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What Should The Suns Expect from Kevin Durant at age 35?

Today is Kevin Durant’s birthday! He is now 35 years old. It is a very rare occurrence to be considered a top five to ten player in the NBA at that age. Durant is still one of the very best in this league. Will he continue to be one of the best? What does history say about great players at age 35?

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Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest player of all-time. He turned 35 during the 1997-98 season. His last season with the Chicago Bulls. Going into that season he already had five championships, four regular season Most Valuable Player awards, nine scoring titles, eight all-defensive team selections and 10 All-NBA team selections among so many other awards.

In that season he added another championship, another MVP, another scoring title, another all-defensive team selection, and was selected to one more All-NBA team. Jordan played all 82 games during the regular season. He averaged 28.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. He also shot 46% from the floor that season.

The former North Carolina Tar Heel was even better in the playoffs. He led the Bulls to their sixth championship. Jordan averaged 32.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 46% from the floor. The excellence shown by Jordan on both ends is perfectly captured in his last play as a Bull.

The awareness to recognize the play that the Utah Jazz were running, steal the ball away from Karl Malone. Which he follows up by hitting the game winning shot over Bryon Russell after he “guided” Russell away to create space. Jordan had one of the greatest seasons a 35 year old could ever ask for.

LeBron James

LeBron James turned 35 years of age during the 2019-20 season. This was the most unique season in NBA history as a global pandemic that was caused by Covid-19 started in 2020. James and the Los Angeles Lakers were one of the best teams in the NBA before the season took a hiatus for a few months. The NBA was able to finish the season in “The Bubble”.

During the regular season, James was amazing once again. He averaged 25.3 points, a league leading 10.3 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49% from the floor and 34% from three point range. James was selected to the All-NBA first team.

The all-time leading scorer in NBA history improved his numbers during the playoffs. James averaged 27.6 points, 8.8 assists, and 10.8 rebounds as he led the Lakers to the championship.

The power, speed, skill, and vision that has made LeBron James arguably the greatest player of all time was still there at age 35. There is an argument to be made that he had the best age 35 season ever.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held the all-time scoring record for almost 40 years. He was able to accumulate so many points due to his longevity and durability throughout his career. Jabbar turned 35 before the 1982-83 season. Unlike Michael Jordan and LeBron James, Jabbar was no longer putting up MVP type numbers but was still very productive. He averaged 21.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 58% from the floor. Which led to him being selected to the All-NBA second team.

In the playoffs Jabbar stepped up his game and averaged 27.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game. He helped lead the Lakers to the NBA Finals where they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was still one of the best players in the NBA when it matter the most even at 35, 36 years old.

Kevin Durant

Today, there are more and more players who are having longer careers. Not only are players like Kevin Durant and Steph Curry playing at age 35. There is no sign of them slowing down. Last season Durant had one of the most efficient seasons of all-time. He shot 56% from the floor, 40% from three, and just under 92% from the free throw line. Durant averaged 29.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game.

The issue is he only played in 47 games. The production should still be at the same level for Durant. The concern is how many games will he play. If Durant can play 65 games, he will be in the MVP discussion. If Durant is in the MVP discussion, that means the Suns are true championship contenders. Maybe Durant can have a season at age 35 that rivals the seasons that LeBron James and Michael Jordan had at that same age.

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