A year lost to the black hole of an NBA lockout doesn’t stop at lost revenues for team owners, nor the lost nights of kicking back with an extra large bag of Doritos to catch a game.
An NBA lockout means some players who live and breathe hoops won’t know what to do with themselves. To be real, the most gifted of NBA players probably don’t have hobbies, and blasting inferior competition in self-organized streetball games can only fulfill that competitive itch so long.
Not all, but most basketball players will be bothered without that competition. For aging vets, losing a year could mean watching their last few capable years fizzle out. On the opposite side of the spectrum, young guns will be missing out on a season that would become a valuable learning curve. And for others, this season could make or break the rest of their careers.
THE OLD GUYS
It warms our hearts to watch veterans go out on top. At least, it’s nice to see them take on smaller roles to lead their squad to a championship or an exciting playoff run. And there’s an impressive class of veterans whose tanks are running on empty. Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd and Tim Duncan have seen better days, but they have the coaching and teammates behind them to send them out with titles or something close to that. Sure, players in this demographic don’t have the same roles they did in their prime, but they have evolved enough as savvy basketball players to chug along for a few solid years on very good teams.
Then, there’s guys like Steve Nash and even Kobe Bryant, who are still very capable of having All-Star seasons. Still, the clocks are ticking, and losing a year is a huge blow to their Hall of Fame careers.
And this lockout could hurt players like 39-year-old Kurt Thomas more than anyone. Thomas, the league’s oldest player, and his group of elders would probably cherish the 2011-12 season. It might have been their last.
Here’s a list of the league’s 10 oldest players:
1. Kurt Thomas
2. Grant Hill
3. Juwan Howard
4. Jason Kidd
5. Theo Ratliff
6. Steve Nash
7. Marcus Camby
8. Derek Fisher
9. Ben Wallace
10. Antonio Daniels
In a lockout, there’s a financial backlash for players who have yet to officially sign contracts. While lottery picks from the 2011 draft like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams and Kemba Walker can subside off of their shoe deals, guys toward the middle and end of the first round are not making much, if anything.
That’s why Reggie Jackson, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 24th overall pick, was taking out loans this summer just to get by.
But what’s more concerning is how this could all shape up should the 2011 rookie class end up missing the entire year, and thus, join 2012’s class to become a super-sized group of rookies. Creating team chemistry already stalled by a year-long hiatus can’t bode well for NBA teams, and it also doesn’t help that a plus-sized class of 2012 rookies won’t have a lick of experience.
Then again, it’ll be twice the mystery, I guess.
On another line of thought, could the elite players who went back to school — Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes and Perry Jones — potentially advance their basketball skills under the scrutiny of their college coaches further than the 2011 early entries like Williams and Irving?
Throw in incoming NCAA freshmen like Duke’s Austin Rivers and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, and you’ve got a boatload of untested talent.
THE ROLE PLAYERS & THE JOURNEYMEN
Futures are on hold for NBA journeymen and role players. The lockout has set back their chances to earn NBDL contracts that will help them, at the very least, survive financially — I’m talking to you, Sundiata Gaines. In fact, that’s already led to guys like J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler and Earl Clark to jump ship to China; none of them even have opt-out clauses.
Meanwhile, solidified NBA players simply must wait to show us that they’ve still got it. There’s a number of names to wonder about, but let’s stick to some teams as a whole.
The Orlando Magic team has a few question marks after losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Thanks to Shaquille O’Neal‘s insistence that Dwight Howard needs to win a couple championships, is the Magic center going to shed the pressure mounting behind him by doing just that? Howard’s chances have to do with his wingmen: Hedo Turkoglu might never be more than a shell of his former self, while Gilbert Arenas must prove he can return to a more prominent role.
And how about the Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol? He was the “steal” of that Lakers/Memphis trade that is now looking pretty even after the development of brother Marc Gasol. Kobe Bryant included, the city of Los Angeles likely wants to know whether Ron Artest, Gasol and Andrew Bynum can make another championship run, this time under coach Mike Brown. If the Lakers’ aging core loses a year that would otherwise act as a trial run for Brown, then it’s questionable whether Bryant will have enough to win another title.
Which players do you think will lose the most if we lose a season?
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