Thirty-somethings are dominating the NBA these days. They’re everywhere, making their presence felt in crunch-time.
Almost every team in the 2013 playoffs has at least one 30-plus-year-old player making a difference:
Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Chris Anderson, Shane Battier (Miami Heat), Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni (New York Knicks), Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics), Kirk Hinrich, Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls), Chauncey Billups (Los Angeles Clippers), Tayshaun Prince (Memphis Grizzlies), Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks), Andre Miller (Denver Nuggets), Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder), Pau Gasol, Antawn Jamison (Los Angeles Lakers) and Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Matt Bonner, Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs) have all made an impact.
There are even more 30-plus-year-old plus players on the rosters of playoff teams, but not getting as much playing time:
Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson (Knicks), Chris Wilcox (Celtics), Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller, Juwan Howard (Heat), Richard Jefferson (Golden State Warriors) and Boris Diaw (Spurs).
Amar’e Stoudamire (Knicks), Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Steve Nash, Steve Blake (Lakers) are all 30 or older but can’t play because of injury.
What makes 38-year-old Derek Fisher of the Thunder and 35-year-old Kenyon Martin of the Knicks different from the rest of the batch of 30 year-olds?
Fisher and Martin were signed very late in the season and there was less of a chance for them to be injured from the grind of an entire season. The advantage for the Thunder and Knicks has been in receiving the benefits of Fisher and Martin’s consistent play without giving up a lot money-wise or taking on the risk of them breaking down over a long season.
Should teams just wait to use these players at the end of the seasons instead of risking them for early and mid-season play?
Tracy McGrady was signed by the Spurs with one week to go in the regular season. It remains to be seen if he will be a difference-maker, but he is healthy. McGrady has plenty of experience to draw from and plenty of past career disappointment to motivate him.
These late season signings of veterans have become more strategic every season.
The Heat added strength to their frontcourt with Chris Anderson. Anderson has helped the defending champs shore up their post defense and rebounding in an attempt to repeat.
Signing late in the season in order for chemistry to form with teammates is what can boost a team to a higher level. It’s much easier for respected veterans like Martin and Fisher to fit in to a team late in they year than it would be for a younger player.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com