Los Angeles Lakers

Are the Los Angeles Lakers too old to win the 2021-22 NBA title?

Much has been made about the Los Angeles Lakers roster heading into the 2021-22 season. The oldest team in the NBA by average age, many are speculating whether the team with have the capability to last an 82-game schedule plus a playoff run.

Of course, LeBron has heard those questions and responded via social media as has become customary around this time of year. Does age really matter when it comes to contending for a championship?

Let's break it down.

2021-22 oldest teams by average age (via Real GM)

Team Average age
Los Angeles Lakers 30.9
Miami Heat 28.8
Brooklyn Nets 28.0
Milwaukee Bucks 27.9
Utah Jazz 27.9
League Average 26.2

While age is often used in a negative context, it's also true that championship contenders usually fall at or near the top of the pile when it comes to the most experienced rosters.

LeBron and the Lakers top the list of currently constructed rosters, while the Miami Heat come in second after adding veterans Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker this offseason.

The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks are tied for fourth, despite moving on from Tucker and adding some younger players including Semi Ojeleye and Grayson Allen.

If this version of the Lakers were to win the title, how would they stack up among recent championship-winning squads?

Oldest championship-winning rosters since 2005-06 (via Real GM)

Team Average Age
Miami Heat 2012-13 31.2
San Antonio Spurs 2006-07 29.6
Cleveland Cavaliers 2015-16 29.5
Dallas Mavericks 2010-11 29.4
Los Angeles Lakers 2019-20 29.1
Average 28.5

By the end of the 2022 season, the Lakers could well end up on par with the 2013 Miami Heat as the oldest champions of the last 17 seasons.

Entering a season with an older roster is not exactly a new thing for LeBron, with three of the five oldest championship rosters in that period including his name. Dallas in 2011 and San Antonio in 2007 were the other two squads and of course, both those rosters took down James on their way to the crown.

It shouldn't exactly come as a surprise that the Lakers will be on the older side of the ledger given the long history of veteran role players scrambling to play with the 4-time champion.

Rather than the average age, it might simply be more relevant to look at the age of the best player on a championship-winning roster so let's assume James would be the Finals MVP of the 2022 NBA Finals. He will be 37 years old come June, which would make him the second-oldest winner of the award behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who was 38 in 1985.

MORE: Projecting the Lakers depth chart for 2021-22

It's no surprise the Lakers were able to win the Championship in 2020 with a healthy and fresh James leading the way. Missing 27 games in 2019 and 2021, injuries have bitten the Lakers superstar in recent seasons. You can certainly make the case that the pandemic interrupted 2020 season and the ensuing months off prior to the bubble postseason benefitted James and the Lakers on their path to the title.

For so long the iron man of the league, there's no question the Lakers' title hopes cling to the health of LeBron James. Of course, the availability and contributions of key rotation players Russell Westbrook, Marc Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, Wesley Matthews, Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard will matter. Yes, they are all well into their thirties but it will always come back to LeBron and often injured fellow star Anthony Davis.

If they are to win the title it will be a remarkable achievement. Certainly more unlikely than the 2013 Heat, who had their average age propped up by a veteran-heavy bench. In that season LeBron was just 28 and in his prime alongside Chris Bosh.

Can he do it again nearly a decade later? You would be foolish to rule it out but it looks like a tall mountain to climb.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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