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This is a short piece I wrote at the start of the NBA lockout during which time I was applying for the course I am currently on – this article supported my application. Due to this some of the relevance and facts are out of date.

 

Boston, San Antonio and Los Angeles have all been swept aside (in some cases literally) from this year’s title chase. Many have begun professing that this is the year we say our final farewell to all the ‘elderly’ teams, and with good merit, but they are forgetting one major principle in how next year’s championship race will play out.

The Lockout.

If the NBA has a repeat of the 1998/1999 lockout season each team will have a regular season of just 50 games. The teams that feature more 30 year old’s than twentysomethings will have benefitted from the extended rest-bite and their bodies and games will be in their peak midseason form by the time the playoffs arrive.

Even if every playoff round goes to a deciding game 7, the final two teams battling it out in June will have played 78 games when a victor is crowned. This is 4 less than they will have had to endure during a regular, regular season.

Of the top 4 teams in each conference 1999; 7 of them featured in the ten oldest teams for that season. 6 of them were in the final 8, 3 of them in the final four and the two left standing were the 3rd (San Antonio) and 6th (New York) oldest teams in the league.

When you compare that to the regular season leaders of this past season from each conference, 6 of the teams are amongst the ten eldest, proving that age an experience still counts for a lot in an 82-game run.

By the time 100 games starts rolling around, that is when the bodies started giving up on the aging teams.

San Antonio are surprisingly young at the moment and only just creep into this year’s ten oldest teams. It’s the starting five, and main receiver of minutes that log in at 33.2 years old. On the other side of the argument, Miami are the oldest team in the league, but their starting unit is an athletic 29.6.

The slightly fresher legs have kept Miami in the heat of the championship run mainly because their slightly fresher legs can still run.

Of course every team needs a mix of wily veterans and youthful energy to throw at competitors. Boston, LA and San Antonio have this mix but the knees of Garnett, Bryant and Duncan hold out for long enough. The main difference will be that in the potentially shorter, partly locked out season of 2011/2012, the wily veterans will still have some youthful energy stored up of their own and will look to take back the crown from the young pups for one more year at least.

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