June 25, 2019

Hey, 19, it’s Luka: 2019 player rankings

Luka Doncic won the NBA Rookie of the Year award last night at the NBA Awards — an anticlimactic made-for-television event that most fans don’t care about because they are thinking about Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and free agency and not trophies for the regular season, which ended more than two months ago.

Doncic’s award was the most anticlimactic. The Mavericks polymath — who averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists last season — received 98 of 100 first-place votes.

Even more impressive: Doncic might be the best 19-year-old in NBA history.

He is at least on the short list with Dwight Howard (2004-05), Anthony Davis (2012-13), Jayson Tatum (2017-18), LeBron James (2003-04) and Kyrie Irving (2011-12). Doncic turned 20 on Feb. 28, but a player’s age is his age on Feb. 1, per Basketball-Reference.

Among 19-year-olds who played at least 1,500 minutes, Doncic is the all-time leader in Box Plus/Minus, well ahead of Irving. Using the same criteria, he is third all-time in Player Efficiency Rating, behind Davis and Irving and just head of Marvin Bagley (2018-19). He is just seventh in win shares, right behind LeBron, partly because the Mavericks were 33-49.

Those numbers project Doncic to be a multi-time All-Star with a shot at becoming a superstar in the LeBron James-Anthony Davis range.

One caveat: Doncic is not the best 19-year-old in the history of American professional basketball. That is still Moses Malone, who averaged 18.8 points and 14.6 rebounds for the Utah Stars in 1974-75. In the ABA.

Another thing: Zion Williamson will be 19 in 11 days.
— Kevin Brewer

My annual player rankings — the (roughly) top 50 players in the league sorted by age — based only on last season, including the playoffs. …


Age 19 | 1. Luka Doncic, Mavericks

Age 20 | 1. Jarrett Allen, Nets.  2. Mitchell Robinson, Knicks.  3. Deandre Ayton, Suns.  4. Jayson Tatum, Celtics.

The Celtics have not acquired Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis because of the supposed future greatness of Jayson Tatum.

Age 21 | 1. Bam Adebayo, Heat.  2. John Collins, Hawks.  3. De’Aaron Fox, Kings.  4. Thomas Bryant, Wizards.  5. Jamal Murray, Nuggets.

Three Kentucky players.

Established talent, with free agents highlighted:

Age 22 | 1. Ben Simmons, 76ers.  2. Domantas Sabonis, Pacers.  3. D’Angelo Russell, free agent (restricted)

Sabonis and Russell enter the rankings. Donovan Mitchell exits.

Age 23 | 1. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets.  2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves.

Jokic is six months older than Towns.

Age 24 | 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks.  2. Joel Embiid, 76ers.  3. Pascal Siakam, Raptors.  4. Clint Capela, Rockets.  5. Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers.

Siakam should be an All-NBA player next season. Nurkic broke his left leg in March. His return is uncertain.

Age 25 | 1. Anthony Davis, Lakers.  2. Bradley Beal, Wizards.  3. Andre Drummond, Pistons.  4. Montrezl Harrell, Clippers.  5. Steve Adams, Thunder.

Great story by Kelly Dwyer about when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was traded to the Lakers. His situation was not so different than that of Davis.

Age 26 | 1. Rudy Gobert, Jazz.  2. Kyrie Irving, free agent.  3. Tobias Harris, free agent.

Gobert won his second Defensive Player of the Year award.

Age 27 | 1. Kawhi Leonard, free agent.  2. Derrick Favors, Jazz.  3. Khris Middleton, free agent.  4. Dwight Powell, Mavericks.

Yes, Dwight Powell.

Age 28 | 1. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers.  2. Paul George, Thunder.   3. Nikola Vucevic, Magic.  4. Kemba Walker, free agent.  5. Draymond Green, Warriors.  6. Klay Thompson, free agent.  7. Jrue Holiday, Pelicans.

Green will be entering a contract season.

Age 29 | 1. James Harden, Rockets.  2. Jimmy Butler, free agent.  3. Blake Griffin, Pistons.  4. Eric Bledsoe, Bucks.

Harden: DNS (did not show) for last night’s awards.

Age 30 | 1. Stephen Curry, Warriors.  2. Kevin Durant, free agent.  3. Russell Westbrook, Thunder.  4. Danilo Gallinari, Clippers.  5. Brook Lopez, free agent.  6. Thaddeus Young, Pacers.

A good starting five, with Durant taking a redshirt season.

Age 31 | 1. Mike Conley, Jazz

The Jazz are NBA Finals contenders.

Age 32 | 1. Kyle Lowry, Raptors.  2. Al Horford, free agent.

Glue guys. Indispensable. Every season.

Age 33 | 1. LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs.  2. Chris Paul, Rockets (58 games).

Big contracts. No titles.

Age 34 | 1. LeBron James, Lakers.  2. Marc Gasol, Raptors.

LeBron turns 35 on Dec. 30, the age when many players decline.

Old players, a complete list:

Age 35 | 1. Andre Iguodala, Warriors.  2. Devin Harris, Mavericks.  4. Channing Frye, Cavaliers (36 games).

Age 36 | 1. Tyson Chandler, Lakers (55 games).  2. Nene, Rockets (42 games).  3. Tony Parker, retired (56 games).

Age 37 | 1. Dwyane Wade, retired.  2. Kyle Korver, Grizzlies.  3. Jose Calderon, Pistons (49 games).

Age 38 | 1. Pau Gasol, Bucks (30 games).  2. Jamal Crawford, Suns.  3. Udonis Haslem, Heat (10 games).

Age 39 | none

Age 40 | Dirk Nowitzki, retired

Age 41 | none

Age 42 | Vince Carter, free agent

The best 42-year-old of all time. The three others: Robert Parish, Dikembe Mutombo and Kevin Willis.

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