Chris Paul and 6 NBA Stars Who Will Age Gracefully

James Pearson@JKPIIICorrespondent INovember 9, 2012

Chris Paul and 6 NBA Stars Who Will Age Gracefully

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    Every NBA player loses their hops, gets slower and becomes less athletic as they age.

    But that doesn't necessarily mean they will become worse basketball players.

    Many guys in the NBA rely on their elite athleticism to succeed in the league. Once that is gone, so are they. Just look at Shawn Kemp.

    Others will still produce at a high level due to their basketball intelligence and skill set.

    Well, that and overall basketball talent helps too.

    Alongside Chris Paul, here are the top six NBA Stars who will excel well into their NBA golden years.

6. LeBron James

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    Well, of course, LeBron James won't be the same player when he loses his physical gifts as he is now. But that won't stop him from being among the best in the league well into his 30s.

    Even if he has to use a walker to get up and down the court, he will still be a prominent player in the NBA.

    When James slows down and isn't able to fly up and down the court as an overpowering force, he will be just fine.

    All thanks to his court vision.

    While he won't be able to break down a defense in his elderly years, he can see the court so well that he will always be an excellent distributor.

    Showing signs of an improving three-point shot this year, as he ages, he can rely on an improving outside shot rather than bulldozing his way down the lane.

    Sure, as he gets older, we won't see the LeBron we are used to, and that's why he is last on this list.

    The scary part is we might see a more efficient one.

5. Kevin Love

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    As NBA players age, the biggest demise they see is in speed and leaping ability. That won't be a problem with Kevin Love, as that's about the only thing he really lacks.

    Love can flat-out shoot the ball for a big man. That is a timeless ability.

    He is an excellent passer and one of the best rebounders in the game. That won't change as his bedtime starts to get earlier.

    He possess an excellent work ethic. That will only help prolong his career. If he improves by developing lethal post moves to go with his deadly stroke, Love has the chance to become an even better player as he ages.

4. James Harden

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    James Harden has exploded as an alpha dog on the Houston Rockets and has become one of the rising stars in the NBA.

    That's not going to change any time soon.

    Even when his speed and athleticism decrease, Harden's star will still shine.

    Harden is a smart player who excels at the pick-and-roll game. Just ask John Stockton and Karl Malone how long a NBA career can last playing just that.

    He also has an excellent set shot. That's something he can use when he is playing against his great-grandkids.

    He still doesn't use his right hand much, but if he can develop going right as well as he can to his left, Harden will be unstoppable.

    He should be an All-Star this season and for many, many years to come.

3. Rajon Rondo

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    Do you know how we know that Rajon Rondo will be able to play at a elite level as he gets older?

    Because he played with one arm in the 2011 NBA playoffs and was still able to produce.

    A loss of speed and athleticism isn't going to affect a guy like that.

    Rondo will still be able to play stellar defense at any age with his 6'9" wingspan. And his ability to see the court and deliver pinpoint passes won't change with age either.

    A player's ability to score tends to diminish with age, but that's not going to be a problem with Rondo. He can dominate a game without scoring a point.

    Rondo is one of the best playmakers in the NBA, and he is mentally tough. That will never change. In fact, he may only get better if he can figure out how to shoot.

    Rondo is going to have a career that would make Jason Kidd proud.

2. Chris Paul

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    Chris Paul, playing on one healthy knee, was still the premier point guard in the NBA. He won't let a little thing like age get in his way of producing at a top level.

    Arguably the best playmaker in the NBA, Paul is one of the craftiest players in the league.

    His ball-handling skills and court vision will keep him relevant for a long time.

    Even more so than Harden, Paul is outstanding at the pick-and-roll. With his handling and passing ability paired with his knack for scoring, he may very well last even longer than Stockton did.

    Like everyone else on this list, Paul's basketball I.Q. is extremely high. That will allow all of the players on this list to produce at a high level, even when Blue Bloods becomes their favorite TV show.

1. Kevin Durant

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    Kevin Durant will be a star in the NBA for eons to come.

    Arguably the best shooter in the NBA, Durant gets into range as soon as he crosses half court.

    As he ages, with his length, he will still be able to knock down jumpers and will get his shot off with ease.

    As everyone else, he will lose speed as he gets older. However, he will gain strength.

    He has the perfect body type to have a long, successful career. He can develop a wiry strength that won't take a toll as he gets older.

    Combine that with his new-found ability to pass the ball, at nearly six assists per game thus far, and we may only be scratching the surface of what Durant is able to do. His basketball talent alone will keep him relevant for years to come.