Fresh Legs of Jeremy Lin and Young Rockets Will Give Houston an Edge in 2013

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Fresh Legs of Jeremy Lin and Young Rockets Will Give Houston an Edge in 2013
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

 I'm NBA youth.

And I'm NBA experience.

We don't see eye to eye. For example, I say run the floor like Indiana Jones when that boulder was chasing him.

I say poppycock. Be in the right place at the right time, so you can conserve your energy.

I eat up minutes like they're M&Ms...that's how I can get noticed for that next big contract.

I play smart and efficiently. I'm already on my last contract…and I want to fulfill it.

How about battling me in NBA 2K13 until the sun comes up?

I'm down for that. Just brew some coffee.

Nobody brews coffee anymore, old-timer. And it's down "with" that—not that anybody uses that phrase anymore.

You got something meaningful to contribute to the conversation?

Yep. The Houston Rockets are this NBA season's youngest team, with an average age of just 23.5 years, and I say that'll be a benefit come playoff time.

Really? Do tell.

Eight teams in the NBA have thus far won 20 or more games, so let's assume they're the most likely playoff candidates.

Looking at just the point guard position, the guy with the fewest career minutes is Jeff Teague, with 4,800. Next closest are Stephen Curry with 7,300 and Mario Chalmers with 8,600.

Every other of the eight teams' point guards have played over 10,000 minutes. Two of those are over 19,000. And one player, Tony Parker, has played over 27,000 NBA minutes.

Jeremy Lin by comparison? The pride of the Ivy League has hooped it up a mere 2,300 minutes. So he's gonna have more fuel in his tank come season's end.

Note the "minutes played" (MP) column. (Source: basketball-reference.com)

Minutes, shminutes. Most of these guys are still on the sunny side of 30. What do they care about minutes?

Well…you know how you drop those sports clichés on me all the time?

You mean like "defense wins championships?"

 Right. And by the way, tell that to the 2000 St. Louis Rams.

You aren't old enough to reference the 2000 St. Louis Rams. And what about you, with your "giving 110 percent?" You do know that's mathematically impossible, right?

Dude, you are a total bummer.

So what are you driving at by bringing up clichés?

Just that there's one cliché no one ever pokes fun at: "The NBA season is a grind."

Eighty-two games of running up and down the court, bodies colliding, knees straining, lungs aching...these are the best athletes in the world going up against each other hard. Not to mention the mental toll that staying focused and alert on the floor takes.

It's not the longest season, but compared to major league baseball, where most of a player's 162 games are spent trying not to daydream in between pitches in the field or sitting in the dugout waiting for the four times a game you get to swing a bat...well, let's just say it's like comparing Rocky's training regimen to Apollo's in "Rocky I."

That's the only Rocky that counts. And to everything else you said, I say blah blah blah. Guys just gut it out and make it through.

Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images
T.J. Ford is one of many players who suffer because of the physical tolls exacted by NBA play.

Really? What about all these retired players who need cranes to get them out of bed and who walk with canes—or struggle to walk at all? Doesn't that prove there's a price to be paid for minutes played?

Yeah, well...there's the experience factor too, and the Rockets are probably dead last in that.

Gotta admit, you're right about the stat. The average Rocket has played just 1.7 NBA seasons.

And conventional wisdom says that experience trumps youth—

Uh oh. Cliché alert.

Show some respect for your elders, for goodness' sake. As I was saying, experience trumps youth when it comes to championships. After all, there has not been one NBA championship team in the post-Jordan era with an average age under 27.28.

True dat.

That better mean, "You're right, sir." I'm also right about this: When the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat in 2011, it was the oldest team in the NBA—in age weighted by minutes played—beating the oldest team in the NBA based on average age.

A graphic to illustrate the benefit of experience. (Visuals: Paul Van Slembrouck. Data: Idris Raja)

All true. No argument.

So I win?

 No. Because I never said championship.

You said a benefit come playoff time.

Yeah, like last year's  Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder had youth on their side—with an average age of 25—and those fresh legs made it all the way to the Finals.

I'm saying that the extra spring in the Rockets' step will help them get deeper into the playoffs—not win it all. At least not this year.

Keep talking.

You want other young teams propelled into the Finals with fresh legs? How about the 1995 Orlando Magic with Shaq and Penny? Or the 2007 Cavs? You want me to go on?

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Spurs might have won, but the 2007 Cavs' young guns got to the Finals. Houston will take that any day.

No, you finally made a point. And you know your history.

Barely…I can't think of one other…

What are you mumbling?

I said, fairly I think I won, brother.

Hmmph. You may have bested me in this debate, and the Rockets' legs may carry them farther than would be expected. But when it really matters, experience always wins.

How do you figure?

Oh, kid. Just ask a woman.

 

Statistics accurate as of 1/3/13.

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