Tim Duncan has been around forever, but is he still one of the NBA's best at his age?
Age is only a number, but it's an important one for each of the best players at every age in the NBA.
From the teenagers to the guys who might start getting AARP cards in the mail relatively soon, we're not going to leave any age group out of this article.
I'd like to issue an apology to any older basketball fans out there. You're going to feel bad about your athletic prowess when you see how old some of the NBA's premier studs are now. I'm sorry, but it's just inevitable.
The younger fans out there, myself included, might wonder what went wrong in our athletic careers. We're still pretty young and spry, but we're definitely not professional athletes.
Who's the best out there at your age?
Team: Washington Wizards
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.9 steals, 13.57 PER
Most 19-year-olds are figuring out how to either make it in the real world or adjust to the college lifestyle. Only a select few are actually able to make a living playing in the NBA.
In fact, there are only five such players: Tony Wroten, Maurice Harkless, Andre Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bradley Beal.
Beal has slowly improved as his rookie season has progressed, allowing him to edge ahead of both Drummond and MKG. The story might be different if Drummond's back hadn't knocked him out of action, but his time on the bench hasn't allowed him to assert himself as the league's top teenager.
Other Contenders: Andre Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Team: New Orleans Hornets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.7 blocks, 1.1 steals, 21.57 PER
The youngest of the league's 20-year-olds, Anthony Davis is already the best of the bunch. Of course, there isn't exactly a staggering level of competition.
Davis has dealt with injuries during his first season out of Kentucky, and his minutes haven't been up around the league leaders, but he's been remarkably efficient.
Putting up a plus-20 PER as a rookie playing significant minutes is quite an accomplishment.
Other Contenders: None
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.6 steals, 22.12 PER
Kyrie Irving is barely old enough to legally consume alcohol, and he's already put his name in the mix for a top-10 ranking among all the players in the NBA.
That's not even fair.
Irving's handles give the impression that he attaches a ball on the string before dribbling it, and he uses those skills quite effectively. No player in the league has more useful handles than the young floor general.
The Duke product is going to be a force for a long time, and he's soon going to challenge Chris Paul for the title of best point guard.
Other Contenders: Kawhi Leonard, Derrick Favors
Team: Indiana Pacers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.8 steals, 17.21 PER
Now we come to the first truly stacked age. And boy, does this bode well for the future of the Association, as there are multiple All-Stars represented here.
Paul George still takes the cake despite the abundance of talent surrounding him. The Indiana Pacers swingman has established himself both as a talented, versatile offensive player and one of the league's best defenders.
He might not be a top-10 player quite yet, but it won't be long before he works up those last few spots on the ladder.
Other Contenders: Kemba Walker, Jrue Holiday, Greg Monroe, Damian Lillard, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Vucevic, Avery Bradley
Team: Houston Rockets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.9 steals, 23.53 PER
James Harden has an incredible beard, and the rest of the contenders at this age just can't say the same. That allows the Houston Rockets shooting guard to beard out on a regular basis, pushing him above the rest of the candidates.
A few other guys with 23 years under their belts—Serge Ibaka and Kenneth Faried, in particular—have established themselves as NBA stars, but none of them have become true MVP candidates like Harden.
Just imagine what will happen when he learns to play top-notch defense.
Other Contenders: Klay Thompson, Gordon Hayward, DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler, Serge Ibaka, Tyreke Evans, Kenneth Faried
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.4 steals, 28.03 PER
The talent possessed by the group of 24-year-olds tearing up the NBA is just ridiculous. Unfortunately for the host of other contenders, though, the league's No. 2 player is in their midst.
Only LeBron James can keep Kevin Durant from being featured in one of these slides, and LeBron is well past 24. His hairline alone could tell you that.
Other Contenders: Blake Griffin, Ryan Anderson, Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Love, Chandler Parsons, Evan Turner, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Larry Sanders, Nicolas Batum, Eric Gordon
Team: Golden State Warriors
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 22.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.6 steals, 20.93 PER
Stephen Curry may look like he's only in eighth grade (assuming you can look past that threadbare goatee), but then you see him shoot the basketball.
After he's drained a handful of three-pointers against your team, you quickly realize that this guy is one of the premier offensive players in the NBA. Curry is creative and dynamic enough to carry his team to victory on that end of the court, and his defense is getting better by the day.
This was Andrew Bynum's spot to lose going into the season, and needless to say, he's lost it.
Other Contenders: JaVale McGee, Wilson Chandler, Ersan Ilyasova, Marcus Thornton, Darren Collison, Mike Conley, Andrew Bynum, Ty Lawson, O.J. Mayo
Team: Atlanta Hawks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.1 steals, 20.01 PER
For someone with such a stellar game, Al Horford sure doesn't draw a lot of attention. He should be an All-NBA center, but few view him that favorably.
If reputation wasn't taken into account, Horford, Joakim Noah and Marc Gasol would be the three centers recognized at the end of the year, though Dwight Howard will inevitably beat out Horford for the final spot in reality.
It's a shame, because Horford's game is versatile and quite important to the Atlanta Hawks' efforts.
Other Contenders: Greivis Vasquez, Goran Dragic, Rudy Gay, Lou Williams, Roy Hibbert
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 9.6 assists, 0.1 blocks, 2.4 steals, 26.42 PER
Although 25 and 26 weren't quite as stacked as 24, 27 brings back the power.
Rajon Rondo, Luol Deng, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are each All-Stars. Kyle Lowry and Josh Smith aren't that far off either.
Yet even in such a stacked group, CP3 stands out above the rest. The heady point guard is in a class of his own at the position, and he possesses the unique ability to completely dominate a game with both his mind and his body.
I've viewed Paul as the third-best player in the NBA for a while now, and neither of the top two are represented in this age group.
Other Contenders: Nikola Pekovic, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng, LaMarcus Aldridge, J.R. Smith, Arron Afflalo, Josh Smith, Dwight Howard
Team: Miami Heat
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.7 steals, 31.43 PER
LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world.
LeBron James is 28 years old.
Therefore, LeBron James is the best 28-year-old in the NBA.
It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.
Other Contenders: Marc Gasol, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Joakim Noah, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams
Team: Golden State Warriors
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.5 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.3 blocks, 0.8 steals, 19.24 PER
Chris Bosh held this spot going into the 2012-13 campaign, but David Lee's offensive dominance has just been too much to ignore. He and Stephen Curry have been the true catalysts of the surprising Golden State Warriors' season.
Lee might not play much defense, but his work on the boards and scoreboard more than make up for his deficiencies.
No player in this group is perfect, and they're all grouped fairly closely together, assuming Danny Granger resumes his level of play when he eventually returns from injury.
Other Contenders: Andre Iguodala, Chris Bosh, Danny Granger
Team: San Antonio Spurs
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals, 24.07 PER
This age isn't particularly close because of the sensational level that Tony Parker has reached.
At 30 years old, the San Antonio Spurs floor general is having the best season of his career, demonstrating a complete mastery of Gregg Popovich's system from tipoff until the final buzzer. He might not seem like he's putting up gaudy lines, but that's only because he stays within the flow of the offense so perfectly.
Parker was a legitimate candidate for MVP runner-up (which should become an official award while LeBron James is in his prime) before his sprained ankle, and that's not something anyone else who just hit the milestone birthday can claim.
Other Contenders: Kevin Martin, Gerald Wallace, Nene Hilario, Anderson Varejao, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire
Team: Miami Heat
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.9 steals, 24.16 PER
Zach Randolph is an All-Star and Joe Johnson a former All-Star, but no 31-year-old even comes within shouting distance of Dwyane Wade.
The shooting guard is still an incredibly dominant player, and the earlier rumors of his demise that were being propagated at the beginning of the 2011-12 season were clearly unfounded. LeBron James has overshadowed him, but let's not let that take away from what Wade has done.
He's still a top-10 player in this league with room to spare.
Other Contenders: Tony Allen, Jameer Nelson, Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, Jose Calderon, Carlos Boozer
Team: Indiana Pacers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.0 steals, 20.12 PER
The group of 32-year-olds got significantly weaker when Pau Gasol decided that he wasn't good at basketball anymore. That's obviously an exaggeration, but not by much, as the Spanish big man has been pretty ineffective for the Los Angeles Lakers.
This allows David West to stand out above the rest.
The Xavier product has been a force on the inside for the Indiana Pacers, sparking an offense that needed quite a bit of a boost. His defense has also been stellar, as has everyone else's on that unit.
Other Contenders: Jason Richardson, Andrei Kirilenko, Luis Scola, Pau Gasol
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.6 points, 1.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.1 steals, 16.82 PER
Jamal Crawford has been good at a lot of things during his memorable NBA run, but one aspect of his game has always stood out above the rest: his dribbling.
Whether he's using the shake'n'bake, crossing up defenders or dribbling past them at full speed, Crawford has been a creative presence on the court, providing plenty of valuable contributions to his teams and a good bit of enjoyment to his fans.
Even at 33, Crawford still possesses those uber-elite handles. And that's enough to push him past the other contenders.
Other Contenders: Tayshaun Prince, Corey Maggette, Metta World Peace
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 27.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 22.91 PER
Well, here's an obvious one.
Who would you rather have on your team: Elton Brand, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki or Kobe Bryant?
Unless you're a massive Dallas Mavericks homer or German, you're going to be picking the Mamba here. Even at 34, he's still putting up legendary offensive numbers, and his on-ball defense is pretty solid when he decides he wants to exert effort on that end of the court.
Kobe is still a top-five player in the NBA, even if the Los Angeles Lakers aren't dominating like so many expected going into the 2012-13 season.
Other Contenders: Elton Brand, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki
Team: Boston Celtics
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.1 steals, 18.93 PER
At this point in the article, the number of players at each position is declining rather drastically.
There are actually only eight 35-year-olds still balling in the NBA: Paul Pierce, Manu Ginobili, Jason Terry, Rip Hamilton, Jamaal Tinsley, Pablo Prigioni, Nazr Mohammed and Kenyon Martin. That's it.
Manu, Terry and Pierce clearly stand out about the rest, and the Truth is in a class of his own.
Ginobili might still be dominant in short bursts, but he's not playing the necessary minutes to truly challenge Pierce.
Other Contenders: Manu Ginobili, Jason Terry
Team: San Antonio Spurs
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 blocks, 0.8 steals, 24.69 PER
Is it possible that Tim Duncan is the most impressive player in the NBA?
LeBron James might be so dominant that he gives the San Antonio Spurs big man a run for his money in that category, but you have to marvel at what the Big Fundamental has done at age 36. The NBA is a young man's league, but not for Duncan.
Duncan can still hit bank shots with the best of them, and he routinely embarrasses younger players on the blocks. As for his defense, well, it's still just about as good as it gets.
Kevin Garnett and Vince Carter have been impressive at times, but neither one can match what Duncan has done during the 2012-13 campaign.
Other Contenders: Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett
Team: Miami Heat
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.9 steals, 14.90 PER
Ray Allen has declined into a sharp-shooting role player for the Miami Heat, but he's still an awfully good one.
Likewise, Andre Miller has thrived as a crunch-time floor general off the bench for the Denver Nuggets. The point guard professor doesn't have much athleticism anymore, but he still gets the job done with his veteran savvy and passing brilliance.
This was the single toughest decision of this article, but I'm rolling with Allen. Just barely.
Other Contenders: Andre Miller
Team: Brooklyn Nets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 4.5 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.2 steals, 7.75 PER
Rasheed Wallace, Derek Fisher and Jerry Stackhouse are the only 38-year-olds still playing in the NBA, and quite frankly, I'm not sure 'Sheed has played enough to really be considered eligible. His most memorable moment involves the phrase "Ball don't lie!" and an ejection.
Fisher and Stackhouse don't provide much other than veteran leadership and the occasional three-pointer, but the Brooklyn Nets small forward gets the slight edge here because he's played a handful more games.
Still, all the options are pretty uninspiring.
Other Contenders: Derek Fisher, Rasheed Wallace
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.6 steals, 15.98 PER
Steve Nash and Marcus Camby are the NBA's closest players to hitting the big four-oh, and one clearly stands out over the other.
You can see Nash's stats above, and Camby is averaging 1.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.6 blocks and 0.3 steals per game with an 8.60 PER.
So, which would you rather have?
Other Contenders: Marcus Camby
Team: New York Knicks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 6.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.7 steals, 13.96 PER
All four of the 40-year-olds in the NBA can provide veteran leadership on the court and in the locker room, but Jason Kidd still has some value on the court.
He's clearly not at the same level he used to be, but Kidd can still knock down some spot-up jumpers and control the New York Knicks offense quite masterfully. You don't have to worry about much bad decision-making when he's on the court.
You have to respect each of these elder statesmen in the Association, but Kidd is the best oldest player out there.
Other Contenders: Juwan Howard, Grant Hill, Kurt Thomas