Though the age of 30 gives off the illusion that that’s when a player’s prime should come to an end, in the modern NBA, that’s really not the case.
After all, a certain Slovenian point guard reached his first All-Star game this season, at the ripe old age of 30.
Another player, an Australian sharpshooter, just received a four-year, $52 million contract, despite the deal starting during his Age-30 campaign.
Oh, and we can’t fail to mention the best player in the league, who arguably put up his most impressive statistical season this year, is currently 33.
When perusing the list of the Association’s most impressive athletes over 30, the standings are littered by All-Stars, All-NBA talents and MVP frontrunners. So collectively, we decided to rank the best, from No. 30 to No. 1.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
30. Rudy Gay (31), San Antonio Spurs
Just one year ago, it was fair to wonder whether Rudy Gay would ever be the same.
The UConn legend suffered a torn Achilles in mid-January 2017, an injury notoriously rough on older players. It was an even bigger shame due to the fact that Gay was having a fantastic season as a member of the Sacramento Kings, averaging 18.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest while shooting 37.2 percent from deep.
Then Gay’s Achilles ruptured and uncertainty about his future set in.
Nevertheless, the 12-year vet got to rehabbing and was able to get well enough to garner interest from Gregg Popovich and the Spurs.
And as a Spur, Gay has exceeded expectations.
Not only was he available on opening night, Gay has put up decent numbers – 11.5 points and 5.1 boards nightly – all year, while exerting some of the best defensive effort of his career.
Considering the enigmatic drama that has arisen from the Kawhi Leonard situation, it’s entirely possible San Antonio misses the playoffs without Gay’s production off the bench.
The Western Conference was that tight this year, and Gay has been that important to the team’s offensive output.
29. Zach Randolph (36), Sacramento Kings
A two-time All-Star and 17-year vet, Zach Randolph joined the Sacramento Kings this season in order to help the team’s young core learn what it takes to be professionals.
Along the way, he also proved he’s still got some game left.
Randolph averaged 14.5 point and 6.7 rebounds per game in 2017-18, and did so in just 25.6 minutes nightly.
On a contender, the Indiana native could provide some scoring and rebounding off the bench. Instead, he’s playing the role of mentor on a rebuilding organization.
Either way, he’s likely currently content doing what he does best: getting buckets.
28. Wilson Chandler (30), Denver Nuggets
Though he isn’t the scorer he once was, Wilson Chandler is still known to gets bucket on occasion.
The 30-year-old put up 10.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest in 2017-18, and was an almost-everyday starter for a young Denver Nuggets squad that missed the playoffs in the stacked West by just one game.
He may not have the juice he possessed in his prime (which is understandable, considering he’s in his 11th year of service), but Chandler can still contribute.
And sometimes even help you win an important game when you need him to.
27. Darren Collison (30), Indiana Pacers
The NBA’s leader in three-point accuracy in 2017-18 (46.8 percent), Darren Collison was a major part of the Indiana Pacers surprising 48-win campaign.
Most expected the Pacers to rebuild following the Paul George trade, but Collison (along with the superhuman efforts of Victor Oladipo) helped that not be the case. Instead, the Pacers won six more games than the year prior, and locked up the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference
Along with draining nearly half his attempts from beyond the arc, Collison also averaged 12.4 points, 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals for the season while Indiana outscored teams by 3.6 points per 100 possessions during his time on the floor.
Under contract for at least another season, Pacers fans can expect consistent point-guard play going forward.
26. James Johnson (31), Miami Heat
From career journeymen to $60 million man, James Johnson finally reached his full potential after joining the Miami Heat in the summer of 2016.
A combo forward with creative vision, strong driving capabilities and tough point-stopping chops, Johnson blossomed under the tutelage of head coach Erik Spoelstra.
The Wake Forest product has put up 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists nightly since arriving in Miami, and figures to be a big part of the Heat’s future despite peaking so late in his career.
25. Rajon Rondo (32), New Orleans Pelicans
A four-time All-Star, three-time league-assist leader and one-time champion, Rajon Rondo still has plenty left in the tank at 32 years old.
The veteran floor general averaged 8.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2017-18, while placing fifth in the NBA in nightly assists with 8.2.
What’s more, with the arrival of the 2018 postseason, so too came yet another reemergence of the demigod known as Playoff Rondo. When the stakes get higher, Rondo’s game usually elevates to another level, a fact that has been proven time and time again throughout his career.
Even at 32, that hasn’t changed.
24. Luc Mbah a Moute (31), Houston Rockets
Despite never posting huge offensive numbers, Luc Mbah a Moute has forged quite the career as a quietly consistent 3-and-D wing.
In 2017-18, as a first-year member of the Houston Rockets, the UCLA product was really able to shine, primarily by helping the team turn around its notoriously shaky defense.
And because of his ground-bound style, the 10-year vet should be contributing on good teams for seasons to come.
23. Dirk Nowitzki (39), Dallas Mavericks
A guaranteed spot in the Hall of Fame awaits Dirk Nowitzki when he’s ready to hang them up. And considering the legendary power forward is the fourth-oldest player in the league, that time may not be too far off.
Thankfully, however, according to the big German, retirement won’t come for at least another season, meaning basketball fans will be able to enjoy watching the 2011 Finals MVP do what he’s always done for another year: splash down triples.
Nowitzki was 16th league-wide in three-point shooting this past season (among qualified players), draining nearly 41 percent of his looks from deep.
Even though the seven-foot sniper has more All-Star appearances (13) than most players have years spent in the NBA, he’ll still be one of the Association’s most-feared shooters as long he’s playing.
22. Trevor Ariza (32), Houston Rockets
One of the NBA’s premiere 3-and-D role players for the majority of his career, Trevor Ariza isn’t a star and yet, his contributions cannot be overstated.
His ability to play off the ball from James Harden and a certain point guard who’s coming up on our list helps keep the Rockets’ offense humming.
And his defense, though unspectacular, was boosted by the arrival of Mbah a Moute and PJ Tucker. Ariza has the length to disrupt passing lanes and the foot speed to stay in front of most opposing wings.
Overall, still quite the solid player, on both ends.
21. Joe Ingles (30), Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles didn’t even arrive to the NBA until his Age-27 campaign, and it took him two seasons after that to become the instrumental piece he has become today.
Now, the Australian is an every-game starter for head coach Quin Snyder, and one of the league’s deadliest three-point shooters.
Over the last two seasons, Ingles has converted an absurd 44 percent of his looks from deep. In that span, only one player with over 700 three-point attempts has been more accurate than Ingles, and that’s Kyle Korver (44.4 percent).
With underrated pick-and-roll abilities and defensive acumen to go with his sharpshooting skills, Ingles still probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.
20. Taj Gibson (32), Minnesota Timberwolves
A hard-nosed, do-the-little-things type of big man, Taj Gibson has forged quite the career simply by out-toughing and out-working his opponents.
And he’s far from being finished.
The Minnesota Timberwolves center is coming off a season in which he averaged 12.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest, while converting 57.7 percent of his field-goal attempts.
What’s more, Gibson, along with a couple of star teammates who go by the names of Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, helped Minnesota reach the playoffs for the first time in 14 years in 2018 – an accomplishment that won’t soon be forgotten in the North Star State.
19. George Hill (31), Cleveland Cavaliers
Although he’s been hampered by injuries for a large chunk of his career, George Hill is still an above-average floor general when healthy.
Hill isn’t a traditional point guard in the sense that he’s not the craftiest ball-handler or distributor, but he makes up for those deficiencies with his ability to play off the ball, as well as with how he can ably defend multiple positions.
Knocking down over 40 percent of his attempts from deep since 2015-16, Hill’s clean jumper will help him contribute on good teams for years to come if he can get maintain some semblance of health.
18. Andre Iguodala (34), Golden State Warriors
Although his three-point shooting fell off a cliff in 2017-18, Andre Iguodala is still a pivotal piece on the annual title-favorite Golden State Warriors.
Iguodala’s mixture of defensive anticipation, one-on-one lock-down abilities and play-making from the wing make the Arizona product the perfect role player for Steve Kerr’s group.
And without the 2016 Finals MVP, Golden State’s point-stopping fortitude would take a hit.
Plus, you just know his shot will start falling as soon as the postseason rolls around. For his career, Iguodala shoots 33.3 percent from deep in the regular season, but ups that mark to 35.7 percent in the playoffs.
The Warriors will gladly take that exchange.
17. Brook Lopez (30), Los Angeles Lakers
Few players possess Brook Lopez’s blend of rim-protecting chops and floor-spacing touch.
In fact, his game is so unique that over the past two seasons, Lopez is one of just six men to block at least 200 shots and knock down at least 200 triples, with the other five being Kristaps Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol and Kevin Durant.
Although the Stanford product isn’t quite on the level of those players, Lopez does have a rarefied air about his game that will make him a heavily sought-after free agent this summer.
And considering his style of play, the 7-footer will be swatting away shots and spacing the floor for years to come.
16. JJ Redick (33), Philadelphia 76ers
One of the league’s premiere sharpshooters, JJ Redick was pivotal to the Philadelphia 76ers making the playoffs in 2017-18 – the team’s first appearance in postseason action since the start of The Process.
Despite it being his Age-33 season, the 2-guard out of Duke just averaged a career-high in points per outing (17.1) and three-point attempts nightly (6.6) this year, while knocking down an impressive 42 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Thanks to his locker-room presence and on-court contributions, Redick helped also Philadelphia win 52 games this season – their highest total since 2000-01.
Redick will be a free agent this summer, one that will surely draw heavy interest league-wide thanks to his veteran experience and knock-down three-point ability. It doesn’t hurt that he’s merely 33 years old, either.
15. Dwyane Wade (36), Miami Heat
The player with a Finals MVP and three championship trophies on his mantle at home, who affectionately likes to be known as Father Prime these days, is currently enjoying one last go as a member of the Miami Heat.
Dwyane Wade joined his former club at the 2018 trade deadline, much to the delight of basketball aficionados everywhere, and saved his best for when the games really started to matter.
After averaging a mundane 12.0 points and 3.1 assists on 40.9 percent shooting during the regular season, Wade upped his marks to 18.0 points and 3.3 assists on 49.1 percent accuracy in postseason play.
The future Hall-of-Famer even threw in a performance reminiscent of his vintage self.
In Game 2, on the road against a suddenly terrifying Sixers squad, Wade dropped 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists in what amounted to a 10-point Miami victory.
Oh, the Marquette legend also splashed down a dagger step-back jumper for good measure.
Clearly, Wade’s still got plenty of juice left in the tank – unfortunately, whether or not we’ll be able to see him prove that night-in and night-out next season has yet to be decided.
Hopefully this isn’t it for the 12-time All-Star, but if it is, it’s been one hell of a career.
14. Pau Gasol (37), San Antonio Spurs
A six-time All-Star, two-time champion and the greatest Spanish player of all time, Pau Gasol is still trucking along as a member of the Spurs.
After signing a three-year, $48 million contract to join San Antonio, the big Spaniard has helped up his end of the bargain, averaging 10.1 points and 8.0 rebounds nightly in 2017-18.
He’s even modernized his game a bit, attempting more a career-high 120 three-pointers this past season.
Gasol isn’t the point-producing monster he once was – with the unstoppable post game and respectable face-up abilities – but he’s still quite the productive role player.
13. Carmelo Anthony (33), Oklahoma City Thunder
One of the deadliest one-on-one scorers in NBA history, Carmelo Anthony still isn’t the guy you want to face on the perimeter with the rock in his hands.
Thanks to his fantastic size for a wing, along with his quick release and lethal jab step, Anthony has forged a memorable career, one that will likely culminate with a Hall-of-Fame bid.
His playing days are far from over, however.
The 10-time All-Star adapted nicely into a complementary role this season as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, playing off of Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
Anthony put up 16.2 points per game in 2017-18, shooting a healthy 35.7 percent from three and playing more minutes at the 4 than ever before. This unselfish move up the positional scale helped Oklahoma City win 48 games and lock up a Top 4 seed in the loaded Western Conference.
Anthony may no longer carry the load he once did, but he’s still a great option to have on the floor late in games.
12. Lou Williams (31), Los Angeles Clippers
Somehow, Lou Williams appears to only be getting better with age.
Perhaps it’s due to the hyper-efficient era of basketball we’ve arrived to, where bomb three-pointers from 30-feet out are not only acceptable but coveted, that Williams has finally found his niche. Or, that his ability to get to the free-throw line is finally properly appreciated in the modern game.
Either way, Williams has become one of the most efficient scorers in the league despite his shaky field-goal and three-point percentages.
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. And in offensive box plus/minus, Williams placed sixth among guards with over 70 appearances on the season.
Because of his bucket-getting prowess, Williams was able to land a three-year, $24 million extension from the Los Angeles Clippers, even despite being on the wrong side of 30.
The gunner figures to be a part of Los Angeles’ plans for the foreseeable future.
11. Dwight Howard (32), Charlotte Hornets
Although it came in a losing season, Dwight Howard just enjoyed his most productive campaign since his Rockets days.
The big man averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per contest on the year, missing just one outing all season long.
What’s more, the Charlotte Hornets were 3.6 points per 100 possessions better with Howard on the floor, proving his stats were far from empty.
Considering the eight-time All-Star is under contract for another year and owed $23.8 million from Charlotte, it’s a good thing the big man can still produce at a healthy level.
10. Paul Millsap (33), Denver Nuggets
When Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic were on the floor together, the Denver Nuggets were an absolute juggernaut.
With the duo in the game, Denver posted an absurd 119.4 offensive rating and boasted a +11.2 net rating, according to NBA Wowy. For reference sake, the best offense in the league this season (belonging to the Warriors) had a 112.3 offensive rating, and the league’s top net rating (belonging to the Rockets) was a +8.5.
Unfortunately for the Nuggets, Millsap suffered a wrist injury that forced to miss 44 outings on the year, so we weren’t able to see much of the Jokic-Millsap frontcourt. Had that not been the case, it’s entirely possible – if not likely – Denver breezes into the playoffs, instead of missing out by one game.
Even so, the early returns on the Nuggets’ Millsap signing are overwhelmingly positive, and the team should become a force in Year 2 with their new power forward.
9. Mike Conley (30), Memphis Grizzlies
On the topic of injuries, a heel ailment held Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley to merely 12 appearances in 2017-18, and forced the franchise to spend the season developing its young pieces.
Nevertheless, the Ohio State product is still one of the Association’s top floor generals when healthy. His 2016-17, in which he averaged 20.5 points and 6.3 assists nightly, was an extremely impressive campaign, one that proved Conley’s status as an elite lead guard.
Once he gets healthy, playing alongside a certain Spanish 7-footer who’s coming up on our list, and with the addition of a top pick out of the 2018 draft (Luka Doncic, anyone?), the Grizzlies should once again find themselves as one of the Western Conference’s toughest teams.
8. Al Horford (31), Boston Celtics
Although his name rarely gets mentioned when discussing the league’s best big men, and despite his relatively quiet counting stats, Al Horford is unquestionably an elite center in 2018.
With his ability to pass, face-up, space the floor from three and drive past slow-footed traditional big men, Horford is a load to handle on the offensive end. And defensively, where he protects the paint, is rarely out of position and often even barks out where his teammates should be, he may be even better.
Under contract for another two seasons with the Boston Celtics, Horford and Co. will form one of the top teams in the East for at least the foreseeable future.
7. Marc Gasol (33), Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies figure to be much better in 2018-19 not just because Conley returns, but also because they still have Marc Gasol.
Over the past two seasons, the younger of the Gasol brother put up 18.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest, and splashed down a healthy 36.2 percent of his three-point looks.
The big Spaniard may no longer be the point-stopping menace he was when he earned Defensive Player of the Year honors years ago, but he still makes a positive impact on the less glamorous side of the ball while being one of the best offensive centers in basketball.
That didn’t change this season, and won’t change for a long time.
6. Goran Dragic (31), Miami Heat
For the first time in his underrated career, Goran Dragic earned All-Star honors in 2017-18.
And it happened in his Age-31 season, only proving players’ primes are going longer than ever before.
The Slovenian floor general averaged 17.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game this past regular season, and helped lead the Heat to the playoffs for just the second time since a player who’s coming up on our countdown abandoned ship.
After following up a Eurobasket Tournament MVP performance last summer with an All-Star campaign, it’s clear Dragic is far from slowing down.
5. Kyle Lowry (32), Toronto Raptors
A four-time All-Star, all coming after his Age-27 season, Kyle Lowry is another player who got exponentially better with age.
Although his numbers took a bit of a deep this season – Lowry only averaged 16.2 points and 6.9 assists nightly in 2017-18 – the Villanova product still led the way for what wound up being the Eastern Conference’s best team during the regular season.
An improved culture and offensive game plan, along with an outstanding bench, were the main culprits for the Toronto Raptors impressive year. But Lowry being the team’s rock for 78 games can’t be overlooked.
His consistency on both ends and locker-room presence make Lowry Toronto’s most important piece, bar none.
And that won’t change anytime soon.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge (32), San Antonio Spurs
A year ago, it appeared LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs were on the outs.
Aldridge was unhappy about his touches while Popovich was displeased with his big signing’s unwillingness to buy in.
Now, with the relationship mended and both sides in a healthier place, Aldridge was able to excel. The Texas product averaged 23.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest this past season, while helping San Antonio win 47 games and comfortably make the playoffs in the tougher conference.
Considering Aldrige just put up the third-highest point-per-game average of his career, it’s obvious he’ll be a dominant force for years to come.
3. Chris Paul (32), Houston Rockets
A future first-ballot Hall of Famer and still arguably the game’s best pure floor general, Chris Paul enjoyed another outstanding campaign in 2017-18.
Though he was hampered by hamstring troubles this past year, the Wake Forest product was still insanely productive when healthy.
Paul put up 18.6 points and 7.9 assists nightly in his first year as a Rocket, while sharing the backcourt with an extremely high-usage guard in Harden – which is a difficult feat to even consider, let alone pull off.
Especially for a 32-year-old.
The nine-time All-Star was brought to Houston in order to help Harden and Co. take the next step into legitimate contention, and he was able to do just that.
The Rockets led the league in net rating in 2017-18 and won a league-high 65 games on the year. Harden was the primary culprit behind that, sure, but Paul played a massive part, too.
2. Stephen Curry (30), Golden State Warriors
Like Paul, Stephen Curry was plagued by injury troubles this season, which hampered his ability to get into a groove.
And yet, Curry was still a beast, averaging 26.4 points, 6.1 assists and 4.2 three-pointers per outing while posting his usual insane shooting splits (49.5/42.3/92.1).
Curry was so good, in fact, that he’s still a lock to receive All-NBA recognition despite only suiting up in 51 games. Had he suited up in closer to 70, he would have been a lock for First Team. Instead, he’ll have to settle for a likely Third Team distinction.
What a slacker.
The Warriors may have taken the slightest of steps back this season, falling behind Houston in net rating for the year, posting only a +8.0 – the first time since 2013-14 that Golden State didn’t post a double-digit net rating.
But a lot of that had to do with Curry missing so much time. The two-time league MVP led the team yet again in on/off differential, with the Warriors outscoring foes by an obscene 13 points per 100 possessions when Curry was on the floor. For comparison’s sake, that mark was merely 1.4 points per 100 possessions for the team’s other former MVP, Kevin Durant.
A healthy Curry likely locks up the No. 1 seed for Golden State. But either way, they’ll be happy as long as he’s out there when the games really matter.
1. LeBron James (33), Cleveland Cavaliers
For about the 10th year running (if not longer), the best player in basketball is still LeBron James.
A 14-time All-Star, three-time champion and four-time MVP, James posted arguably his most impressive statistical season in 2017-18.
Although his defense took a clear step back, the player from Akron’s numbers – 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game – were utterly jaw-dropping. Especially when you consider the guy is already 33 years old.
According to most advanced metrics, James just put up the best season for a player in his Age-33 season…
…and it’s sort of terrifying to fathom where the Cleveland Cavaliers would be without him.
Where James ends up this summer – whether he returns to the Cavs, heads west to join the Los Angeles Lakers or stays in the East but flips to a younger, more talented 76ers squad – will be the league’s most important storyline, and could have ripple effects around the Association.
What’s not up in the air, though, is that James is still the cream of the crop in an insanely talented NBA, and will be for the foreseeable future.
You can find Frank Urbina on Twitter @frankurbina_.
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