It’s commonly believed that veteran teams win championships; Mike Woodson spouted such beliefs earlier this summer. And it’s not an entirely inaccurate concept, if it’s actually “inaccurate” at all. However, where Woodson’s comments may have gone astray are with comments like, “I haven’t seen a young team win an NBA title in the last 10, 15 years”, or ” It’s veteran guys that are winning NBA titles.”
Yes, teams like the San Antonio Spurs, or Boston Celtics, or Dallas Mavericks in 2011 have relied on their veteran players to carry them home, but Woodson almost seemed to dismiss the importance of youth. For instance, the reigning champions, the Miami Heat, were carried by their Big 3 who, except for Dwyane Wade (30), are below 30-years old. Their Finals opponents, the Oklahoma City Thunder, hardly have rotation players sniffing 30 years of age.
In his Knicks Fix last week, Alan Hahn outlined the average ages of NBA championship teams since 2007, all of which were under 30-years old. With the additions of players like Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, and Pablo Prigioni, the average of the Knicks’ roster is 31-years old. That’s not to say that they are too old to contend, but their depth is reliant upon some players with a lot of miles on their legs.
The Knicks’ starting lineup is not particularly old – Raymond Felton is 28, J.R. Smith is 26, Carmelo Anthony, 27, Amar’e Stoudemire, 29, and Tyson Chandler, 29 – but their bench depth will rely on the health of some pretty old players. If a member of the Knicks’ starting lineup were to get hurt (especially at point guard or upfront), the Knicks could find themselves in a tight spot playing heavy minutes to some older veterans.
Furthermore, in an NBA that is evolving more and more into a position-less and a more open game, the Knicks’ veteran signings have made them slower and far less versatile with very players on their roster able to play outside of their given roles. Whereas the Miami Heat may very well run out a lineup this year featuring entirely wing players – Wade, LeBron James, Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, and Rashard Lewis – the Knicks may not have the versatility to match-up with such a lineup.
(And of course, it is fair to compare the Knicks with the Heat seeing as how these Knicks were built to take down those Miami foes).
So, have the Knicks gotten too old this offseason? We certainly can’t say definitively until the season gets underway, but they have taken an old-school approach to the game that may turn out to be out-of-date with the new-school NBA.