Really interesting read in ESPN insider regarding how long the high school to pro guys are going to be able to play.
Because they started so young they SOUND young even after 10 years in the league. But there is significant evidence and the belief of several team management people that it's not age that matter, but the number of games played. That there are only so many games in an NBA players body and it matters less the biological age that the miles on the meter. The grind of the long season, the travel and practice and playing through injuries all add up and take a large toll.
There's is a long list of HS'ers that were very good players and then faded badly as the miles mounted on their bodies at very Young (comparatively) ages (30ish). TMac is one of the prime examples. From dominant to irrelevant at an awfully young age. Bodies breaking down from the grind and the beating they take in the NBA as teenagers not yet totally developed physically. Pretty good list of high schoolers who's NBA careers ended early due to injury or general physical developmental problem, like Benders knee problems. Will be interesting to see what happens with Labron as he was so advanced physically for his age.
Also, most of the high schoolers were physical specimens that were often skywalkers that played above the rim. You are going to get hurt more when you are that far off the ground. The falls are harder.
The thinking is the 4 college years are critical in physical development in athletics. That the college games 35 game schedule and easier practice etc don't accumulate nearly the wear and tear that a 100 game NBA season does. (what a shock)
So that the 4 year guys SHOULD end up playing to an older chronological age and with some exceptions, they do.
In particular, Kobe has played 13 years in the league already though he's only 31. Most people look at his age and assume he's got another 5 good years in him. That Could be way off. He's already played more games than John Havlicek played in his career. Oscar Robertson. Jerry West. Guys that were around FOREVER it seemed.
Lebron has already played around (I think) 250 more games at the same age as Michael Jordan played. So even though he's only 25, he's got a lot of miles on the odometer.