The fabled draft class of 1996 that produced superstars and Hall of Famers such Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant may quite literally be on its last legs now that Bryant is likely sidelined for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Similarly, the toll of 10+ seasons is beginning to show on some of the stars of the 2003 class as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony endured their first prolong stints on the injured list this season. Chris Bosh, who along with James and Anthony have virtually been iron men when compared to their draft mate Dwyane Wade, also saw time due to injury very early in the season.
As the league slowly begins its slow transfer of power from the two greatest draft classes of the last twenty years some of the NBAs elder statesmen are showing that they still have what it takes to compete.
Moreover, the group of 35 and over stars listed below are showing that they’re not ready just yet for the Legends portion of all-star weekend, and that they’re worthy of some all-star votes themselves:
Vince Carter (F)
Dirk Nowitzki (F)
Tim Duncan (C)*
Jamal Crawford (G)
Manu Ginobili (G)
Steve Blake (G)
Elton Brand (F)
Kobe Bryant (F)**
Caron Butler (F)
Rasual Butler (F)
Kevin Garnett (F/C)
Kenyon Martin (C)
Andre Miller (G)
Jermaine O’Neal may eventually work his way to this list by season’s end if he signs with one of the western conference superpowers as many have speculated. The top half of this roster is faring pretty well and one is hard pressed to think that a team sporting Nowitzki and Duncan as its starting forwards couldn’t give one of the top teams a run for their money. They have a deep reservoir of heady guards, but this squad’s downfall might be its lack of quality big men behind Duncan and Nowitzki.
Still, looking at this list does a lot to make an old man like myself feel as if I can still go out there and push myself to see what I got.
* Duncan made the 2015 squad as a reserve.
** Bryant was voted among the 2015 Western Conference starters by fans.