Reaching your 30s in the NBA used to be a sign that the end was relatively near. Not necessarily the end of a player’s career, but at the very least, of his prime.
Now, with advancements in modern medicine, more lax schedules and rest days being offered up like never before, that is no longer the case.
These days, a player can be fully into his 30s and still be at or just reaching his career peak, as is the case with a few players near the top of our rankings.
When considering the Association’s top players over 30 years old, the list is filled with All-Stars, All-NBA talents and MVP candidates. So collectively, the team at HoopsHype has decided to rank these individuals from No. 30 to No. 1.
Below, you can see how our rankings turned out, with a minor surprise coming at the top spot.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
30. TREVOR ARIZA, 33, WASHINGTON WIZARDS
One of the most reliable 3-and-D specialists the NBA has to offer, Trevor Ariza is a grizzled vet who knows his role and performs it quite well. As a member of the Washington Wizards, Ariza is averaging 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per contest, knocking down 2.4 nightly three-pointers in the process.
He’s far from a star, but Ariza is the type of a role player every playoff team needs, the kind who can help swing an important contest with his defense, three-point shooting and overall veteran savvy.
And thanks to those dependable attributes, despite his age (he’ll be 34 next season), Ariza will still receive a bevy of interest from contenders once he hits free agency this summer.
29. DWYANE WADE, 37, MIAMI HEAT
In his final season, Dwyane Wade is performing at a level that hints he has enough left in the tank to give the game another few years of service.
Nevertheless, if this really is it for him, the 13-time All-Star is going out on a high note.
Wade is putting up 14.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in 2018-19, making him one of just three players ever to average a 14.0/3.5/4.0 stat line in their age-37 season. If Wade ends the year above those benchmarks, he’ll join Karl Malone and John Havlicek, two Hall-of-Famers, in accomplishing the feat.
Not a bad way for the Miami Heat legend to go out.
28. DARREN COLLISON, 31, INDIANA PACERS
Although he’s far from the cream of the crop as far as current floor generals go, Darren Collison’s consistency and solid play have helped the Indiana Pacers keep pace after losing Victor Oladipo to a season-ending injury.
This year, Collison is averaging 10.5 points, 6.0 assists and 1.4 steals per contest on fiery 47.0/40.7/82.4 shooting splits. Collison’s 3.98 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks sixth league-wide, and his 1.27 points per possession (PPP) on spot-up opportunities puts him in the 93rd percentile, according to Synergy Sports.
Collison isn’t a high-volume scorer or a dime-dishing wizard, but his consistent output would make him an excellent complementary option on any playoff-caliber club.
27. RAJON RONDO, 33, LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Two words can define Rajon Rondo at this point in his career: reliable and consistent. The 12-year veteran is averaging 8.6 points and 7.5 assists per game this year while knocking down a career-high 41.5 percent of his three-point looks.
He’s obviously no longer in his prime, but Rondo can still be called upon to run an efficient offense and play the role of coach on the floor when needed.
26. NICOLAS BATUM, 30, CHARLOTTE HORNETS
Nicolas Batum may just be averaging 9.5 points this season, but his ability to fill up the rest of the stat sheet – 5.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.5 threes and 0.9 steals per game in 2018-19 – helps set him apart nonetheless.
The French swingman is also knocking down 39.3 percent of his three-point attempts this season, making him a legitimate threat from the outside and one of the league’s better 3-and-D options.
Thanks to his contributions, the Charlotte Hornets are 3.5 points per 100 possessions better with Batum on the floor as opposed to when he’s on the bench, proving that his stats are anything but empty.
25. ERIC GORDON, 30, HOUSTON ROCKETS
Two years removed from a fantastic Sixth Man of the Year campaign, Eric Gordon has seen his numbers take a bit of a dip this season. In 2018-19, Gordon is averaging 16.1 points and 2.0 assists nightly, shooting a career-low 39.1 percent from the floor and a paltry 32.2 percent from deep.
Nevertheless, despite his numbers taking a slight hit this year, Gordon is still a bucket-getter. According to Synergy Sports, Gordon ranks in the 92nd percentile as an isolation scorer, producing 1.104 PPP on such opportunities. Additionally, the Houston Rockets are still statistically a better team with Gordon in the game, so it’s clear his basket-scoring prowess with the second unit remains vital to the team’s overall success.
24. RUDY GAY, 32, SAN ANTONIO SPURS
It’s taken a little while, but after coming back from an Achilles injury last season, Rudy Gay has finally started to more closely resemble his prime self this season with the San Antonio Spurs. Gay is putting up 14.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game in 2018-19, while knocking down a career-high 43.0 percent of his threes.
More than anything, this season, Gay’s size on the wing and ability to score timely baskets has been important for a Spurs team on pace to qualify for the playoffs for the 22nd year in a row.
23. DANNY GREEN, 31, TORONTO RAPTORS
After shooting an all-too-regular 35.7 percent from three over the previous three campaigns, Danny Green has regained his sharpshooter status this season with the Toronto Raptors. Green is hitting 42.8 percent of his nightly 5.4 three-point attempts on the year, the 10th-best mark among players with at least 200 outside shots this season.
Green’s marksman prowess, coupled with his outstanding perimeter defense, has helped him return to elite form as a role player. This season, the Raptors are a ridiculous 16.4 points per 100 possessions better with Green on the floor, and considering they have the second-best record in the league (44-17), that really speaks to just how good Green has been in 2018-19.
22. GORAN DRAGIC, 32, MIAMI HEAT
Goran Dragic’s spot in this list is probably hampered by how much time he’s missed this season due to knee problems.
Even before going down, Dragic’s numbers had taken a dive after his 2017-18 All-Star campaign, with the Slovenian ball-handler putting up merely 15.3 points and 4.9 assists per game this year.
Dragic’s finishing around the basket, formerly his biggest strength, was just decent this season at 52.7 percent, and he hasn’t been able to make up for it by becoming an improved outside shooter; the Heat point guard is making a weak 31.4 percent of his threes in 2018-19.
Perhaps the knee surgery he underwent will help Dragic regain some of his form from last season, but with just over 20 games remaining on the season and Miami sitting outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Heat are going to have to hope it happens as soon as possible.
21. JOE INGLES, 31, UTAH JAZZ
Although Joe Ingles’ three-point shooting has plummeted from 44.0 percent last year to 37.3 percent this season, the Australian wing is still one of the most quietly effective wings in the Western Conference.
Calling Ingles just a 3-and-D specialist would be doing him a disservice, as his role in Utah’s offense calls for him to run a good amount of pick-and-roll while also being able to score when coming off screens and on dribble hand-off plays.
No, he’s not a bucket-getting superstar, but Ingles’ defense and uncanny distribution skills (5.0 assists per game in 2018-19) are hugely important for the Utah Jazz, a fact best exemplified by the 31-year-old’s +10.7 swing rating on the year.
20. JEFF TEAGUE, 30, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
Missed time due to injury negatively affected Jeff Teague’s spot in this ranking, because, when healthy, the Wake Forest product has proven to be a more than serviceable starting point guard.
This season, Teague ranks fifth league-wide in nightly assists at 8.1, while also chipping in 11.9 points and 1.1 steals per game.
Teague’s quick feet help him jump passing lanes and cause havoc defensively, as well as get to the rim and get buckets on offense. He’s also a capable outside shooter (34.5 percent), which makes him a well-rounded floor general with the rock in his hands.
19. DEANDRE JORDAN, 30, NEW YORK KNICKS
The NBA’s No. 2 rebounder by nightly average, DeAndre Jordan is still, despite entering his 30s, a beast on the glass who dominates as the roller out of pick-and-roll sets. Jordan is putting up 11.1 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game this season, shooting 64.8 percent from the floor and a career-best 66.8 percent from the foul stripe.
According to Synergy, Jordan ranks in the 87th percentile as the pick-and-roll roll man, scoring an astounding 1.53 PPP on those chances. He may not be the game-changing defender he once was, but overall, Jordan is still an extremely productive big man, and one of the better centers around the Association.
18. PAUL MILLSAP, 34, DENVER NUGGETS
Averaging 12.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game this season, Paul Millsap’s numbers have taken a dip as he enters his mid-30s.
Nevertheless, Millsap is still a key cog for a Denver Nuggets team that ranks second in the West with a 41-18 record. With the Louisiana Tech product on the floor, the Nuggets are 9.3 points per 100 possessions better than when he sits.
What’s more, when Millsap is in the game, opponents are scoring 107.8 points per 100 possessions on Denver, which, if prorated for the year, would give the Nuggets the NBA’s ninth-stingiest defense. When Millsap is on the bench, on the other hand, the team is giving up 111.3 points per 100 possessions, which would make them the No. 19 defense in the league.
So he may not be putting up the monster averages that he used to, but Millsap remains hugely important to the success of one of the NBA’s best teams.
17. THADDEUS YOUNG, 30, INDIANA PACERS
Like Millsap, Pacers power forward Thaddeus Young is another strong defender out of the 4-spot. Young’s Defensive Box Plus/Minus score (2.3) is 27th-best in the league (min: 50 games played), placing him ahead of well-known stoppers such as Steven Adams and Andre Iguodala.
Overall, Young is averaging 12.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per contest, shooting 53.1 percent from the floor and 35.9 percent from three. The 30-year-old is an excellent role player, and a big part of Indiana’s 40-20 record through 60 games.
16. DERRICK ROSE, 30, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
Derrick Rose’s career resurgence in 2018-19 has been awesome to watch unfold. The 2011 league MVP, putting up 18.4 points and 4.7 assists this season, is playing some of the most efficient basketball he has in years. He’s knocking down jumpers at an effective rate and showing random flashes of his peak athleticism when attacking the basket.
His most memorable performance of the season came on Halloween of 2018, when Rose dropped 50 points on 19-of-31 shooting against Utah in what was a three-point win for the Minnesota Timberwolves:
In recent weeks, Rose has been slowed by an ankle injury. He took some time off to let it heal and has since returned, but it seems his ankle is still taking a toll on his production.
Still, this year, Rose has proven that he has a ton left in the tank, making his impending unrestricted free agency this summer an intriguing one to behold.
15. JJ REDICK, 34, PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Despite entering the twilight of his career, JJ Redick is averaging a career-high in points (18.3) and made three-pointers (3.1) this season. His defense might be a liability, but overall, the Philadelphia 76ers are still a much better team with Redick on the floor than without him.
According to Synergy, Redick is in the league’s 90th percentile as the pick-and-roll ball-handler (passes included), in the 86th percentile at scoring off of screens and in the 83rd percentile in transition scoring. His game is still mostly predicated around his shooting, of course, but in his age-34 season, Redick has become a much more diverse offensive weapon.
14. BROOK LOPEZ, 30, MILWAUKEE BUCKS
He may be averaging a career-low 12.2 points per game, but Brook Lopez’s impact goes far beyond the raw numbers.
Lopez’s floor-spacing from the 5-spot has opened up a ton of room for his superstar teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo to attack the basket, helping the Greek Freak put up an MVP-caliber campaign. Additionally, Lopez’s rim protection is elite, as his 2.1 blocks per game mark is tied for third league-wide, and his 54.1 field-goal percentage allowed on contests within five of the basket is tied for second stingiest among qualified players.
Lopez’s standout blend of skills – that of a rim-protecting floor-spacer – makes him a unique talent and an elite role player.
13. LOU WILLIAMS, 32, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
A supremely confident bucket-getter off the bench, Lou Williams is well on his way to earning Sixth Man of the Year consideration for the second year running (and the third time of his career). Williams is currently averaging 19.9 points per game, the highest mark for players with zero starts in 2018-19.
In particular, the 32-year-old guard is at his best out of the pick-and-roll, as Williams ranks in the 89th percentile in scoring out of such sets (passes included), producing 1.074 PPP, according to Synergy.
Even despite his total lack of defensive impact, at the end of the day, Williams’ swing rating (+9.0) proves that he’s a very impactful player overall.
12. AL HORFORD, 32, BOSTON CELTICS
When he’s at peak form, few big men can match Al Horford in terms of pure impact.
The Dominican center can not just score in a multitude of ways, including out of the post and from the outside, he also creates for others and defends at a high level, both on the block and when matched up with more fleet of foot big men on the perimeter.
Horford is putting up a 13.0/6.9/4.0 stat line this season, shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and 36.7 percent from three.
11. MARC GASOL, 34, TORONTO RAPTORS
In one of the biggest trades of this year’s deadline, three-time All-Star Marc Gasol was shipped from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Raptors in order to help with their upcoming playoff push.
Gasol’s numbers have fluctuated a bit this year, but overall, he’s averaging 15.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, making him one of just six players to hit all three of those benchmarks this season. The big Spaniard can score from the inside as well as space the floor from three (34.5 percent on the year), defend and make plays for teammates.
Next to Kawhi Leonard and another Raptor who’s coming up on our list shortly, Gasol is productive enough to help solidify Toronto’s chances of reaching the Finals this season.
10. DANILO GALLINARI, 30, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
As healthy as he has been in a long time, Danilo Gallinari is finally getting a chance to show what he can do when available on a nightly basis.
Gallinari is averaging 18.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game this year on insane 44.9/43.9/90.6 shooting splits. The Italian swingman’s scoring has been so absurdly efficient, in fact, that Synergy gives him an “excellent” rating in seven separate play types, including as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, when posting up and scoring off of screens.
It may not always be pretty, but Gallinari can get buckets with the best of them.
9. KEVIN LOVE, 30, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
Had he stayed healthy this season, it’s likely Kevin Love would have finished much higher up this ranking.
Nonetheless, in just eight games this year, Love has proven he’s still one of the league’s top power forwards. The 30-year-old is averaging 17.8 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in 2018-19, while shooting 36.0 percent from three and 85.7 percent from the free-throw stripe.
What’s more, Love boasts a -0.2 net rating on the year, which may not sound like much, but considering the Cleveland Cavaliers have a -10.3 net rating for the season overall, it shows how impactful the big man has been over his eight games of action.
8. KYLE LOWRY, 32, TORONTO RAPTORS
An All-Star for the fifth year running, Kyle Lowry is still one of the top floor generals the NBA has to offer. Lowry is averaging 14.4 points, 9.1 assists (the second-best mark in the league) and 1.4 steals per contest in 2018-19, running a top-seven Raptors offense to near perfection on a nightly basis.
His bulldog mentality aids him in making a huge two-way impact, and now, running alongside Leonard and Gasol, it could finally be the year Lowry and Co. make a push to the NBA Finals. Even if it isn’t, Lowry doesn’t appear close to slowing down, so Toronto should be a contender in the Eastern Conference for years to come.
7. CHRIS PAUL, 33, HOUSTON ROCKETS
There’s no doubt Chris Paul is still one of the NBA’s elite at the point-guard position, and a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. But it must also be said that this season is the first time we’ve started to see signs of him slowing down quite a bit. Paul’s 42.4 percent field-goal percentage is the lowest of his career, his 2.8 turnovers per game is the second-highest rate of his career and his 16.0 points per game is his second-lowest mark since reaching the Association.
Regardless, Paul is still dishing out 8.3 assists per contest, the NBA’s fourth-best average, and his 2.1 steals per game is tied for the league’s second-best rate.
All in all, Paul is still near the top of the point-guard ladder; he’s just no longer the NBA’s unquestioned best floor general.
6. MIKE CONLEY, 31, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
Averaging 20.0 points, 6.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game in 2018-19, Mike Conley is seemingly only getting better with age. According to Synergy, Conley ranks in the 75th percentile as both a scorer out of the pick-and-roll and on isolation plays, which shows what a great bucket-getter the Ohio State product has become.
Conley has become so important for Memphis that, despite deciding to initiate a rebuild this season, they still opted to keep their stud lead guard around in hopes he’ll form part of the next great Grizzlies team, whenever that may come.
5. LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE, 33, SAN ANTONIO SPURS
A throwback big man in an era of floor-spacing centers and power forwards, LaMarcus Aldridge is putting up 20.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season.
The 33-year-old out of Texas leads the league in total post-up possessions with 530 such looks, per Synergy, and despite the massive sample size, he is still quite efficient with his back to the basket. Aldridge’s 1.017 PPP on such possessions puts him in the 73rd percentile, ahead of the likes of Joel Embiid and Blake Griffin.
Aldridge has become the Spurs’ most important player and this season he was named an All-Star for the seventh time of his career.
4. RUSSELL WESTBROOK, 30, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
On pace to average a triple-double for a ridiculous third year in a row, leading the league in nightly assists at 11.0 and ranking 11th in nightly rebounds at 11.3, Russell Westbrook has maintained an awe-inspiring level of production in 2018-19.
Westbrook’s shooting marks have taken a hit this season, as evidenced by his 26.8 three-point percentage and 66.0 percent free-throw accuracy, but even so, the 2017 league MVP is still producing 22.5 points per game, a mark healthy enough to put him in the top 20 of the league.
He likely won’t garner many MVP votes this season, but Westbrook will almost certainly be in the running for one of the six All-NBA spots for his 2018-19 contributions.
He’s been that great.
3. STEPHEN CURRY, 30, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Stephen Curry is averaging 28.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per contest in 2018-19, shooting 48.9 percent from the floor, 45.0 from three and 92.3 percent from the foul stripe on the best team in the league.
Sure, the Golden State Warriors are loaded with talent, but it’s Curry who acts as the engine in the Ferrari. With him on the floor, Golden State is 11.9 points per 100 possessions better than when he sits, a mark that would be first on the team if not for the player coming up at No. 1 on our list.
Regardless, Curry, a flame-throwing lead guard and arguably the greatest shooter the NBA has ever seen, is well on his way to another 1st Team All-NBA honor this season – the third of his career.
2. LEBRON JAMES, 34, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
It almost feels blasphemous to have LeBron James anywhere but at the top of any ranking, but if ever there was a time for him to pass the torch, it may be this season.
Not to be misunderstood, James is still one of the two best players in the Association. He’s averaging 26.8 points per game, the ninth-best mark in the NBA, to go with 8.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists per contest on 51.5/35.3/67.3 shooting splits. His Box Plus/Minus (7.8) is the fifth-best in the league, and he rates in the “excellent” range, according to Synergy, in scoring out of the pick-and-roll, on put-backs and on post-ups.
So even if he’s taken the slightest step back this season, James is still insanely efficient and productive, and he’s still the last player you want to face in the playoffs.
The problem is, James actually reaching the playoffs is in serious question for the first time since 2004-05, which was his sophomore campaign. Obviously, that’s not all on him, as the Lakers have suffered a plethora of injuries this year, including losing James for over a month of action from Christmas to early February.
Still, as he himself would probably acknowledge, failing to reach the postseason would be a failure ultimately thrown at James’ feet, so for these last 20-plus games of 2018-19, we should get to see an early appearance from Playoff LeBron.
And if that version of James does appear soon, he could make this ranking look very bad, very quickly.
1. KEVIN DURANT, 30, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Since joining the Warriors, Kevin Durant has lagged behind his star teammate Curry in one key metric: swing rating.
In 2016-17, Golden State was 8.2 points per 100 possessions better with Durant on the floor versus when he sat. That same year, Curry’s mark was an unfathomable +17.5 points per 100 possessions. Last year, Durant’s swing rating took a fall to +1.4 points per 100 possessions. Curry’s stayed strong at +13.0 points per 100 possessions.
This season, however, things have changed.
We mentioned earlier that Curry’s current swing rating sits at a still-impressive +11.9 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor. The thing is, he’s been overtaken as Golden State’s leader in that metric by Durant in 2018-19, who boasts an insane +19.3 points per 100 possessions mark when he’s in the game.
So now, to go with the two Finals MVP trophies he has over Curry, a strong case can be made that Durant is the Warriors’ most important player.
The metrics – both the advanced ones as well as his 27.6/7.0/5.8 raw stat line – certainly wouldn’t disagree with that assessment.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.
Analytics, Evergreen, Featured, Top, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs