Veterans Fighting Off Father Time
Professional sports is for the young and Father Time serves as the greatest conqueror of past their prime athletes still attempting to hold on to their past glory. Heading into the 2014-15 campaign there are numerous teams whose hopes for success relies heavily on older legs still being able to get the job done – one last time. If these former All-NBA caliber talents can’t live up to those expectations, a season of disappointment is likely to follow.
David West, Forward, Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers are in trouble. The franchise lost emerging forward Lance Stephenson in free agency this summer receiving nothing in return which left many scratching their heads. To further compound the blow, shortly after, the team lost All-Star forward Paul George for the season in a freakish leg injury during Team USA preparation for the FIBA World Cup.
The Pacers were already a unit that struggled to score at times and without their two leading playmakers, veteran forward David West will have to shoulder more of the offensive burden. West, a former two-time All-Star, is still rather effective but the Pacers will be looking for him to carry the team on most night – a job he might be a little long in the tooth at this point to pull off.
Kobe Bryant, Guard, Los Angeles Lakers
A legitimate question can be raised on whether the Los Angeles Lakers have lost their star power. Last summer All-Star center Dwight Howard decided to leave the franchise in free agency and this summer the team struck out on all of the available big names hitting the market.
But the Lakers still have future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant in the fold which at least gives fans hope the team can be competitive on most nights. The problem is no one what type of game Bryant will have once he gets back on the court. Last season, Bryant played just six games due to a variety of injuries and looked pedestrian compared to the season before.
Bryant has made a habit of silencing skeptics throughout his career, but at 36 years old it will be a tall order to quiet the growing list of doubters.
Tim Duncan, Forward-Center, San Antonio Spurs
It almost seems foolish to include Tim Duncan on this list coming off a NBA championship season where he served as a key contributor for San Antonio. However, Duncan is 38 years old and Father Time can come calling at a moment’s notice. The Spurs are gearing up for another title run and shouldn’t be doubted to pull off another trip to the NBA Finals, but Duncan will have to play at a high level – and stave off Father Time, again.
Pau Gasol, Forward, Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls were looking for some additional offensive firepower in the lineup and walked away with former All-Star Pau Gasol in free agency this summer. With a healthy Derrick Rose back in the fold, Chicago should be one of the few contenders for Eastern Conference supremacy this season.
That is, of course, if Gasol still has enough left in the gas tank to be a number two option on a legitimate title contender. Gasol averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game last season so on paper it looks like he still has some juice left. However, Gasol has also missed 55 games over the past two season battling a myriad of injuries which is never a good sign for aging big men.
Paul Pierce, Forward, Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards came close to making an Eastern Conference Finals appearance last season but were ultimately failed by their lack of experience on the big stage. This summer the team signed future Hall of Fame forward Paul Pierce in free agency to a two-year deal hoping the veteran’s presence would help the young pups grow into their newfound success.
Pierce is no longer the player he used to be but he doesn’t shy away from big moments, can still knock down big shots and should benefit the young guys in the locker room.
Pierce has been through the wars, but with over 48,000 career minutes logged on the odometer you can question whether he can still handle the workload.
Steve Nash, Guard, Los Angeles Lakers
The situation looks bleak for former two-time league MVP Steve Nash. The veteran guard has missed 99 regular season contests over the past two seasons and when he has laced up the high tops he has looked years removed from his respective prime.
The Lakers have over $30 million of their salary cap dedicated to their aging backcourt of Nash and Kobe Bryant. If the team hopes to make the playoffs in the competitive Western Conference, Nash will need a huge bounce back campaign and many aren’t predicting that to occur.
Kevin Garnett, Forward, Brooklyn Nets
Many expect the 2014-15 campaign to be the last in a certified Hall of Fame career for Kevin Garnett. The 38 year old forward averaged, by far, the lowest point total (6.5) of his career last season and at one point was shooting below 40 percent from the floor.
The lethal combination of age and injury have been the primary drivers of Garnett’s decline but with expectations lower Brooklyn headed into training camp maybe, just maybe, the aging forward can show a few glimpses back into a long gone era – when he dominated the league.