Have you ever been watching a sporting event, saw a player and wondered how old that player was? Thanks to the magic of the internet, it only takes a few seconds to look up a player’s age and the results can be a bit surprising at times. There are players in sports out there that a lot of people assume are in their younger years because they were late bloomers or it simply doesn’t seem that they have been in the league that long if the age is higher than you thought it would be.
While baseball might lead the way in terms of sports where fans look up someone’s age and think “wow, I didn’t know he was that old,” Basketball is probably right behind it on the list. A lot of that has to do with the rules in place for rookies where you have to be one year removed from your high school graduation before you can be drafted in the NBA.
It used to be that you could go straight to the NBA out of high school, a rule that was changed a decade ago. There are still some players in the league that were drafted under the old eligibility rules that are now older than you might think.
Here, we have 15 current NBA players that are likely older than you thought they were. Whether it be a resurgence late in their careers, former high school and college standouts or those that have youthful personalities, these players are definitely hiding their age well.
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15 Trevor Ariza - 31
We start the list with a player that has an NBA ring, but you probably forgot all about it already. It seems that Trevor Ariza is so young because it wasn’t until the 2009-10 season that he started to step up his game, and he has scored at least 10.8 points per game in every season but one since then. A lot of people have forgotten that it took Ariza seven seasons in the league with minimal starting time before he finally got his opportunity to stand out more in Houston.
Ariza turns 31 years old at the end of June 2016 and he has already played with six different teams in his NBA career, including two stints with his current team, the Houston Rockets. As for his NBA championship, that came in 2009 when he was a member of the Lakers that started just 20 games and scored 8.9 points per game.
14 Pau Gasol - 35
A lot of people figured that Pau Gasol was already over 30 years old since it seems that he has been in the NBA forever, but did you know that he’s already 35 years old and turns 36 during the first week of July 2016? Yet, there is a still a market for the seven foot Spaniard that should have already faced a massive downturn in his production, but it just hasn’t happened. Even this past season with the Bulls, Gasol averaged 16.5 points and 11.0 rebounds per game in one of the quietest age 35 seasons in NBA history. He was so good, he even made the All Star game!
It’s hard to believe that Gasol joined the league in 2001 with the Memphis Grizzlies after coming over from FC Barcelona in his native country. Those that are new to the game probably have no clue that Gasol was selected third overall by the Atlanta Hawks that year and he was traded to Memphis for Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
13 James Jones - 35
One of the running jokes in the NBA is that James Jones simply cannot lose and it has a lot to do with the fact that he has followed LeBron James for several years. Jones has never been a star player, but he has only missed the playoffs once during his career. However, he has stood out as a member of playoff teams, particularly in Miami when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were reaching the NBA Finals every year.
Jones had some timely shooting during the playoffs and a lot of people just figured that Jones’s career started on South Beach. In reality, Jones was a second round draft pick out of Miami (FL) in 2003 by the Indiana Pacers. Jones played for two seasons there, then another two in Portland and one more in Phoenix. Then, Jones returned home and has been with LeBron ever since, winning three NBA titles and will be 36 when the 2016-17 season starts.
12 Bojan Bogdanovic - 27
In the 2014-15 season, Bojan Bogdanovic put together a solid campaign for the Brooklyn Nets by averaging 9.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, which allowed him to become a member of the All-Rookie Second Team in 2015. Bogdanovic followed it up with another solid season, improving on his numbers in 2015-16 with 11.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Some might think that the future looks very bright for Bogdanovic, but he has already hit his prime and is currently 27 years old.
Most would assume that Bogdanovic is younger since he has only played two seasons in the NBA, but he was actually the first pick of the second round by Miami in the 2011 NBA Draft. Bogdanovic instead opted to go to Turkey to play for Fenerbahce Ulker before finally making his NBA debut in 2014. The Yugoslavian will still have an impact for the Nets in the coming years, but not as many years as they could have gotten.
11 Pablo Prigioni - 39
Speaking of foreign born players that seemingly took forever to make it to the NBA, try this one on for size. Pablo Prigioni is an Argentine that spent much of his professional career playing in his home country and in Spain. Prigioni was eligible for the NBA Draft all the way back in 1999, but his name was never called. Since that time, Prigioni has played for teams that include Real Madrid and Caja Laboral.
The 2008 Spanish Supercup MVP who is now 39 years old finally reached the NBA in 2012 as a member of the New York Knicks, and was dealt to the Houston Rockets during the 2014-15 season. In the subsequent offseason, Prigioni was traded once again, this time to the Denver Nuggets. After being waived immediately, Prigioni signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, and is still a member of the team after scoring 2.5 points with 2.2 assists per game in 2015-16.
10 Carmelo Anthony - 32
A lot of talking heads around the NBA, and a lot of Knicks fans, are still referring to Carmelo Anthony as a guy that you can build your franchise’s future around. After hearing all of that chatter, you might look up how old he is and be shocked to find out that Melo is already 32 years old. That’s not a number that you want to hear, but it makes sense that he’s that old knowing that he has been to nine All-Star Games.
That age might actually be a little misleading, too. Anthony only spent one year in college at Syracuse (winning an NCAA Championship), so he has been in the NBA since 2003. That’s a lot of miles for a player that is consistently trying to take over 82 games per year. Whether he is still a long term fit for the Knicks remains to be seen, especially after trading for Derrick Rose.
9 Chris Paul - 31
Just like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul is another one of those players that is still considered someone that can have an entire franchise built around them. Also like Anthony, Paul is on the wrong side of 30 and turned 31 years old in May 2016. The similarities don’t end there as Paul has been to nine All-Star Games as well and has a massive slew of awards throughout his career on top of that.
Paul was selected fourth overall by the New Orleans Hornets all the way back in 2005 out of Wake Forest. Paul has been with the Clippers since 2011 and it seems his window might be on the verge of closing if he does not win an NBA title in the next couple of seasons. His production hasn’t dropped too much yet, as he averaged 19.5 points and 10.0 assists per game last season, both above his career average.
8 J.J. Redick - 32
Another Clipper that is older than you probably thought, J.J. Redick is one of those players that you just assume is young because his best days came while he was in college and it really wasn’t all that long ago. Redick was one of the most hated players in all of college basketball while he was at Duke and had his jersey number retired by the school. Redick spent all four years at Duke and was drafted 11th overall in 2006 by the Orlando Magic.
He spent a brief time in Milwaukee in 2013 and has been with the Clippers since the same year. Now at 32 years old, Redick’s age is a bit of a surprise, especially since he hasn’t been a big impact player since 2012-13. Redick will also be around for quite some time as he is mainly a perimeter shooter that doesn’t have the same mileage that a lot of other guys his age have, as playing four years in college helps with that.
7 David Lee - 33
Do you remember the summer of 2010? It was perhaps the biggest free agent class in NBA history as everyone was interested to see “The Decision” from LeBron James. Another player that teams and fans were hoping to see come to their franchise was David Lee. Lee had become a full time starter for the New York Knicks in the 2008-09 season and, during the 2009-10 season, he was putting up 20.2 points with 11.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
While not as highly televised as LeBron’s decision, Lee ended up with the Golden State Warriors and he was supposed to be their centerpiece moving forward. Though he was solid at the start, by the time the Warriors became the best team in the league, Lee was a bit of an afterthought. Lee is now a surprising 33 years old, as a lot of people don’t remember that he was drafted all the way back in 2005 out of Florida.
6 Dwight Howard - 30
Maybe it’s because a lot of people say things like Dwight Howard is just a kid and has a lot of growing up to do (yes, still to this day) that makes him seem so young. However, Howard is already 30 years old and he will be turning 31 during the early part of the 2016-17 season. Howard seems young because of his demeanor and the fact that he went to the NBA straight out of college, but it might come as a shock that he was the first overall pick back in 2004 (the year is the shocking part).
Howard has made eight All-Star Games, but doesn’t seem to be quite the player that he once was. After seven seasons with Orlando, Howard went to the Lakers for one tumultuous season and has been with the Rockets ever since. Now a free agent, Howard appears to be headed to the Knicks to play with Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony in what should be the best team of 2011.
5 LaMarcus Aldridge - 30
The biggest free agent of last year’s offseason, LaMarcus Aldridge made a huge splash when he signed with the San Antonio Spurs for four years and $84 million. While it was seen as a bit of youth movement for a team that had aging stars like Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, they were actually adding another player that would be on the wrong side of 30 years old within weeks of signing him.
In July of 2016, Aldridge will actually be 31 years old, so why does it seem like he is so much younger than that? Perhaps it’s because the former second overall pick (by the Bulls, mind you) in 2006 spent his career in Portland, a city that doesn’t get much basketball attention. Aldridge was huge in his contract year, scoring 23.4 points per game while hauling in 10.2 rebounds. These days, Aldridge is getting a lot more exposure.
4 LeBron James - 31
Alright, so you probably knew that LeBron James was already 31 years old and will be 32 early in the 2016-17 NBA season, but if you’re like me, you simply don’t want to admit it. For many of us, LeBron is seen as a timeless legend that will be remembered long, long after his NBA career has come to an end. It also seems like his age would be lower since he was drafted straight out of high school, but even that came back in 2003.
James has accomplished a lot at his age, with bringing Cleveland their first title in 2016 as the top accomplishment. There is still a lot more for James to accomplish, who has just as many NBA titles, more MVP Awards and more All-Star Games appearances than Michael Jordan did at the same age. If there’s one player that doesn’t seem like he will have a huge dropoff in the next five years despite being over 30, it’s LeBron.
3 Nick Young - 31
Casual NBA fans would definitely be surprised to learn that Nick Young is already 31 years old. Why is it such a surprise? Because there aren’t a lot of 30 somethings that call themselves “Swaggy P” and get engaged to 26 year old rappers. There is also the fact that seemingly nobody knew who Young was until he arrived in Los Angeles to play with the Lakers despite having his best years with the Wizards.
Young spent three seasons at USC and he was drafted 16th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Wizards. After five seasons there, Young spent the end of the 2011-12 season with the Clippers, then played one year for the 76ers before finally landing with the Lakers. Sadly, Swaggy P had his worst season in 2015-16 in terms of scoring, putting up just 7.3 points per game with 1.8 rebounds. Perhaps his personal life was getting the best of him.
2 Stephen Curry - 28
This isn’t a knock on those that are just starting to get into the NBA, but let’s face it, there are a lot of new viewers watching because of Stephen Curry. Curry’s past couple of seasons have been phenomenal and his 2015-16 campaign was one of the best offensive performances of all-time. People who had never watched an NBA game before were tuning in just to see the types of crazy shots that Curry was getting to hit from half court.
What might surprise those new viewers is that Curry is already 28 years old. For those that haven’t followed his career, Curry was a college standout at mid major Davidson and was the seventh overall pick in 2009. Curry started putting up big scoring numbers right away, but it wasn’t until 2013-14 that he started to find his rhythm and in 2015-16 he started scoring 30.1 per game.
1 Kyle Lowry - 30
Kyle Lowry was supposedly one of the best point guards coming out of high school in 2004 and spent just two seasons at Villanova. He was still a raw player and not projected to go very high, which is why he had to wait until the 24th pick in 2006 to hear the Grizzlies call his name. Hearing those years, you could probably guess that Lowry is already 30 years old, but a lot of people completely forget that part of Lowry’s career.
Lowry was riding the bench for much of his Memphis days since they already had Mike Conley Jr., so Lowry was dealt to the Rockets, where he would spend four seasons. Lowry had a decent impact, but it wasn’t until he arrived in Toronto that he became a star. Before joining Toronto in 2012-13, Lowry’s career high in scoring was 14.3 points per game. In the past three seasons, Lowry has been scoring at least 17.8 points per game and just hit 21.2 per game in 2015-16.
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