Shaquille O'Neal, Steve Nash, and The NBA's Current All-Over-35-Team
They are past their prime. Some of them have lost that explosive first step, while others' knees don’t bend like they used to.
A couple have even had retirement announcements only too realize that they aren’t yet finished with the game they love and have been playing their whole life.
Also, they are a few players that have had to read about in the paper and hear on television about how they can’t play anymore and are nothing more than a liability for whatever team with the audacity to put them on the floor.
While some have to answer questions about whether or not they can still play in the league, there are others who continue to flourish on the court during their twilight years. In fact, some seem to be getting better, or at least maintain playing at very a high level to compete with the new young guns in the NBA.
Bottom line, these guys are all 35 years or older and doing their best at being old men trying to keep up with young adults.
These guys do share a common ground in age, but some are also miles apart from others, namely in the roles that they fill for their respective team.
Some of these guys are still critical enough that would leave their team in panic if they weren’t still playing. Then, there are guys who still can crack the starting lineup, guys who make for a strong sixth-man, others that come off the bench, the journeymen, and then the guys who are lucky to still have a roster spot.
The NBA had 19 guys that were currently 35 years or older, but the recent retirement announcement by Adonal Foyle leaves with us 18 guys. This is a pretty good number for us to work with.
We have a solid starting five to put together, the first man off the bench, the guys to complete the bench, and enough to give us a full scout team and reserves in case of injuries.
(Complete list of the Old Men: Ray Allen, Chucky Atkins, Marcus Camby, Anthony Carter, Erick Dampier, Michael Finley, Adonal Foyle, Grant Hill, Juwan Howard, Zydrunas Illgauskas, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Antonio McDyess, Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal, Joe Smith, Jerry Stackhouse, Kurt Thomas, Ben Wallace)
Starting Five: Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Grant Hill, Illgauskas, and O'Neal
PG: Steve Nash
It is a tough call to make because Jason Kidd is also on this particular list, but I think that Steve Nash gets the nod over Kidd.
Nash is a year younger than Kidd and when you look at their numbers, Nash definitely has the advantage. He averaged 16.5 points per game and 11 assists per game last year for the Phoenix Suns, while Kidd recorded 10.3 points per game and 9.1 assists per game. Those are pretty good numbers for a 37-year-old, but they are not as good Nash’s.
Plus, Nash is quicker, more creative, and a much better shooter than Kidd is at this point in their respective careers. Nash also has a better ability to keep up with the younger point guards on the defensive end and make them work harder with his offensive abilities.
SG: Ray Allen
Ray Allen is lucky in that he is the only true shooting guard on the 35-and-older list. There are a few others that could play the position like; Allen Iverson, Chucky Atkins, Anthony Carter, Michael Finley, and Jerry Stackhouse. But they are not true shooting guards.
Allen showed in the NBA Finals that he still has the 3-point range, but he does have his hot and cold streaks.
Allen did not have the best regular seasons and he found himself at top of the list of trade rumors. Boston stayed the course with Allen and ended up working out with a return to the NBA Finals.
He resigned with the Celtics for two years at $20 million in July, meaning he and Boston will be giving it another try at trying to win a second title with the “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Allen.
SF: Grant Hill
The three main small forwards to choose from that are 35 and older are Hill, Jerry Stackhouse, and Michael Finley
Besides playing in 81 games and starting in all of them (Finley 46 and Stackhouse 42) for the Phoenix Suns last year, Hill also logged 30 (Finley 15 mpg and Stackhouse 20 mpg) minutes a game last year.
He averaged 11.3 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game during the regular season and had a solid performance during the Suns’ playoff run to the Conference Finals with 9.6 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Hill is still a guy that is more than just a role player in the NBA. He is a solid contributor on the offensive end and has even more of an impact on the defensive end. Something that Stackhouse and Finley can’t give as well as Hill does.
PF: Zydrunas Illgauskas
Zydrunas Illgauskas is following his buddy LeBron James to South Beach and will be apart of the NBA’s newest dream team, Miami Heat.
Illgauskas is known for playing center, but his shooting range, youth (for this list), passing ability, and size on the defensive end make him a good fit for the 4 position on this team.
He many not have the fastest lateral movement, but neither do many on this team. He is also a great team guy that will do anything you ask of him.
C: Shaquille O’Neal
At 38 years old, Shaquille O’Neal is the oldest man on this team and is also the biggest character on the team.
Shaq may not be as explosive as he used to be, but he still has incredible strength and size.
He will be taking his talents to Boston, his fourth team since 2004. At this point in his career, it is all about winning that fifth ring for the “Big Diesel”. He is still good for 20-30 minutes a game and is still the best center among his age group.
Sixth-Man: Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson is still searching for a home, but he definitely has one on this team. He may not be the perennial scorer that he used to be, but he still can do the things that made him such a special player to watch for the past 14 seasons.
He does have a great deal of wear and tear on his body, but he only played in 28 games, the lowest amount he has ever played in his entire career.
Having a possible rejuvenated Iverson as your sixth man on your 35 and older team seems like a good fit to create that spark off the bench.
Off The Bench: Kidd, Finley, Stackhouse, Camby, Thomas, and More
Kidd is still one of the league’s top point guards and had a terrific shooting season last year. He shot a career best .425 from the three-pointer, the best of his 16-year career. His .423 from the field was not the best he has ever shot, but it was pretty close.
Kidd proved that he can still hang with the young guns and at 37 years old nearly finished the season averaging a double-double with 10.3 points per game and 9.1 assists per game.
The “Finn-Dogg” has still got some game left in his basketball shoes. He played in 46 games last season with the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics, starting in six of them.
He averaged 15 minutes a game and seemed to get some of his step once he joined the Celtics last year.
With the Spurs he was shooting just .381 from the field and .317 from the three-pointer. When he joined Boston his shooting improved. He shot .506 from the field and .463 from downtown, showing that he still had something left in his tank.
Besides still being able to ball, the guy has got a pretty good voice. Stackhouse played in 42 games last year with the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 8.5 points per game in 20.4 minutes a game.
Stackhouse put up pretty decent numbers, shooting .408 from the field, .346 from the three-pointer, and .797 from the charity stripe.
Hey, he can still play and can sing the national anthem before the game to get the home crowd pumped up and ready for some basketball.
Marcus Camby helped the Portland Trailblazers recover from key injuries to their frontcourt and get them to a sixth seed in the Western Conference.
He shot .475 from the field last year while averaging 7.5 points per game and pulling down 11.8 rebounds per game. He also blocked 1.97 shots a game, good for fifth best in the league.
Also, he is not a traditional back-to-the-basket center. He allows for the team to spread out and open up the lanes on offense.
Thomas is a homer pick for me, I mean; I got to support the Horned Frogs.
Last year Thomas was with the Bucks for his seventh different stop during his tour in the NBA. He played in 70 games, averaging 15 minutes per game, scored 3 points per game, and pulled down 4.2 rebounds per game for Milwaukee.
His minutes saw a huge increase in the playoffs once Andrew Bogut went down with his injury. Thomas answered the call with an increase in his points and rebounds. He averaged just shy of 8 boards a game in the playoffs, including 6 on the defensive end.
He and the Bucks didn’t make it past the first round, but they gave the Atlanta Hawks all they could handle with a seven-game series.
McDyess probably does not have the hops that he used to, but the guy can still shoot the ball from outside.
He also still has pretty good stamina. In his 14th year, he played in 77 games for the San Antonio Spurs last season, starting in 50 of them.
His numbers may not be too eye-catching (5.8 ppg and 5.9 rpg), but his leadership and guidance of Dejuan Blair for the Spurs is invaluable. He many not be the same athlete he once was, but he still is a player and a great team guy.
“Big” Ben Wallace. Wallace is still trucking. He has retired once, but he realized that he was not yet done with his career. He played in 69 games this past season with Detroit, starting in 67 of them.
He led the Pistons in rebounds with 8.7 and blocks 1.2 in 2009-10. Wallace signed a two-year deal with the Pistons, so we might just get the pleasure of watching him rule on the defensive end for two more years.
More than likely, the Pistons will hope he can give guidance to their newly drafted forward/center, Greg Monroe.
Joe Smith is a big favorite of mine. He appeared in 64 games with the Atlanta Hawks last season, starting in one. He averaged just nine minutes a game, but it is more about what he brings to the locker room than on the court.
The Hawks are the tenth team for Smith in his 15 years of service in the NBA. He can still play, but it’s the wisdom that he can pass along to his younger teammates that makes him so invaluable. Smith will definitely find himself with an opportunity to coach if he wants to once he decides to hang up his basketball shoes.
Scout Team/Reserves: Chucky Atkins, Athony Carter, Juwan Howard, Dampier
You always need a scout team and guys that are ready to go when an injury happens.
The 35-and-older has that with these guys.
PG/SG: Chucky Atkins
PG: Anthony Carter
Forward: Juwan Howard
Center: Erick Dampier