The four youngest teams in the NBA today have not had much success in the last couple of years. Ranging from an average player age of 24.4 years to 25.5 years, these squads are a far cry from the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers or San Antonio Spurs: chock-full of savvy veterans with Larry O’Brien aspirations.
Given the fact that the Rockets, Clippers, and Spurs — which, incidentally, are the three oldest teams in the league — each made it to the playoffs in the uber-competitive Western Conference last spring, while only one of the four youngest squads reached the postseason, maybe there is some truth to the idea that experience means success in basketball. The one playoff team from the young group by the way, made it by way of the pitiful bottom half of the Eastern Conference only to get swept in the first round.
There’s no doubt that this quartet of teams each have talented rosters with loads of intrigue and promise, but you’d be kidding yourself if you put confidence in any of them to make much noise during the 2015-2016 season.
That being said, let’s take a look at a roster breakdown of the four youngest teams in the NBA starting with the “oldest.”
4. Boston Celtics (Average age: 25.5 years)
Youngest player on current roster: James Young (20 years old)
Oldest player on current roster: David Lee (32 years old)
To quote former Boston Celtics head coach Rick Pitino, “Larry Bird’s not walking through that door.” Pitino’s fiery press conference 15 years ago still fits like a glove when you look at the state of today’s Celtics.
The 1999-2000 team — the squad that forced Pitino to come up with that bit of press conference gold — finished 35-47, and while last season’s version made the playoffs, it was as the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed with a mediocre 40-42 record. Both rosters are made up of primarily young talent sprinkled in with a couple of veterans and expectations for the 2015-2016 season seem to be comparable with how last year finished.
The current Celtics include five players that were drafted by the organization and/or their draft rights were acquired in a trade by Boston. They also include six players that were acquired via trade and three that were picked up as free agents. Among the notables are: Avery Bradley (24 years old, 19th pick, 2010 NBA Draft), Marcus Smart (21 years old, 6th pick, 2014 NBA Draft), Isaiah Thomas (26 years old, acquired in Feb. 2015 trade with Phoenix), and Amir Johnson (28 years old, signed as free agent in July 2015).
3. Orlando Magic (Average age: 25.3 years)
Youngest player on current roster: Aaron Gordon (20 years old)
Oldest player on current roster: Channing Frye (32 years old)
Even playing in the inferior East has not catapulted the Orlando Magic into the playoff picture over the past three seasons. In fact, the last time the Magic made the postseason was during the strike-shortened 2011-2012 season, the final year of the ill-fated Dwight Howard/Stan Van Gundy relationship.
Late-spring basketball may still have to wait another season, but Magic fans should be optimistic with this roster that owner Rob Hennigan and company has built. With Channing Frye, C.J. Watson, and Jason Smith as the only players most would consider veterans on the team, Orlando is ready for some great youthful promise in the coming years.
The current Magic include five players that were drafted by the organization and/or their draft rights were acquired in a trade by Orlando. They also include four players that were acquired via trade and five that were picked up as free agents. Among the notables are: Aaron Gordon (20 years old, fourth pick, 2014 NBA Draft), Victor Oladipo (23 years old, second pick, 2013 NBA Draft), Elfrid Payton (21 years old, draft rights to Payton acquired in June 2014 trade with Philadelphia), and Nikola Vucevic (24 years old, acquired in Aug. 2012 trade with Philadelphia).
2. Utah Jazz (Average age: 24.6 years)
Youngest player on current roster: Trey Lyles (19 years old)
Oldest player on current roster: Elijah Millsap (28 years old)
The Jazz are so young that they don’t boast a single player older than 28. And their oldest player is something of an outlier, since Elijah Millsap (brother of Atlanta’s Paul Millsap) has just one year of NBA play under his belt playing in just 47 games in 2014-2015. Given this fact, the Jazz may be the most inexperienced team of them all.
Like Orlando, Utah has not made it to the playoffs since 2011-2012 and it would be a shock to many if they made it in the upcoming season. After finishing 25-77 two years ago, the Jazz hired Quin Snyder as head coach and he led them to a respectable 38-44 record last season.
The current Jazz include eight players that were drafted by the organization and/or their draft right’s were acquired in a trade by Utah. They also include two players that were acquired via trade and seven that were picked up as free agents. Among the notables are: Gordon Hayward (25 years old, ninth pick, 2010 NBA Draft), Trey Burke (22 years old, draft rights to Burke acquired in June 2013 trade with Minnesota), Rudy Gobert (23 years old, draft rights to Gobert acquired in June 2013 trade with Denver), and Derrick Favors (24 years old, acquired in Feb. 2011 trade with New Jersey).
1. Philadelphia 76ers (Average age: 24.4 years)
Youngest player on current roster: Jahlil Okafor (19 years old)
Oldest player on current roster: Gerald Wallace (33 years old)
Well, what can you say about the Philadelphia 76ers? On the bright side, the personnel reeks of massive potential, particularly in the front court. On the other hand, the Sixers have won a putrid 37 wins over the last two seasons. Yeah, that’s both seasons combined.
The projected roster coming into this fall features an interesting mix of guys with impressive college and European-league resumes in their early twenties and even late teens, coupled with aging, formerly above average players like Gerald Wallace and Carl Landry. It’s sad to say, but a good portion of Philadelphia’s success — or lack of it — has simply come down to injuries and bad luck recently. We’ll see if those misfortunes change at all this year.
The current 76ers include four players that were drafted by the organization and/or their draft right’s were acquired in a trade by Philadelphia. They also include five players that were acquired via trade and six that were picked up as free agents. Among the notables are: Joel Embiid (21 years old, third pick, 2014 NBA Draft), Jerami Grant (21 years old, second round pick, 2014 NBA Draft), Jahlil Okafor (19 years old, third pick, 2015 NBA Draft), and Nerlens Noel (21 years old, draft rights to Noel acquired in July 2013 trade with New Orleans).
Follow Victor on Twitter @vbarbosa1127.