Every NBA Team's 'Real Age' Visualized

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 29, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 07:  Dante Exum #11 of the Utah Jazz brings the ball up the court against the Portland Trail Blazers at EnergySolutions Arena on October 7, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Age certainly matters in the NBA

It's all about finding that sweet spot, as a squad that's too young can fall apart over the course of a season while an elderly one full of denture-donning AARP members might not have the endurance to withstand the rigors of an 82-game campaign followed up by a deep postseason run. 

But how do you calculate the age of a team? Traditionally, that's been done simply by averaging the ages of each member of the active roster, but there's a major flaw with that process. Doing so values the contributions of a benchwarmer just as much as those of a star player. 

"Real" age remedies that issue by weighting ages by the amount of time a player is expected to spend on the court. Someone who spends 20 minutes on the floor is twice as important to the real-age calculation as someone who is only going to play 10 minutes during the average outing. 

While we could easily calculate the exact real age for each team throughout NBA history, it's important to remember the preseason timing forces these to be estimates. Though I've used Rotoworld's depth charts and pared them down to 15-man rosters, there will likely be changes in personnel made throughout the season. Additionally, we don't know how much time each player will spend on the court. 

In order to estimate a player's expected minutes per game, I've used ESPN.com's fantasy projections where possible. That's the most complete set of playing-time forecasts available to the public, but there are still gaps, primarily for rookies and those contributors who find themselves buried deep on the depth chart. 

Loosely sticking to Rotoworld's order, I provided consistent estimates for each team by handing 30 expected minutes to a starter at any given position who didn't appear in the ESPN projection database, 20 to a primary backup, 10 to a secondary backup and five to anyone further down in the order than that. 

Fortunately, an individual's actual age is more concrete. Just as Basketball-Reference.com does, we'll be referring to a player by the age he'll be on Feb. 1, 2015, roughly halfway into the 2014-15 season. For example, even if someone is currently 26 years old, he'll be listed and referred to as a 27-year-old if he has a January birthday. 

These real ages will inevitably change throughout the season, but we can already take a solid stab at who's going to be the youngest and oldest in the league.

There's old, and then there's the Memphis Grizzlies. There's young, and then there's the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks...and then there's the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia Sixers. 

Those are the types of conclusions you can draw after switching the graphic up above over to show Z-scores. That's a statistical term for showing how many standard deviations something is above or below the mean. In layman's terms, a negative number means the team is below average, and a positive one means it's above the average. 

So, how much will age impact the 2014-15 campaign? 

Only four of last year's 16 playoff teams have a below-average real age this year, and the defending champions are one of the oldest teams in the league. If that trend holds true again, it'll be bad news for the rosters with plenty of young talent waiting to shine. 

Speaking of which, lets run through the more detailed breakdowns of these squads, starting with the league's youngest collection of players. 

This is how you rebuild, so long as you're willing to make the harrowing commitment that involves being absolutely terrible for multiple seasons in a row. 

Alexey Shved (26), Malcolm Thomas (26) and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (28) are the only members of the roster who are older than a quarter of a century, and while 34-year-old Jason Richardson would have stood out as an extreme outlier, he's not expected to play this season. Now, the Philadelphia 76ers are even younger than before, as this is the NBA's most youth-dominated squad. 

With Richardson dragging up the number, the Sixers were the NBA's second-youngest team. Now, even that's no longer true. 

The Utah Jazz are easily one of the youngest teams in the NBA. 

While the Sixers come in as the medal winners, the Jazz are still 1.9 standard deviations between the league-wide mean. No one else in the Association can touch those two.

On this youth-laden roster, the three oldest players are Steve Novak (31), Trevor Booker (27) and Jeremy Evans (27), none of whom are projected to play even 25 minutes per game. On the flip side, there are six players 25 years old or younger who are going to suit up for at least 25 minutes during the average contest. 

Hell, Dante Exum is going to be a key contributor, and he's only 19 years old during his rookie season.

It's not often that you can find an NBA team on which the oldest player is only 30 years old. That would be Zaza Pachulia, who narrowly beats out 29-year-old Jared Dudley to establish himself as the primo veteran on a squad full of young up-and-comers. 

Somehow, the Milwaukee Bucks actually have seven players who are 23 years old or younger—Brandon Knight (23), Khris Middleton (23), Kendall Marshall (23), Nate Wolters (23), Johnny O'Bryant (21), Giannis Antetokounmpo (20), Damien Inglis (19) and Jabari Parker (19). 

If you're going to rebuild, you may as well go all out. 

Four of the Orlando Magic's projected starters won't even be 25 years old for the 2014-15 season. 

Rookie point guard Elfrid Payton is still only 20 years old, despite playing a fairly lengthy career for the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. He's joined in the backcourt by 22-year-old Victor Oladipo, who projects to lead Orlando in minutes played. In the frontcourt, the Magic have Tobias Harris (22), Nikola Vucevic (24) and Channing Frye (31). 

It's Frye who's the outlier here, as he joins Ben Gordon (31), Luke Ridnour (33) and Willie Green (33) as one of only four players on the roster who have hit the dreaded three-oh. 

It's easy to forget just how young the New Orleans Pelicans are, seeing as their roster is filled with players fairly new to the NBA but still devoid of anyone who won't be able to drink and enjoy Bourbon Street to the fullest during the 2014-15 season. Anthony Davis is the youngest player on the roster, and he's entering his age-21 season, set to dominate the league despite his youth. 

On this roster, Omer Asik (28) and John Salmons (35) stand out as huge outliers. 

In fact, if the Pelicans suddenly decided to cut Salmons from the roster and didn't replace him with anyone, the real age would drop all the way down to 24.55.  

It's crazy how young the Oklahoma City Thunder still are. 

A team as good as OKC figures to be (even without Kevin Durant in the lineup to open the season) isn't supposed to be older than only five teams throughout the league. But that's what happens when your star trio of Durant (26), Russell Westbrook (26) and Serge Ibaka (25) are all still moving toward their athletic primes, not out of them. 

Just imagine what would happen if Scott Brooks finally got over the inexplicable attachment to Kendrick Perkins. If the veteran big man were released, the Thunder would supplant the Pelicans as the fourth-youngest team in the Association and still contend for a top spot in the brutal Western Conference. 

Rajon Rondo may still be on the roster, but the Boston Celtics are committing to the rebuilding process in admirable fashion. There are no longer any significantly aged players on the roster, with Gerald Wallace now the oldest player at 32. 

However, the C's are expected to play Wallace only 24.5 minutes per game, which decreases the amount of impact he'll have on the team's real age. In fact, Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green both bring the total up even more than the veteran forward does. 

If James Young (19) and Marcus Smart (20) are able to carve out even larger roles, Boston will only look younger still. 

As it stands, the Phoenix Suns are one of the younger teams in the Association, but they could move into the upper echelon of that realm if they hand more playing time than expected to their freshest pieces.

Tyler Ennis (20) likely won't see much run with three point guards ahead of him, but Alex Len (21), T.J. Warren (21) and Archie Goodwin (20) could all get significantly more action if they outperform the expectations in the early goings. 

Amazingly enough, though, the desert-based franchise doesn't roster a single player in his 30s outside of 31-year-old role player Shavlik Randolph. P.J. Tucker, Gerald Green and Anthony Tolliver are all 29 and tied for the next oldest age on the team. 

If it seems like the Toronto Raptors are getting up there in years, that's because the graph up above is admittedly skewed toward the right end. However, the endpoint on the x-axis comes at 32 years, since 31-year-old Chuck Hayes is the oldest player on the roster. 

It's all about perspective. 

Even though it comes shifted over to the right, there's a huge cluster of players between 25 and 28. Seven of them in fact, led by the two best players on the roster—Kyle Lowry (28) and DeMar DeRozan (25).

The Minnesota Timberwolves collected a ridiculous amount of young talent over the offseason, and they now claim seven 25-or-under players: Gorgui Dieng (25), Ricky Rubio (24), Shabazz Muhammad (22), Glen Robinson III (21), Anthony Bennett (21), Zach LaVine (19) and Andrew Wiggins (19). 

If you're surprised the team's real age isn't younger, it's because you're allowing the prominence of young studs to distract you from the rest of the roster. 

Corey Brewer (28), Nikola Pekovic (29), Ronny Turiaf (32), Mo Williams (32) and Kevin Martin (32) are all going to be rotation members, and that partially cancels out the effects of the many newcomers, some of whom aren't going to do more than sit on the bench for the vast majority of the average contest. 

The league-average real age heading into the 2014-15 season is 26.88 years, and only seven teams throughout the Association are closer to that mark than the Detroit Pistons. 

Andre Drummond, still only 21 years old but figuring to play as many minutes as anyone on the roster, drags down Detroit's average real age, and the same can be said of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (21), Greg Monroe (24) and Brandon Jennings (25). However, there are a few counteracting forces in play as well. 

Caron Butler, now set to begin his age-34 season, is the oldest player on the roster, and it's not as though he's going to rot on the bench. There are another three players who will be at least 30, but none of them figure to play too many minutes. 

The Sacramento Kings don't feel like being too old this year. 

It's the frontcourt where all the years come in, DeMarcus Cousins notwithstanding. Reggie Evans (34) is the oldest player on the roster, and he's followed up by Carl Landry (31), Ryan Hollins (30), Rudy Gay (28) and Jason Thompson (28). Fortunately, your team isn't going to be filled with declining veterans when a 28-year-old is the fourth-oldest rostered player. 

Youth still rules Sactown in 2014-15, especially if some of the rookies and sophomores prove they're worth their salt. 

You know you have a young squad when three of the four biggest contributors to real age are Lance Stephenson (24), Kemba Walker (24) and Gerald Henderson (27). 

The Charlotte Hornets have done a fantastic job building a strong defensive foundation, and now they're beginning to pepper in young players with immense offensive upside. If Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (21) proves that he can shoot the ball even somewhat adequately from the perimeter, this squad will get younger still. The same holds true for development from Cody Zeller (22) and Bismack Biyombo (22), as well as the two first-year players—P.J. Hairston (22) and Noah Vonleh (19). 

Jannero Pargo is easily the oldest player on the roster, but he's more of an afterthought for depth purposes, seeing as he'll fit in behind both Walker and Brian Roberts at point guard. 


The Denver Nuggets are one of the most age-clustered teams in the NBA. 

Nine players on the roster are between 26 and 29, and Kenneth Faried (25) almost qualifies for that group as well. It's a deep roster full of players in their athletic primes, which makes last year's injury-plagued campaign look like it could emerge as a severe aberration. 

In fact, Randy Foye is the elder statesmen of this squad, and he's just 31 years old. Nate Robinson is the only other player on the roster checking in on the wrong side of 30, and it's not as though he's lost too much spring in his step. 

No team in the NBA is closer to the league-average real age than the Portland Trail Blazers, who check in 0.063 standard deviations below the league-wide mean of 26.87 years. 

It's largely because of the proportion of minutes played by the starters. Terry Stotts doesn't seem to care for using his bench much (and who could blame him?), and that makes the opening lineup's real age vitally important to the overall number.

Turns out, Damian Lillard (24), LaMarcus Aldridge (29), Nicolas Batum (26), Wesley Matthews (28) and Robin Lopez (26) combine to give Rip City a real age of 26.6 years, which—as you might have guessed—is only marginally different than the team's overall mark. 

If you look at the gap between the oldest and youngest members of the Los Angeles Lakers, at least before Steve Nash was ruled out for the season, no team has a larger disparity. Granted, that's changed now that Kobe Bryant is the elder statesman on the squad.

Julius Randle will be 20 during his rookie season, while Nash was the oldest player in the NBA, checking in as the league's lone 40-year-old, more than two years senior to everyone else in the league. Let's put that in perspective. 

When Randle was born on Nov. 29, 1994, Nash was already 20 years old and in the midst of his collegiate career at Santa Clara. A sophomore, he and the Broncos actually opened their 1994-95 season with a 74-72 victory against Pacific on the exact day Randle popped out of the womb. 

A lot has happened since then. 

The Houston Rockets are another team without any truly young members of the roster. Clint Capela will still only be 20 years old, but he's not expected to be anything more than a minor contributor during his first NBA season. Beyond that, fellow rookie Nick Johnson (22) is the next youngest player. 

All but five of the Rockets are 26 years old or younger, but the vast majority of them are role players who haven't yet broken into featured portions of the lineup. The only exceptions are James Harden, Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones, though Donatas Motiejunas could soon join that group. 

Given the abundance of moderately young players in Houston, one has to wonder how at home Jason Terry (37) and Francisco Garcia (33) feel. 

Though the Golden State Warriors don't have any remarkably old players on their roster, and Leandro Barbosa has seniority over everyone else on the squad, they also don't boast the services of any players who can't legally consume alcoholic beverages. Harrison Barnes (22) is now the youngest player on the team. 

In fact, with Stephen Curry entering his age-26 go-round, there are only seven players 25 years old or younger. Problem is, Barnes and Klay Thompson are the lone ones projected to play more than 20 minutes per game, though Draymond Green could easily end up joining that group. 

Everyone is just pretty clustered on this roster, which doesn't stand out as either old or young. In fact, it's the fifth closest to the league average. 

The new-look Cleveland Cavaliers can't figure out their age identity.

On one hand, there are plenty of veterans set to fill varying roles for the team hoping to go from the lottery to winning a championship in just a single season. Shawn Marion (36) and Anderson Varejao (32) will be key contributors, and while Brendan Haywood (35), Mike Miller (34) and James Jones (34) should spend more time on the bench, they still have a sizable impact on the team's real age. 

It will only increase if Ray Allen eventually signs with the Cavs, but for now, the real age is brought down significantly by the wealth of young standouts. Kyrie Irving (21), Dion Waiters (23) and Tristan Thompson (23) all qualify as such, and a breakout season from Thompson would help pull Cleveland's real age down closer to the league average. 

The Atlanta Hawks, much like they always seem to find themselves in the standings, are just ahead of the middle of the pack. There aren't any dinosaurs playing big minutes, though Kyle Korver (33) is starting to get up there in years, and Elton Brand is still laboring away at 35.

But at the same time, not many young stars are present on this particular roster. 

Dennis Schoeder, playing his second season since joining the NBA, is the youngest member of the organization, but his minutes are limited by Jeff Teague's presence. The only other sub-25 players (John Jenkins, Shelvin Mack and Mike Muscala) are all going to be filling smaller roles as well. 

The Washington Wizards are one of the teams with more spread-out ages filling up the roster, but everything leans toward being a bit older. 

Paul Pierce (37) and Andre Miller (38) are the elder statesmen on this squad, but they're by no means the only long-time veterans. Rasual Butler (35), Drew Gooden (33), Nene (32) and Marcin Gortat (30) are all on the wrong side of 30 as well. 

There's only so much canceling out that young studs like John Wall (24) and Bradley Beal (21) can do. 


Young players are hard to come by on the Los Angeles Clippers roster. 

Jared Cunningham (23), Reggie Bullock (23) and Blake Griffin (25) are the only ones who haven't yet pushed past a quarter of a century, and neither Cunningham nor Bullock is expected to receive loads of playing time under Doc Rivers. 

Conversely, the Clippers boast the services of two 34-year-olds—Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes—who figure to play big minutes in the rotation. J.J. Redick (30) is another key player whose age starts with the dreaded third digit, and Chris Paul (29) isn't too far behind. 

When a team's bench is as impotent as the Indiana Pacers' should be during the 2014-15 season, the real age of the starters is crucial. And that's not good news for last year's No. 1 seed, either. 

Solomon Hill (23), George Hill (28), Roy Hibbert (28), Rodney Stuckey (28) and David West (34) are projected to receive more minutes than anyone else. Their combined real age is 28.17, and, as you can see above, that's right in line with the team's overall mark. 

If Shayne Whittington (23) plays more than expected, it'll drop. But beyond that, there shouldn't be any significant in-season changes. Even more minutes from Damjan Rudez (28) will have minimal effects on the team's real age. 

This is not where you want to be if you're rebuilding, which the New York Knicks may or may not be. It all depends on how quickly the triangle offense sticks, and the preseason hasn't made that strategy look particularly advantageous.

Either way, this roster isn't filled up with pieces who are part of the future, which is why there are so many veteran placeholders like Pablo Prigioni (37), Jose Calderon (33), Samuel Dalembert (33) and Amar'e Stoudemire (32). 

Fortunately for the Knicks, there are a handful of young pieces as well. Tim Hardaway Jr. (22) stands out in particular, though any number of Quincy Acy (24), Iman Shumpert (24), Cleanthony Early (23) and Shane Larkin (22) could soon join him. 

By this estimate, the Miami Heat are already significantly older than the average squad. In fact, they're slightly more than one standard deviation above the league-wide mean, which makes them the fifth-oldest team in the NBA. 

However, this might be misleadingly low. The ESPN projections have Wade at just 32.6 minutes per game, and that would be the lowest mark of his career. While the 2-guard did play only 32.9 minutes during the average contest last season, it's hard to see that number going down now that he's more important in the post-LeBron James era for this team.  

If Wade played even 35 minutes per game, the Heat would inch even closer to being one of the four oldest teams in the league. 

Remember how "The San Antonio Spurs are old!" became a popular misconception? 

It might not be so inaccurate, after all. 

Though San Antonio has plenty of promising young talent—most notably 23-year-old Kawhi Leonard—the defending champions still divvy out loads of minutes to veterans with creaky joints. Tim Duncan (38), Manu Ginobili (37), Tony Parker (32), Boris Diaw (32), Tiago Splitter (30) and—to a lesser extent—Matt Bonner (34) are all key parts of the rotation. 

Saying the Spurs are boring is false. Saying the Spurs are old is not, provided you consider one of the four oldest teams in the league "old."

Tom Thibodeau has never been afraid to play veteran players, and he's usually hesitant to give minutes to rookies. Though Doug McDermott (whose data can't be found up above because of exact overlap with Tony Snell) and Nikola Mirotic, both of whom are 23, could prove exceptions this year, the general pattern holds true. 

The Chicago Bulls figure to use four players who are at least 34 years old rather heavily in the rotation. Nazr Mohammed is going to be on the bench the most, but he's also 37 years old. Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol and Kirk Hinrich, all of whom are 34, should be key players while competing for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. 

It's a good thing the Bulls have more depth this year, because this roster is one of the oldest in the NBA.  

There aren't many players on the Brooklyn Nets who are in their athletic primes, as this team shows one of the most bimodal distributions of ages throughout the NBA. 

During the 2014-15 season, there will be five players aged 25 or younger: Bojan Bogdanovic (25), Mason Plumlee (24), Cory Jefferson (24), Markel Brown (23) and Sergey Karasev (21). That count will grow even higher if Xavier Thames eventually makes the roster, but for now, it's matched by the number of players who are in their 30s. 

Deron Williams (30), Jarrett Jack (31), Alan Anderson (32), Joe Johnson (33), Andrei Kirilenko (33) and Kevin Garnett (38) all qualify as such, and the 29-year-old Mirza Teletovic isn't far behind. 

Dirk Nowitzki's age just keeps going up, but he's not exactly in danger of falling out of the Dallas Mavericks' rotation. Nothing could be further from the truth, as he remains the key player for a team hoping to keep moving up the Western Conference standings despite entering his age-36 season. 

But Nowitzki isn't exactly the only veteran on the roster.

Tyson Chandler (32), Jameer Nelson (32) and Richard Jefferson (34) all project as big rotation players in 2014-15, and that's saying nothing of the three other players who will be in their 30s at some point during the year. 


The Memphis Grizzlies are about as ancient as it gets in today's NBA. 

Jordan Adams (20) and Jarnell Stokes (21) are the only players under 25, and neither of them is expected to spend much time on the court in 2014-15. Meanwhile, there are six players in their 30s, and of the half-dozen contributors expected to play at least 25 minutes per game, four of them—Marc Gasol (30), Zach Randolph (33), Tony Allen (33) and Tayshaun Prince (34) are in that 30-plus group. 

Though there are two teams further from the mean, the Grizz are the oldest one in the league by real age. 


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