While it is always fun to check in on the progress of the league's rookies, the league's elder statesmen are much more likely to play meaningful minutes late in the playoffs, and the efficacy with which they stave off the coquettish advances of Father Time often determines the fate of the league's elite as the calender turns to June. Tim Duncan and Ray Allen demonstrated this in last year's Finals, and at the season's quarter mark, it is time, if you'll pardon the pun, to see which of the league's near-quadragenarians are playing at their accustomed levels.
The first takeaway from the preceding table is that Mike James must possess some saucy pictures involving David Stern and at least half of the NBA's Board of Governors. The second takeaway is that the rumors of Manu Ginobili's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Ginobili's free throw rate has dropped precipitously, but otherwise his numbers are equal to or superior to his 2013 campaign. The inhuman Tim Duncan has bounced back from an ice cold start to the season, averaging 17-11-4-2 per 36 minutes.
Older players in locations other than San Antonio have not fared so well. Steve Nash is shooting 21% inside the arc in his few uninjured minutes. Depending on the state of his personal finances, or the willingness of the Lakers to pay him for not playing, this could prove to be the former Most Valuable Player's final NBA season. Other players who are likely in their final campaign are Antawn Jamison, currently unable to beat out Ryan Hollins for minutes, and Chauncey Billups, shooting 32% in his return to the Motor City. I would add Mike James to this list, but I honestly do not understand how he is in the league this year. Derek Fisher will also remain in the league forever.
The list also provides a succinct summary of the Brooklyn Nets' current predicament. Kevin Garnett is shooting 37%, but the most telling statistic might be that he is fouling nearly twice as much as he did last year. If he continues to play at this level, we may not see him next year. Paul Pierce has experienced a similar, slightly less drastic fall off, and Jason Terry still has two years remaining on his contract.
The most under appreciated player on the list is probably Pablo Prigioni. The Argentinian possesses an allergy to shooting, a rarity on the Knicks, but the team seems to play better when he is on the floor, thanks to his pesky defense and ball movement. Fellow veteran Kenyon Martin also shows some value by this metric, in an admittedly small sample. Prigioni graded out as an average player by RAPM last season as a rookie, and is building a growing case that the Knicks would benefit from handing him more than his current 18 minutes a game.
On this day in history
1546 – Tycho Brahe, Danish astronomer and chemist, celebrates his 0th birthday.
1782 – The Montgolfier brothers' first balloon lifts off on its first test flight.
1903 – The Wright brothers make their first attempt to fly with the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
1911 – Roald Amundsen's team becomes the first to reach the South Pole.
1972 – Eugene Cernan is the last person to walk on the moon, after he and Harrison Schmitt complete the third and final extra-vehicular activity (EVA) of the Apollo 17 mission.
2008 – Muntadhar al-Zaidi throws his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq.
Consider this thread open.