The NBA is full of young guys who are yet to hit their thirties, and also veterans who are approaching their twilight years as NBA superstars. This begs the question: which crop of talent is better?
NBA legends such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant are all over thirty years old, while younger superstar players like Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo feel that they are ready to finally take over the reign as the best players in the world. But have they supersede the likes of James and Durant? Are the sub-thirty-year-olds better than the veterans?
In the Battle of the Ages, here is who comes out on top.
Point Guard: Stephen Curry (31) vs. Damian Lillard (29)
This is a matchup summed up in one word: shooting. Curry and Lillard will take it in their strides to dominate from deep, and leave the opposing teams as demoralized as possible. Both players can get hot from deep and can extend their range to nearly half-court. Expect to see both players nail multiple long-range shots in an effort to boost their team to victory.
It will be fun to see when both players get going, which one can keep it up for longer without it being a detriment to their team during this massive game.
Shooting Guard: James Harden (30) vs. Luka Doncic (20)
Doncic will do his thing offensively, mainly because Harden has little to no interest in staying in front of anybody. Doncic will, therefore, find himself open a few times over the course of the game, and also have his way attacking the basket. He will most likely put up his solid numbers and show everyone why he is one of the most exciting young players we have seen in a very long time.
On the other end, Harden will be a force. He will have no problem scoring on Luka, who simply doesn’t have the tools to be in his way. Harden will likely lead his team in scoring while also finding guys for open looks all night long. James Harden will look at this game and this matchup as a moment to showcase where he stands among the NBAs best.
Small Forward: LeBron James (35) vs. Kawhi Leonard (28)
This is the ultimate matchup since both players are NBA Champions and Finals MVPs with the strongest cases for being the number one player in the world. James is in his final years in the NBA and is easily regarded as one of the all-time greats. His consistency, playmaking, leadership, and ability to affect the entire game will give his team the best fighting chance to win the game.
Kawhi will want to prove that this matchup is indeed a rivalry and that he is the best two-way player in the game. Leonard will enjoy defending James and take turns guarding Giannis as well. Kawhi will be the leader on the floor for his team, albeit relatively non-vocal, and will do all the lite things right to give his team a great shot to defeat James and his team.
Power Forward: Kevin Durant (31) vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo (25)
This is a matchup of lanky, ultra-talented, unstoppable scoring machines. Durant will prefer to do his damage on the outside, using his dribbling skills and length to create any shot he wants at any moment. Giannis will prefer to take it inside, using his body to shield the ball and try to score against Durant every time down the floor.
While it may seem that both players will have their way on the offensive end, there will actually be very good defense played in this matchup. In fact, this might be the most difficult matchup for both players since Giannis will keep in Durant’s grill without letting him get easy shots. Similarly, KD will use his length and defensive awareness to block a few shots around the basket and make it as difficult as possible for Giannis to score.
Center: Dwight Howard (34) vs. Anthony Davis (26)
34-year old Dwight Howard will have to do his best to maintain Davis and his scoring from the perimeter and around the basket. That will be his single job in this game, along with being active on the boards and rebounding at a high level. Dwight will use his size and experience to make life as difficult as possible for AD while watching out for lobs on the other end.
Davis will be key to his team, mainly because he can score in every way possible. He does not have a weakness offensively, and he does this despite being a full-sized center. Davis will most probably be one of the scoring leaders on the team, and will also be the primary pain protector when guys like Harden and Curry attack off the dribble. This is a matchup that consists solely of Anthony Davis and his ability to score.
This game will be incredibly fun to watch. It will be all-offense, as there is simply too much-scoring talent to fit in one game. It will remain closed for the first half, although the veterans will manage to hold on a lead in the mid-third quarter and stay with it until the end of the game. The younger cast of superstars will eventually make a run in the fourth, cutting the score to only 5 points, but the veterans will remain focused and calm to deliver the final blows to put the game away in their favor.
The first quarter will be all-offense, as both teams will be trying to get in the zone in terms of defensive awareness. Everyone will share the wealth on both teams, and the first quarter ends 40-38 in favor of the veterans. The second quarter starts to slow down a bit, with Luka manning the point guard position for most of the quarter while Lillard runs off screens. On the other end, Harden will have playmaking duties and Curry will be the one running off screens set by Howard and James.
The highlight of the quarter will be a Curry vs. Lillard three-point contest over a span of 5 minutes. Lillard will start it off with a deep three right in Curry’s face, to which Curry responds immediately with a three of his own. A few possessions later, Lillard runs off a screen and drains another. Curry has no hesitation and lets it fly on the following possession much to the delight of the crowd. Both players will nail a few threes over the course of a few minutes, with both players finishing 4-5 from the three in the quarter.
At the end of the first half, the score will be tied at 70. The third quarter will be completely controlled by a team veteran. LeBron James, having a relatively quiet first half, will assume ball-handling responsibilities and find guys for easy shots throughout the quarter. James will finish with 7 assists in the quarter, which will prove to be key as they would hold onto a lead for the rest of the game. KD, Harden, and Curry will all have solid quarters shooting over 44%. Howard will do his diligence in setting picks and being the man doing the dirty work while James leads the charge. Giannis finds his rhythm attacking the basket, finishing with 10 points in the quarter, but the veterans will lead it 95-90.
In the fourth quarter, James will continue to control the pace of the game. Up until the five-minute mark, Leonard will get hot and bring his team back within four points. Leonard will be the best player in the quarter, but the veterans will have just enough to defeat the younger stars with a scoreline of 122-115.
Final Score: Veterans Win 122-115.