The NBA is one of the most predictable professional sports leagues, featuring dynasties that dominate the league upwards of a decade. Since 1998, every NBA Final featured the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat or the Los Angeles Lakers, although this year may break that trend, considering the downfall of the Heat and the Lakers and the fierce competition the Spurs face in the western conference.
Regardless, the highest levels of the game are dominated by a few truly elite players and teams, proving that the NBA is a star-driven league.
Despite the fact that basketball is a highly physical sport that features some of the most incredible athletes in the world, the majority of winning teams average 28 years of age and older, suggesting that youthful athleticism loses to veteran experience more often than not. Seven out of the ten teams on this list of the oldest teams for the 2014-15 season have a good chance of going deep in the playoffs this year.
Comparatively, only one team among the ten youngest in the league, the Houston Rockets, have a realistic chance of rising to the challenge.
10. Indiana Pacers – 28.2
The Indiana Pacers are in a tough spot this year after all-star Paul George went through one of the grisliest broken leg injuries in basketball history while training with Team U.S.A for the FIBA world championships. They also lost full-court threat and LeBron whisperer Lance Stephenson to Charlotte through free agency, raising their average age into the top ten oldest in the league. Larry Bird looks to veterans such as Roy Hibbert, Luis Scola, David West and George Hill to pick up the pieces on-court in an attempt to sneak into the playoffs after a difficult start to the 2014-15 season.
9. Los Angeles Clippers – 28.4
The Clippers re-signed 14-year veteran Hedo Turkoglu, which helped them maintain their status as one of the older teams in the league. They look to make the leap this year to the NBA finals and break their 44-year, franchise-long slump of never winning two playoff series in the same year. Their window of opportunity may be closing soon, as point god Chris Paul turns thirty next year. The good news for the Clippers is the fact that their rim protectors are in their mid-twenties, with Blake Griffin turning 26 and DeAndre Jordan turning 27 next year. Jamal Crawford, a.k.a. J. Crossover, still breaks ankles at the age of 34.
8. Brooklyn Nets – 28.4
When Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the Nets he directed his staff to win at all costs, communicating his willingness to pay a stiff luxury tax by exceeding the salary cap if necessary. In addition to signing fading stars Joe Johnson and Deron Williams to huge contracts, they completed a blockbuster trade with the rebuilding Boston Celtics, landing Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Unfortunately, these attempts to “win now” have ended up backfiring, as they fell easily to the Miami Heat in the playoffs and are currently under .500 a quarter way through the season with an aging core.
7. Miami Heat – 28.5
NBA Finalists for four consecutive years, the Heat face an uphill battle in their quest to win without LeBron. The remaining pair out of the “big three” core group during their two NBA championships are now past their prime, with thirty-somethings Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade leading the team to a sub-.500 start after 20 games. During the off season, the Heat signed Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts as free agents to help deal with the loss of LeBron. Chris “Birdman” Andersen is the elder statesman and chief tattoo consultant of the team at the age of 36.
6. Chicago Bulls – 28.5
The Chicago Bulls are one of the favorites to challenge for the eastern conference title after adding 34 year-old Pau Gasol to the lineup through free agency. Jimmy Butler is enjoying a breakout year, making up for Derrick Rose’s chronic injury problems while providing a much needed scoring boost along with Gasol. Most observers believe the fate of the Bulls rests with Rose’s health. If Rose and Joakim Noah somehow stay healthy, Chicago can boast a team that, on paper, should be among the tops in both offense and defensive play.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers – 28.5
In the span of one year, the Cleveland Cavaliers jumped from being tied as the youngest team in the league along with the Philadelphia 76ers to becoming one of the oldest teams in the league. In the meantime they won three lotteries: the LeBron lottery, the Kevin Love sweepstakes and the first round pick in the 2014 draft. Now an instant contender with a brand new “big three” of LeBron, Love and Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers also imported LeBron’s good luck charm and all-around good guy Brad Miller through free agency.
4. Memphis Grizzlies – 28.7
The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the hottest teams in the league and boast a stifling, league-leading defense lead by the efforts of 32 year-old Tony Allen, 33 year-old Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who turns 30 early in the new year. Last year, they challenged the Oklahoma City Thunder by taking them all the way in the first round of the playoffs and might have completed the upset if it weren’t for Z-Bo’s game seven suspension.
3. Washington Wizards – 29
The Washington Wizards are another team that jumped from being one of the youngest to one of the oldest teams over the past year. They accomplished this feat by signing Paul Pierce, Drew Gooden and Rasual Butler in free agency while trading for Professor Andre Miller, master of the old-man game. All these additions range in age from 33 to 38. However, the main threat from the Wizards consists of young backcourt stars John Wall and Bradley Beal. Off to a great start in the 2014-2015 season, the Wizard hope to progress to the conference finals after beating the Bulls then losing to the defensive barrier known as the Indiana Pacers.
2. Dallas Mavericks – 29
Despite being the second oldest team in the league, the Dallas Mavericks are an offensive juggernaut, leading the league in points per game at the quarter-season mark. Their oldest player is their best player – maybe even the best non-U.S. baller to ever play the game. At 36, Dirk Nowitski leads Monta Ellis and newly-added veterans Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons, who hope to assert their dominance in the west after the Mavs took the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the first found of the 2014 playoffs.
1. San Antonio Spurs – 29.1
Lead by Gregg Popovich, one of the best roundball conductors in the history of the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs are the oldest team in the league and among the best for well over a decade. The first ten years that Tim Duncan played for the Spurs, they won four championships and had a record of 559-229, giving them the highest winning percentage (.709) of any professional sports team during that period of time. Other older parts of their core include Tony Parker and Boris Diaw at the age of 32, as well as 37 year-old Manu Ginobili, famous for his patented euro step, despite hailing from Argentina.