Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Age Is Just A Number (but this one is pretty impressive)

On the night Paul Pierce's third-quarter three moved him past Larry Bird on the Celtics, and the NBA's all-time scoring list, another number kept jumping off the page at me.

Kevin Garnett, whose playing time, knees and health have been more closely guarded in Boston the last five years thank Beyonce's room in the maternity ward (go ahead and Google it, crazy story), has played more minutes than any other Celtic through the first third of the season.

When people ask me about the wear and tear on Kevin Garnett, about the miles on those tires (listen, strange questions get asked in the line at Whole Foods, just trying to pick up some soy milk and Quinoa, dude), I never really cite his MVP 2004 season in which he played a staggering 4,015 minutes.  (more than the 3,465 combined career total of three of Charlotte’s starters tonight).  I instead look at the 6,000 minutes he played his final two years in Minnesota, for teams that didn’t come anywhere near the post-season.

One of the many reasons that later this year, Garnett will move into the top 10 in NBA history in minutes played.

Take a second, think about that.  Top 10.

Now, that problem was quickly corrected by Doc Rivers, who rode him to an MVP caliber season and a 66-16 record in 2008 by playing him a career low in minutes for any of his previous 12 years, including the 50-game lockout season of 1999.

But injuries to Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo have KG remarkably atop the Celtics’ minutes played list, three months from his 36th birthday.  It got me wondering (copyright, Carrie Bradshaw), he has to be the oldest player in the league leading his team, right?

He is, and it’s not that close.

Jason Terry is second (and only leads because of the injury to Dirk Nowitzki), born 16 months after KG.  Included is the entire list of players leading their teams in minutes played.  The median age? 27, over nine years younger than Garnett.  If Dirk passes Terry before Rondo or Pierce pass KG, Garnett will be more than two years older than the second man on the list.

John Wall, the youngest team leader, was born days after Garnett started high school in South Carolina.

Note a pretty consistent correlation between the age of the top-minutes-played player, and the team’s W-L record.  The older, the better.  Making the Sixers start, quarterbacked by easily the most overlooked young point in the NBA, Jrue Holiday, that much more impressive.

Kevin Garnett 5/19/76
Jason Terry 9/15/77
Kobe Bryant 8/23/78
Joe Johnson 6/29/81
Carlos Boozer 11/20/81
Tony Parker 5/17/82
Anderson Varejao 9/28/82
Tyson Chandler 10/2/82
Jarrett Jack 10/28/83
Marcin Gortat 2/17/84
Chris Bosh 3/24/84
Deron Williams 6/26/84
Marc Gasol 1/29/85
Paul Millsap 2/10/85
LaMarcus Aldridge 7/19/85
Monta Ellis 10/26/85
Dwight Howard 12/8/85
Kyle Lowry 3/25/86
Darren Collison 8/23/87
Gerald Henderson 12/9/87
Danilo Gallinari 8/8/88
Kevin Love 9/7/88
Kevin Durant 9/29/88
Blake Griffin3/16/89
DeMar DeRozan 8/7/89
Tyreke Evans 9/19/89
Brandon Jennings 9/23/89
Greg Monroe 6/4/90
Jrue Holiday 6/12/90
John Wall 9/6/90


  1. Strange, hadn't noticed he was playing so much after all that 5/5/5 talk to start the season. Hopefully it's a short-term thing, trying to right the ship early on, because he's looked cooked out there for some stretches.

    Wonder if the powers that be came to a conclusion to have Kevin out there as much as possible this season since it could be his last(either in Boston, or in his career)they'd get out of him.

    Great to see you posting frequently Sean, you're one of the good guys in sports around here and some of us don't catch as much C's on the radio as we'd like. Keep it up.

  2. Yes, but... Doc's still limiting everyone's minutes. KG is leading the team, but is just 70th in the league in minutes, and
    Anderson Varejao is the only team leader with less minutes played than KG.