Envisioning Damian Lillard trades
David Thorpe and Henry Abbott imagine possibilities
BY HENRY ABBOTT
TrueHoop is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
A little over a year ago, as Damian Lillard rested and the Blazers tanked, I talked to a smart longtime NBA GM whose advice to the Blazers was “the next time he drops a 60-ball, trade him the next day.” It’s hard, very hard, to be an older NBA player at an athletic position. A little while ago I dug into the numbers and found that most NBA players simply don’t make it into their 30s. At the time I counted it up, less than one percent of the NBA was both 33 or older and elite.
By the rough-and-ready criteria we used, non-centers have had 283 elite NBA seasons since 1979. Only six players over the last 42 years have played at that level while over the age of 35: LeBron James (twice), Karl Malone (three times), John Stockton (six times), Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Dirk Nowitzki.