Friday, September 25, 2009

NBA All-Decade 2000s: Players

When David Stern memorably handed over the Larry O’Brien Trophy to "Lakers Alternate Governor" Joey Buss back in June, he effectively closed the book on the decade of the 2000s in the NBA, as the next championship will be won in 2010.

With that in mind, we wanted to take a look back at some of the highlights of the NBA decade. In the first installment of this NBA All-Decade series, we discuss the best players of the decade.

[Note: We also encourage you to check Kevin Pelton’s Bill James-style review of the decade as well as Kelly Dwyer’s tour-de-force series on the NBA decade.]

MVP: Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan is our choice for NBA MVP of the 2000s, by a very narrow margin over Shaquille O'Neal.

Below, under "Painted Area MVPs", we listed our year-by-year choices for MVP over the course of the decade, alongside the official picks. As such, it may seem strange that Timmy is our choice for MVP of the decade, given that Shaq had a 4-1 edge in MVP's in our book. First of all, we had Duncan as a *very* close second on our mythical MVP ballots in both 2002 and 2004.

More important, we valued production over the entire course of the decade when putting together this list - Shaq unquestionably had a higher peak during his years of dominance at the top of the decade, but he tailed off considerably the last three years, while Timmy has been remarkably consistent and largely held his value all the way from the Y2K bug right up through the Obama administration.

As much as smallball became in vogue in the 2000s, quality bigs mattered as much as ever. Seven of the 10 championship teams were anchored by Duncan or Shaq in the middle. Two others were won by teams with stout interior defenses (Detroit '04/Wallace boys and Boston '08/KG & Perk), while this year's Lakers had one of the most agile and skilled tandem of bigs ever in Gasol and Odom.

The San Antonio Spurs won at least 53 games every year of this decade, averaging 57.6 overall. Remarkably, they finished in the top 3 in defensive efficiency every year except 2008-09, in which they were fifth. All along, Tim Duncan was the anchor of this defense with the quiet brilliance of his position defense, of altering, contesting and blocking shots without fouling, night in, night out, all night.

Duncan and Kevin Garnett were the two dominant defensive players of the decade, in our opinion, and Timmy brought a little more to the table on offense. Shooting a high percentage, limiting opponents to a low percentage, controlling the boards, drawing fouls while not committing them. These are the things that win games, and these are the things that Tim Duncan has done consistently over the course of the entire decade.

The Sporting News chose Kobe Bryant as its player of the decade, and we think that's a fairly comical choice over Duncan. Kobe is a clear third on our list for the decade, and he has unquestionably established himself as an all-time great, but Duncan has clearly been the better player. Duncan has won four championships despite never having an overwhelming roster of talent, and his defense has had more of an impact on winning than Kobe's ever has. On offense, yes, Kobe is more spectacular and awe-inspiring, but Duncan has been more consistently efficient. Sorry, it may be boring, but it's truth: Duncan has been better.

Here are our all-decade first and second teams - more info below:
All-NBA First Team
C Shaquille O'Neal
F Tim Duncan
F Kevin Garnett
G Kobe Bryant
G Jason Kidd

All-NBA Second Team
F Dirk Nowitzki
F LeBron James
F Paul Pierce
G Allen Iverson
G Steve Nash


All-NBA First Team

C: Shaquille O’Neal, Lakers/Heat/Suns
- Team: 4 Championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006); 1 Runner-up (2004)
- MVPs: 1 (2000); Painted Area MVPs: 4 (2000, 2001, 2002, 2005)
- Finals MVPs: 3 (2000-02)
- MVP Top 5s: 5 (2001-3rd, 2002-3rd, 2003-5th, 2005-2nd)
- Honors: 8 All-NBA (7 1st, 1 3rd), 9 All-Star Games
- Average PER: 25.7 (3-time season leader: 2000-02)

Shaquille O'Neal at the beginning of this decade was the most physically unguardable player I have ever seen. In many ways, because he is Goliath, I feel like Shaq has been underrated, if anything. The combination of power, agility, size and coordination at his peak was remarkable - Shaq is nothing short of one of the greatest athletes I've ever seen. Many have fixated on Shaq's inability to make free throws while ignoring that he has been one of the dominant field-goal shooters of all time (led the league in FG% seven times in the oughts) - and FG% correlates to wins much better than FT% (in fact, drawing fouls, another Shaq strength, is more important than FT%, too).

Signature performances:
- The performances in the 2000 and 2001 Playoffs, when Shaq was at his unguardable peak, are still the definitive ones. Here are his overall playoff numbers:
2000: 30.7 pts, 15.4 reb, 3.1 ast, 2.39 blk, 30.5 PER
2001: 30.4 pts, 15.4 reb, 3.2 ast, 2.38 blk, 28.7 PER

- The numbers from the Finals in the Lakers three-peat are still mind-boggling:
2000: 38.0 pts, 16.7 reb, 2.3 ast, 2.67 blk, .611 FG%
2001: 33.0 pts, 15.8 reb, 4.8 ast, 3.40 blk, .573 FG%
2002: 36.3 pts, 12.3 reb, 3.8 ast, 2.75 blk, .595 FG%

- And how about these individual Finals game lines:
2000, Game 1: 43 pts, 19 reb, 4 ast, 3 blk, 21-31 FG
2000, Game 2: 40 pts, 24 reb, 4 ast, 3 blk, 11-18 FG
2000, Game 6: 41 pts, 12 reb, 4 blk, 19-32 FG
2001, Game 2: 28 pts, 20 reb, 9 ast, 8 blk
2002, Game 2: 40 pts, 12 reb, 8 ast, 4 blk, 14-23 FG

- Furthermore, there were five 30+ PER seasons turned in this decade - Shaq was the only player with two. Shaq had 4 of the top 8 PER seasons of the 2000s, three of those in the Lakers championship years when he was also Finals MVP. There is no doubt that he was option 1 and Kobe was option 1a on those Lakers three-peat teams. I'd imagine if you asked any coach worth his salt from that era, they'd tell you that Shaq was the guy on whom their game plan was primarily focused. Here is Shaq in the threepeat years:
1999-2000: 29.7 pts, 13.6 reb, 3.8 ast, 3.0 blk, .574 FG%, 30.6 PER
2000-01: 28.7 pts, 12.7 reb, 3.7 ast, 2.8 blk, .572 FG%, 30.2 PER
2001-02: 27.2 pts, 10.7 reb, 3.0 ast, 2.0 blk, .579 FG%, 29.7 PER

Utter dominance

F: Tim Duncan, Spurs
- Team: 3 Championships (2003, 2005, 2007)
- MVPs: 2 (2002, 2003); Painted Area MVPs: 1 (2003)
- Finals MVPs: 2 (2003, 2005)
- MVP Top 5s: 7 (2000-5th, 2001-2nd, 2004-2nd, 2005-4th, 2007-4th)
- Honors: 10 All-NBA (7 1st, 3 2nd), 10 All-Star Games
- Average PER: 25.5

Not much more to add to what we wrote above. Let's just reprint what we wrote in this space after the 2007 Finals: "Duncan is the core of San Antonio's team defense, and team defense is the core of what makes this San Antonio team a dynasty. Couple that with consistent, efficient, unselfish play on offense, and yes, Tim Duncan is the best basketball player in the world."

Signature performances:
- The single game which stands out is the near-quadruple-double in the championship clincher in the 2003 Finals:
2003, Game 6: 21 pts, 20 reb, 10 ast, 8 blk

- Here are Timmy's numbers for the 2003 Finals and Playoffs as a whole:
2003 Playoffs: 24.7 pts, 15.4 reb, 5.3 ast, 3.29 blk, 28.4 PER
2003 Finals: 24.2 pts, 17.0 reb, 5.3 ast, 5.3 blk

- More than anything, it's the consistency that stands out. Check out Timmy's PERs from his peak period of 2002-05:
2001-02: 27.0
2002-03: 26.9
2003-04: 27.1
2004-05: 27.0

Near quadruple-double to clinch in 2003

F: Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves/Celtics
- Team: 1 Championship (2008)
- MVPs: 1 (2004); Painted Area MVPs: 2 (2004, 2008)
- MVP Top 5s: 4 (2000-2nd, 2003-2nd, 2008-3rd)
- Honors: 8 All-NBA (4 1st, 3 2nd, 1 3rd), 10 All-Star Games, 2008 Def. POY
- Average PER: 25.3 (2-time season leader: 2004-05)

As we wrote above, Kevin Garnett was one of the two best defensive players of the decade, along with Duncan, able to cover the entire damn floor on the defensive end, in no small part due to his manic intensity and passion. KG was the heart and soul of the '07-08 champion Celtics' defense, which rated statistically as the best defense of the decade, and as one of the best of all-time.

Signature performances:
- In his MVP year of 2004, KG lifted Minnesota to its first conference finals with his all-around brilliance in Game 7 of the Conference Semis vs. Sacramento:
2004, Game 7: 32 pts, 21 reb, 2 ast, 5 blk, 4 stl

- Numbers for KG's MVP season of 2004:
2003-04, Season: 24.2 pts, 13.9 reb, 5.0 ast, 2.2 blk, 29.4 PER
2003-04, Playoffs: 24.3 pts, 14.6 reb, 5.1 ast, 2.3 blk, 25.0 PER

Top of the World

G: Kobe Bryant, Lakers
- Team: 4 Championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009); 2 Runners-up (2004, 2008)
- MVPs: 1 (2008); Painted Area MVPs: 1 (2006)
- Finals MVPs: 1 (2009)
- MVP Top 5s: 7 (2002-5th, 2003-3rd, 2004-5th, 2006-4th, 2007-3rd, 2009-2nd)
- Honors: 10 All-NBA (7 1st, 2 2nd, 1 3rd), 10 All-Star Games
- Average PER: 24.5

Kobe Bryant established himself this decade as one of the greatest guards to ever play the game. He competed on both ends, delivered in the clutch repeatedly, and scored from anywhere on the court on the way to four championships. To us, perhaps the most amazing thing about Kobe's game is that he seems to have no tendencies. Thanks to his legendary work ethic, he has developed an unlimited variety of offensive moves. As Chris Ballard wrote in Sports Illustrated earlier this year: "According to Synergy Sports Technology, which logs every play of every NBA game, Bryant drove right 49.01% of the time this season and left 50.99% of the time. In Synergy's finely parsed statistical analysis, he ranked in the top 20% of the league in (deep breath): shots off cuts, shots off screens, spot-up attempts, shots against single coverage in the post and off one-on-one isolation moves (and he's only slightly less effective in pick and rolls and transition)."

Signature performances:
- Let's start with the greatest regular-season performance of the decade - 81 points scored, in the flow of the game while turning a big deficit into victory in January, 2006 - here's the line:
81 pts, 6 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 28-46 FG, 7-13 3PT, 18-20 FT

- Kobe made his mark on the Finals in Game 4 in 2000. He had missed Game 3 and most of Game 2 with a sprained ankle, but essentially won Game 4 for L.A. with 8 points in OT after Shaq had fouled out. There were also memorable playoff buzzer-beaters including a 3 which sent Game 2 of the 2004 Finals to OT, and a jumper that beat Phoenix in Game 4 of the 2006 First Round.

- In 2001, Kobe had huge scoring efforts which closed the Conference Semis sweep of the Kings and set the tone for a Conference Finals sweep of the Spurs:
2001, Game 4, vs SAC: 48 pts, 16 reb, 3 ast, 15-29 FG
2001, Game 1, vs SAS: 45 pts, 10 reb, 3 ast, 19-35 FG

- Statistically, Kobe's greatest playoff runs have come in the championship seasons of 2001 and 2009 - here are his overall postseason lines from those years:
2001: 29.4 pts, 7.3 reb, 6.1 ast, .469 FG, .821 FT
2009: 30.2 pts, 5.3 reb, 5.5 ast, .457 FG, .883 FT

- Other regular-season stats of note:
2002-03: 40.6 ppg in Feb., including 9 straight 40+ games
2005-06: 35.4 ppg overall, 8th-highest in NBA history
2006-07: 56.3 ppg in a 4-game stretch of 65-50-60-50
2008-09: 61 pts on Feb. 2 - Madison Square Garden record

Watch Kobe's 81 points in 3 minutes:

G: Jason Kidd, Suns/Nets/Mavericks
- Team: 2 Runners-up (2002, 2003)
- MVP Top 5s: 1 (2002, 2nd)
- Honors: 5 All-NBA (4 1st, 1 2nd), 7 All-Star Games
- Average PER: 19.1

Jason Kidd helped bring the Nets from oblivion to back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals following his arrival via trade in 2001. Justifiably known as one of the most creative and unselfish passers of the era, Kidd may have actually had a bigger impact on the defensive end than offensive, as his fierce ballhawking on the perimeter in his prime, with his strong 6-4 frame, triggered many a fast break.

Signature performances:
- J-Kidd is all about the triple-double, so we'll go with his average line from New Jersey's 4-2 series win over Boston in the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals:
2002, East Finals: 17.5 pts, 11.2 reb, 10.2 ast

- For the series, Kidd had 3 triple-doubles, including this one in the series-clinching Game 6, to send the Nets to their first NBA Finals:
2002 Game 6: 15 pts, 13 reb, 13 ast

Best of Jason Kidd:

All-NBA Second Team

F: Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
- Team: 1 Runner-up (2006)
- MVPs: 1 (2007); Painted Area MVPs: 1 (2007)
- MVP Top 5s: 3 (2005-3rd, 2006-3rd)
- Honors: 9 All-NBA (4 1st, 3 2nd, 2 3rd), 8 All-Star Games
- Average PER: 24.2 (2-time season leader: 2006-07)

OK, so we're messing the positions a little. C'mon, Duncan is really a center after all, so we essentially have 2 C's on the first team, and we're going 3 forwards on the second team because these guys are so much more worthy than any other center. In any event, Dirk Nowitzki has been perhaps the most efficient offensive player of the decade, able to shoot a strong percentage from the floor, behind the arc, and from the line, while turning it over less than 2 times a game despite a high usage rate. Dirk has been a difficult matchup as a seven-footer stationed at the high post who could shoot and drive with a variety of moves. Deserving of the 2006-07 MVP award as the NBA PER leader on a 67-win team.

Signature performances:
- Dirk was at his best during two crucial games during the 2006 Playoffs, which keyed the Mavs' run to the Finals - Game 7 of the epic Conference Semifinal series vs. SAS and Game 5 of the Conference Finals vs. PHX, which gave DAL a 3-2 series lead:
2006, Game 7, vs SAS: 37 pts, 15 reb, 3 ast, 11-20 FG, 15-16 FT
2006, Game 5, vs PHX: 50 pts, 12 reb, 3 ast, 14-26 FG, 17-18 FT, 5-6 3PT

- These were Dirk's numbers for the 2006 Playoffs as a whole:
2006: 27 pts, 11.7 reb, 2.9 ast, 26.8 PER

- Numbers for Dirk's MVP season of 2006-07 included 50-40-90 shooting - an incredible feat for anyone, much less a seven-footer:
2006-07: 24.6 pts, 8.9 reb, 3.4 ast, .502 FG%, .416 3PT%, .904 FT%, 27.6 PER

Cuban love for MVP Dirk

F: LeBron James, Cavaliers
- Team: 1 Runner-up (2007)
- MVPs: 1 (2009); Painted Area MVPs: 1 (2009)
- MVP Top 5s: 4 (2006-2nd, 2007-5th, 2008-4th)
- Honors: 5 All-NBA (3 1st, 2 2nd), 5 All-Star Games
- Average PER: 26.2 (2-time season leader: 2008-09)

LeBron James is unquestionably a first-teamer based on per-season performance, but 10 years of production from KG trumps 6 years from LBJ. In fact, LeBron is the only player on these two teams who didn't play all 10 years - that's how good his 6 years were. James is as productive a player by age 24 as the league has ever seen. A downright scary combination of size, speed, and unselfishness, LeBron is the odds-on favorite to be the MVP of the 2010s, and basically has unlimited potential.

Signature performances:
- LeBron announced his playoff presence with authority in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals, when he scored Cleveland's last 25 points, leading to a 109-107 road win in 2OT which propelled the Cavs to an upset series win. Here are LBJ's numbers overall for Game 5:
2007, Game 5: 48 pts, 9 reb, 7 ast, 2 stl, 18-33 FG

- Don't forget his performance in Game 7 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Semis, when the 45-win Cavs took the 66-win Celtics to the brink in Boston:
2008, Game 7: 45 pts, 5 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl, 14-29 FG

- LeBron's 2008-09 season was off the charts statistically, as he posted the 4th-best single-season PER in history, and then took things to the stratosphere in the postseason:
2008-09, Season: 28.4 pts, 7.6 reb, 7.2 ast, 1.7 stl, 1.1 blk, 31.7 PER
2008-09, Playoffs: 35.3 pts, 9.1 reb, 7.3 ast, 1.6 stl, 0.9 blk, 37.4 PER

- Perhaps the highlight of his 2009 playoff run was when James took over Game 5 of the Conference Semis vs. ORL:
2009, Game 5: 37 pts, 14 reb, 12 ast

LeBron scores 25 straight for Cleveland

F: Paul Pierce, Celtics
- Team: 1 Championship (2008)
- Finals MVPs: 1 (2008)
- MVP Top 5s: (None)
- Honors: 4 All-NBA (1 2nd, 3 3rd), 7 All-Star Games
- Average PER: 21.1

This is the most agonizing call: do we go with Paul Pierce or Tracy McGrady in this spot?

Here's McGrady's honor roll for the decade:
- Team: None
- MVP Top 5s: 2 (2002-4th, 2003-4th)
- Honors: 7 All-NBA (2 1st, 3 2nd, 2 3rd), 7 All-Star Games
- Average PER: 22.8 (Season leader: 2003)

Objectively, T-Mac should probably get the nod, and we're probably forgetting just how great he was in the early part of the decade. But subjectively, we're going with Pierce by a razor-thin margin, with the playoff performances making the difference: helping drive Boston to its 17th title as the 2008 Finals MVP, and also leading the 2002 club to the brink of the Finals.

McGrady, meanwhile, has (in)famously never won a playoff series. But it's not like he's has been garbage in the playoffs - T-Mac's averaged 28.5 pts, 6.9 reb and 6.2 ast career (24.7 PER, compared to 23.1 regular season), though that's all in first-round play. His clubs blew a 3-1 series lead in 2003 and a Game 7 at home in 2007. The increasing deterioration of T-Mac's shot selection has grated on us for the last few years and, most of all, we just can't get over how he flat quit on the Magic in 2003-04. If you think we're being irrational here, that's fine, you may have a point, but still, it's our list, and we're going with Pierce, with superior mental toughness making the difference. We'll give you video of both below.

Signature performances:
- Most notable was Pierce's heroics in the 2008 Finals, including a return from injury to spark a comeback in Game 1, in which he scored 22 points. Here's Pierce's line from the 2008 Finals overall:
2008, Finals: 21.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.3 ast, 1.2 stl

- Pierce was huge in the mano-a-mano duel with LeBron James in Game 7 of the 2008 Conference Semis:
2008, Game 7: 41 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl, 13-23 FG, 4-6 3PT

- Pierce was also instrumental in two of the biggest comebacks in playoff history. In 2002, he scored 19 points in the 4th quarter to lead Boston back from a 21-point deficit vs. NJ in Game 3 of the East Finals. In 2008, he helped the C's rally from a 24-point first-half deficit to beat the Lakers in L.A. in Game 4 of the Finals.

Pierce in Game 1 of the 2008 Finals

McGrady's 2004 miracle vs. the Spurs

G: Allen Iverson, Sixers/Nuggets/Pistons
- Team: 1 Runner-up (2001)
- MVPs: 1 (2001)
- MVP Top 5s: 2 (2005-5th)
- Honors: 6 All-NBA (2 1st, 3 2nd, 1 3rd), 10 All-Star Games
- Average PER: 21.2

Allen Iverson has been one of the signature players of the decade, lightning-quick and indefatigable. AI's decade was highlighted by his 2000-01 MVP season, in which he led the league in scoring and steals, and was the driving force behind an improbable run to the Finals by an undertalented Sixers team, which may have played as hard as any team this decade.

Signature performances:
- More than anything, it was all about the 2001 Playoffs for AI. Here are his overall postseason numbers:
2001: 32.9 pts, 4.7 reb, 6.1 ast, 2.4 stl, 22.5 PER

- Iverson's career game is unquestionably Game 1 of the 2001 Finals, when Philly shocked the Lakers at Staples Center in OT, behind this performance from AI:
2001, Game 1: 48 pts, 5 reb, 6 ast, 5 stl

- This was on the heels of his performance in the Eastern Conference Finals. Below is his line in Game 7, but more impressive may have been his performance in Game 6, a 10-point loss. Iverson scored 26 of his 46 in the 4th quarter as the Sixers cut a 33-point deficit to 10 with a frantic rally and set the tone for Game 7 - a definitive performance by a relentless player and a relentless team:
2001, Game 7: 44 pts, 6 reb, 7 ast, 2 stl, 17-33 FG

- Iverson also posted these two beauties in the Conference Semis vs. Toronto:
2001, Game 2: 54 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 21-39 FG
2001, Game 5: 52 pts, 2 reb, 7 ast, 4 stl, 21-32 FG, 8-14 3PT

Game 1 of the 2001 Finals

G: Steve Nash, Mavericks/Suns
- Team: None
- MVPs: 2 (2005, 2006)
- MVP Top 5s: 3 (2007-2nd)
- Honors: 6 All-NBA (3 1st, 1 2nd, 2 3rd), 6 All-Star Games
- Average PER: 20.7

One of the best passers and shooters of the decade, Steve Nash was at the helm of some of the most efficient offenses of the decade, both in Dallas and Phoenix. The winner of improbable back-to-back MVP awards in 2005 and (especially) 2006, Steve Nash was one of the decade's most entertaining players as he helped bring the fast break back into basketball with smarts and style on Mike D'Antoni's Seven Seconds or Less Suns.

Signature performances:
- Nash was massive in the 2005 Conference Semifinal grudge match vs. Dallas - the team which had let him go the previous summer - in which he put up this stat line overall:
2005, vs. DAL: 30.3 pts, 6.5 reb, 12 ast, .550 FG%, .419 3PT%, .962 FT%

- Here are some individual game highlights from that series:
2005, Game 4: 48 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast, 3 stl, 20-28 FG, 4-6 3PT
2005, Game 5: 34 pts, 13 reb, 12 ast
2005, Game 6: 39 pts, 9 reb, 12 ast, 14-24 FG, 5-8 3 PT

- Nash also led the league in assists for three straight seasons, and had three 50-40-90 shooting seasons. 2006-07 may have been his best season statistically:
2006-07, Season: 18.6 pts, 11.6 ast, .532 FG%, .455 3PT%, .921 FT%

Two great Nash assists

NBA 2000s: MVPs
'99-00Shaquille O'Neal, LALShaquille O'Neal, LAL
'00-01Allen Iverson, PHIShaquille O'Neal, LAL
'01-02Tim Duncan, SASShaquille O'Neal, LAL
'02-03Tim Duncan, SASTim Duncan, SAS
'03-04Kevin Garnett, MINKevin Garnett, MIN
'04-05Steve Nash, PHXShaquille O'Neal, MIA
'05-06Steve Nash, PHXKobe Bryant, LAL
'06-07Dirk Nowitzki, DALDirk Nowitzki, DAL
'07-08Kobe Bryant, LALKevin Garnett, BOS
'08-09LeBron James, CLELeBron James, CLE

'99-00Shaquille O'Neal, LAL (30.7)Shaquille O'Neal, LAL (29.7)
'00-01Shaquille O'Neal, LAL (30.2)Allen Iverson, PHI (31.1)
'01-02Shaquille O'Neal, LAL (29.7)Allen Iverson, PHI (31.4)
'02-03Tracy McGrady, ORL (30.3)Tracy McGrady, ORL (32.1)
'03-04Kevin Garnett, MIN (29.4)Tracy McGrady, ORL (28.0)
'04-05Kevin Garnett, MIN (28.2)Allen Iverson, PHI (30.7)
'05-06Dirk Nowitzki, DAL (28.1)Kobe Bryant, LAL (35.4)
'06-07Dirk Nowitzki, DAL (27.6)Kobe Bryant, LAL (31.6)
'07-08LeBron James, CLE (29.1)LeBron James, CLE (30.0)
'08-09LeBron James, CLE (31.7)Dwyane Wade, MIA (30.2)

'99-00Shaquille O'Neal, LALShaquille O'Neal, LAL (30.5)
'00-01Shaquille O'Neal, LALShaquille O'Neal, LAL (28.7)
'01-02Shaquille O'Neal, LALTim Duncan, SAS (31.8)
'02-03Tim Duncan, SASShaquille O'Neal, LAL (30.6)
'03-04Chauncey Billups, DETDirk Nowitzki, DAL (27.5)
'04-05Tim Duncan, SASYao Ming, HOU (29.0)
'05-06Dwyane Wade, MIATim Duncan, SAS (30.4)
'06-07Tony Parker, SASAmare Stoudemire, PHX (29.6)
'07-08Paul Pierce, BOSChris Paul, NOH (30.7)
'08-09Kobe Bryant, LALLeBron James, CLE (37.4)


At 8:36 AM, Blogger daniel vincent john said...

well done.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Joel said...

Excellent post. Kobe is my favourite player but I agree with your choice of Duncan as MVP of the decade.

My only gripe would be the omission of McGrady. Not a fan of T-Mac but he was dominant for most of the decade. In my opinion, Pierce vs T-Mac wouldn't even be up for debate if not for the KG trade. You could even make a case for T-Mac over Nash - who has benefited from what I felt were a pair of very dubious MVP trophies - or Iverson, an exciting player but one with a number of major holes in his game which have help to hold his teams back ever since that magical 2001 run.

Still, a very good piece overall.

At 5:37 AM, Anonymous nba fan said...


At 6:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

where can i email this asshole? There is no way you can leave wade off this list and have pual pierce.That is a joke and any one taht has watched the nba over this decade knows wade was way better then him.

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous rashaad mcginnis said...

and i mean this with all due respect your information is wrong Shaq or kobe should be player of the decade simply becuase they are the only 2 that won 4 championships. which you clearly state in your arguments as the main reason why you pick duncan.well your wrong and I know you probably say something like he still is the best but you are wrong, because he only has three and thats what this league is measured by WINNING...

At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray Allen should clearly have made 2nd team over Pierce or Iverson

At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post. duncan is the mvp of the decade because of consistency. the spurs never missed the playoffs. duncan never complained bout his teammates. never demanded a trade. never whined. he played like a true professional. he just kept winning.

At 6:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You included Nash on the second team all-decade, but then when stating on the "who you thought" should have won MVP's, you felt that NASH did not deserve any. Yet the year Dirk won, you stuck with Dirk as your MVP, even though Nash deserved it more so that year.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger beentheredonethat said...

You are just another in the sad ranks of espn laker haters. It is well known that absolutely NO NBA team, if offered the choice, would opt to have Duncan over Kobe, or Shaq, during their prime. As has been said, those two won more championships than Duncan, more MVP awards than Duncan and packed more fans into the seats. It's funny how you idiots are so quick to crucify an athlete for thier non-game related activities, penalizing his athletic ability based upon your take on a personal issue. Go soak your empty head.

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

His scoring is what makes him great but Kobe is also a pretty underrated distributor. It struck me especially when watching the Shaq highlight reel when I saw how many of those great plays started with a pass from #8.

At 1:24 PM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

Anonymous: Re: Wade vs. Pierce. Wade unquestionably had a higher peak than Pierce, but we were judging the totality of the decade. Wade only played six seasons, including two in which he only played 51 games, including one for a 15-win team.

Beentheredonethat: No argument than any team would take Shaq over Duncan at their respective peaks, but Shaq declined too much too often, whereas Timmy was consistent.

Totally disagree about Duncan vs. Kobe. I would have taken Duncan over Kobe throughout the decade, no question.

And I don't know if we've ever written about "personal issue(s)" or "non-game related activities" regarding Kobe. We certainly didn't in this post.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading the comments make my head hurt. I do agree with the one Anonymous post that Nash should have won the year that Dirk did, but that he shouldn't have won either year he had.

I don't like Duncan, but I just can't see the case against him. I think it would easier to argue Garnett over Kobe for 3rd than it would be to argue Kobe over Duncan for first.

These types of things are subject to years as much as anything. I would take Shaq from 1995-2005 over Duncan's 2000-2010, but obviously that's not how it works. I always enjoy these types of arguments; great post.

At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kobe's best performance ever was without a doubt NOT 81 points but 62 against Dallas WHEN HE OUTSCORED THE ENTIRE OPPOSITION THROUGH 3 QUARTERS [62 TO 61] AND SAT OUT THE FOURTH!

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At 11:06 AM, Blogger AIadvocate said...

Sorry...but Iverson from 2000-2008 was a more dominant player than all of them besides Shaq and Duncan. And the only reason he doesn't pass Shaq is because Shaq dominated a 3-Peat title run. You can't count Kobe's rings for his defense. I'd argue Iverson's 2001 season was much harder to accomplish than any of Kobe's titles and can easily argue that Kobe or Shaq or Duncan could have never pulled that off. Not even Michael Jordan could have done that. Iverson's ability to get into the lane created free layups for teammates and misses were basically assists. He was the best overall offensive player of the decade along with LeBron James and led the league in steals 3 times. Iverson was unguardable and could get any place on the floor. Kobe was great but wasn't the passer or playmaker A.I. was. Many of his high scoring nights came with 0 assists. Iverson averaged more PPG more APG more SPG and minutes played were at a top 3 level ever. His 50 point playoff performances are only 2nd to Michael Jordan. (Only 2 players to score at least 50 twice in the same series). Allen Iverson's playoff PPG is over 30 PPG, second to guessed it, Michael Jordan. It should be best 5 players overall not players by position. Iverson was a top 4 player of the decade. Go look at the numbers. He was the hardest player to game-plan for. That tells you all you need to know. What player gave coaches and players alike nightmares? And unlike Shaq or Duncan, you couldn't foul Iverson at the end of games because he shot at least 80% from the line. Iverson was the most dynamic player since Jordan and LeBron. Iverson best scorer of the decade and a top 5 playmaker along with Kidd, Nash and LeBron.
Top 5 of the Decade Really? In No Order:

Tim Duncan
Allen Iverson (2001 MVP, 3 Scoring Titles (1st was in '99) 2 All-Star Game MVPs and was Rookie of the Year so he came into the decade with more clout than any perimeter player in the league). He basically predicted his 2001 season with his "All eyes on me" comment. He was a better pressure player than Kobe Bryant (look it up). Kobe had the luxury of not being doubled at the end of games, Iverson did not. If you were from Philly and watch A.I. play every night you'd put him in your top 5 and it's not really a question. He was the best/most dominant player every night no matter who he played from 2000-2007 besides Shaq from 2000-2003.
Kobe Bryant
LeBron James (His numbers with scoring and assists were only surpassed by Iverson) and he was the best scoring threat/facilitator probably since Oscar Robertson.

If you had to ask one player to win a game for you when it mattered most, Allen Iverson by FAR would be the choice of anyone that played from 2000-2010. He got better in the playoffs. He was one of 4 players to have at least 35 points and 15 assists in a playoff game. He averaged 31 PPG and 10 APG in the 2005 playoffs.
You can't put Kidd on the top 5 because he needed other players to assist for teams to be successful. You can't put Garnett because he never wanted to take the big shot. He preferred to defer.

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