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According to research acquired by hoopshype.com, an NBA player’s peak is usually between the ages of 24-28. Only twice (1996-97 and the following year 1997-98) has the average age of those selected to the All-NBA team exceeded 30.
That’s what makes these NBA players, all 30 and older, freaks of nature in the sense that they seem to be turning up as they get older.
James Harden, 30
As James Harden’s beard grows his offensive bag of tricks does too. Harden, who turned 30 years old two days ago continues to baffle NBA defense and shows no signs of slowing down and as he enters his 11th season in the NBA.
In fact, he’s never been a more lethal force.
Harden followed his 2018 MVP campaign in which he averaged a league-high 30.4 ppg with a more explosive 2018-19. Harden not only led the NBA with a 36.1 average — the highest since MJ averaged 37.1 for the Bulls back in the 86-87 season — but his overall offensive output rivaled Wilt Chamberlain. He also averaged 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds.
The scary part is that Harden has the ability to play better and improve other aspects of his game. He’s definitely aging like fine wine.
JJ Redick, 35
It took JJ Redick almost 15 NBA seasons to become what he was supposed to be coming out of Duke. If any player is the epitome of a slow developer its Redick who has finally blossomed into the impactful NBA player that his college accolades suggested he would become.
At age 35, when most players are settling into backup roles, Redick parlayed his gig as a veteran leader on a rising Philadelphia Sixers squad featuring Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid into a two-year, $26.5 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans in January.
Redick averaged a career-high 18.1 points per game at age 34, providing Philly with veteran grit and a deadly outside threat. Redick is the oldest player to average a career-best this late in their career.
Lou Williams, 33 in October
Lou Williams came into the NBA as a 19-year-old and for the first 12 years of his career, he was considered a good player. At the age of 31, after already playing for five different NBA squads, Williams joined the Clippers and blossomed into an All-star caliber performer who can be a sixth man or a No. 1 option.
It took Steph Curry changing the NBA game to a three-point fest, but Williams has finally found his niche in the league as an effective scorer and clutch performer who can light it up in long stretches.
According to NBA Math’s offensive point added metric, only 8 players with fewer than 2,600 minutes played were more impactful point producers than Williams in 2017-18. Williams has averaged 21.3 points per game the past two seasons and was able to secure a three-year, $24 million extension from the Los Angeles Clippers, despite being on the other side of 30.
With the addition of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, Williams’ shots will decrease, but he will have less overall responsibility and be allowed to do what he does best — get buckets.
Blake Griffin, 30
Blake Griffin was supposed to be on the decline when the LA Clippers traded him to the Detroit Pistons after 7.5 All-Star years, midway through the 2017-18 season. His reputation as an interior player also suggested that his skills were more suited to a fading game.
To the surprise of some, the 30-year-old red-headed assassin, who used to posterize cats for a living and feasted in the paint, adjusted his game to fit the current era of hoops. Last season he took a career-high seven three-pointers per game and hit 2.5 of them to boost his career-high scoring average of 24.5 ppg. Considered a capable veteran scorer when he first arrived in Detroit, Griffin has re-established himself as a franchise player.
Paul George, 30
PG-13 was already considered an elite NBA player before he arrived in OKC and posted career-highs in points (28.0) rebounds (8.2) assists and steals (league-leading 2.2 pg) in 2018-19. Now 30 years old, George seems to be elevating his game with age just as the right time. He finally has a team capable of winning it all in the new-look Clippers. Playing with a champion of Kawhi Leonard’s caliber will further elevate George’s game, which is still getting better. George should have at least one serious MVP campaign in the next three post-30 seasons.