NBA's New Guard Gets Assist From Old Guard

Shaq and Steve Nash together couldn’t even make the playoffs, while the team that looks the best so far is led by LeBron James. Tim Duncan is gone, but Carmelo Anthony advances.

The times, they are a changin’ in the NBA.

Except, where would be “Melo be without 32-year-old Chauncey Billups. Would Rajon Rondo have developed into the confident point guard he is today, a leader on the Celtics, if he did not have tutors like Paul Pierce and Ray Allen around him to show him what it takes to really be a professional? Even LeBron has key veteran role players on his team —  Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Joe Smith — that have made the team what it is.

The times may not be changing so much as evolving.

Look at it this way: In the Western Conference, what starting point guards are in for the second round? Already in are Derek Fisher for the Lakers (age 34) Billups (32) and Jason Kidd (35). It’s not a coincidence that three of the four teams in the conference are led by veteran guys who have first hand knowledge of what it takes to advance. Meanwhile Chris Paul and Deron Williams go home early.

That is not to say that young teams cannot win, but really the best teams have a balance. Kind of like Miami a couple years ago, where they had the youth of Dwyane Wade and the veteran presence of Shaq in the paint. In the days of the salary cap NBA, you need young players who can step up to compete (read, guys who are not that expensive yet)

Maybe we are starting to see a changing of the guard in the NBA. But the old dogs still have a few tricks that the young pups need to learn.

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