King James is right: The Timberwolves are old – but also good


LeBron James brought to light the fact that the Timberwolves are no longer a “young” team. But, just how “old” are they?

In Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James’  pregame interview, he corrected the media for calling the Minnesota Timberwolves ‘young’. He went on to extol the benefits of veterans Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford for moving the team in the right direction.

(King James also acknowledged that the Wolves have a few young players like “Tyler Jones”, meaning Tyus Jones, of course. Jim Peterson and the Fox Sports North crew pointed out LeBron’s verbal blunder during the broadcast.)

When the lights came on, James first blocked a layup attempt from Jones in the open floor. But shortly thereafter, Jimmy Butler grabbed a second quarter steal and passed the ball to Tyus Jones, who beat King James down the court for a slam-dunk. Tyus Jones ensured LeBron will remember his name regardless of his age in the future.

At 20 years of age, Tyus is the youngest player on the Timberwolves. Jamal Crawford, of course, is the oldest at 37. And both players are significant contributors to the team nearly every game.

This season, the Wolves’ average age is 26.7, which make them the seventh-oldest team in the league.

Jim Oxley of Hero Sports wrote an article earlier this season discussing NBA Oldest and Youngest teams. Cleveland, San Antonio, Golden State, Houston, Dallas, and New Orleans are all older than the Wolves and ranked No. 1 through No. 6. The Thunder, Jazz, and Clippers fill out the top-ten most-veteran rosters in the league.

As the above rankings prove, the Cavs are the only non-Western Conference team in the top-third of the NBA for veteran leadership. Overall, we can expect nine of the teams in the top-ten to make the playoffs, and the Warriors, Cavs, Spurs, and Rockets are all Vegas odds leaders for winning the championship. On the flip-side, the Mavericks are unlikely to make the playoffs with a record of 13-28.

The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics are in the bottom quarter of the league in age, and the second-place Toronto Raptors are in the bottom third.

The average age of the last 10 NBA champions is 28.7. The 2013 Miami Heat are the oldest at 30.8 years and 2009 Lakers, at 26.3, are the youngest. For comparison’s sake, the 2017-18 Timberwolves average age is two years younger than the average age of championship-winning teams over the last ten years.

The Wolves’ 2016-17 team average age was 25.7, while this season is 26.7 – just a one year increase. King James is correct in that the Wolves have become older, but it’s not all that significant of a change. More importantly, they’ve replaced less-effective older players with more dominant players.

The Timberwolves’ oldest players last season were John Lucas III (34), Brandon Rush, (31) and Jordan Hill (29). Rush was the most significant contributor, but he did not come close to performing at the same level as Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson or Jamal Crawford. Lucas and Hill rarely made it off the bench. Plus, none of the three oldest Timberwolves players last season are playing in the NBA so far this season which speaks to their effectiveness.

Yes, the Wolves are older, but more importantly, they’ve added veterans that can dominate and contribute as the 127-99 victory over the Cavaliers punctuated on Monday night.

Next: Timberwolves mid-season report card

Next time out, Tyus Jones just might take a few minutes and provide King James an update on the Timberwolves names and ages so he’ll be ready to play.