October 17, 2017

2000s: The best NBA players by decade by position

2015/06/09 7:48 am 1320 1 comment

best nba players of 2000s

If you hate the Los Angeles Lakers and dislike the San Antonio Spurs, then you must have suffered greatly in the 2000s.

Those two teams dominated the NBA Finals during that decade; the Spurs and Lakers appeared in 9 of the 10 NBA Finals in the 2000s; taking home seven championship trophies between them. That got us thinking about who were the top players by position from each decade? You know an All-Decade NBA Team for the 2000s.

We created this team not based on the player’s entire career but just want they accomplished during that specific decade. We admit that this list favors players that started their careers at the beginning or later in the decade than those that had rookie seasons in years that ended with a -4 or -5, still this was a fun little post to put together.

Without further delay, here’s the best players by position during the first decade of the new millenium.

NBA ALL-DECADE (2000s) FIRST TEAM

PG:Allen Iverson


best players of 2000s iverson

SEASONS ROY TITLES ALL-STAR MVP NBA NBA2 NBA3
10 YES 0 10 1 2 3 1

A somewhat easy choice, Allen Iverson was the poster child for the NBA in the 2000s. He played in 11 consecutive all-star games in his career and all ten of the games during that decade. Outside of his rookie campaign, Iverson received the bulk of his honors and awards in the 2000s from his only MVP, three of his scoring titles (2001–2002, 2005) to seven of his All-NBA selections. In many ways, Iverson was the definitive player of the NBA in the 2000s. Here’s what Iverson accomplished from 2000-2009:

1x NBA Most Valuable Player (2001)
11× NBA All-Star (2000–2009)
2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2001, 2005)
2× All-NBA First Team (2001, 2005)
3× All-NBA Second Team (2000, 2002–2003)
1x All-NBA Third Team (2006)
3× NBA steals leader (2001–2003)

SG: Kobe Bryant


best players of 2000s kobe

SEASONS ROY TITLES ALL-STAR MVP NBA NBA2 NBA3
10 NO 4 10 1 7 2 1

Easy pick. It’s Kobe Bryant as the shooting guard of this decade. After struggling to find his niche in the late 1990’s, Kobe came into his own in the following decade dominating the position for the majority of the decade; winning championships, playing in all 10 All-Star Games and All-NBA from 2000-2009:

4× NBA champion (2000–2002, 2009)
1× NBA Finals MVP (2009)
1x NBA Most Valuable Player (2008)
10× NBA All-Star (2000–2009)
3× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009)
7× All-NBA First Team (2002–2004, 2006–2009)
2× All-NBA Second Team (2000–2001)
1× All-NBA Third Team (2005)
8× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000, 2003–2004, 2006–2009)
2× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2001–2002)
2× NBA scoring champion (2006–2007)

SF: LeBron James


best players of 2000s lebron

SEASONS ROY TITLES ALL-STAR MVP NBA NBA2 NBA3
6 YES 0 5 1 3 2 0

If the 2000s were strongest in the power forward position, then the weakest position may have been the small forward position. With no clear force that ruled these ten years, the relative star power of the candidates also paled in comparison to their teammates. That’s not to say that LeBron James isn’t good (of course), we’re just saying the LeBron James of 2009 wasn’t nearly in the class as the veteran heavyweights around him… YET.

Still, a young James was good enough. Though he wasn’t as physically opposing as he was in later years, he won the first of his four MVPs at the end of that decade, was selected as an NBA All-Star and an All-NBA performer from his second year on, as well as leading the league in scoring in 2008. The precocious LeBron also was the youngest player to record a triple-double and to be named to an All-NBA Team.

1× NBA Most Valuable Player (2009)
5× NBA All-Star (2005–2009)
2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2006, 2008)
3× All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008-2009)
2× All-NBA Second Team (2005, 2007)
1× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2009)
NBA Rookie of the Year (2004)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004)
NBA scoring champion (2008)

PF: Tim Duncan


SEASONS ROY TITLES ALL-STAR MVP NBA NBA2 NBA3
10 YES 3 10 0 6 3 0

This was by far the most difficult position to choose from due in part to the strong representation of power forwards that were left off this list. What hasn’t been said about Tim Duncan already? He just gets it done and this decade was when Duncan captured the bulk of his championships and honored as the league’s MVP in consecutive years (2002 and 2003), made an All-Defensive Team every year as well as playing in every All-Star game during the 2000s.

3× NBA champion (2003, 2005, 2007)
2× NBA Finals MVP (2003, 2005)
2× NBA Most Valuable Player (2002–2003)
10× NBA All-Star (2000–2009)
NBA All-Star Game MVP (2000)
6× All-NBA First Team (2000-2005, 2007)
3× All-NBA Second Team (2006, 2008–2009)
7× All-Defensive First Team (2000–2003, 2005, 2007–2008)
3× All-Defensive Second Team (2004, 2006, 2009)
USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (2003)
Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (2003)

C: Shaquille O’Neal


best players of 2000s shaq

SEASONS ROY TITLES ALL-STAR MVP NBA NBA2 NBA3
10 4 9 1 7 0 1

Shaquille O’Neal without a doubt was the pivot player of the decade; winning four NBA Championships as an unstoppable force in the middle. Not just that, but Shaq received a boat load of MVP’s during the 2000s: A regular season MVP, Finals MVP three times and was named the MVP of the All-Star Game thrice.

4× NBA champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006)
3× NBA Finals MVP (2000–2002)
1x NBA Most Valuable Player (2000)
9× NBA All-Star (2000–2007, 2009)
3× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2000, 2004, 2009)
7× All-NBA First Team (2000–2006)
1× All-NBA Third Team (2009)
3× All-Defensive Second Team (2000–2001, 2003)
1× NBA scoring champion (2000)

Discuss the 2000s All-NBA Team in our forum

NBA ALL-DECADE (2000s) SECOND TEAM

 

PG: Steve Nash


best players of 2000s nash

SEASONS ROY TITLES ALL-STAR MVP NBA NBA2 NBA3
10 NO 0 7 2 3 1 2

There was a brief moment that I weighed choosing Steve Nash for the first team over Iverson, but only for a second. Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd were great point guards in the 2000s but Nash made the Mavs and the Suns run, literally. Add that Nash won two league MVPs during that span, no matter how questionable and the led the league in assists three times during the decade.

2× NBA Most Valuable Player (2005, 2006)
6x NBA All-Star (2002–2003, 2005–2008)
3× All-NBA First Team (2005–2007)
1× All-NBA Second Team (2008)
2× All-NBA Third Team (2002–2003)
1x NBA Skills Challenge champion (2005)
3× NBA assists leader (2005–2007)
4× 50–40–90 club (2006, 2008–2009)
J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2007)

SG: Dwyane Wade


best players of 2000s dwyanewade
SEASONS ROY TITLES ALL-STAR MVP NBA NBA2 NBA3
6 NO 1 5 0 1 2 1

This was a tough one between Dwyane Wade or Vince Carter based on reputation… until I looked deeper into both player’s accomplishments. You would think that Carter, who came into the league in 1998, would have the edge over Wade, who only came into the league in 2004. Carter may have scored more points and had an earlier start, but Wade finished the decade by doing about as much as you can expect from a younger player; including leading his Miami Heat team to an NBA championship.

1× NBA champion (2006)
1x NBA Finals MVP (2006)
5× NBA All-Star (2005-2009)
1× All-NBA First Team (2009)
2× All-NBA Second Team (2005–2006)
1× All-NBA Third Team (2007)
2× All-Defensive Second Team (2005, 2009)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004)
NBA scoring champion (2009)
2× NBA Skills Challenge champion (2006–2007)

SF: Tracy McGrady


best players of 2000s tmac

SEASONS ROY TITLES ALL-STAR MVP NBA NBA2 NBA3
10 NO 0 7 0 3 2 2

In a toss up between a similar players; one with a championship and a player without, I usually will go with the one with the ring. This one came down to T-Mac’s ability to completely dominating ability to score the ball. Tracy McGrady looked unstoppable for a good 3-4 year stretch as he captured the scoring title in 2003 and 2004. He averaged over 24.4 points for seven straight seasons and looked like the next coming. Yes, Pierce pulled a championship, but on this particular match-up, McGrady’s personal accolades simply outweighed the Truth’s during that decade.

7× NBA All-Star (2001–2007)
2× All-NBA First Team (2002–2003)
3× All-NBA Second Team (2001, 2004, 2007)
2× All-NBA Third Team (2005, 2008)
2× NBA scoring champion (2003–2004)
NBA Most Improved Player (2001)

PF: Kevin Garnett


best players of 2000s KG

SEASONS ROY TITLES ALL-STAR MVP NBA NBA2 NBA3
10 NO 1 10 1 4 3 1

Take a minute to look at Kevin Garnett‘s decade below. I’ll wait. It’s unbelievable that he’s considered second-best (and even crazier to think that Nowitzki is third). His placement on this team is no knock on Garnett, who practically covered every base one could ask for from their power forward (seriously, look again), but Tim Duncan simply outdid Garnett in enough categories and awards to be the unquestioned first teamer.

NBA champion (2008)
NBA Most Valuable Player (2004)
10× NBA All-Star (2000–2009)
NBA All-Star Game MVP (2003)
4× All-NBA First Team (2000, 2003–2004, 2008)
3× All-NBA Second Team (2001–2002, 2005)
1× All-NBA Third Team (2007)
1x NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2008)
8× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000–2005, 2008–2009)
2× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2006–2007)
J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2006)
4× NBA rebounding champion (2004–2007)

C: Ben Wallace


best players of 2000s benwallace

SEASONS ROY TITLES ALL-STAR MVP NBA NBA2 NBA3
10 NO 1 4 0 0 3 2

Listen, I like defense and role players as much as the next guy, but Ben Wallace as the second best center in the 2000s? Sadly, yes. Yao Ming had more All-Star appearances, but Wallace was more of an impact player. Though the two garnered five All-NBA selections, Big Ben won an NBA title in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons and took home four Defensive Player of the Year awards. Wallace changed the game on the defensive end, leading the league in both blocks and rebounds in 2002.

NBA champion (2004)
4× NBA All-Star (2003–2006)
3× All-NBA Second Team (2003, 2004, 2006)
2× All-NBA Third Team (2002, 2005)
4× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2002-2003, 2005-2006)
5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2002–2006)
NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2007)
NBA blocks leader (2002)
2× NBA rebounding leader (2002, 2003)

So to sum up the teams:

FIRST TEAM ALL 2000s:

PG: Allen Iverson
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: LeBron James
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Shaquille O’Neal

SECOND TEAM ALL 2000s:

PG: Steve Nash
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: Tracy McGrady
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Ben Wallace

Honorable Mention: Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, Manu Ginobili


As impactful as Ben Wallace was for those Detroit Piston teams, his inclusion along with a young LeBron James was surprising and a bit frustrating.

Especially when those players were looking up at that decade’s luminaries Shaq, Garnett, Kobe, Iverson and Duncan.

And the fact that I had to exclude a player like Nowitzki based on their position made it worse. Nowitzki was the biggest omission here. Maybe he wasn’t one on the Mount Rushmore of the 2000s, but the 7-0 shooter certainly had the all the credentials.

His exclusion forced me to play with the idea of categorizing Duncan or Garnett at the center position or having “general” forward positions as opposed to “power” and “small”, but in the end I decided to go with a player’s pure position.

After all, what fun is it when you play without rules?

When I set out to create an All-Decade NBA Team for the 2000s, I imagined choosing ten players would be a simple task — that the problem would be too many choices that met the high standards. For seven of the spots, that was true; it was just a matter of putting them on the first or second team. After that, determining who deserved the last three positions weren’t nearly as easy as one would suspect.

Disagree? I know you do. Let me know what you think in the comments or in this forum thread.





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