Preseason games are underway and the 2011-2012 NBA season is days from finally beginning. Better late than never. As always, we take you across the league and give you the veterans, the dinosaurs and geezers of the NBA, still making it to work for a decent amount of money.
Lindsey Hunter and Shaquille O’Neal, the “winners” of the previous incarnations of this list, no longer play basketball for a living, so it’s time for the “younger” guys to step up. We’ve got a new number one, who edges out his runner-up by one fine autumn day in October of 1972.
Number 10 – Anthony Carter, Toronto Raptors, 36
The veteran point guard will begin his 13th seasons in 2011-2012, playing for the Toronto Raptors, hoping to squeeze in some minutes behind Jose Calderon and Jared Bayless. This is Anthony Carter’s (born June 16, 1976) sixth NBA team. He played 33 games last season for both the Knicks and the Denver Nuggets, averaging 3.3 points and 2.1 assists on 14 minutes a night.
Number 9 – Jerry Stackhouse, Atlanta Hawks, 37
A return to the NBA for Stackhouse who sat out most of last season. He was signed by the Heat early on, but got waived after only one month and 7 games for the team to make way for Erick Dampier. At 37, Stackhouse signed with the Atlanta Hawks, his 7th NBA team in what will be his 17th NBA season. A decade ago Stackhouse was one of the best scorers in the league, averaging 29.8 points per game for the Pistons in 2000-2001. For Miami, in those 7 games, he averaged 1.7 points in 7 minutes a night. He’ll get more playing time with the Hawks.
Number 8 – Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons, 37
Back with the Detroit Pistons for a third straight season on his second tenure with the team has been making more news of late for his off court problems, avoiding jail time for his DUI arrest, eventually getting a year probation. It’ll be Ben Wallace’s 16th NBA season. He averaged 2.9 points and 6.5 rebounds last season in 22.9 minutes a night. He’ll be backing up Greg Monroe this year.
Number 7 – Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers, 37
Derek Fisher was probably the busiest player these past five months, leading the NBA players’ union in the long and seemingly never ending NBA lockout. As a player, Fisher will be the Lakers’ starting point guard for another season, despite his gradually dropping contribution. Last season he averaged 6.8 points while shooting %38.9 from the field. He’ll be starting his 16th NBA season, most of them with the Lakers. He’s a five time NBA champions for those who forgot.
Number 6 – Marcus Camby, Portland Trail Blazers, 37
Marcus Camby’s aging and hurting body is taking him into another season, his 16th. Starting his second year with the Blazers, Camby will be the starter in a center crew that included Kurt Thomas and Greg Oden. He played in 59 games last season, averaging 4.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Camby was the NBA’s defensive player of the year in 2006-2007.
Number 5 – Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns, 37
Moving up two spots from last year’s list, Steve Nash is still a Phoenix Suns player, despite the constant trade rumors for the past few years. Nash simply said – I want to stay with my team. Nash led the league in assists for the fifth time in his career in 2010-2011, averaging 11.4 assists per game. His sixth on the all time assists list with 9252. This will be his 16th NBA season and his 10th (not consecutively) in Arizona.
Number 4 – Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks, 38
Jason Kidd, NBA champion. Finally, these words can be written at the start of a season. Kidd is a wonder in my eyes. Rapidly approaching 40 and a guy who was injured more than once during the earlier parts of his career, he hasn’t played less than 80 games for the last six seasons. His scoring numbers dropped to 7.9 last season, but he’s still dishing 8.2 assists per game, his defense in the NBA finals was great and he’s still playing well over 30 minutes a night.
Number 3 – Juwan Howard, Miami Heat, 38
Yes, someone from Michigan’s Fab Five is still playing in the NBA. Howard, who didn’t start one of his 57 games for the Miami Heat last season, begins his 18th NBA season. He averaged 2.4 points and 2.1 rebounds a game last season. If Udonis Haslem remains healthy, Howard will be playing less than that.
Number 2 – Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns, 39
Grant Hill is a great case for “what if…” regarding injuries and how his career would have looked like if he hadn’t missed so many games. Still, last season he actually had his best season scoring average-wise with 13.2 points per game, his best since the 2006-2007 season with the Orlando Magic. He re-signed with the Suns this week. Hard to leave Steve Nash alone in the desert. Hill needs 52 games to reach 1000 regular season games.
Number 1 – Kurt Thomas, Portland Trail Blazers, 39
Going by the last two seasons, the guy who starts as the oldest player in the NBA before each season ends up retiring eventually. Kurt Thomas will start his 17th NBA season, making his ninth stop on his NBA tour. It began in 1995 with the Miami Heat, just so you know. Thomas averaged 4.1 points and 5.8 rebounds last season for the Bulls, although his playing time was severely reduces in the playoffs. He was perfect from three point last season, attempting only one shot and making it.