During one glorious 20-second sequence of Wednesday evening’s Nets-Hawks game, time stood completely still as 42-year-old Vince Carter buried a fadeaway jumper, then emphatically swatted away a shot attempt from 20-year-old Dzanan Musa.
I haven’t been able to find video of those plays on Twitter or anywhere else, so it may have only happened in a fever dream. Either way, it was during those two moments of Vinsanity that I thought to myself: It’s high time we checked in on the old guys.
Today, Roundball Stew presents an update on the most prominent fantasy options over the age of 30 (and by that I mean 31 and up, so you’ll have to go somewhere else for James Harden superlatives). We will proceed in descending order of age, and with warmest regards/season’s greetings to Carter, Udonis Haslem (39), Kyle Korver (38) and Tyson Chandler (37), we’re only talking old guys with a notable fantasy impact, and the oldest guy in the NBA who’s currently putting a significant dent in box scores is…
Carmelo Anthony (age: 35)
9-category ranking this year (per BasketballMonster.com): 127th
9-category ranking previous three years: 193rd, 120th, 57th
Melo has now played eight games in Portland, scoring 18 or more points in five of them, and it’s high time to take him seriously as a fantasy option. After shooting just over 40 percent in 88 games between OKC and Houston, he’s at 44.8 percent for the Blazers so far, and if you check out the highlights of his most recent performance (20 points against the Kings), it's clear that a year off from the NBA has him feeling pretty rejuvenated. I won’t stop casually putting him out there in trade offers, but I’m perfectly happy to keep him on my roster if I can’t trade him away. Sure, I can see a scenario where these 35-year-old legs aren’t quite as fresh later in the season, but for the time being, I’m a believer: The Carmelo renaissance is real.
J.J. Redick (age: 35)
9-category ranking this year: 94th
Previous three years: 90th, 70th, 100th
Did you know that Redick has averaged between 15 and 18 points per game for seven consecutive years, including this season? He has also never shot worse than 44.0 percent during that run, and is currently churning out a career-high 3.5 treys per game. And after a rough transition to his tenure in New Orleans (9.4 ppg on 38.7 percent shooting over his first eight games), he’s at 19.4 ppg on 47.0 percent shooting with 4.2 treys in 13 games since. He’s a machine.
Chris Paul (age: 34)
9-category ranking this year: 32nd
Previous three years: 21st, 9th, 8th
The numbers above make it clear that CP3 is declining, but we should all hope to decline this gracefully. And yes, he remains a little scary as an injury risk/eventual shutdown candidate for the 8-12 Thunder, so I’m all for trying to trade him if you think there’s a universe where you can get a more durable top-50ish player in return — especially considering that he hasn’t missed a game yet this year. On the flip side, I also applaud the approach of simply being stubborn and staying on this train until the end of the line — whenever that may be.
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LeBron James (age: 34)
9-category ranking this year: 9th
Previous three years: 24th, 6th, 13th
There is not a lot to say here, in a good way. LeBron’s points (25.4) and boards (7.0) are slightly down playing alongside Anthony Davis, but he’s also dishing out a career-best 10.8 assists. He’s back to clear-cut first-round production with no signs of losing momentum.
LaMarcus Aldridge (age: 34)
9-category ranking this year: 28th
Previous three years: 25th, 18th, 53rd
I’m not worried about Aldridge declining in any way (he’s at 20.3 ppg on 55.2 percent shooting his last 13 healthy games). I’m also not really concerned about injuries, even though he has missed a couple of games recently with a thigh issue. After all, LMA has averaged 75 games played the last five years. My only concern here — and it’s relatively mild — is that the Spurs have not been good this year, with an 8-14 record so far. So I lose a tiny bit of sleep here over a potential late-season shutdown if they continue to fall in the standings, especially since Aldridge is under contract for next year. I mostly think Aldridge is about as safe as it gets for a guy in his mid-30’s in today’s NBA.
Marc Gasol (age: 34)
9-category ranking this year: 148th
Previous three years: 46th, 42nd, 27th
The early-round Gasol that we’ve come to expect over the years is gone, but if you’re punting points in any of your leagues, or can afford one spot with really low scoring on your roster, he’s actually still plenty useful. Over his last 10 games, scoring-averse Gasol has averaged 6.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.3 bpg and 1.2 3s (on just 5.8 FG attempts per game).
P.J. Tucker (age: 34)
9-category ranking this year: 35th
Previous three years: 88th, 185th, 116th
Tucker has been a late-round guy in recent years because of his low-level combo of rebounds, steals, 3s and turnovers — and he’s done so despite a FG percentage that’s consistently been in the low-40s. This year, it’s a different story, as he’s averaging a career-high 10.1 ppg while shooting 53.1 percent from the floor, and 46.2 percent on 3s (also both career-highs). At the same time, Tucker is also a bit of a mirage in the rankings, because there is not a universe where anyone would give up the guys right around him (Donovan Mitchell, Jamal Murray etc.) to get him. So while I don’t think he’s got much in the way of trade value, I like him as a lower-half-of-roster option because his worst-case scenario, even if he cools off a lot, is probably something around top 100.
Paul Millsap (age: 34)
9-category ranking this year: 60th
Previous three years: 81st, 81st, 43rd
Millsap posted a couple of low-minute ugly stat lines in late November, but has bounced back with 15.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 bpg and 1.5 3s over his last two games. Though there’s a lot of potential for rest as the season goes on given the Nuggets’ depth (and the presence of high-upside backup Jerami Grant), I have zero quibbles with Millsap’s stat line (13.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 0.9 spg, 0.8 bpg and 1.2 3s), and would simply keep him around if people in your league aren’t overly excited about dealing for old guys. Which they probably aren’t.
Al Horford (age: 33)
9-category ranking this year: 33rd
Previous three years: 29th, 43rd, 35th
Aside from sitting out back-to-backs, it’s been a season with few headaches (and shockingly round numbers) from Easy Al, who’s putting up 14.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.0 bpg and 1.6 3s in his first 20 games. There’s very little to see here in the best way imaginable, so let’s move on.
Click over to Page 2 below for updates on the players in their early 30s, including a recently-back-from-injury Kyle Lowry, a devastatingly bad Mike Conley and the complicated case of Russell Westbrook…