Young bloods taking the league constantly make those good old fans nag and brag about how basketball was better back in the day, how youngsters have gone soft, and how all their idols would completely smash them if they were all in their prime.
On the other hand, unexperienced fans also make very valid points stating that basketball’s better and more exciting nowadays and with that kind of offensive skillsets, the new era would completely destroy the elders.
And one of the most beautiful things about the National Basketball Association is the fact that both basketball “schools” actually coexists instead of competing against each other, with veterans constantly mentoring the youngsters to help them reach their prime.
But, what if we could take the best young players in the league and face them against some of the best veterans in the Association, how would it go? How would they fare? Today, we’re going to pretend there’s a friendly matchup between the two eras and try to wonder how would it end like.
Note: For the youngsters, we’ve chosen players 21 and under, while the veterans are all 35 and over. Credit to the redditor biinroii01.
Point Guard: D’Angelo Russell (21)
There’s absolutely no doubt about D’Angelo Russell’s talent, but his NBA journey didn’t got off to the better of stars, struggling when getting the chance to run the offense and even getting in trouble with his teammates for his snitching on Nick Young.
Nonetheless, he’s a prime pace and space player and given the time to develop, he could blossom into a deadly off the ball scorer and a very capable playmaker, being the best 21 or younger point guard to lead this team. He will be a leader of the Brooklyn Nets, and we should expect more than 18 points per game.
Shooting Guard: Devin Booker (20)
Devin Booker’s offensive game is just beyond words and he can already torch the best defenses in the Association despite being one of the youngest players in the league, being able to put a lot of points on the scoreboard in a huge variety of ways.
Booker is a lock to be one of the league’s scoring champions at any point of his career, and with this kind of offensive repertoire, he just needs to upgrade his defensive skills and ball handling a bit to become a perennial All-Star.
Small Forward: Kelly Oubre (21)
Kelly Oubre hasn’t been able to show his full potential due to the great play that Otto Porter Jr. has displayed for the Washington Wizards since day one, but he’s still one of the best young players in the Association and a serious candidate for the Most Improved Player and 6th Player of the Year accolade.
Oubre is a great shooter that can create his own offense as well as being a standard defender with some room for upside. Given he playing time, he’s going to blossom as a deadly scorer, and he’s a great fit next to Booker for this team.
Power Forward: Myles Turner (21)
Now that Paul George’s finally gone, the Indiana Pacers are without any kind of doubt Myles Turner’s squad, and he’s poised to have a breakout season as one of the best two way big man in the Association.
Turner is already an elite shot blocker and a very good rim protector, and he keeps expanding his range and versatility, being able to play both at the four or the five and being able to lock down the best big men in the league when he's focused.
Center: Karl-Anthony Towns (21)
And finally, we get to the team’s captain: the big Karl-Anthony Towns, a future MVP that’s set to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves and end their playoff drought, improving on a yearly basis on his way to being the best young player in the league.
Towns game has no flaws whatsoever and he just keeps getting better and better by the day, so there’s absolutely no doubt that he’s the most suited guy for this work, combining both new era skills with that fundamental that made some people even think of him of a younger, better Tim Duncan.
Bench: Emmanuel Mudiay (21), Jamal Murray (20), Justise Winslow (21), Marquese Chriss (20), Thon Maker (20), Jahlil Okafor (21)
It gets kind of tricky now, with the team’s bench pretty much filled with unproven prospects that seem to be extremely talented but are yet to take the next step in their newborn careers, featuring a lot of interesting names in the frontcourt.
Emmanuel Mudiay can provide a lot of athleticism, speed and strength at the point, opening up space for shooters with his phrenetic ability to attack the rim and make the most of his strong physique.
Murray will provide an instant offensive spark off the bench with his incredible shooting and very nice handles, while Justise Winslow would handle defensive purposes in the wing thanks to his length and intelligence to read opposing passers.
When it comes to the big men, this team will have a nice problem trying to choose between Chriss, Maker and Okafor, with Jah being the best offensive choice but a huge defensive liability, having to be paired with Turner to make up for his flaws.
Point Guard: Tony Parker (35)
Tony Parker isn’t going to wow you with speed, athleticism or even scoring ability, but he has to be one of the smartest, most committed point guards in the history of the game, and who would be better to run a slow pace offense like this one?
Parker can still be quite crafty when getting into the lane and his floaters are just a beauty to watch, and considering he seems to have eyes on the back of his head, his going to give the youngsters a lot of headaches.
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade (35)
Some people say that the best shooting guard of the past decade wasn’t Kobe Bryant, but Dwyane Wade, and even though personally I don’t agree, they definitely have a case; as Wade’s the ultimate two-way shooting guard.
Wade can be a nightmare on defense and he’s an elite shot blocker for his position, as well as being able to completely crash opposing defenders when he takes off and just scrambles around them with his signature eurostep.
Small Forward: Vince Carter (40)
If you want explosiveness and athleticism at the small forward spot, you just have to call my man Vince Carter here, a guy that even at age 40 can still knock everybody off their feet and posterize the best defenders in the Association.
Carter seems to be ageless and hasn’t lost a bit of his speed and hops, so expect him to try and make a fool out of the young players with one of his signature tomahawks or reverse dunks, as well as providing a reliable scoring option from distance.
Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki (39)
Dirk Nowitzki, the Veteran’s captain, has managed to be still one of the most productive big men in the league and even though he’s not much of a defender, he’s still extremely smart when it comes to winning and maintaining his position against younger players.
Nowitzki still has that unblockable shot and his shooting stroke hasn’t changed a bit, and with Tony Parker and Wade opening space when attacking the lane, he’s going to have a lot of open looks to punish them from beyond the arc.
Center: Pau Gasol (37)
Pau Gasol is set to start at center for the veterans, taking young centers back to school with his crafty moves and ability to create his own offense even despite his size and his age, having outstanding ability to finish through contact.
Besides, Pau will be pretty much another point guard on the court for the veterans, being one of the best passing big men in the league that won’t hesitate to sacrifice a couple of points to find a better shot and make the offense flow.
Bench: Jose Calderon (36), Kyle Korver (36), Manu Ginobili (40), Richard Jefferson (37), Nene (35), Zach Randolph (36), Tyson Chandler (35)
The veterans featured a really balanced bench with guys that could all (except for Calderon) be starters on NBA teams this upcoming campaign, providing stroke from beyond the arc with a combined with a strong presence in the paint.
Calderon won’t see much playing time but he’s still a very good passer and a consistent shooter from beyond the arc, while Kyle Korver will be the team’s elite sniper if the veterans have to cut through a big deficit.
Ginobili would handle most of the playmaking duties while also lighting it up from beyond the arc, while Richard Jefferson would combine with Vince Carter with their constant baseline cuts to posterize the youngsters.
When it comes to rim protection, Tyson Chandler would take matters into his own hands, with both Nene and Zach Randolph creating a lot of second and third chances for his squad with his ability to dominate the offensive board.
If this one was a 7 game series, fresh legs would definitely play a huge factor and we’d have to lean towards the youngsters taking this one home, but as a one time only game, we’re afraid it’s not going to be that easy.
The young bloods would try to make the most of his speed and shooting stroke, while the veterans would be smart to slow down the pace and make their offense flow through extra passes on a San Antonio Spurs kind of way.
Booker and Towns would definitely have a feast, but the veterans would take defense up a notch during the second half to force a lot of mental breakdowns and avoidable mistakes by those unexperienced youngsters.
During the last passages of the game, this would be all veterans, with Carter making fans go nuts with a 360 breakaway dunk after a steal from D’Angelo Russell to take the veterans up by 12 points.
At the end of the matchup, with a 110-91 veterans victory, the youngsters wouldn’t even know what hit them and they will all just be waiting outside of the locker room for their idols to sign their jerseys, understanding how they all lasted that long in the Association.