Earlier in the season, I wrote a column about the talent level in the NBA, and more specifically, about the talent levels of both the NBA’s old guard and the up-and-coming youngsters. Currently in the league; however, it is evident that the youth is winning, and younger teams are starting to overtake the old guard.
When taking a look at the current state of the league, it is clear to see that youth is winning in today’s NBA. The Western Conference’s top two seeds are the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder’s starting lineup has an average age of 22.3, and their bench depth also consists of younger players and recent draft picks. The team’s most experienced player who gets minutes is MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has been in the NBA for a whopping five seasons.
The Thunder are currently second in the league in net rating and are winning close games that you wouldn’t expect a team of their age to win. Take, for example, overcoming the Mavericks 30-0 run that still resulted in a loss to the Thunder.
Similar to the Western Conference, the Eastern Conference’s top two seeds are currently owned by the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic. Orlando is in the same boat as Oklahoma City. The average age of their starting lineup is 22.8, just above Oklahoma City for the second-youngest starting five in the league. Orlando is led by second-year star Paolo Banchero.
The first overall draft pick out of Duke in last year’s draft has comfortably lived up to his number one overall billing. He is flanked by fellow youngsters Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs, and Wendell Carter Jr. Their bench is also filled with young prospects. Players like Mo Wagner, Anthony Black, and Cole Anthony all add to the production of this team. The Magic are sixth in the NBA in total net rating, led by a top-three defense.
Orlando and Oklahoma City are having no problem with all of their youth this season, both are near the top of their respective conferences with two of the youngest starting lineups in the league.
The NBA’s old guard has three main parts, those being Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. All of their teams are in the Western Conference and so far this season, the only player of those three whose team is a top-five seed is Kevin Durant’s Phoenix Suns. In the case of the Suns, star guard Devin Booker is just as, if not more vital, to the team’s success than Durant at this point in their careers.
Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors started the season off strong, but have completely fallen off a cliff since then, losing seven of their last ten games and sitting at eleventh in the West and are currently out of the play-in tournament. LeBron James and the Lakers are sitting dead in the middle at the seventh seed in the West.
The point of listing where all these teams currently sit is to truly take a look at the current state of the league. Curry, Durant, and James are all still averaging impressive numbers, especially at their age. However, younger and fresher teams like the Timberwolves, Thunder and Magic have been outperforming them in the regular season so far. Time will tell if the rest of the regular season follows these trends, but youth matters as much as ever in today’s NBA.
Charlie Fadel is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Charlie know by emailing or tweeting him at @CharlieFadel or firstname.lastname@example.org.