If, as many fans and pundits believe, the Nets and Lakers are bound for a Finals face-off, veterans will play a key role. Both teams have loaded up on vets in the off-season. In terms of age, the Lakers have taken the most risks, but they also have a lot more experience, particularly in big games.
The Lakers have become the butt of jokes about being the oldest team in NBA history. As Mike Scotto wrote when discussing L.A.’s reported signing of DeAndre Jordan, “I was texting with an Eastern Conference executive about it. The executive texted me, “I hope the Nets buy him out so he can join the Lakers’ AARP squad. Better yet, the LAARP. I’ve never seen a roster like this.”
Of course, there may never have been a more experienced team in NBA history outside of the Celtics back in the 1950’s and 1960’s either, with more than half the roster able to sport championship rings. The Nets only have three.
- The Lakers are the oldest team in the NBA with an average age of 31.6 while the Nets are third with an average age of 27.9, more than three years younger. The Heat are second at 28.8.
- The Lakers’ three oldest players are Carmelo Anthony (37), LeBron James (36) and Marc Gasol (36). The three oldest Nets are all younger: Paul Millsap (36), LaMarcus Aldridge (36) and James Johnson (33)
- Four of the league’s ten oldest players are Lakers: Anthony, James and Gasol plus Trevor Ariza (36). The Nets have one, Millsap. Of the 20 oldest players, the Lakers have six, with Dwight Howard (35) and Rajon Rondo (35) filling out the list. The Nets have two: Milsap and Aldridge.
- The Nets added four players 32 or older this off-season. The Lakers added eight.
- The Nets stats are buoyed by having two teenagers on their roster: 19-year-olds Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe, as well as 20-year-old Sekou Doumbouya. All three are younger than the youngest Laker, Talen Horton-Taylor, who’s got a month on Doumbouya.
- In terms of experience, the Lakers are also way ahead with 11.6 years per player, compared to 7.5 for the Nets.
Does it mean much? Isn’t age, particularly among the world’s best trained athletes, just a number? Maybe. Statistically, older players are more subject to nagging injuries and take more time to recover.
On the other hand, experience does matter, particularly in the post-season. The Nets have three players with rings: Kevin Durant has two while Kyrie Irving and Patty Mills have one each. The Lakers have a ton. James has four rings. Anthony Davis is the only player in hoops history with an NCAA title, an Olympic gold medal, a FIBA World Cup gold medal and an NBA ring. Rondo has two rings. Howard, Hunter-Tucker, Ariza, Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo all have one ring each. That’s eight players out of the 14 who’ve withstood champagne showers. Reminiscent of those Celtics teams.
In the number of All-Star selections, too, the Lakers have an advantage there as well, with 60 compared to the Nets’ 44. James of course has 17 of the 60. (No, we’re not breaking that down. The story is too long already.)
ALL that said, the big number comparison will come in June. Who will have the most W’s then. It’s why they play the games.