Monday, July 11, 2011

Father Time and the NBA

Camby, born in 1974. 
I recently took the time to look at the year of birth of the top 15 players at each NBA position (based on the Efficiency Rating). The hope was that I would see a trend or glean some sort of crucial insight to when players are ascending, peaking, and descending. The 75-man pool of players (5 positions x  top 15 players) had a range of 16 years, from the 1989 born Michael Beasley, Blake Griffin, Tyreke Evans, and James Harden - to the 1974 born Steve Nash and Marcus Camby.

Because the range was 16 years - I thought it would be convenient to group all the players into four categories: 1989-1986 born players ("freshmen"), 1985-1982 born players ("sophomores"), 1981-1978 born players ("juniors"), and 1977-1974 born players ("seniors").

Griffin, born in 1989
"Freshmen"
  •  Blake Griffin  Clippers 1989 
  •  Michael Beasley Wolves 1989 
  •  James Harden Thunder 1989 
  •  Tyreke Evans Kings 1989 
  •  Kevin Love Wolves 1988 
  •  Russell Westbrook Thunder 1988 
  •  Kevin Durant  Thunder 1988 
  •  Derrick Rose Bulls 1988 
  •  Stephen Curry Warriors 1988 
  •  JaVale McGee Wizards 1988 
  •  Thaddeus Young Sixers 1988 
  •  Eric Gordon Clippers 1988 
  •  Landry Fields Knicks 1988 
  •  Andrew Bynum Lakers 1987 
  •  Marreese Speights Sixers 1987
  •  Ty Lawson Nuggets 1987 
  •  Marcus Thornton  Kings 1987 
  •  Al Horford Hawks 1986 
  •  Roy Hibbert Pacers 1986 
  •  Ramon Sessions Cavs 1986 
  •  Rajon Rondo Celtics 1986 
  •  Rudy Gay  Grizzlies 1986 
  •  Reggie Williams Warriors 1986 
"Sophomores" 
  •  Dwight Howard Magic 1985 
  •  Chris Paul Hornets 1985 
  •  Al Jefferson Jazz 1985 
  •  Joakim Noah Bulls 1985 
  •  Paul Millsap Jazz 1985 
  •  Josh Smith  Hawks 1985 
  •  LeMarcus Aldridge Blazers 1985 
  •  Monta Ellis  Warriors 1985 
  •  J.R. Smith Nuggets 1985 
  •  Lebron James Heat 1984 
  •  Carmelo Anthony Knicks 1984 
  •  Marcin Gortat Suns 1984 
  •  Deron Williams Nets  1984 
  •  Andrew Bogut Bucks 1984 
  •  Andre Iguodala  Sixers 1984 
  •  Raymond Felton Blazers 1984 
  •  David Lee Warriors 1983 
  •  Kevin Martin Rockets 1983 
  •  Danny Granger  Pacers 1983 
  •  Amar'e Stoudemire Knicks 1982 
  •  Dwyane Wade  Heat 1982 
  •  Nene  Nuggets 1982 
  •  Tyson Chandler  Mavs 1982 
  •  Tony Parker Spurs 1982 
  •  Tony Allen Grizzlies 1982 
  •  Gerald Wallace Blazers 1982 
"Juniors" 
  •  Zach Randolph  Grizzlies 1981 
  •  Carlos Boozer Bulls 1981 
  •  Jose Calderon Raptors 1981 
  •  Andrei Kirilenko Jazz 1981 
  •  Joe Johnson  Hawks 1981 
  •  Pau Gasol  Lakers 1980 
  •  Luis Scola  Rockets 1980 
  •  David West Hornets 1980 
  •  Matt Barnes  Lakers  1980 
  •  Lamar Odom Lakers  1979 
  •  Baron Davis  Cavs 1979 
  •  Corey Maggette Charlotte 1979 
  •  Dirk Nowitzki Mavs 1978 
  •  Kobe Bryant Lakers 1978 
  •  Chris Andersen  Nuggets  1978 
  •  Shawn Marion Mavs 1978 
"Seniors"
  •  Manu Ginobili Spurs 1977 
  •  Paul Pierce Celtics 1977 
  •  Tim Duncan  Spurs  1976 
  •  Kevin Garnett Celtics 1976 
  •  Brad Miller Wolves   1976 
  •  Chauncey Billups Knicks  1976 
  •  Andre Miller  Nuggets   1976 
  •  Ray Allen Celtics 1975 
  •  Steve Nash  Suns 1974 
  •  Marcus Camby  Blazers 1974  
In looking at the list - one trend that is clear is that the majority, 65.4% in fact, are players that would be classified as "freshman or sophomores". These players are 29 years old or younger. The juniors and seniors (players aged 30 and older) represent only 34.6% of the list. 

Ray Allen takes care of himself. 
The three oldest players on the list are three guys that either don't carry a lot of weight on their frame, or are known as consummate professionals that take care of their bodies. Camby, Nash, and Ray Allen are the only players ranked in the top 15 by efficiency at their respective positions that were born in 1975 or earlier. Since "Father Time" is undefeated - our list and a little common sense says that the end of the road may be closer for the four players born in 1976 that seem to have less pep in their step these days than the aforementioned Camby, Nash, and Allen. Those born in `76 include Brad Miller, Chauncey Billups, Andre Miller, and Tim Duncan. 

Where youth is concerned - the Oklahoma City Thunder are the only team with three, top-15 (efficiency at their position) players.  This data supports the overflow of media attention for the Thunder as the "team of the future". Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden are the talented trio.

Teams that have an efficient duo in the "freshman" category include: the Clippers with Blake Griffin, and Eric Gordon, the Wolves with Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, the Kings with Tyreke Evans, and Marcus Thornton,  the Warriors with Steph Curry and Reggie Williams, and the Sixers with Thaddeus Young and Marreese Speights. 

LeBron was born in 1984. He should still be ascending. 
The largest group is the "sophomores" with 26 players. These guys - born between 1982 and 1985 are between the age of 25-29 years old. These players are established in the NBA and all should be approaching their prime. Portland is the only team with more than two players in the group. Their trio of LaMarcus Aldridge, Raymond Felton, and Gerald Wallace makes for a solid established core. Other teams have dynamic duos that fall into this age group. Miami has LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade. The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. The Warriors can boast Monta Ellis and David Lee. Utah has talented BIG's in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Denver's J.R. Smith and Nene are in there too. 

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