So what’s better to have when you’re trying to win an NBA title – Youth or Experience? Probably, almost universally speaking, experience. Talent is the actual deciding factor, but teams filled with young stuff are usually in some sort of rebuild mode. The Oklahoma City Thunder, with their three stars all under 24 at the moment, are the exception, and probably a bit of a fluke in how they came together.
Detroit Pistons – 24.85
The Pistons continued to stay near the bottom of the Eastern Conference last season, finishing 25-41, 10 games behind 8th place for the playoff. Their only new significant addition not via draft is also now the oldest player on the team, Corey Maggette, who averaged 15 points per game last season for the Charlotte Bobcats. The Pistons added Andre Drummond from Connecticut in the first round of the Draft, hoping to possibly create an interesting twin-towers duo with Greg Monroe, the Pistons’ best player and also the fourth youngest on the team, averaging 15.4 points and 9.7 rebounds last season.
In all, the Pistons now have six player 25 or under, with Brandon Knight and Gerg Monroe as the obvious standouts from the group, who if they continue developing might turn the Pistons into a playoff contender this season.
Charlotte Bobcats – 24.75
The Bobcats have only three players who are 29 or older, although two of them should be crucial in the team’s attempt to get out of the NBA’s cellar – Ben Gordon and Brendan Haywood. The key players on this team – Michael Kidd-Glichrist (soon to be 19), Kemba Walker (22), Gerald Henderson (25) and Byron Mullens (24) have a long way to go, although except for Gilchrist and maybe Walker, this isn’t a foundation to build on for a future of success.
Toronto Raptors – 24.71
The Raptors’ second season without Chris Bosh wasn’t much better, finishing with 23-43, way outside the playoff picture although it might have looked a lot differently if they’d go on and win all those close games they lost. The team’s leading player, Andrea Bargnani, is going to be 27 when the season begins. Kyle Lowry, who will share the point guard spot (or next to him) with Jose Claderon, is 26. Calderon is the oldest player on the team, and he’s turning 31 next month. DeMar DeRozan, averaging 16.7 points last season, is only 24. Not a lot of talent, but not too bad so there’s some to build on.
Cleveland Cavaliers – 24.5
The Cavs felt pretty good about their season, despite winning only 21 games, mostly because of Kyrie Irving, who averaged 18.5 points and 5.4 assists on his way to the rookie of the year award. The only key player on this team that’s also over 30 is Anderson Varejao, who missed more than half of last season due to an injury. Tristan Thompson (21) should become a double figures scorer while Tyler Zeller and Dion Waiters should make the Cavs a better team, although probably not enough to make it into the postseason.
Portland Trail Blazers – 24.35
The Blazers’ best player, LaMarcus Aldridge, is also one of the oldest on the roster, and he’s only 27. Nicolas Batum is expected to make another stride forward into becoming one of the top small forwards in the NBA, and he’s only 23. J.J. Hickson, who averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds last season will be 24 next month. Damian Lillard, who has a lot riding on his ability to quickly become a legitimate NBA point guard, is 22. Leonard Meyers, the 11th pick in the NBA Draft, is 20. Wesley Matthews will be only 26 when the season begins.
Denver Nuggets – 24.28
Andre Miller is 36, and that’s it. The next oldest player on this team is newcomer Andre Iguodala. The Denver Nuggets like to run and run and run, and for that kinda style George Karl loves for his team, you need young and fresh legs. There are 13 players on the roster who are 26 or younger, with Ty Lawson turning 25 in November, Danilo Gallinari only 24, JaVale McGee only 24 and in general, a very bright future for this team, although it’s doubtful that this kind of run and gun style, even with the added defensive dimension of Iggy and McGee late last season, will be enough to go deep in the postseason.
New Orleans Hornets – 24.26
The Hornets added two top 10 draft picks, including the No. 1 and almost guaranteed rookie of the year in nine months according to everyone, Anthony Davis, who turned 19 four months ago. Eric Gordon, the team’s best player, should be healthy and he’ll be turning 24 on Christmas. New arrival from Orlando Magic, Ryan Anderson is only 24. The Hornets will be better than last season, although it shouldn’t be enough for a playoff spot, unless Davis really is the next Bill Russell as some people suggest.
Oklahoma City Thunder – 24.13
Almost the youngest team in the league might be the best in the NBA. Maybe it was luck, or maybe it was simply a good job by their GM, but the Thunder have four players who are at the All-Star level or more – Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka, who were all also part of the Olympic Final in London, under the age of 23 at the moment, with Durant and Westrbook turning 24 early next season. Nick Collison is the only player on the team who is over the age of 30. Expect to see these guys make at least two more NBA Finals in the next few years, if not more.
Houston Rockets – 23.93
The oldest players on the Rockets? Carlos Delfino, 30, and Kevin Martin, 29. The rest of the guys are 26 or younger. Jeremy Lin is 24, Patrick Patterson is 23, and obviously the three first round picks the Rockets got – Jeremy Lamb from Uconn, Terrence Jones from Kentucky and Royce White from Iowa State. Will this youth movement be a step backwards? Probably, at least for one year, but the future looks very bright in Houston if they play their cards right.
Washington Wizards – 23.8
The Wizards have experience in the paint – Both Emeka Okafor and Nene are turning 30 in September. Their best player and the one they hope who’ll take it to the next level this season is John Wall, beginning his third NBA campaign, turning 22 very soon. Bradley Beal out of Florida is 19, and the Wizards are counting on him becoming an immediate contributor in terms of big scoring. The rest? Young, but not really something to build on.