“Young teams don’t win.”
It’s a platitude, but it’s typically true. Of the Sixers’ 29 games this season, 10 have been decided by five or fewer points. In those games, the Sixers are 4-6. In games decided by three points or fewer? 1-5. And when the Sixers lose those tight games, there are two typical go-to deflection responses: They have had the hardest schedule in the league, and they’re the league’s second-youngest team. The first part is true for now, but how accurate is the second one?
By straight-up roster construction, the Sixers were the league’s 2nd youngest team at the beginning of the season with an average age of 24.232 years*. But two of the players below that average - Nik Stuaskas and Jahlil Okafor - are gone and swapped for 30-year-old Trevor Booker, and they weren’t seeing the floor anyway. The team’s two youngest players - Furkan Korkmaz and Markelle Fultz - have so far seen a total of 108 minutes. The team’s second-leading minute-getter is 33 (J.J. Redick), their sixth is 29 (Jerryd Bayless), and their ninth is 30 (Amir Johnson). So they’re young in theory but not necessarily in practice. However, young people sit in favor of vets all over the league. So when this is all taken into account, how young are they?
A FanPost sent our way from our friends at Sactown Royalty made an attempt to contextualize the age of teams. Here’s the process:
I figured out what I call "Aged Minutes". Simply, I multiplied the ages of each player by the number of minutes that player has played for each team. Then I divided that number by the total number of minutes played for that team. The resulting statistic would be a rough "Average Age" or "Effective Age" for each minute played for each team. By this criteria, the Kings are the 14th oldest team in the league.
By weighing the team’s age with minutes played, everything is shaken up. Using that criteria, the Sixers are actually the league’s eighth youngest team, not second. Basically grandpas. Instead of an average age of 24.232 years old, the team’s weighted age is 25.576 years**. The difference doesn’t seem huge, but when calculated out, it’s roughly 491 days. That’s a measurable gap.
For extra context: The 2015-2016 Warriors are the 8th youngest team - average weighted age near 27 - to ever win an NBA title. No other team in the top-10 won a championship past 1980. The average weighted age of an NBA Championship team is 28.234 years.
Obviously, the biggest factor here is Markelle Fultz. The team was expecting to see an enormous sum of minutes from the league’s 3rd-youngest player. Instead, they’ve had 76. Keeping the average number down, of course, are Ben Simmons (21), Joel Embiid (23), Dario Saric (23), and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (22).
Youth and inexperience aren’t necessarily the same thing, but when it comes to playing as a team and a unit, the latter seems to be hurting them more than the former.
*From today, 24.232 years ago is September 25th, 1993, the day after Dazed and Confused and The Good Son were released in theaters. Four days before, Nirvana released In Utero.
**From today, 25.576 days ago May 22, 1992, the day Alien 3 and Encino Man were released in theaters. The #1 song in the country was “Save the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams.