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NBA Power Rankings: Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant and the Top 20 Players Over 30

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2010

NBA Power Rankings: Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant and the Top 20 Players Over 30

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    What do the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics all have in common?  They're all title contenders, and they all have multiple starters over the age of 30.

    What does it mean?  Experience is a huge asset for a team.

    There are plenty of players in the NBA who are on the "wrong" side of 30 that are still playing at a very high level.  Here are the top 20...

20: Chauncey Billups

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Age: 34

    Experience: 13 years

    Teams: Celtics, Raptors, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Pistons

     

    Chauncey's shot has been pretty cold in the early part of this season, but I have a hunch he'll break out of it.  

    His career numbers aren't going to blow anyone away, but we all know what makes "Mr. Big Shot" great.  He's a good defender, a great, veteran leader, and he brings his best when it matters most.

19: Elton Brand

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    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Age: 31

    Experience: 11 years

    Teams: Bulls, Clippers, 76ers

     

    His first couple of years in Philadelphia were nowhere near as productive as the 76ers brass expected them to be, but Brand has picked it up a bit this year and he's still a solid power forward.

    Long gone is the 20 and 10 guy we watched in Chicago and Los Angeles.  However, he still brings decent production at 15 and eight, and his veteran intangibles have some value as well.


18: David West

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Experience: 7 years

    Teams: Hornets

     

    The New Orleans Hornets have cooled off significantly since their 8-0 start, but you can hardly blame David West for that.

    He could definitely rebound better, but his 18.5 points per game on 53 percent shooting leads the Hornets.

    West is another player whose style will work for him for years to come.  He'll be hitting that mid-range jumper on people in his late 30s.


17: Richard Jefferson

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Experience: 9 years

    Teams: Nets, Bucks, Spurs

     

    Jefferson put up big numbers during his years in New Jersey and Milwaukee when he was the go-to guy.

    Last year, for the first time in his career, he had to adjust to being a role player.  Now, he looks much more comfortable with his team in San Antonio.

    He's averaging 14.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 43 percent from three-point range.

    I'm not sure the Spurs would be a league-best 17-3 without him.

16: Stephen Jackson

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Age: 32

    Experience: 10 years

    Teams: Nets, Spurs, Hawks, Pacers, Warriors, Bobcats

     

    Whether he's been in Atlanta, Indiana, Golden State or Charlotte, this guy's always been able to score.  

    After getting off to a slow start, Jackson has pulled his averages for this year up to 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

    At 6'8" and 215 pounds, his size is a big problem for most opposing shooting guards.  In the post, he can dominate a lot of guys that are matched up with him.

15: Vince Carter

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Age: 33

    Experience: 12 years

    Teams: Raptors, Nets, Magic

     

    Once upon a time, Carter was considered by many to be one of the top two or three shooting guards in the NBA.

    He's seen a big dip in his production as he's assumed a lesser role for the Orlando Magic, but his career averages of 22.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and four assists are still very impressive.

    He may only be averaging 15.4 points per game this year, but he's recently shown that he can still put up some points when he's called upon.  The Magic have had multiple key players out of service lately due to a stomach virus and Carter has gone for over 20 points in three straight games. 

14: Jason Terry

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    Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

    Age: 33

    Experience: 11 years

    Teams: Hawks, Mavericks

     

    Plenty of people have been given the nickname "Jet," but this guy truly deserves it for a few reasons.  Not only are his initials J.E.T., he's been one of the most consistent and electrifying guards in the league for over a decade.

    Since the 2000-01 season, he's averaged less than 16 points a game for a season just once.  That season was his first in Dallas, when he was adjusting to a new role.

    His numbers so far this year are pretty much on par with his career numbers of 16.2 points, 4.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game.  His career shooting percentages are 45 percent from the field and 38 from three-point range.

    At 6'2", Terry has to use speed and quickness to score on bigger matchups.  Even after all his time in the league, he has still has an advantage over most players in that area.

13: Luis Scola

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Experience: 3 years

    Teams: Rockets

     

    He's still a little green in terms of NBA experience, but Scola can still be considered a seasoned veteran because of the years he played professionally overseas.

    He's adjusted to the NBA game pretty well as he's averaging 20.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in this, his fourth year in the league.

    One of his biggest assets is his deep repertoire of post moves that seem to be from another era of the game.  

    He's fundamentally sound, plays hard, and is emerging as a leader for the Houston Rockets.

12: Grant Hill

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Age: 38

    Experience: 15 years

    Teams: Pistons, Magic, Suns

     

    If his career hadn't been sidetracked by injuries, we'd likely be talking about Grant Hill as one of the greatest players of all-time right now.

    In his first six seasons in Detroit, he averaged 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.

    His next six years in Orlando were borderline tragic.  He dealt with numerous injuries, and played in an average of 33 games per season as a member of the Magic.

    We've seen an incredible resurgence from Hill since he joined the Phoenix Suns.  This year, he's one of the oldest players in the NBA and he's still averaging 14 points per game on 53 percent shooting.

11: Lamar Odom

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Age: 31

    Experience: 11 years

    Teams: Clippers, Heat, Lakers

     

    People always have a lot to say about Lamar Odom's inconsistency.  I think a lot of the criticism he receives for that is unwarranted.  When Odom starts, and gets consistent minutes, he performs at an extremely high level.

    It's tough to be consistent when you're playing time and role on the team are both sporadic.  Whenever Andrew Bynum is out, and Odom's role as starting power forward is set in stone, he delivers.

    This year is evidence.  He's averaging 15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and a block per game.  He's also shooting a stellar 58 percent from the field and 46 percent from three-point range.

    One aspect of Odom's game that people really can't deny is his versatility.  In the history of the game, their hasn't been many 6'10" players who can handle the ball, pass and run an offense like Odom.  He is the ultimate example of the point forward in today's NBA.

10: Jason Kidd

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    Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

    Age: 37

    Experience: 16 years

    Teams: Mavericks, Suns, Nets

     

    He's the second oldest player on this list, and he plays a position that requires a great deal of speed, agility and quickness (attributes that are typically possessed by youthful players).

    He's not as quick and fast as he once was, but a testament to his greatness is the fact that he's evolved in other areas of the game in order to not only remain relevant, but elite.

    The skill he's improved the most is his three-point shooting.  He's shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc since re-joining the Mavericks in 2008.  That's five points higher than his career percentage of 35.

    The Mavericks are off to a 16-4 start and Kidd is a big reason why.  He's averaging 8.9 assists, 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

9: Ray Allen

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Age: 35

    Experience: 14 years

    Teams: Bucks, Sonics, Celtics

     

    By the end of his career, Ray Allen could be considered the greatest shooter of all-time.  He'll be the all-time leader in three-point shots made and attempted.  He's currently shooting 40 percent from that range for his career, and 42 percent for this season.

    His numbers have gone down since he became a member of the Boston Celtics.  That has more to do with his reduced role than it has to do with a decline in skill.

    He's an integral part of why Boston is still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

8: Kevin Garnett

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Age: 34

    Experience: 15 years

    Teams: Timberwolves, Celtics

     

    When Garnett played for the Timberwolves, he was considered by many to be the best power forward in the world.  In 12 seasons in Minnesota, he averaged 20.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.

    His numbers went down along with the number of shots he took in Boston, but in his first season there, he helped lead the Celtics to an NBA title. 

    This season, he's very nearly averaging a double-double at 15.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

7: Tim Duncan

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Age: 34

    Experience: 13 years

    Teams: Spurs

     

    Duncan's numbers have gone down a bit over the last couple years, but he's still averaging 21 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for his career.

    He's never failed to average double-digits in rebounding, so don't be surprised if he pulls his current average of 9.5 up by the end of this year.

    This season, he's averaging 14 points per game which is seven fewer than his career average.  The reason for his reduced scoring can be attributed to the fact that the Spurs just don't need him to score as much anymore.

    He's still the leader of San Antonio's veteran team, and he's helped get them off to a league-best 17-3 start. 

6: Manu Ginobili

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Age: 33

    Experience: 8 years

    Teams: Spurs

     

    Ginobili is one of the biggest reasons the Spurs have gotten off to such a hot start.  He's performing at an extremely high level right now.

    He's averaging 20.6 points and five assists per game while shooting 46 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range.

    If he can maintain this level of production, the Spurs could be poised to make one last stab at a fifth NBA title for Tim Duncan.

5: Paul Pierce

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Age: 33

    Experience: 12 years

    Teams: Celtics

     

    Pierce has been an elite scorer ever since he entered the league in 1998, and he's not showing many signs of slowing down.

    He knows how to get to his spots, and he can convert his mid-range shots with a hand in his face.

    He's having a great year along with the rest of the 16-4 Boston Celtics.  He's averaging 4.7 rebounds and 19 points per game while shooting 52 percent from the field and 41 percent from three-point range.

4: Steve Nash

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Age: 36

    Experience: 14 years

    Teams: Suns, Mavericks

     

    In case we didn't already know that Steve Nash has some gas left in the tank, he's having one of the best years of his career statistically, and he played about as close to perfect as one can play against the Washington Wizards on Sunday.  He had 20 points and 17 assists and didn't miss a single shot.

    For the year, he's averaging 18.2 points and 10.4 assists per game.  At 35 percent, his three-point shooting is down this year, but considering the fact that his career percentage from that range is 43, don't be surprised when he pulls that 35 percent up.

    At the start of this year, the Suns seemed to be having a hard time adjusting to not having Amare Stoudemire.  They seem to be clicking now, as they've gone 5-2 in their last seven.

3: Dirk Nowitzki

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Age: 32

    Experience: 12 years

    Teams: Mavericks

     

    Dirk Nowitzki is having another MVP-caliber season.  He's averaging 24.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 55 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range.

    At 7'0", he may be the most difficult individual matchup in the NBA.  He may have the best close to mid-range shot in the league and he's nearly unblockable.

    Now that Dirk finally has a solid center with him in the frontcourt, he can focus on the things he does best.  Tyson Chandler and Nowitzki form one of the NBA's top big man duos and they may be able to contend for a title this year because of them.

2: Pau Gasol

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Experience: 9 years

    Teams: Grizzlies, Lakers

     

    Pau Gasol was a great player on a mediocre team in Memphis.  He was the focal point of their offense for years.  Somehow, he's managed to improve his numbers in Los Angeles, playing alongside one of the league's highest-volume shooters in Kobe Bryant.

    His career numbers are 18.8 points, nine rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.  This season, he's putting up 20.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, four assists and two blocks per game.

    He's developed into one of the NBA's best offensive big men since he joined the Lakers and he has been the perfect compliment to Kobe Bryant.

    The Lakers have been in the Finals every June since Gasol joined the team and they've won two out of those three series.

1: Kobe Bryant

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Age: 32

    Experience: 14 years

    Teams: Lakers

     

    The Lakers are 1-4 in their last five games and a lot of people are pointing the finger of blame at Kobe Bryant.  People can say whatever they want about these Lakers during the regular season, but everyone knows this is a different team, and Kobe is a different player when it truly matters.

    They've won the last two NBA titles, and Kobe owns the MVP trophies for those series.

    Each year he gets older, and people start to wonder if he's lost a step or slowed down in any way.  If he has, he makes up for it in other ways.

    He doesn't just score, he is the leader of the most successful franchise in NBA history.  He is such a leader, he's almost an assistant to Phil Jackson, the greatest coach in NBA history.

    He can rebound, pass and defend as well as any shooting guard in the league.  He can take over any game, and is one of the most clutch performers of all-time.

    This season he's averaging 26.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.

    He's not only the best player over the age of 30, he's one of the best players in the NBA, no matter what the age.

Your Thoughts?

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    What do you think?  Did I miss anyone?  Do you think the rankings are wrong?  Let me know...

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