7 NBA Veterans Who Will Turn Back the Clock This Season
For every NBA player, no matter how great their legacy may be, there simply comes a time when they must realize they just aren't what they used to be.
Once a player gets into their 30s, the slow physical deterioration begins, and players are eventually forced to take a lesser role with a team and then retire.
However, every season there are those players who fight against the handicaps that come with their increasing age, and pull out a season reminiscent of how they played in their prime.
While the players on this list may not be able to put up the numbers they did at their peak, here are seven NBA veterans who should be able to turn back the clock this season and have one of the better seasons of their careers.
7. David West: Indiana Pacers
From 2005-2011, David West was consistently one of the top scoring power forwards in the NBA.
In fact, in all seven of those seasons (all with the Hornets), West never averaged fewer than 17 PPG and 7.4 RPG.
However, in his first season last year with Indiana, despite the team's overall success, West's numbers faded significantly. West averaged 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds while playing less than 30 minutes per game.
West still played an important part on the Pacers third-place team in the East last year, but for the first time in his career, the 32-year-old began to show signs of age.
This year, though, look for West to bounce back to form.
Indiana is in desperate need of a consistent No. 2 option on offense behind Danny Granger, and West is the most talented and experienced player on the Pacers on the offensive end after Granger.
If West gets more touches in the post this season and avoids injuries, look for him to be a bigger part of the Pacers' success next season and put up some of the best stats of his career.
6. Rashard Lewis: Miami Heat
It is unfortunate that those who have just recently started following the NBA may only know Rashard Lewis for his below-average time with the Washington Wizards or his last few seasons with the Orlando Magic.
The fact is that at his best, Lewis was one of the most deadly shooters in the game. From 2002-2009, Lewis bested 17 points per-game each season in time split between Seattle and Orlando.
However last year at age 33, Lewis averaged just 7.8 points for Washington, a career low in this millennium, leaving many wondering if he had any more to give to an NBA team.
This offseason, Lewis signed with the Miami Heat, and if he has anything left in the tank to contribute, it will certainly be on display next year.
There is no better way for a player to turn back the clock than to play alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen, and all Lewis will have to do is knock down open jumpers to be successful.
If he is able to play solid defense, Lewis should remain in the rotation, and if he is able to knock down shots from beyond the arc, he could be Miami's secret weapon this season.
5. Chauncey Billups: Los Angeles Clippers
Since leaving the Pistons, "Mr. Big Shot" Chauncey Billups has bounced around to Denver, New York and now LA.
Last year, he was expected to contribute significantly to the Clippers alongside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but he played only 20 games due to injury.
This year, Billups is back. But at 36, some are wondering if Chauncey Billups can be anywhere near the same player he was during his glory days with the Pistons.
A healthy Billups, however, has never given a reason to doubt him.
Last year before getting injured, Billups was putting up 15 points a game and dishing out four assists while shooting his normal 90 percent from the line.
This year with the Clippers revamped and ready to make a run in the Western Conference, Billups has his best chance at a title since leaving Detroit, and he should be able to give at least one more season of elite play to Los Angeles this year.
4. Paul Pierce: Boston Celtics
Unlike many other players on this list, Paul Pierce has never actually stopped producing at a high level in the NBA.
Even at 34, Pierce is one of the most dynamic scorers in the league and averaged 19.4 points per-game last season.
Still, with Ray Allen gone, and Kevin Garnett now 36, Pierce will need to be even better next season if the Celtics are going to unseat the Heat as Eastern Conference champions.
While the Celtics may now finally be Rajon Rondo's team, Rondo isn't going to be doing the bulk of the scoring, and neither is Garnett at his advanced age.
The burden still lies on Pierce to do most of the heavy lifting, and Pierce has shown no signs that he isn't up to the task.
Pierce has been remarkably consistent over his 14-year career with the Celtics. Only in his rookie season in 1998-1999 did he average fewer than 18 points, and he has never shot below 40 percent in his career.
If Pierce can continue to be among the league's top scorers, while shooting a high percentage, and most of all avoid the injury bug, look for the Celtics to be among the best teams in the East once again next season.
3. Richard Hamilton: Chicago Bulls
When the Bulls acquired Richard Hamilton last offseason, many expected him to be the final missing piece in the Bulls championship puzzle.
However, Hamilton managed to only play 28 games for Chicago last year, and when he did play, he struggled to match the numbers he had put up in his time in Detroit.
Hamilton averaged a mere 11.6 PPG last year, the lowest of his career since his rookie season in 1999-2000.
At his prime in Washington and Detroit, Hamilton was one of the most feared two-guards in the league because of his knock-down shooting ability, and constant movement away from the ball to get the open look.
Next year with Derrick Rose out for a large portion of the season, Chicago will need to mix together production from different spots to keep their heads above water until the former MVP returns.
One area they will be looking towards to pick up the slack will assuredly be Hamilton.
Hamilton at age 34 may be in the twilight stages of his career, but if he wants to win another NBA championship, he will have to pick up his game next season.
Hamilton and Carlos Boozer are the Bulls two biggest threats without Rose, and look for Rip to be more assertive on offense and show some of the spark he displayed in the mid 2000's with the Pistons.
If he does, Chicago will be right in the hunt with a rejuvenated Hamilton and returning Rose come playoff time.
2. Andrei Kirilenko: Minnesota Timberwolves
After spending a year playing in his native Russia, "AK-47" Andrei Kirilenko will make his NBA return this season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Although he is only 31, Kirilenko is a seasoned pro who has played a decade in the NBA. His best years were from 2003-2006 with the Utah Jazz, in which he led them to multiple playoff runs and was one of the best dual-threat offensive and defensive players in the league.
Although Kirilenko's numbers faded in his more recent seasons in Utah, he returned with a vengeance in international competition in this year's Olympic Games.
Kirilenko led the surprise Russian team to a bronze medal, and did so while averaging 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds a game.
Next year with a young, up-and-coming Minnesota team, Kirilenko should be a perfect fit to play alongside Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, and he could be in turn for one of his best seasons yet as an NBA player.
1. Steve Nash: Los Angeles Lakers
Steve Nash may be 38 years old, but with all of the new weapons around him with the Los Angeles Lakers, Nash is likely feeling younger than he has in a long time.
Even at their best in Phoenix, no team Steve Nash has ever played on is anywhere close to matching the talent level of the Lakers next season.
Statistically, Nash had one of his worst seasons last year with the Suns, averaging 12.5 points and 10.7 assists (although those numbers still were among the league's best lead guards).
However after being traded to the Lakers, Nash should be able to re-live his MVP days and put up some major numbers, especially in the assist column by playing with three All-Stars and potential future Hall of Famers.
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