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What do you fellas think about my argument here?

  • It's a load of crap!

    Votes: 29 55.8%
  • Makes sense to me!

    Votes: 23 44.2%
1 - 20 of 35 Posts

1,864 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A week or so ago, I tried to make the argument that a player's prime is between the ages of 24-27. Maybe 23-28. But I definitely feel that, when a player hits 29 or 30, that it's all downhill, unless he's a superstar or sure-fire Hall of Famer. I also think that now is a good time to trade Jerry Stackhouse, since he turns 28 next season, which I THINK means that it's all downhill for the guy. A lot of people jumped all over my case when I said that, and a lot of people around here seem to be under the impression that a guy's prime is in the 28-32 range.

Well, here's what I've done. I've taken the fifty dudes from that Hoopsworld Top 50 Players list, I've taken each dude's age at the end of the 2002-03 REGULAR SEASON (i.e., the end of April), and I've divided dudes up according to this age. The idea here is that whichever age/peer group has the highest number of top fifty players, THAT'S when the typical NBA player of today is on top of his game. I anticipate a sort of bell curve (some variation is to be expected, of course). First of all, here's the Hoopsworld Top 50 list, along with each dude's age AT THE END OF THE 2002-03 REGULAR SEASON (I'm not sure where the final 8 guys are ranked, but that's irrelevant, since we know who those final 8 guys ARE):

50. John Stockton 41
49. Eddie Jones 31
48. Raef LaFrentz 26
47. Bonzi Wells 26
46. Lamar Odom 23
45. Allan Houston 32
44. Kenyon Martin 25
43. Antonio Davis 34
42. Vlade Divac 35
41. Cuttino Mobley 27
40. Jalen Rose 30
39. Stephon Marbury 26
38. Michael Jordan 40
37. Ben Wallace 28
36. Richard Hamilton 25
35. Mike Bibby 24
34. Rashard Lewis 23
33. Latrell Sprewell 32
32. Pau Gasol 22
31. Glenn Robinson 30
30. Shareef Abdur-Rahim 26
29. Sam Cassell 33
28. Jamal Mashburn 30
27. Predrag Stojakovic 25
26. Steve Nash 29
25. Shawn Marion 24
24. Karl Malone 39
23. Jermaine O'Neal 24
22. Antonio McDyess 28
21. Jerry Stackhouse 28
20. Ray Allen 27
19. Baron Davis 24
18. Michael Finley 30
17. Rasheed Wallace 28
16. Andre Miller 27
15. Elton Brand 24
14. Steve Francis 26
13. Antoine Walker 26
12. Gary Payton 34
11. Jason Kidd 30
10. Vince Carter 26
9. Allen Iverson 27
8. Paul Pierce 25
7. Chris Webber 30
6. Kobe Bryant 24
5. Dirk Nowitzki 24
4. Tracy McGrady 23
3. Kevin Garnett 26
2. Tim Duncan 27
1. Shaquille O'Neal 31

NOW, I'm going to divide these guys up according to age/peer group. Here goes:

18 years old: 0
19 years old: 0
20 years old: 0
21 years old: 0
22 years old: 1
23 years old: 3
24 years old: 7
25 years old: 4
26 years old: 8
27 years old: 5
28 years old: 4
29 years old: 1
30 years old: 6
31 years old: 2 (Shaq and Eddie Jones)
32 years old: 2 (Sprewell and Houston)
33 years old: 1 (Cassell)
34 years old: 2 (Payton and Antonio Davis)
35 years old: 1 (Divac)
36 years old: 0
37 years old: 0
38 years old: 0
39 years old: 1 (Malone)
40 years old: 1 (Jordan)
41 years old: 1 (Stockton)

Sure enough, 24 (48%) of the 50 dudes on this list are between the ages of 24-27. And 31 (62%) of the 50 dudes on this list are between the ages of 23-28. Only 11 (22%) of the 50 dudes on this list will be older than 30 at the end of the 2002-03 regular season. In FACT, if it weren't for a couple of aberrations--a) the relatively low number of 25-year-olds (5) and the relatively high number of 30-year-olds (6)--we would have a pretty perfect bell curve!

In this light, the Rip-for-Stack trade makes a lot more sense. Each dude is playing for a new contract, and each dude will want a 6- or 7-year deal. Stack, in just the SECOND SEASON of a new contract, will be 30 years old, while Rip will still be in his prime (27 years old) during his second season. In the final couple of seasons of a 6-year contract, Stack will be 33 and 34 years old, and only 7 (14%) of the 50 dudes on this list will be as old as 33 at the end of the 2002-03 regular season. In other words, during the final 3-4 years of his contract, Stack will be getting paid like an All-Star, but his chances of maintaining an All-Star level of play will be relatively low.

Also, keep in mind that this list is going to look different at the END of the 2002-03 season. And guess who are the prime candidates to be REMOVED from this list? Yep, that's right, most of the 31-and-up dudes: Eddie Jones, Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston, Sam Cassell, Antonio Davis, Vlade Divac, Michael Jordan (who will retire), and John Stockton (who will also probably retire, and who is presently at #50, anyway).

ALSO, I said the other day that, if a dude is going to emerge as an All-Star-caliber player, it'll probably happen when he's around 23 or 24. This bell curve that I've come up with here--and I'm using the Hoopsworld Top 50 list, not my own list!--seems to support THIS argument, TOO!

ANYWAY, I'd like to know what some of you peoples think about this theory. I have convinced myself, maybe I've convinced a few of you guys, but maybe there are a few peoples out there who think I'm a total numbskull here. Either way, let's hear some feedback!

2,305 Posts

Nice post.

I thought I needed more stuff to do... :D

3,175 Posts
I think that their is currently a large amount of talent in the younger age brackets. I would wager a guess that Kobe, McGrady, Pierce, Kidd, Duncan, Nowitski, Allen, Iverson, Garnett, Carter and all the great players of today will still be in the top 50 when they are 30 years old or more.

8,236 Posts
Originally posted by <b>Lizzy</b>!
I think that their is currently a large amount of talent in the younger age brackets. I would wager a guess that Kobe, McGrady, Pierce, Kidd, Duncan, Nowitski, Allen, Iverson, Garnett, Carter and all the great players of today will still be in the top 50 when they are 30 years old or more.
I think most of those you mentioned will still be in the top 50 at age 30. I think that for most of those "super stars", they seem to start to wear down physically at around 31/32 and the biggest notice of wearing down (except Stockton - like Kareem & Havlicek before him - they were health nuts who just defied the usual aging process) for them is at age 33/34.

1,864 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Originally posted by <b>Lizzy</b>!
I think that their is currently a large amount of talent in the younger age brackets. I would wager a guess that Kobe, McGrady, Pierce, Kidd, Duncan, Nowitski, Allen, Iverson, Garnett, Carter and all the great players of today will still be in the top 50 when they are 30 years old or more.
Yeah, MAYBE, but there are PLENTY of dudes currently in their thirties who USED to be Top 50 players but who aren't anymore. I gotta go, but later on tonight or maybe tomorrow, I'll post a list of some of those dudes.

Also, some of the older players on this list who probably won't be on this list for much longer--Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, Antonio Davis, Eddie Jones--well, don't you think that their teams wish they hadn't given these guys such huge longterm deals? Do you think that, when they GOT these deals (several years ago), that they weren't BETTER than they are NOW? A LOT better?

Fellas, I got a lot of naysayers, people voting for the "It's a load of crap!" option, but you guys aren't saying WHY you think it's a load of crap! Don't just VOTE that it's a load of crap, tell me WHY you think it's a load of crap! I don't have a problem with someone thinking that I'm a total idiot, but at LEAST tell me WHY!

4,061 Posts
I'm of the theory that NBA talent comes in waves. From '79-'85, you see a huge number of starts drafted. 1986-1991 is a down time for NBA talent, but in 1992 we start to see some real players getting drafted again. You could make the argument that this talent infusion lasted all the way until 1999. The stars of the '79-85 era were getting old, and prospects were ripe for a new breed of NBA superstar. As these players develop, inexperienced players are going to have a tougher time getting into the league. You definitely see this in the 00/01 drafts. I'm not sure how good the 02 draft class will do. I don't really have the time to back this up with any real evidence, but it sure seems like things work out this way.

Anyway, my point is that I believe the average age of an NBA star is going to get increasingly older over the next couple of seasons, as the all the stars from 92-99 start to get older, and the 00 and 01 drafts simply don't have the talent to replace the older guys.

148 Posts
You might be right, but I don't think you can make comments on what the average career is like based on a one year sample .... if you could take a top fifty list (or fewer - you don't need as many people if you have more lists to look at) from say '90,'93, '96, '99, and '02 and do a combined analysis you could make a stronger argument - if you're correct.

322 Posts
If the NBA had a game for like 18-29 year olds agianst 30-40 year olds, the young would win. However, usually your prime is when you are about 28-31 years old.

58,028 Posts
Very intersting write up, thanks for sharing, I think there are examples of what are the odd ones, but I see where you are going.


513 Posts
I think that I tend to agree with those that believe that the best players in the league right now just happen to be younger players. I think the reason for this is that players are coming to the NBA at a younger and younger age. The best players will probably be the best players no matter when they arrive. In other words, Kobe and Garnett would still have turned into superstars even if they had gone to college. But because players jumping this early is a relatively recent phenomenon the average age of the best players is obviously going to be lower. After a decade or so of stability with the high schoolers and young foreign players coming into the league, then an average age statistic might give us a better idea of what is going on. But for now, because of the changing overall age of the league, the numbers are skewed.

1,864 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Good discussion, fellas. Some of you (tinygiant, ryzmah, blabla97) did an okay job of defending yourselves, others (3814 and harper time) didn't. And RoRo, I swear to god, I didn't know a thing about that Sporting News experiment, but I think the fact that I'm not the ONLY person out there who came up with this idea gives it a lot more credibility.

By the way, guys, I don't know, I think that this IS a young man's game. Take a look at some guys on this list who are over the hill (31 years and up) whose better days are DEFINITELY behind them already:

Latrell Sprewell (32)
Allan Houston (32)
Sam Cassell (33)
Eddie Jones (31)
Antonio Davis (34)

And here are some other dudes in their early thirties not ON that list whose better days are DEFINITELY behind THEM:

Juwan Howard (30)
Doug Christie (32)
Alonzo Mourning (33)
Elden Campbell (34)
PJ Brown (33)
Nick Van Exel (31)
Robert Horry (32)
Dale Davis (34)
Darrell Armstrong (34)
Anfernee Hardaway (31)
Kenny Anderson (32)
Rodney Rogers (31)
Steve Smith (34)
Rick Fox (33)
Derrick Coleman (35)
Eric Snow (30)
Brian Grant (31)
Travis Best (30)
Bobby Sura (30)
Bo Outlaw (32)
David Wesley (32)
Bryon Russell (32)
Jim Jackson (32)
Clarence Weatherspoon (32)
Terrell Brandon (32)
Vin Baker (31)
Grant Hill (30)

Every single ONE of those dudes is worse than he was a few years ago! EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM! Most of these guys are in their early thirties (30-33)! And that is a HUGE LIST!

I could find only a few exceptions of thirtysomething dudes who are maintaining their previous level of play, who haven't slipped over the past couple of seasons (besides the ones on the Top 50 list):

Kurt Thomas (30)
Wesley Person (32)
Lamond Murray (30)
Bobby Jackson (30)
Popeye Jones (32)

And I think that every single one of those five dudes--with the exception of maybe Bobby Jackson--will probably be WORSE this season than they were LAST season, don't you?

SO FELLAS! I don't know, guys, I don't know--it sure seems to me that this is a young man's game! Maybe it wasn't a few years ago, but it sure is now!

Think about it this way. The fact that kids are entering the draft out of high school now, or at least by the end of their second year of college, means that the league is populated by younger and therefore more athletic guys. Speed and quickness are more important to today's NBA player than they have EVER BEEN. [Speed and quickness are SO important that the Cleveland Cavaliers are feeling pretty good about themselves for trading an established star point guard (Andre Miller) for an extremely raw BUT EXTREMELY FAST AND QUICK player (Darius Miles).] As a result, once guys begin to lose a step or two--i.e., once guys enter their thirties--their performance really suffers, more so than it did just five or ten years ago!

Also, the influx of European players have "Europeanized" the NBA game, which is to say that the fast break has come back into vogue. Remember when everybody was complaining about low scoring and boring isolation crap? Doesn't that seem like FOREVER ago? What was it, TWO YEARS AGO?

It's a different game now, fellas, that's what I think! And I think that the bell curve that I posted earlier really backs me up!


2,160 Posts
Ages of NBA Players as of 12/10/02

I posted this a long time ago, but Roby, the cohorts aged 31-33 are really weak. There are a few players in that age range who used to be really good (A Hardaway), but for the most part they have always been weak cohorts. I think those weak cohorts are the main reason the NBA has struggled over the past few years. Fortunately, the younger cohorts appear to be quite good.

These are the ages as of 12/10/02 for all the NBA players in the league as of 12/10/01. I will add some of the rookies from time to time. Give me birthdays for any you want included (missing birthdates for Woods and Stoudamire). Basic data came from

(I challenged myself to figure out a way to do this without having to input all of the data and I was up to the challenge. I hope this is useful.)

Rookies and Bulls are bolded, and the 27 players to get MVP votes or be All-NBA (1st, 2nd, or 3rd teams) in the last two years are underlined.

For extra interest, I put together a starting team and three bench players for each year, group 19-20 and 38-40. I then ranked the teams by how good they would be in 2002-2003.


Nickoloz Tskitishvili (1983), Dajuan Wagner (2/4/83)

20 (#17) S: Parker, Arenas, Griffin, Chandler, Curry B: Wagner, Wallace, Brown

Gilbert Arenas (1/6/82), Kwame Brown (3/10/82), Tyson Chandler (10/2/82), Omar Cook (1/28/82), Eddy Curry (12/5/82), DeSagana Diop (1/30/82), Eddie Griffin (5/30/82), Nene Hilario (9/13/82), Tony Parker (5/17/82), Gerald Wallace (7/23/82), Chris Wilcox (8/3/82)

21 (#13) S: J Williams, J Richardson, Kirilenko, Miles, Hunter B: J Johnson, Bender, Gooden

Jonathan Bender (1/30/81), Kedrick Brown (3/18/81), Samuel Dalembert (5/10/81), Alton Ford (5/29/81), Joseph Forte (3/23/81), Antonis Fotsis (4/1/81), Drew Gooden (9/24/81), Steven Hunter (10/31/81), Jared Jeffries (11/25/81), Joe Johnson (6/29/81), Andrei Kirilenko (2/18/81), Darius Miles (10/9/81), Olumide Oyedeji (5/11/81), Zach Randolph (7/16/81), Jason Richardson (1/20/81), Kenny Satterfield (4/10/81), DeShawn Stevenson (4/3/81), Jay Williams (9/10/81)

22 (#11) S: Crawford, Q Richardson, M Miller, Gasol, Ming B: Butler, Dunleavy, Radmanovic

Brandon Armstrong (6/16/80), Dalibor Bagaric (2/7/80), Curtis Borchardt (9/13/80), Jamison Brewer (11/19/80), Caron Butler (3/13/80), Jamal Crawford (3/20/80), Keyon Dooling (5/8/80), Mike Dunleavy (9/15/80), Pau Gasol (7/6/80), Al Harrington (2/17/80), Donnell Harvey (8/26/80), Richard Jefferson (6/21/80), DeMarr Johnson (5/5/80), Mike Miller (2/19/80), Yao Ming (9/12/80), Troy Murphy (5/2/80), Vladimir Radmanovic (11/19/80), Quentin Richardson (4/13/80), Bobby Simmons (6/2/80), Bruno Sundov (2/10/80), Rodney White (6/28/80)

23 (#5) S: B Davis, McGrady, Lewis, Brand, Haywood B: Turkoglu, Artest, Odom

Carlos Arroyo (7/30/79), Ron Artest (11/13/79), William Avery (8/8/79), Charlie Bell (3/12/79), Michael Bradley (4/18/79), Elton Brand (3/11/79), Primoz Brezec (10/2/79), Damone Brown (6/28/79), Ernest Brown (5/17/79), Tierre Brown (6/3/79), Baron Davis (4/13/79), Ricky Davis (9/23/79), Trenton Hassell (3/4/79), Kirk Haston (3/10/79), Brendan Haywood (11/11/79), Larry Hughes (1/23/79), Jumaine Jones (2/10/79), Rashard Lewis (8/8/79), Corey Maggette (11/12/79), Tracy McGrady (5/24/79), Stanislav Medvedenko (4/4/79), Chris Mihm (7/16/79), Terence Morris (1/11/79), Lamar Odom (11/6/79), Joel Przybilla (11/10/79), Michael Redd (8/24/79), Jeryl Sasser (2/13/79), Stromile Swift (11/21/79), Jeff Trepagnier (7/11/79), Jake Tsakalidis (6/10/79), Hidayet Turkoglu (3/19/79), Ratko Varda (5/6/79), Earl Watson (6/12/79)

24 (#2) S: Bibby, Bryant, Marion, Nowitzki, J O'Neal B: Francis, Martin, Magloire

Malik Allen (6/27/78), Chris Andersen (7/7/78), Erick Barkley (2/21/78), Shane Battier (9/9/78), Mike Bibby (5/13/78), Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje (5/20/78), Kobe Bryant (8/23/78), Speedy Claxton (5/8/78), Jarron Collins (12/2/78), Jason Collins (12/2/78), Maurice Evans (11/8/78), Marcus Fizer (8/10/78), Steve Francis (2/21/78), Dion Glover (10/22/78), AJ Guyton (2/13/78), Richard Hamilton (2/14/78), Eddie House (5/14/78), Stephen Jackson (4/5/78), Alvin Jones (9/9/78), Jamaal Magloire (5/21/78), Shawn Marion (5/7/78), Kenyon Martin (12/30/77), Jerome Moiso (6/15/78), Dirk Nowitzki (6/19/78), Dean Oliver (11/5/78), Jermaine O'Neal (10/13/78), Milt Palacio (2/7/78), Lavor Postell (2/26/78), Brian Scalabrine (3/18/78), Will Solomon (7/20/78), Etan Thomas (4/1/78), Jamaal Tinsley (2/28/78), Loren Woods (6/21/78)

25 (#7) Marbury, Carter, Pierce, Peja, Mohammed B: Terry, Wally, Abdur-Rahim

Shareef Abdur-Rahim (12/11/76), Courtney Alexander (4/27/77), Cal Bowdler (3/31/77), Rodney Buford (11/2/77), Brian Cardinal (5/2/77), Vince Carter (1/26/77), Mateen Cleaves (9/7/77), Jason Collier (9/8/77), Michael Doleac (6/15/77), Jeff Foster (1/16/77), Devean George (8/29/77), Dan Langhi (11/28/77), Quincy Lewis (6/26/77), Tyronn Lue (5/3/77), Stephon Marbury (2/20/77), Desmond Mason (10/11/77), Jelani McCoy (12/6/77), Nazr Mohammed (9/5/77), Morris Peterson (8/26/77), Paul Pierce (10/13/77), James Posey (1/13/77), Norman Richardson (7/24/77), Michael Ruffin (1/21/77), Jabari Smith (2/12/77), Predrag Stojakovic (6/9/77), Wally Szczerbiak (3/5/77), Jason Terry (9/15/77), Kenny Thomas (7/25/77), Tim Thomas (2/26/77), Oscar Torres (12/18/76), Robert Traylor (2/1/77), Jake Voskuhl (11/1/77), Wang Zhizhi (7/8/77)

26 (#1) A Miller, Wells, A Walker, Garnett, Duncan B: Billups, A Jamison, B Miller

Rafer Alston (7/24/76), Tony Battie (2/11/76), Raja Bell (9/19/76), Chauncey Billups (9/25/76), Calvin Booth (5/7/76), Earl Boykins (6/2/76), Greg Buckner (9/16/76), Vonteego Cummings (2/29/76), Derrick Dial (12/20/75), Tim Duncan (4/25/76), Danny Fortson (3/27/76), Kevin Garnett (5/19/76), Pat Garrity (8/23/76), Steve Goodrich (3/18/76), Matt Harpring (5/31/76), Troy Hudson (3/13/76), Antawn Jamison (6/12/76), Harold Jamison (11/20/76), Damon Jones (8/25/76), Raef LaFrentz (5/29/76), Trajan Langdon (5/13/76), Todd MacCulloch (1/27/76), Mark Madsen (1/28/76), Ron Mercer (5/18/76), Andre Miller (3/19/76), Brad Miller (4/12/76), Hanno Mottola (9/9/76), Eduardo Najera (7/11/76), Tyrone Nesby (1/31/76), Radoslav Nesterovic (5/30/76), Scott Padgett (4/19/76), Eddie Robinson (4/19/76), Daniel Santiago (6/24/76), Brian Skinner (5/19/76), Vladimir Stepania (5/8/76), Maurice Taylor (10/30/76), Antoine Walker (8/12/76), Samaki Walker (2/25/76), Bonzi Wells (9/20/76), Jahidi White (2/19/76)

27 (#6) S: Iverson, R Allen, Van Horn, K Clark, Kandi B: J Williams, Wright, Pollard

Ray Allen (7/20/75), Mark Blount (11/30/75), Ryan Bowen (11/20/75), Anthony Carter (6/16/75), Keon Clark (4/16/75), Chris Crawford (5/13/75), Austin Croshere (5/1/75), Antonio Daniels (3/19/75), Michael Dickerson (6/25/75), Predrag Drobnjak (10/27/75), Obinna Ekezie (8/22/75), Evan Eschmeyer (5/30/75), Adonal Foyle (3/9/75), Zendon Hamilton (4/27/75), Cedric Henderson (3/11/75), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (6/5/75), Allen Iverson (6/7/75), Marc Jackson (1/16/75), Jerome James (11/17/75), Brevin Knight (11/8/75), Felipe Lopez (12/19/74), Sean Marks (8/23/75), Roshown McLeod (11/17/75), Mikki Moore (11/4/75), Lee Nailon (2/22/75), Mamadou N'diaye (6/16/75), Michael Olowokandi (4/3/75), Ruben Patterson (7/31/75), Scot Pollard (2/12/75), Vitaly Potapenko (3/21/75), Charles Smith (8/22/75), Joe Smith (7/26/75), Michael Stewart (4/24/75), Keith Van Horn (10/23/75), Jacque Vaughn (2/11/75), Jason Williams (11/18/75), Shammond Williams (4/5/75), Lorenzen Wright (11/4/75)

28 (#8) S: Nash, Stackhouse, R Wallace, McDyess, B Wallace B: Fisher, Mobley, Camby

Tariq Abdul-Wahad (11/3/74), Derek Anderson (7/18/74), Shandon Anderson (12/13/73), Chucky Atkins (8/14/74), Marcus Camby (3/22/74), Kelvin Cato (8/26/74), Erick Dampier (7/14/74), Tony Delk (1/28/74), Bryce Drew (9/21/74), Jamie Feick (7/3/74), Derek Fisher (8/9/74), Adrian Griffin (7/4/74), Othella Harrington (1/31/74), Kerry Kittles (6/12/74), Travis Knight (9/13/74), Walter McCarty (2/1/74), Antonio McDyess (9/7/74), Jeff McInnis (10/22/74), Cuttino Mobley (9/1/74), Steve Nash (2/7/74), Don Reid (12/30/73), Malik Rose (11/23/74), Jerry Stackhouse (11/5/74), Gary Trent (9/22/74), Ben Wallace (9/10/74), John Wallace (2/9/74), Rasheed Wallace (9/17/74), Alvin Williams (8/6/74)

29 (#3) S: Kidd, Finley, Rose, Webber, Ratliff B: B Jackson, G Robinson, Howard

Jason Caffey (6/12/73), Andrew DeClercq (2/1/73), Michael Finley (3/6/73), Darvin Ham (7/23/73), Juwan Howard (2/7/73), Bobby Jackson (3/13/73), Jason Kidd (3/23/73), Voshon Lenard (5/14/73), Donyell Marshall (5/18/73), Amal McCaskill (10/28/73), Lamond Murray (4/20/73), Moochie Norris (7/27/73), Kevin Ollie (12/27/72), Greg Ostertag (3/6/73), Theo Ratliff (4/17/73), Bryant Reeves (6/8/73), Glenn Robinson (1/10/73), Jalen Rose (1/30/73), Eric Snow (4/24/73), Damon Stoudamire (9/3/73), Erick Strickland (11/25/73), Bob Sura (3/25/73), Chris Webber (3/1/73), Jerome Williams (5/10/73), Corliss Williamson (12/4/73)

30 (#4) S: Best, Mashburn, G Hill, B Grant, O'Neal B: B Barry, McKie, K Thomas

Brent Barry (12/31/71), Travis Best (7/12/72), Shawn Bradley (3/22/72), Rick Brunson (6/14/72), Howard Eisley (12/4/72), Brian Grant (3/5/72), Alan Henderson (12/2/72), Grant Hill (10/5/72), Fred Hoiberg(10/15/72), Art Long (10/1/72), Jamal Mashburn (11/29/72), Aaron McKie (10/2/72), Shaquille O'Neal (3/6/72), Cherokee Parks (10/11/72), Mark Pope (9/11/72), Zeljko Rebraca (4/9/72), Shawnelle Scott (6/16/72), Kurt Thomas (10/4/72), Eric Williams (7/17/72)

31 (#15) S: Van Exel, Houston, E Jones, R Rogers, V Baker B: A Hardaway, Person, A Williams

Vin Baker (11/23/71), Bruce Bowen (6/14/71), Mitchell Butler (12/15/70), Calbert Cheaney (7/17/71), Lawrence Funderburke (12/15/70), Anfernee Hardaway (7/18/71), Lucious Harris (12/18/70), Allan Houston (4/20/71), Eddie Jones (10/20/71), Eric Montross (9/23/71), Tracy Murray (7/25/71), Bo Outlaw (4/13/71), Wesley Person (3/28/71), Carlos Rogers (2/6/71), Rodney Rogers (6/20/71), Bryon Russell (12/31/70), Nick Van Exel (11/27/71), Chris Whitney (10/5/71), Aaron Williams (10/2/71), Monty Williams (10/8/71)

32 (#12) S: K Anderson, Christie, Sprewell, Horry, Mourning B: Wesley, Lynch, P Jones

John Amaechi (11/26/70), Kenny Anderson (10/9/70), Terrell Brandon (5/20/70), Doug Christie (5/9/70), Hubert Davis (5/17/70), LaPhonso Ellis (5/5/70), Tom Gugliotta (12/19/69), Antonio Harvey (7/6/70), Robert Horry (8/25/70), Lindsey Hunter (12/3/70), Jim Jackson (10/14/70), Popeye Jones (6/17/70), George Lynch (9/3/70), Sam Mack (5/26/70), Chris Mills (1/25/70), Alonzo Mourning (2/8/70), Eric Piatkowski (9/30/70), Latrell Sprewell (9/8/70), Bryant Stith (12/10/70), Mark Strickland (7/14/70), Charlie Ward (10/12/70), Clarence Weatherspoon (9/8/70), David Wesley (11/14/70), Walt Williams (4/16/70)

33 (#14) S: Cassell, J Barry, Fox, PJ Brown, D Davis B: Peeler, S Smith, Laettner

Victor Alexander (8/31/69), Isaac Austin (8/18/69), Jon Barry (7/25/69), Corie Blount (1/4/69), PJ Brown (10/14/69), Sam Cassell (11/18/69), John Crotty (7/15/69), Dale Davis (3/25/69), Rick Fox (7/24/69), Shawn Kemp (11/26/69), Christian Laettner (8/17/69), Anthony Peeler (11/25/69), Sean Rooks (9/9/69), Steve Smith (3/31/69), Nick Anderson (1/20/68)

34 (#9) S: D Armstrong, Payton, Kukoc, A Davis, Divac B: M Curry, T Hill, Campbell

Darrell Armstrong (6/22/68), Stacey Augmon (8/1/68), Randy Brown (5/22/68), Jud Buechler (6/19/68), Elden Campbell (7/23/68), Bimbo Coles (4/22/68), Michael Curry (8/22/68), Antonio Davis (10/31/68), Emanual Davis (8/27/68), Vlade Divac (2/3/68), Greg Foster (10/3/68), Kendall Gill (5/25/68), Tyrone Hill (3/19/68), Ervin Johnson (12/21/67), Toni Kukoc (9/18/68), Gary Payton (7/23/68), Brent Price (12/9/68), Larry Robinson (1/11/68), Felton Spencer (1/5/68), Scott Williams (3/21/68)

35 (#19) G Anthony, G Rice, A Mason, C Robinson, D Coleman B: Childs, Gatling, Massenburg

Greg Anthony (11/15/67), Dana Barros (4/13/67), Mookie Blaylock (3/20/67), Matt Bullard (6/5/67), Chris Childs (11/20/67), Derrick Coleman (6/21/67), Chris Gatling (9/3/67), Anthony Mason (12/14/66), Tony Massenburg (7/13/67), George McCloud (5/27/67), Glen Rice (5/28/67), Clifford Robinson (12/16/66)

36 (#18) S: T Hardaway, Shaw, Ferry, Long, Mutumbo B: R Strickland, Manning, Garrett

Danny Ferry (10/17/66), Dean Garrett (11/27/66), Tim Hardaway (9/1/66), Grant Long (3/12/66), Danny Manning (5/17/66), Dikembe Mutombo (6/25/66), Brian Shaw (3/22/66), Rod Strickland (7/11/66)

37 (#16) S: M Jackson, R Miller, Pippen, Grant, Robinson B: Kerr, Richmond, M Bryant

Mark Bryant (4/25/65), Chris Dudley (2/22/65), Horace Grant (7/4/65), Mark Jackson (4/1/65), Avery Johnson (3/25/65), Steve Kerr (9/27/65), Dan Majerle (9/9/65), Reggie Miller (8/24/65), Scottie Pippen (9/25/65), Mitch Richmond (6/30/65), David Robinson (8/6/65), John Starks (8/10/65)

38 (#10) S: Stockton, Jordan, Newman, Malone, Olajuwon B: Porter, Curry, Ewing

Dell Curry (6/25/64), Charles Oakley (12/18/63)


Michael Jordan (2/17/63), Karl Malone (7/24/63), Sam Mitchell (9/2/63), Johnny Newman (11/28/63), Hakeem Olajuwon (1/21/63), Terry Porter (4/8/63)


Patrick Ewing (8/5/62), John Stockton (3/26/62), Kevin Willis (9/6/62)

513 Posts
I think you are making some good points, and consequently this is turning into an interesting discussion. However, I still think that you are missing my point about the changing age of the league in general. You recognize this fact, but don't seem to understand the impact that this shift has on the overall makeup of the NBA right now.
A couple of points about the players you mentioned. First of all, most of the ones you talked about were 32 or over. Which has been precisely my point. Prime lasts until about this age. Some of the players on your list who were younger (Travis Best, Bob Sura) have never been great players in the league and I think it's tough to say that their best years are beind them because they never had great years. Although even in this case I think Travis Best might prove you wrong and have his best season if he gets a chance to start consistently.
Some of the other players (Grant Hill, Penny) have had serious injuries in their careers that I think account for their declining skills much more than their ages.

I am, however, willing to concede one point. For a lot of NBA players, their primes probably do come before the age of 30. But what I've always been talking about here are the really good players, in terms of what it takes to win big in the league. And in this case I still hold to my original theory. With the exception of Kobe and Tim Duncan (both of whom would not have been winning championships by themselves without the help of their older teammates Shaq and David Robinson) the key players on championship and high caliber teams are almost always in the 27-32 range.
Some examples
Michael Jordan - won his championships when he was 28,29,30,33,34,35
Scottie Pippen - 25,26,27,30,31,32
Hakeem Olajuwon - won his at 31 and 32
Karl Malone - in the Finals when he was 33,34
John Stockton - in the Finals when he was 34,35
Anyway, these are just a couple of examples. I need to find a site that has stats on some of the older players, but I'm willing to bet that guys like Isiah Thomas (in 90), Magic Johnson, Kareem (in 87,88) and others all won championships after they were 30. I don't think that you go downhill after 30 and winning a championship as the key player on your team must be the best evidence of how good you are.
Now the only hole right now in this theory is the fact that the Lakers have won with Shaq at 28,29,30 and Kobe at 22,23,24. But I think to counter this I would just have to agree with the person who said that talent in the league goes in cycles and there are just no real true superstars in the 30-33 range in the league right now. But I think (unless he retires for some reason) we'll still see Shaq dominant and winning a championship or two after he's in his 30s.

Anyway, there are some more thoughts to play with.

1,864 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·

I gotta say, I'm pretty blown away by the effort. Totally awesome. You make me feel like less of a freak, what can I say.

You make a really good argument. Fellas, take note--when you back up your argument with FACTS and STATISTICS, it's a better argument. I hate to sound like a high school English teacher here, but it's true.

So what you (and I think a couple of other people) are saying is that the 31-33 age/peer group of NBA players just HAPPENS to be weak, huh? And THAT'S why the league is dominated by guys under 30? Hmm. Makes sense. But that doesn't disprove my theory, I don't think. Even if there WERE more good 31-33-year-olds out there, they STILL might not be able to keep up in what has become a game more reliant on speed and quickness than ever.


I totally get where you're going with the whole "veterans win championships" argument. If it weren't for the Lakers' veteran role players, I think we all know they wouldn't be gunning for a fourpeat this year. But I'm not sure if the examples of previous championship players' ages has much to do with what we're talking about, SIMPLY BECAUSE I think that the league has, like I said, become more reliant on speed and quickness than ever.

35 or 36 USED to be over the hill in Michael Jordan's NBA, but in Tracy McGrady's and Kevin Garnett's NBA, the young kids have taken over in a way that I think we are ONLY BEGINNING to REALLY UNDERSTAND. In other words, what I'M saying isn't that the Garnetts and the Kobes have taken the place of the Jordans and the Barkleys--along with the Europeans, these guys have changed the game. It's a game in which the fastest and quickest guys win. [Of course, ultimately the BIGGEST guy--Shaq--wins, but that's beside the point; OR IS IT? I don't know.] You don't see the sort of boring isolation crap that we were all so bored to death with just a few years ago anymore. Why? Because it's too slow, it doesn't work anymore.

ALSO, I understand that Bobby Sura and some of the other thirtysomething dudes I mentioned were never "great players," but they were NBA players, and they're worse than they used to be. I'm not just talking about All-Stars here, I'm talking about ALL NBA players.

As for the guys (Grant Hill, Anfernee Hardaway) who have slipped as a result of injuries, I would counter that, as you get older, such injuries become more likely. That's part of being a veteran athlete--you know how to play the game better than ever, but your body won't cooperate.

EVERYBODY: Please, fellas, I WANT you to tell me why and how I'm wrong here. I LOVE IT that I have some guys like NCBullsFan and TinyGiant who take the time to debate with me. Let's hear some feedback from some other people. This has turned into a really good discussion (instead of yet another classic robyg1974 rant), so c'mon, fellas, give us your two cents!

2,160 Posts

First off, you should switch allegiances to the Bulls and you will get plenty of folks to argue endlessly (with very good arguments, generally) about pretty much any strong opinion that you present.

But back to the point, you can see just how weak the 31-33 year-olds are, really the 31-36 year-olds are, by comparing them to the 37-40 year-olds. It is a little hard to compare, since many good players in these cohorts are out of the NBA, but it really looks like those folks born between 1966 and 1971 were a weak cohort for basketball. (Were all of the good basketball fathers of that generation killed over in Vietnam?)

In that whole six year period, there are only a few guys who have much of a shot at the Hall of Fame (Payton, Mourning, and Mutumbo)? And lots of folks doubt that Mutumbo really is in that cohort.

In the four year cohort before them (37-40), we have probably a dozen guys who will get Hall of Fame consideration. There may never be a generation as strong as MJ's generation, but there probably won't be one as weak as the generation that followed MJ. (If not for that weakness, MJ probably would not have won six titles.)

Given that, it really is difficult to make general claims about when players' skills decline from the current data. Certainly comparing the 31-33 year-olds to those younger than them is the wrong way to do it. Using that logic we would argue that skills must increase in the late 30s, since there are so many good players at that age right now.

Probably the best way to do it would be to go back and look at individual players from many cohorts to see when their best years were. I suspect that late 20s are their prime, but I suspect for the best players, their big dropoffs typically are in the mid-30s rather than the early 30s.

973 Posts
I think the stack trade still favors the Wiz...

1st... It gives a good chance for the wizards to make the playoffs and maybe make the finals... remember it is the eastern conference... This is what Jordan wants...

2nd... Stackhouse said he'll opt... and this trade wuz the one we needed to freee up cap.... Cardinal, and Varda are in their last years of their contracts... while davis wuz counting about 3 million against us. So this enabled us to clear his contract and get 12 million in cap room...

227 Posts
Your analysis shows a correlatiion between youth and stardom. I think one of the causes of this trend is the lack of good big men in the league.

Big men have usually had a longer career than perimeter players. Probably because good big men are harder to find.

Hakeem and Ewing stuck around well past their prime because of this lack of goog big men. They were considered top 50 players when they were in their early to mid thirties.

I had noticed years ago (60's & 70's) that 32 seemed to be a wall for perimeter players. This has changed somewaht because of the money to be made, players take better care of themselves.

481 Posts
If we take a look back at 1997, and if we try to set a list of decisive players in the NBA then, we have (in no particular order):
Michael Jordan: 34
Karl Malone: 34
John Stockton: 35
Hakeem Olajuwon: 34
Charles Barkley: 34
Scotie Pippen: 32
David Robinson: 32
Shaquille O'Neal: 25
Gary Payton: 29
Pat Ewing: 35
Shawn Kemp: 28
Alonzo Mourning: 27
Reggie Miller: 32
I'm sure I'm missing several important players, but this could be orientative.

So I basically agree what NCBullsFan says. Some of the conclusions that many people try to explain are a matter of draft classes.

In the end I think that a really good player becomes better as he gets near 30 years old if he has not too many physical troubles. He would struggle a little from the statistical point of view, but that is not the main thing. In the end, it's a matter of learning and understand the game, and the age helps a lot.
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