The Lakers will enter the season with nine rotation players on the roster over the age of 30: LeBron James, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore, and Rajon Rondo.
Is all that accumulated wisdom what the Lakers need to pick up another ring, or is all that accumulated wear and tear going to see bodies breaking down when it matters?
Put Carmelo Anthony in the wisdom category. He says all the veterans are what make the Lakers the favorites out West. Here is what he told A. Sherrod Blakely in an interview at Ebony.com about ‘Melo’s new memoir.
We expected people to say those things; they have to. They have to start a debate, get engagement from people; that’s what it is. This is the only industry where you can be too old. After you reach a certain age, it’s like you’re supposed to lose everything. After 32 years old, it’s a wrap. Like, no. We’re getting older, we’re getting wiser. We know how to move differently, we know how to think differently. We know how to pick our spots and we know what we need to do when we need to do it and how we need to do it.
It’s like .. you go to an Italian restaurant, you got the grandmother in there who’s 900 years old cooking the food. The food comes out amazing, though. You’re not gonna say she’s too old to be cooking. You’re gonna taste and enjoy that food. It’s the same situation with us. We’re the cooks in the kitchen. When you taste the food, you’re gonna love the food. That’s how I look at it.
That 900-year-old grandmother doesn’t have to move her feet to stay in front of Luka Doncic, or run a couple of miles up and down a hardwood court every other night. Age impacts sports differently.
That said, Anthony is right: veteran teams tend to do better come the playoffs, and the Lakers should be that team (even with legitimate questions about Westbrook’s fit and the team defense). The question is can they get to the playoffs healthy enough to take advantage of that veteran wisdom? Call them flukes if you want, but LeBron has missed chunks of two of the last three seasons with injuries, and at one point this season will pass Karl Malone for the second-most total minutes played (regular season and playoffs) in NBA history. Anthony Davis has a history of nagging injuries. Howard, Ariza, Anthony, on down the list all of those players have battled injuries in recent seasons. That’s why the question of age is valid with the Lakers.
And that said, they are the betting favorite to come out of the West for good reason. The Lakers have a higher ceiling than any of those teams because of the levels LeBron and Davis can reach and the veteran wisdom and play around them. Get the Lakers to the playoffs healthy, and they can be that 900-year-old grandmother. It’s the first 82 games that could wear them down.