Los Angeles Lakers and 5 Other Veteran Teams That Are Past Their Primes
I love watching the Los Angeles Lakers as much as the next guy, but their attempts to get back to the NBA Finals the past two seasons have exposed their greatest flaw: age. Once fluid and consistent, the team now seems stagnant and rickety.
Then again, such a thing is bound to happen to any one-time championship team. The sad truth of the matter is that top players start to slow down with age and at one point or another, their skills just aren't the same anymore.
With a handful of current NBA teams, that cruel reality is just starting to set in, even though one team is in the midst of a great run. Here are six over-the-hill teams that would be wise to start planning for an imminent rebuilding mode.
No. 6: San Antonio Spurs
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The Spurs are currently up 2-1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, and I really do hope that they get to the NBA Finals and win another championship. Yet, there's no denying that this is probably the last run the team has in its gas tank.
All of the major contributors and team leaders are 30 years old or more, and modern science has yet to bless us with the ability to turn back time.
Throw in the fact that Tim Duncan's scoring ability has gone down and defensive intensity has dropped, and this team is probably destined for early playoff exits from next season on before losing their core.
No. 5: Phoenix Suns
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The Suns aren't a typical veteran team, but their best player and unquestioned leader is 38-year-old Steve Nash.
He and his young teammates worked so hard last season and the year before to keep up the offensive intensity that had become popular in the desert, but to no avail.
They may not be a conventional veteran team, but the signs are there. The old system just isn't working anymore.
No. 4: Boston Celtics
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While talented, the Celtics always seem to have trouble with teams that like to move the ball quickly. Given some of the players on their roster, I'm not at all surprised.
Each of the team's original "Big Three" is 34 or over and while still talented, the signs of age are starting to show. Kevin Garnett is already having issues staying healthy, as is Ray Allen. Paul Pierce still has a nice jump shot, but how much longer can he keep it up?
Needless to say, no matter how the Eastern Conference Finals pan out, coach Doc Rivers needs to start giving his young guys more minutes next year or else face the possibility of his team going from a talented and experienced squad to one that gets old and regularly clowned on the court.
No. 3: Dallas Mavericks
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I understand how loss of key players may have played a role in Dallas' struggles this season, but just how much they did struggle is kind of ridiculous. I understand that most of the team's key players are over 30, middle-aged in basketball years, but that's still no excuse.
No matter how you look at it, there's no reason a reigning championship team should go from being a No. 3 seed to a No. 7. Maybe the lockout had something to do with it, but this year showed just how flawed and past their prime the Mavericks really are.
No. 2: Los Angeles Lakers
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Currently, the Lakers have eight players on their roster under the age of 30. Of those eight, only two, Ramon Sessions and Andrew Bynum, accumulate significant minutes.
Sure, Kobe Bryant is a clutch scorer who can put points on the board like no other, but his best years are behind him. He takes way too many shots and his jumper doesn't have the same fluidity it did during the Shaq years.
On top of Bryant's struggles, Pau Gasol seems to have gone soft in the low post and Metta World Peace...well, we don't quite know what happened to him.
That said, Mike Brown has a tough task ahead of him if he is to keep this team in contention for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
No. 1: Orlando Magic
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In Orlando, Dwight Howard wanted to win a championship. Thus, recently fired GM Otis Smith brought in the following players to help his All-Star center achieve that goal: Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu (pictured), Quentin Richardson and a variety of others.
What Smith failed to realize was that each of those players is over 30 and hundreds of miles past their primes. Still, instead of attempting to deal them for younger talent, he kept the roster as it was, and now the team has turned into a soap opera of which Howard is the star.
Needless to say, if Howard leaves the team either this summer or the next, chances are that NBA seasons in Orlando will be extra long once he is gone.