Last season, 22 players aged 35 and older logged minutes in the NBA. This season, six of them will play for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The youngest player in the Lakers’ group of veterans is Rajon Rondo, who won’t turn 36 years old until February. His teammates, Trevor Ariza, Marc Gasol and Dwight Howard turned 36 earlier this year. Carmelo Anthony is the oldest player on the team at 37, but LeBron James is only seven months younger than him.
To put it bluntly, the Lakers are old, but like his new teammate Russell Westbrook, Rondo thinks there are more positives than negatives about that, despite what the conversation around the team’s roster construction has been over the last month.
“Wisdom is definitely a key to winning a championship, and we have a lot of that, obviously, with the age and experience on the court,” Rondo said on Tuesday. “Obviously you don’t have longevity in this league without discipline. So many guys, I was talking to Trevor (Ariza), he’s in for 17 (years), Dwight 18, Bron 18, so we have the guys that have the knowledge, but at the same time, they’re still playing in this league at this level for so many years.
“I’m not worried about anything, or the spectators saying that age makes a difference. I think the mind is going to be a big key in why we win this year.”
Beyond that, Rondo is just happy he’s one of the more spry players in the locker room now.
“I’m most excited about not being the oldest guy on the team anymore,” Rondo said. “So I’m actually probably bottom-five now, so that’s a big step for me... Two months ago I was the oldest guy on the team to being one of the young guys, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The Lakers’ age will be a talking point all season, and it’s unlikely that a strong start to the season will change that considering longevity is the primary concern with this roster. But if they’re able to win a championship with their veteran-heavy roster, then maybe the conversation around older teams will change altogether.
Probably not, though, because James still has at least two more years left in the NBA and what else would people talk about if not that?