Commentary

For young teams, uncertain returns

The Heat, Bulls and Thunder are all young -- but that doesn't guarantee a future

Updated: May 23, 2011, 10:48 AM ET
By Kevin Pelton | Basketball Prospectus
Getty ImagesYou'd assume Durant and Rose will reach this stage many times. Is that really so likely?

Enjoying this year's conference finals? The good news is they might be a preview of things to come in both conferences. With the exception of the veteran Dallas Mavericks, the other three conference finalists could become fixtures this deep into the postseason. The Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder boast young superstars in Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant, while the Miami Heat will be contenders as long as Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade remain in their prime. Or at least we tend to assume. Reality can be far different.

But to begin, in terms of the youth movement, Oklahoma City, led by a pair of 22-year-old All-Stars in Durant and Russell Westbrook, is the prime example. The Thunder's core also includes 21-year-old second-year standouts James Harden and Serge Ibaka. In fact, the Thunder have just one player born in the 1970s (backup center Nazr Mohammed) in their rotation, which explains why they were the league's youngest team this season when weighed by minutes played, with an effective age of 24.4 years.