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Kathy Willens/Associated Press
Still, some athletes possess that rare, generational level of skill that keeps them in the upper echelon of NBA talent well into their 30s.
Below are 10 players that continue to defy their age and instead put together seasons worthy of All-NBA-level consideration.
And we’d like to wish a very happy birthday to James Harden (8/26/1989)! He just missed the cut.
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Ben Margot/Associated Press
Regular-Season Minutes Played: 33,350
Postseason Minutes Played: 3,800
Father Time has not typically been kind to athletes of Chris Paul‘s size (6’0″, 175 lbs) and waning athleticism. As an elite-level one-on-one scorer and creator, he relies on strength and IQ to create separation at this stage of his career. Mileage and wear and tear have taken their toll, as CP3 has missed at least 21 games the past three seasons.
Paul’s decline has been undeniable, at least in terms of efficiency. His effective field-goal percentage of 50.8 was his lowest since 2010-11, his last in New Orleans. His point total was the second-lowest of his career, as he played second fiddle to James Harden. His playoff totals were even murkier.
But his effect on the floor keeps him in the upper echelon, as he ranked fourth in real plus-minus among point guards and 12th overall. Paul was also third in both steals per game and assists per game.
While his shooting touch may continue to regress, his overall on-court impact remains the same. When he plays, his team succeeds, and that should remain true in 2019-20 with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Regular-Season Minutes Played: 46,235
Postseason Minutes Played: 10,049
We wouldn’t question the King, right?
A more surprising plot twist in Space Jam 2 would have LeBron serving as the leader of the alien invasion rather than earth’s greatest hope. That’s because there is nothing human about racking up over 56,000 minutes in both regular and postseason play without suffering a noteworthy injury beyond last season’s strained left groin.
It’s possible that James could move into seventh all-time in regular-season minutes played in 2019-20, behind just Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd and Elvin Hayes.
Still, LeBron’s record-breaking chain chugs right along after he put together season averages of 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 55 games. No other player reached each of those totals.
Many will point to LeBron’s waning defensive effort as their largest point of contention, but LeBron still finished ninth in the NBA in real plus-minus.
LeBron’s days as the unquestioned King may soon be over, but there is no question that he will be a top-10 player in 2019-20.
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David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Regular-Season Minutes Played: 32,764
Postseason Minutes Played: 2,668
One of the more consistent and durable players in the NBA, LaMarcus Aldridge has played 55 games or more in each season since his career began in 2006-07 and has played 69 games or more every year since the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign.
He made his seventh All-Star team in 2019 after posting averages of 21.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and and 2.4 assists with a 52.2 eFG. Aldridge’s defensive rating did slip from 103.3 in 2017-18 all the way to 111.0 in 2018-19, by far the lowest of his career (106.8). This significant dip could be tied to the losses of Danny Green and Dejounte Murray but requires monitoring, nonetheless.
His BBall-Index impact scores showed his worth on both ends. Aldridge finished in the 94th percentile or better in points over expectation, play impact plus-minus, real plus-minus and regularized plus-minus.
It would be foolhardy to expect a major Aldridge regression in the 2019-20 season.
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Joe Murphy/Getty Images
Regular-Season Minutes Played: 26,781
Postseason Minutes Played: 2,984
Kyle Lowry’s numbers also dipped in 2018-19. His points per game (14.2) marked a seven-year low, and his eFG (51.8 percent) was its lowest since 2015-16.
However, he was second overall in assists per game (8.7) and fifth in real plus-minus among point guards (15th overall). At an increased workload (37.5 minutes per game), he was more productive in the playoffs, helping the Raptors claim the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
As Lowry approaches 30,000 minutes played, he’ll inevitably begin to decline, but he has several miles left and should have one payday left in him next summer.
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images
Regular-Season Minutes Played: 25,785
Postseason Minutes Played: 4,159
A large-bodied post player shouldn’t age this gracefully, but Al Horford enjoyed his most efficient season in his 12-year career in 2018-19. Horford shot above league average from beyond the arc (36.0 percent) on three attempts per game and finished with a 58.6 eFG on 10.6 field-goal attempts per game.
But his effectiveness goes beyond his modest 13.6 scoring average. Horford’s 4.43 real plus-minus ranked him seventh in the NBA among 4 and 5s as well as 18th overall.
And when the lights shone brightest, Horford stepped up to the plate, recording a plus-19.4 net-rating swing in last year’s playoffs. The Philadelphia 76ers