Denver's newest edition, Al Harrington, has been all smiles on his ride to town. But one criticism of the 6'9'' forward is that he's 30 years-old and has perhaps peaked as a player. It's funny when you compare your own age to the NBA age stereotypes ... the results can be horrifying.
Let's quickly run through the Nuggets current roster and the stereotypes that come with their age:
The grandpa: Anthony Carter sitting at 35 years-old he is practically ancient by basketball standards. The athleticism he possessed 10 years ago certainly has changed and if he doesn't have the skills now, he'll never have them and even worse, the ones he did possess have already slipped or are starting to slip. Each year Carter is on an NBA roster is a blessing as the young guys are gunning for his job. (You have to wonder if like some of George Karl's other players, Nate McMillan and Sam Cassell, if A.C. has an interest in coaching.)
The savvy veterans: Chauncey Billups, 33, Chris Andersen, 32, and Kenyon Martin 32. These guys are your players that have "been through it all" and are surviving off the skills and knowledge they developed in their careers. They still have most of their skills, but certain parts of their games are starting to show cracks, but they can still get by on what they do best.
In their prime: Al Harrington, 30, Nene, 27, and Coby Karl, 27. This group should have now obtained the tricks of the League to go along with still having their skills intact. This is as good as these guys are going to get as their teams are benefitting from their best basketball.
Entering their prime: Carmelo Anthony, 26, Renaldo Balkman, 26, Shelden Williams, 26, Brian Butch, 25, Arron Afflalo, 24, and J.R. Smith, 24. Still physical specimens that have been around long enough to start perfecting the tricks of the game. You will still see some improvement as more of the game within the game opens up, and having their skills still climbing a bit is a dangerous weapon. Fear these players if you are the opposition.
The young guns: Ty Lawson, 22. The best way to describe this group comes from the movie Swingers:
Trent: You know what you are? You're like a big bear with claws and with fangs...
Sue: ...big fucking teeth, man.
Trent: Yeah... big fuckin' teeth on ya'. And she's just like this little bunny, who's just kinda cowering in the corner.
Trent: Yeah, man just kinda... you know, you got these claws and you're staring at these claws and your thinking to yourself, and with these claws you're thinking, "How am I supposed to kill this bunny, how am I supposed to kill this bunny?"
Sue: And you're poking at it, you're poking at it...
These guys have all the skills and they've been through an NBA season or two and they are trying to figure out the best way to blend their skills into a league rooted in name brands ... names like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and on-and-on. Find your niche and use your claws to start killing your prey ... they will make you fat and happy - or you will starve to death.
The rookies: None for Denver. Some special guys like Carmelo Anthony come into the league as Young Guns and just need to figure out how to hone in their skill set. But for the most part, rookies are trying to just figure out what the hell world they just entered.
Now, back to my point ... if I were an NBA player I'd be in my prime heading towards becoming a savvy veteran. It's tough to realize I'm no longer a Young Gun. In the real world I'm still basically a young guy that is still learning the ropes, but in the crazy world of sports the aging process isn't so kind.
It's also fun to try to imagine if you were playing in the league what kind of player you'd be ... and actually be realistic about it. For myself, I'm in love with shooting from distance, but I'm typically looked upon to play inside as a post-up man and rebounder. In the world of pick-up games I'm a shooting guard trapped in a power forward's body. So, while I'd like to think I'm probably a Mehmet Okur type player ... in reality I'm only Anthony Carter's height.
The reason I like basketball so much is because it's my favorite sport to play. At 28 years-old I wonder how many years I have left on the court. I recently changed gyms in Casper, Wyoming to one with a basketball court. I was at a small gym for a couple months that didn't have a court and I missed the game too much. The only problem I face now is that there is virtually nobody else at the gym who plays hoops! What gives?!?! My "best years" on the court could be wasted if I dont find some games soon. It's a shame to think some actual NBA players could face the same fate as a work stoppage approaches after the upcoming season. The game we love could come to a sudden stop, but we can play on.
So my question to you ... what kind of player are you?
Photo courtesy of AP Photos