As sports science helps athletes play long into their twilight years, there are more and more intriguing battles taking place between youth and experience, as young guns try to shunt their elders to the side lines.
Generally speaking, Father Time catches up with most athletes meaning there is a seamless changing of the guard, something often seen in the likes of the NFL, boxing or gymnastics.
However, there are some sports where players somewhat advanced in age seem to be able to combine unrivalled dedication to their craft with the knowledge that comes with experience, allowing them to play deep into the latter parts of their respective careers.
Basketball is one such sport, where legends stick around until someone has to scrape their bedraggled and spent bodies from the court. Other similar examples include tennis (how is Roger Federer still going?) and soccer, where strikers like Zlatan Ibrahimović appear to have ascended to the status of invincible demi-god.
The NBA certainly fits into this latter bracket, with old timers Lebron James and James Harden taking on young hot shot Giannis Antetokounmpo for the MVP crown.
Although the race for this year’s MVP title is already over, we look at which young stars are about to break into the elite league of MVP contenders as well as those veteran players who may as well just have MVP as their middle name.
Despite playing with knee supports and a hunchback that gets more pronounced by the week, it would still be very unwise for any sports bettor to think about backing against the great man to continue picking up those MVP gongs.
The legend, now plying his trade at the Lakers, narrowly lost out to Giannis Antetokounmpo last time out and may be about to suffer the same fate this time around. One thing is for sure though: no one likes facing up to King James in a one-on-one situation, because he still has the prowess to put the very best on the seat of their pants before dunking on them.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Is the Future No Matter What the Old Boy’s Club Do
This young Greek talent came from nowhere to lift the Milwaukee Bucks from being a middle of the road franchise to a team who strike fear into their opponents.
He sets himself apart by being every bit as effective on offense as he is on defense, where his league-leading rebounds continue to confound those who dare to critique his fledgling game.
There is no doubt that when the odds lines at major sportsbooks re-set for next year’s MVP battle, it will be his name topping the list of favorites.
James Harden Rolling Back the Years, Aged 31
He has been around for what seems like forever, so it is hard to think of James Harden – of the Houston Rockets – as only being 31-years-old.
Despite that being a battle weary 31, Harden has been playing better than ever in recent weeks and months, pouring in more points than both James and Antetokounmpo.
If he keeps such prolific scoring up next season, he could well be a good outside bet to claim his second MVP title.
Luka Doncic Continues to Justify the Hype
When this Slovenian wonder won the Euroleague’s version of the MVP title there were plenty of American pundits who did not think he would amount to much.
Since those early days he has never looked back, making those same experts eat their words every single time he plays.
If any of the three players mentioned above have a dip in form, there is no doubt that Doncic will be waiting to pick up the pieces in style.