Ranking the Top 30 NBA Players over 30 Entering the 2013 Offseason
If the 2013 NBA Finals are any indication, the league's old-timers aren't quite ready to cede their throne to the next generation of superstars just yet.
The San Antonio Spurs' 30-something trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker put the scare of a lifetime into the Miami Heat's Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the 2013 Finals. The Spurs literally had the Heat on the ropes until Ray Allen rescued them in Game 6 with one of the most unbelievably clutch shots in NBA history.
The Spurs weren't the only team in the Finals to heavily rely upon players above the age of 30. Wade (31) and Allen (37) made the most notable contributions, but Mike Miller (33), Shane Battier (34) and Chris "Birdman" Andersen (34) all stepped up when it mattered most, too.
While there's no shortage of superstar power among the 25-and-under group—take Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, for example—the old dogs still have a few more lessons to impart upon the youngsters before heading out to greener pastures.
Here, I've ranked the league's best players above the age of 30 based on four key factors: PER, win shares, offensive rating and defensive rating. Each statistic captures a different aspect of a player's performance, so it ensures that defensive specialists, for instance, don't get short shrift.
I took the three-year average of all four statistics (from 2010-11 through 2012-13), ranked each player 1-30 based on each factor, then averaged all four ranks together to generate the final rankings. Keep that formula in mind as you wonder why your favorite player isn't the No. 1-ranked player here.
Note: The values for PER and win shares come from Basketball-Reference. The values for offensive rating and defensive rating come from NBA.com/stats. All statistics are current through the 2012-13 season.
In alphabetical order:
Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers
Surprised to see Granger so low? Blame his injury-riddled 2012-13 campaign.
A never-ending swath of knee problems limited Granger to only playing five games in the 2012-13 regular season. In that time, he managed to accrue a PER of 4.0, a paltry offensive rating of 92.3 and -0.1 win shares. (No, that negative sign is not a typo.)
Without accounting for the 2012-13 season, Granger would be a lock for the top-30-over-30 rankings. There's no way to know how he'll bounce back from his knee injury, however, so the "Honorable Mention" nod seems fair, subjectively speaking.
Emeka Okafor, Washington Wizards
Of all 33 players ranked here, Emeka Okafor came in dead last in terms of average offensive rating (99.7). That shouldn't come as a major surprise.
Throughout his nine-year career, he's been much more of a force defensively than offensively. He averaged 15.1 points per game as a rookie, but shot only 44.7 percent from the field, which is an unforgivably low mark for a starting center.
Starting in the 2006-07, his scoring average has been on a steady decline. Being stuck on mostly mediocre teams certainly didn't help his win-shares average (he ranked 28th overall), either.
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
When discussing the Cleveland Cavaliers' trade assets, Anderson Varejao's name is the one that most frequently gets brought up. Given his performance over the past three seasons, trading him may be more difficult than one might think.
On the surface, injuries are the biggest red flag when it comes to Varejao. He played a combined total of 81 games from 2010-11 through 2012-13, and it's not as though players tend to become less injury-prone as they grow older.
The Cavaliers big man also graded out poorly, however, in three of the four metrics evaluated here. He ranked 31st in defensive rating (106.1), 32nd in offensive rating (100.1) and 33rd in win shares (2.5), but to his credit, he did rank 17th in PER (18.6).
30. Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
Average PER: 15.6 (26th)
Average Win Shares: 3.7 (30th)
Average OffRtg: 104.8 (22nd)
Average DefRtg: 103.6 (27th)
Jamal Crawford appears to be one of the rare cases of a player who's only getting better with age.
After posting a below-average PER of 14.2 in 2010-11 with the Atlanta Hawks, his PER steadily rose each of the next two seasons, finishing at 16.8 for 2012-13. Crawford also finished with the second-highest win-shares mark of his career during his first season with the Los Angeles Clippers (5.4).
The 2013 Sixth Man of the Year runner-up has always been a potent offensive player, but he stepped his game up on the other end of the court this past season, too. He posted a career-low defensive rating of 99.4 with the Clippers in 2012-13, which helps explain how he ranks 27th in defensive rating out of all the players featured here.
Having a reliable jump shot will only help Crawford stay relevant as he enters his mid-30s. There's no reason to expect him to suffer a major drop off over the next few seasons, given the way his career statistics have been trending in the past three years.
29. Jason Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers
Average PER: 13.6 (31st)
Average Win Shares: 3.7 (31st)
Average OffRtg: 105.3 (19th)
Average DefRtg: 102.5 (23rd)
Only three seasons removed from a berth in the Western Conference Finals, Jason Richardson has become largely an afterthought in terms of the top shooting guards in the league.
His recent year-to-year statistics aren't trending in a way that inspires much confidence about his ability to turn that sentiment around.
Since being traded by the Phoenix Suns to the Orlando Magic in December 2010, Richardson's shooting percentages have plummeted. After shooting 47 percent from the field and nearly 42 percent from three-point range during his final half-season in Phoenix, his field-goal and three-point shooting percentages have sunk lower and lower each year.
A cartilage tear in his left kneecap prematurely ended his 2012-13 season in January, a season in which he posted three-year lows in PER (12.6), win shares (1.4) and offensive rating (102.2). He's only 32 years old, which means he still has time to bounce back, but Philadelphia 76ers fans aren't thrilled at the moment about the prospect of having Richardson suck up over $12 million in cap space through 2014-15.
28. Jose Calderon, Detroit Pistons
Average PER: 17.3 (20th)
Average Win Shares: 5.4 (19th)
Average OffRtg: 102.1 (30th)
Average DefRtg: 107.1 (33rd)
Jose Calderon will be one of the most potentially valuable free agents in the 2013 offseason, despite being relatively unheralded.
Any team looking for an affordable yet competent starting point guard could do far worse than Calderon. His PER, like Jamal Crawford's, has only risen each season since 2010-11, going from 16.3 that year to 18.8 in 2012-13.
Likewise, the number of win shares he's accrued has also soared, from 3.7 in 2010-11 to 7.4 this past year. He's not a major scorer by any means, but he's a reliable enough jump-shooter to be a solid starter.
Calderon's major flaw is on the defensive side of the ball, where he ranks dead last in terms of defensive rating (107.1) out of the 33 players featured here. He needs a legitimate rim protector, like Detroit Pistons rookie Andre Drummond, to help compensate for when he allows his man to blow by him en route to the basket.
27. Jason Terry, Boston Celtics
Average PER: 14.8 (29th)
Average Win Shares: 4.4 (26th)
Average OffRtg: 104.2 (25th)
Average DefRtg: 101.7 (19th)
Jason "JET" Terry came in for a crash landing during his first season with the Boston Celtics in 2012-13.
Two years after winning the 2011 NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks, Terry struggled to get his shot to fall for a majority of the 2012-13 season. LeBron James also victimized Terry in one of the year's most vicious dunks, causing a Wikipedia user to claim that the dunk was the cause of JET's death.
Terry's struggles with the Celtics are reflected in his PER average, as he went from posting PERs in the 15s in 2010-11 and 2011-12 to a PER of 12.8 this past season. His 2012-13 offensive rating of 100.5 also ranks as a three-year low for JET.
After being elbowed in the face by J.R. Smith during the opening round of the 2013 playoffs, Terry appeared to find his groove for a few games. The Celtics can only hope that the 35-year-old Terry retains his postseason form come the start of the 2013-14 season.
26. Gerald Wallace, Brooklyn Nets
Average PER: 14.6 (30th)
Average Win Shares: 4.7 (23rd)
Average OffRtg: 104.6 (24th)
Average DefRtg: 101.7 (18th)
One year into his new four-year, $40 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets, Gerald Wallace appears to be a massive albatross for the franchise.
After Game 3 of the Nets' opening-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls in 2013, Wallace told the New York Daily News, "I don't have a clue what my role is on this team." Coming off a regular season in which he averaged only 7.7 points (on 39.7 percent shooting) and 4.6 rebounds per game, that comment didn't exactly register as a major surprise.
Wallace rediscovered his aggressiveness after dropping that bombshell, which the Nets can only hope wasn't a four-game anomaly. The Nets don't need him to be their No. 1 offensive option with Brook Lopez and Deron Williams also on the roster, but they'll need him to present some threat of scoring to prevent opponents from packing the paint against them in years to come.
Unsurprisingly, Wallace hit a three-year low in terms of PER (11.6) and win shares (3.1) during the 2012-13 season. On the bright side, he ranks 18th overall in terms of his defensive rating average(101.7) out of the 33 players featured here.
25. Chauncey Billups, Los Angeles Clippers
Average PER: 16.6 (21st)
Average Win Shares: 3.7 (32nd)
Average OffRtg: 109.4 (3rd)
Average DefRtg: 105.0 (29th)
Since joining the Los Angeles Clippers in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Chauncey Billups has battled a never-ending rash of injuries.
Billups tore his left Achilles tendon in February 2012, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2011-12 season. He returned to play in late November 2012, but tendonitis in his left foot sidelined him until February, and a strained right groin caused him to miss even more time in March.
When healthy enough to take the court, he's been the same "Mr. Big Shot" that he's been throughout his career. Billups ranks third of all players featured here in terms of average offensive rating (109.4), with offensive ratings above 110 in the 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons.
By the time the 2013-14 season rolls around, Billups will be 37 years old. As an unrestricted free agent in the 2013 offseason, the Clippers likely won't offer more than a veteran's minimum contract to Billups, given his injury history over the past two seasons.
24. Shane Battier, Miami Heat
Average PER: 10.9 (33rd)
Average Win Shares: 4.3 (27th)
Average OffRtg: 107.8 (8th)
Average DefRtg: 101.2 (16th)
Reports of Shane Battier's demise were greatly exaggerated. Just ask Battier himself.
In the words of Dwyane Wade (via CBSSports.com), when it came to the 2013 postseason, "Shane ain't hit a shot since I don't know when." That is, until he broke through by draining six of his eight three-point attempts in Game 7, helping lead the Miami Heat to back-to-back NBA championships.
Battier's become a two-trick pony at this stage of his career with Miami. Offensively, he's a three-point specialist who's not going to create for himself off the dribble. Defensively, he remains an absolute nuisance to opponents.
His limited offensive contributions help explain why he ranks dead last in average PER (10.9) of the players featured here. Despite that ignominious honor, Battier's gone two-for-two in terms of championships in the past two seasons, filling his role on the Heat in a near-perfect manner.
23. Vince Carter, Dallas Mavericks
Average PER: 15.4 (27th)
Average Win Shares: 4.2 (29th)
Average OffRtg: 106.1 (14th)
Average DefRtg: 101.1 (14th)
Though the days of "Vinsanity" are long gone, Vince Carter remains a solid, steady role player in 2013.
The 36-year-old Carter is done averaging 20 points per game over the course of a full season, but he's proven more than capable of occasionally heating up from the field. He dropped 20 or more points in 12 of the 81 games he played during the 2012-13 season, giving the Dallas Mavericks a third legitimate offensive threat behind Dirk Nowitzki and O.J. Mayo.
After tailing off in both PER and win shares during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Carter reversed course this past year. He went from a PER of 13.6 in 2011-12 to a PER of 17.8 in 2012-13, and also more than doubled his win shares, jumping from 2.9 to 6.0.
His PER rank (27th) and win-shares rank (29th) didn't do him many favors when it came to the overall rankings of players above the age of 30, but it's worth noting that he does rank 14th in terms of both average offensive rating (106.1) and average defensive rating (101.1).
22. Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
Average PER: 15.7 (24th)
Average Win Shares: 4.7 (24th)
Average OffRtg: 102.5 (29th)
Average DefRtg: 96.4 (2nd)
It's no secret what earns Tony Allen his spot here: his nearly unparalleled defensive ability.
Of the 33 players featured here, Allen's average defensive rating (96.4) ranks second overall and first among perimeter players. It's safe to make the argument that he's the best perimeter defender in the league over the age of 30, based both on his average defensive rating and the "eye test."
Offensively, he's considerably more lacking. Allen only converted 28.5 percent of his 2012-13 regular-season shot attempts from outside the restricted area, according to NBA.com/stats, which the San Antonio Spurs mercilessly exploited in the Western Conference Finals.
If the 31-year-old Allen developed a semi-consistent jump shot, teams wouldn't be able to sag off him and pack the paint, daring him to beat them from the perimeter. At this point in his career, he'll need to make considerable strides in that department over the next few seasons or he'll soon be relegated to being a situational player.
21. Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
Average PER: 16.3 (22nd)
Average Win Shares: 5.2 (20th)
Average OffRtg: 106.1 (14th)
Average DefRtg: 102.4 (22nd)
For what it's worth, these rankings don't take the size of a player's contract into account. If they did, Joe Johnson would struggle to crack the top 30 here.
Johnson isn't a bad player by any means. He hit three game-winning shots for the Brooklyn Nets throughout the 2012-13 regular season, according to ESPNNewYork.com, and drilled 10 of his 13 regular-season shot attempts with the Nets trailing by five points or less within the final minute of the game, according to NBA.com/stats.
It's that six-year, $123 million contract that's come to define him, however. Any player who earns more annual money than LeBron James can't afford to be a somewhat average player offensively, yet that's exactly what Johnson often was during the 2012-13 season.
For a player making over $20 million per year, 16.3 points, 3.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game isn't going to get it done. The Nets need Johnson and Deron Williams to build upon their partnership in the 2013-14 season to have any chance of being championship contenders, but it's tough to see Johnson in particular making significant strides forward at this point in his career.
20. Andre Miller, Denver Nuggets
Average PER: 16.1 (23rd)
Average Win Shares: 5.1 (21st)
Average OffRtg: 108.0 (6th)
Average DefRtg: 103.1 (25th)
It's been said for years that Andre Miller has an "old man's game." That's only come to help the 37-year-old Miller stay relevant as he creeps closer to 40.
Miller isn't an explosive athlete like Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose, which means that he's not blowing by anyone on the way to the basket. Instead, he relies upon his high-level basketball IQ to outwit opponents.
His basketball savvy was on full display in the opening game of the 2013 playoffs, when he scored 18 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Denver Nuggets to a last-second win over the Golden State Warriors. Miller exploited a mismatch against rookie Draymond Green, drove into the paint and used an up-and-under move to flip the ball into the basket for the game-winner.
Of the players featured here, Miller ranks sixth overall in terms of average offensive rating (108.0). For the record, that places the 37-year-old ahead of Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce, to name a few.
19. Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
Average PER: 20.8 (7th)
Average Win Shares: 4.9 (22nd)
Average OffRtg: 105.3 (18th)
Average DefRtg: 104.8 (28th)
Think the New York Knicks have come to regret offering Amar'e Stoudemire a fully guaranteed, five-year, $100 million contract in the 2010 offseason yet?
The contract is uninsured against a career-ending knee or eye injury, according to Howard Beck of the New York Times, due to Stoudemire's previous injury history. He missed the first two months of the 2012-13 season while recovering from surgery on his left knee, then missed an additional six weeks toward the end of the regular season for another knee-related surgery.
Even when he's been healthy enough to take the court, the fit between he and Carmelo Anthony has appeared uneasy at best. Anthony thrived as the Knicks' starting power forward in Stoudemire's absence throughout the 2012-13 season, raising serious questions about STAT's role with the team moving forward.
As much as the final two years of Stoudemire's contract may loom large, it was a necessary evil for the Knicks, as ESPNNewYork.com's Ian O'Connor explains. By expressing such enthusiasm about joining the Knicks in free agency during the 2010 offseason, Stoudemire made New York an attractive landing spot for marquee free agents once more.
18. David Lee, Golden State Warriors
Average PER: 18.9 (14th)
Average Win Shares: 6.7 (12th)
Average OffRtg: 105.9 (16th)
Average DefRtg: 106.7 (32nd)
For a player who's averaged 18.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game over the past three seasons combined, having David Lee ranked only 18th here might seem a bit low to some.
While his offensive statistics would justify a top-15 spot, Lee's defensive averages are what send him tumbling down these rankings.
At the 2013 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Harvard researcher Kirk Goldsberry presented a study on interior defense in which he found Lee to be one of the league's worst defenders around the basket. According to Goldsberry's analysis, opponents hit an eye-popping 61 percent of their shots when Lee was within five feet of the basket.
Lo and behold, of the 33 players featured here, Lee ranks 32nd in terms of average defensive rating (106.7), ahead of only Jose Calderon. Being one of the rare players in the NBA capable of averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per night explains why Lee was rewarded with a six-year, $80 million contract in the 2010 offseason, but statistics suggest he's as much of a minus defensively as he is a plus on offense.
17. Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls
Average PER: 18.5 (18th)
Average Win Shares: 6.4 (15th)
Average OffRtg: 103.8 (27th)
Average DefRtg: 100.6 (12th)
Like Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer earns an enormous amount of disdain from fans mostly due to his oversized contract.
With Derrick Rose sidelined for the entire 2012-13 season, the Chicago Bulls gained a newfound appreciation for what Boozer brings offensively. He's a master of the mid-range pick-and-pop jumper, which leaves plenty of room to operate around the basket for Joakim Noah (and Rose, once he returns).
While Boozer isn't known as the best defender in the league by any means, he's been surprisingly solid on that end of the court in recent years. Of the 33 players featured here, Boozer ranks 12th in terms of average defensive rating (100.6), although that's partially attributable to Noah's stellar defense while sharing the court with him.
The Booze's days of being a team's top offensive option ended the second he inked his five-year, $75 million contract with Chicago in the 2010 offseason. He's plenty fine as a team's second or third banana, but the $15-plus million he'll receive for the next two seasons will continue to shade fans' judgments of him, fair or not.
16. Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers
Average PER: 19.0 (13th)
Average Win Shares: 6.0 (17th)
Average OffRtg: 106.7 (11th)
Average DefRtg: 106.0 (30th)
If not for his injury-riddled 2012-13 campaign, Steve Nash would be threatening for a top-10 spot in these rankings.
During his final two seasons with the Phoenix Suns, Nash finished with a combined 13.8 win shares and posted a PER above 20 each year. Despite being on the wrong side of 35, Nash maintained his elite grip on the Suns' offense, leading the league with 11.4 assists per game in 2010-11.
After being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in July 2012, things quickly went downhill for Nash. He missed nearly half of the 2012-13 regular season after fracturing his left fibula in the second game of the season, and the Lakers never managed to fully recover.
Defensively, Nash has always been somewhat of a sieve, and that's reflected in the defensive rating averages: He ranks 30th out of 33 in terms of three-year defensive rating (106.0). While his offensive contributions made up for his deficiencies on that side of the court for most of his career, it's worth wondering how much longer the 39-year-old Nash can make that hold true.
15. Nene Hilario, Washington Wizards
Average PER: 18.7 (15th)
Average Win Shares: 5.4 (18th)
Average OffRtg: 104.8 (22nd)
Average DefRtg: 100.6 (11th)
If Nene Hilario could just stay healthy, he'd have a realistic shot at being one of the 10 best NBA players above the age of 30.
Injuries have besieged him since he was traded to the Washington Wizards in March 2012, forcing him to miss over 30 games over the past season-and-a-half. His battle with an ongoing case of plantar fasciitis in his left foot even made him consider retirement, according to The Washington Post.
His career per-game averages of 12.4 points and 6.9 rebounds don't exactly scream superstar, but keep in mind, he's never averaged more than 34 minutes per game in a season. Those limited minutes detract from his ability to rack up a large number of win shares, which negatively affects him in these rankings.
Of the 33 players featured here, Nene ranks 11th in terms of average defensive rating (100.6), 15th in PER (18.7) and 18th in win shares (5.4). He'd be considered one of the better veteran big men in the league if only he could avoid the injury bug.
14. Ray Allen, Miami Heat
Average PER: 15.3 (28th)
Average Win Shares: 6.7 (12th)
Average OffRtg: 105.7 (17th)
Average DefRtg: 100.1 (9th)
Ray Allen remains one of the NBA's most lethal sharpshooters, even at age 37.
He holds the all-time record for made three-pointers both in the regular season (2,857) and the playoffs (352). Only 32 days before his 38th birthday, Allen hit one of the most clutch shots in NBA history, drilling a game-tying three-pointer in the waning seconds of Game 6 of the 2013 Finals.
The man known as Jesus Shuttlesworth primarily thrives as a catch-and-shoot three-point bomber at this point in his career, but he's still occasionally able to take opponents off the dribble. While he's mostly a liability on defense, playing with a rim protector like Kevin Garnett for most of his 30s helped boost his year-to-year defensive ratings.
Out of the 33 players featured here, Allen ranks ninth in average defensive rating (100.1), 12th in win shares (6.7) and 17th in offensive rating (105.7). He's surprisingly posted below-average PERs during each of the past two seasons (14.8 and 14.7, respectively), however.
13. Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City Thunder
Average PER: 18.0 (19th)
Average Win Shares: 6.6 (14th)
Average OffRtg: 108.6 (4th)
Average DefRtg: 103.6 (26th)
Has Kevin Martin had a better career than Ray Allen? Not a chance.
Over the past three seasons, however, Martin has contributed more to his teams' success than Allen, statistically speaking.
Only three players above the age of 30 have outpaced Martin in terms of average offensive rating over the past three seasons (108.6). He's not an all-around offensive threat like the player he replaced in Oklahoma City (James Harden), but he's one of the best catch-and-shoot specialists the league has to offer.
His defensive rating, however, ranks 26th of the 33 players featured here (103.6). Any team interested in signing Martin during 2013 free agency must bear in mind that he's only an impact player on one end of the court.
12. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
Average PER: 19.5 (10th)
Average Win Shares: 6.8 (11th)
Average OffRtg: 105.1 (21st)
Average DefRtg: 99.7 (8th)
If the Memphis Grizzlies weren't so offensively anemic, Zach Randolph would be a lock for a top-10 spot in these rankings.
Of the 33 players featured here, Z-Bo ranks 21st in terms of average offensive rating (105.1). After posting offensive ratings in the 106 range during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, his offensive rating dipped to 102.2 this past season.
While he routinely averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game earlier in his career, he's only averaged 13.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game over the past two seasons combined. Considering that he's owed approximately $34 million over the next two seasons, the Memphis Grizzlies may begin to seriously entertain trade offers for him if his offensive production continues to tail off.
His performance in the 2013 playoffs, where he dominated matchups against Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka, could give Memphis pause when considering whether to trade him. So long as he remains one of the more physically dominant big men in the league, the frontcourt combination of Randolph and Marc Gasol will present major challenges for most opponents.
11. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Average PER: 20.1 (9th)
Average Win Shares: 7.2 (10th)
Average OffRtg: 103.7 (28th)
Average DefRtg: 95.6 (1st)
Despite being 37 years old, Kevin Garnett remains one of the most fearsome defenders in the NBA.
Upon joining the Boston Celtics in the 2007 offseason, Garnett became the anchor of Boston's defense. The Celtics consistently touted one of the toughest defenses in the league with Garnett at the helm, as evidenced by K.G. outpacing all players in these rankings in terms of average defensive rating (95.6).
On the other hand, the Celtics' offensive anemia over the past few seasons hasn't done any favors for Garnett's offensive rating. Of the 33 players featured here, Garnett ranks 28th overall in terms of average offensive rating (103.7) over the past three seasons.
If not for his paltry offensive rating, Garnett would be challenging for a top-five spot here. Even still, Garnett's unparalleled defensive ability has him placed just outside the top 10, despite his low offensive rating.
10. David West, Indiana Pacers
Average PER: 19.4 (12th)
Average Win Shares: 7.6 (8th)
Average OffRtg: 105.2 (20th)
Average DefRtg: 99.4 (7th)
David West doesn't have the number of All-Star appearances that many of the other players in the top 10 of these rankings tout. With that said, he's just as valuable as those more-heralded stars.
Roy Hibbert has been quick to credit West with changing the culture of the Indiana Pacers' locker room. West brought a certain toughness that the Pacers lacked before his arrival, helping turn the Pacers into one of the most physically aggressive teams in the NBA.
Just ask LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat how West's presence on the floor can cramp an opponent's style. The combination of West and Hibbert forced the Heat to abandon their small-ball mentality during the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, as the Pacers' big man duo routinely abused Miami on the boards and in the paint.
Of the 33 players featured here, West ranks seventh in terms of average defensive rating (99.4), eighth in win shares (7.6) and 12th in PER (19.4). He's been one of the most productive members of the heralded 2003 draft class that included James, Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, and should remain a force to be reckoned with for the next few seasons.
9. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
Average PER: 19.4 (10th)
Average Win Shares: 8.6 (5th)
Average OffRtg: 104.1 (26th)
Average DefRtg: 97.7 (3rd)
Despite the possibility of the Boston Celtics discarding Paul Pierce like a burnt cigarette in the 2013 offseason, he remains one of the NBA's most potent scorers.
At 35 years old, Pierce averaged 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for the Celtics during the 2012-13 season, knocking down 38 percent of his five three-point attempts per night. With Ray Allen taking his talents to South Beach in the summer of 2012, Pierce began shouldering even more of the offensive load for Boston.
The Celtics' offensive struggles have Pierce ranked 26th out of the 33 players featured here in terms of average offensive rating (104.1). Playing most of his minutes alongside Kevin Garnett has its perks for Pierce, though: He's third of all players here in average defensive rating (97.7).
"The Truth" ranks fifth in average win shares (8.6) and 10th in average PER (19.4), both of which speak to the impact he's been able to have in recent seasons. Any team in need of a proven scorer at the small forward position could do far worse than the 35-year-old Pierce.
8. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
Average PER: 18.7 (15th)
Average Win Shares: 9.4 (2nd)
Average OffRtg: 106.6 (13th)
Average DefRtg: 100.9 (13th)
Tyson Chandler may only have one All-Star berth to his name, but there's no understating his impact on the defensive end of the court.
Chandler anchored the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks' championship-winning defense, then immediately changed the defensive culture of the New York Knicks upon signing with them as a free agent in the summer of 2011. The Knicks went from being tied for 22nd in defensive rating during the 2010-11 season (110.1) to touting a top-five defensive rating the next year (101.0).
Based on the Knicks' amazing one-season turnaround defensively, Chandler received the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award. A knee injury and a bulging disc in his neck limited his effectiveness during the 2012-13 season, and the Knicks' defense suffered a similar drop-off in his absence.
Of the 33 players featured here, Chandler trails only Dwyane Wade in terms of average defensive win shares over the past three seasons (9.4), and he ranks 13th, 13th and 15th, respectively, in terms of average offensive rating, defensive rating and PER.
7. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
Average PER: 20.1 (8th)
Average Win Shares: 8.9 (4th)
Average OffRtg: 106.7 (11th)
Average DefRtg: 101.6 (17th)
Pau Gasol's name has been a staple in trade rumors over the past few seasons, but that's more due to his massive contract than his current level of play.
Since being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in February 2008, Gasol has consistently averaged roughly 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. His proclivity for passing out of the high post and his ability to knock down mid-range jumpers creates considerable space for his Lakers teammates on offense.
Gasol hasn't been able to shed the "soft" label throughout his career, yet career per-game averages of 9.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks certainly suggest that he's not afraid to scrap in the post when necessary.
Of the 33 players featured here, Gasol ranks fourth in average win shares (8.9), eighth in PER (20.1) and 11th in offensive rating (106.7). The only thing holding him back from ending up higher in these rankings is his defensive rating average (101.6), which came in 17th of the 33 players evaluated.
6. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Average PER: 22.9 (2nd)
Average Win Shares: 9.1 (3rd)
Average OffRtg: 107.3 (9th)
Average DefRtg: 102.8 (24th)
Having Kobe Bryant ranked only sixth here is sure to generate outrage from Los Angeles Lakers fans. But before you flood the comments section with variations of "LAKER HATER," remember that these rankings are based on a completely objective formula.
Offensively, few players can hold a candle to what Bryant has accomplished over the past few seasons. He's coming off a year in which he averaged 27.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game for a Lakers team that needed everything he could possibly provide.
Of the 33 players featured here, Bryant ranks second in average PER (22.9), third in win shares (9.1) and ninth in offensive rating (107.3). No one's questioning the impact he makes offensively for the Lakers.
It's his defensive rating average (102.8) that holds him back from being a top-five player here. That 102.8 average puts him 24th of the 33 players ranked, as his frequent lack of effort on the defensive side of the ball (especially in transition) appears to translate in his annual defensive ratings.
Lakers fans, you may now proceed spewing your hatred my way. Just remember the formula these rankings are based on when accusing me of Los Angeles-related bias.
5. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Average PER: 21.6 (5th)
Average Win Shares: 7.9 (7th)
Average OffRtg: 106.8 (10th)
Average DefRtg: 101.1 (15th)
Dirk Nowitzki just edges out Kobe Bryant for the No. 5 spot in the "top players over 30 years old" rankings, despite trailing Bryant in average PER, win shares and offensive rating over the past three seasons.
Nowitzki ranks fifth in average PER (21.6), seventh in win shares (7.9) and 10th in offensive rating (106.8), but holds a significant edge over Bryant in terms of defensive rating. While Bryant ranks 24th of the 33 players featured here, Nowitzki's average defensive rating comes in at 15th overall (101.1).
Realistically, the gap between Nowitzki and Bryant could have been much greater if not for the Big German's injury-marred 2012-13 season. He reached three-year lows in both PER (19.8) and win shares (5.0) during 2012-13, as knee surgery kept him sidelined for the first month-and-a-half of the season.
It took him a while to rediscover his groove after returning from surgery, but he was breaking out those vintage fadeaway one-legged jumpers by the end of the season. Assuming he can start the 2013-14 season on the right foot, Nowitzki will only put more space between himself and Bryant.
4. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
Average PER: 21.6 (6th)
Average Win Shares: 6.2 (16th)
Average OffRtg: 112.1 (1st)
Average DefRtg: 100.3 (10th)
Surprised to see Manu Ginobili ranked this high? Despite his lackluster 2013 postseason performance, he's been one of the more statistically dominant players above the age of 30 in recent years.
For one, Ginobili leads all 33 players featured here in terms of average offensive rating (112.1). A broken left hand caused him to miss nearly half of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, but when he did play, he posted an unbelievably high offensive rating of 118.0.
Despite only appearing in 34 of the 66 games during the 2011-12 season, Ginobili finished with 4.2 win shares. A year later, he only recorded 4.5 win shares while playing in 60 games, which speaks to how ridiculously efficient Ginobili was during the 2011-12 season when healthy.
He posted three-year lows in terms of both PER (19) and offensive rating (106.1) during the 2012-13 season, raising legitimate questions about whether the gas has finally begun to run out of Ginobili's tank. No matter what happens with him in 2013 free agency, Ginobili will go down as one of the most heralded international players ever to play in the NBA.
3. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Average PER: 22.9 (3rd)
Average Win Shares: 7.3 (9th)
Average OffRtg: 107.8 (7th)
Average DefRtg: 98.1 (4th)
At this point, the only logical explanation for Tim Duncan's maintained excellence is that he's a cyborg who descended from another planet with the sole purpose of playing basketball.
The 37-year-old Duncan experienced an absolute renaissance of a season in 2012-13, posting three-year highs in terms of points (17.8), rebounds (9.9), blocks (2.7) and minutes (30.1) per game. His average of 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes was the highest it's ever been in his 16-year NBA career.
Duncan ranks in the top 10 of all four major categories measured in these rankings, proving that his dominance isn't only limited to a certain area on the court. He's third out of the 33 players featured here in terms of average PER (22.9), fourth in defensive rating (98.1), seventh in offensive rating (107.8) and ninth in win shares (7.3).
The Big Fundamental is one of those cases where statistics don't lie. Just look at his first-half performance from Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, where he posted 25 points and eight rebounds in a potential close-out game against the Miami Heat.
It's worth repeating: This man is 37 years old and he finished with a combined 54 points and 29 rebounds in Games 6 and 7 of the 2013 Finals. In the ongoing war against Father Time, Duncan clearly has maintained the upper hand so far.
2. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Average PER: 21.8 (4th)
Average Win Shares: 8.2 (6th)
Average OffRtg: 108.2 (5th)
Average DefRtg: 99.0 (6th)
While the San Antonio Spurs have been Tim Duncan's team for the past decade-and-a-half, Tony Parker has clearly emerged as Duncan's heir apparent.
The control that the lightning-fast Frenchman exhibits over the Spurs' offense is simply terrifying. He's a master of pushing the pace in transition, yet he also knows how to generate good looks for the Spurs in their half-court offense.
Parker was receiving sleeper MVP buzz through February 2013 until spraining his left ankle on the first day of March. The Spurs wisely played it safe with Parker throughout the rest of the regular season, figuring it was best to preserve their star point guard's health for what they hoped to be an extended playoff run.
Having fully recovered from the ankle sprain by the start of the postseason, Parker began running circles around some of the top point guards in the league. A hamstring strain limited his effectiveness in the final few games of the 2013 Finals, which may have ultimately cost the Spurs the championship.
Parker is one of only two players featured here to rank among the top six in all four statistical categories measured. He's fourth in average PER (21.8), fifth in offensive rating (108.2), sixth in win shares (8.2) and sixth in defensive rating (99.0).
1. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Average PER: 25.3 (1st)
Average Win Shares: 10.03 (1st)
Average OffRtg: 110.5 (2nd)
Average DefRtg: 98.9 (5th)
Don't let his knee injuries over the past two years fool you: When it comes to players over the age of 30, Dwyane Wade has had no peer since the start of the 2010-11 season.
While the "Flash" version of Wade only makes occasional appearances these days, he's still managing to find ways of staying effective and efficient. Wade shot a career-high 52 percent from the field during the 2012-13 season, and was one of only four players in the league who averaged at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game.
LeBron James may have taken over Wade's role as the Miami Heat's Batman, but Wade's been a none-too-shabby Robin these past few seasons. Since James and Chris Bosh joined the Heat in 2010, no player above the age of 30 has posted a higher average PER (25.3) or win shares (10.03) than Wade.
D-Wade also ranks second of the 33 players featured here in terms of average offensive rating (110.5) and fifth overall in defensive rating (98.9). He's the only player to be within the top five for all four metrics.
Those balky knees of his could prove to be increasingly problematic over the next few seasons, without question. At this point, however, there's no one who can challenge Wade for the top spot in the "top 30 players over the age of 30" rankings.
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