at 27 and has led the Jazz to a strong playoff showing.

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

He's been one of the NBA's consistently steady risers since being drafted at 20 years old in 2010.

(Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

At 29, Stephen Curry is trying to help the Warriors make their third straight Finals.

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

He's come a long way from the skinny 21-year-old who entered the league in 2009.

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Klay Thompson, 27, is now a key two-way player for the Warriors

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

People thought Thompson was strictly a sharpshooter when he entered the NBA at 21 in 2011.

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Draymond Green, at 27, is considered the engine for the Warriors.

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

He, too, has been an unexpected rise from a 22-year-old second round pick in 2012.

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Kevin Durant is hoping to win his first title at 28.

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

Durant has been a thin, dynamic scorer since being drafted by the Seattle Supersonics at 18 years old in 2007.

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Isaiah Thomas, at 28, is improbably carrying the Celtics through the playoffs.

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

When he was drafted with the last pick in 2011, at 22, nobody knew he could be a franchise star.

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

John Wall had an MVP-level season at 26 for the Wizards this year.

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

He's become even better than expected when he entered the NBA at 19 in 2010.

(Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

DeMar DeRozan has become the Raptors' go-to scorer at 27.

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

DeRozan was known mostly as a high-flying dunker when he came into the league at 20 years old in 2009.

(Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

Kyle Lowry made his third All-Star team with the Raptors at 30 years old this year.

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Lowry began his winding career at 20 years old as a reserve for the Memphis Grizzlies.

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

J.R. Smith has become a vital sharpshooter and defender for the Cavs at 31.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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.

(Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Iman Shumpert, 26, is a three-and-D wing and fashionable member of the Cavs.

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

When he entered the league at 21 in 2011, he rocked a more straight-forward look.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Now, revisit one of the biggest oversights in NBA Draft history...

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The players NBA teams are kicking themselves for drafting before Isaiah Thomas in 2011 >

See Also:

Read Full Story