FanPost

Losing and Age

I'm posting this as a Fanpost simply so it doesn't get lost in Fanshot purgatory as I think it's incredibly important for context regarding this team. Tom Ziller has written an excellent post, snippets of which are reposted here, on the correlation between age and winning in the NBA this year (and, one would assume, in seasons past as well). There are some interesting observations to make or consider out of this. Perhaps I'll just leave you with these two teasers:

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via assets.sbnation.com

A major context for team success in the NBA is age. This week's exercise in basketball cartography looks at all 16 teams with a losing record and judges their success with weighted team age as the primary focus...

...Keep in mind that we're using weighted team age: ancient Brian Skinner never plays for theBucks, so he doesn't nudge Milwaukee's team age upward. Likewise, rookie Samardo Samuelsnever plays for the Cavs, so he doesn't artificially push down Cleveland's age. Only the players who actually play count here...

 

...The Suns are old too, but that team is looking to slip into the playoffs in the deep West. TheGrizzlies, also hoping for the No. 8 seed, are in a better position -- you'd rather have Memphis' roster than that of Phoenix, without question. But you can understand why the Suns are both clinging to and OK with a roster of veterans. Cleveland? Nope.

 

Now about the team younger than all of these squads: the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have a weighted team age of 23.59 years -- about 100 days or so younger than the Wolves. Yet the Thunder are a solid playoff team hoping to move even higher and challenge the West's elite by year's end. Some will say it's not fair, that OKC has four top-five picks all on their rookie contracts. In light of that, note that Sacramento is preparing to win its third-straight top five pick (barring a miracle), and the Wolves are right around the corner.

My two/three thoughts on this, in no particular order:

- If this team sticks together, who are we in 3-4 years? Toronto or Golden State? Milwaukee? Or are we a winning team by then? Looking even further out - are we Charlotte or Houston in 5-7 years or better than that? This to me is the heart of the Red Pill/Blue Pill debate.

- Memphis. Wow. I keep thinking of them as an older team of underachievers, forgetting that so many of their major contributors are super, super young. Then again, I think of Martell Webster as being about 28 because he's been in the league for so long, so I guess that's where it comes from. One interesting tidbit that all the (relatively) young teams above .400 have in common - one 'veteran' player who is a significant contributor, be it Iggy, Bogut, Z-Bo and Gasol, or Granger. Just something to think about.

- OKC. Even bigger wow. Four top five picks? It certainly helps when you're able to draft two All-World talents in KD and Westbrook. Green and Harden aren't too shabby either. Honestly, though, don't you kind of think that simply letting those guys play together and get experience/minutes has really helped them? (Oh, and getting Scottie Brooks as coach)? 

Speaking of a team of top five picks: Love, Beasley, Wes, Rubio, (and even Darko)? Check. Imagine for a moment that those five guys represent our starting unit. As of right now, their average age is 22 years, 252 days (or essentially almost exactly one year younger than the Thunder's current weighted roster).

Subtract Darko from that mix and our average age drops to 21 years, 359 days. 

More to the broader point, however, is this:

- a starting five of Rubio, Wes, Beasley, Love, and Darko with Jonny and Martell coming off the bench averages 23 years, 10 days old right now. Factor in another high draft pick and this is a seriously young team relying heavily (completely) on the production of its youngsters for wins. Imagine keeping them together for 5 years. How good would this team of 29 year olds be?

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