Recently, NBA.com thought it was a good idea to come up with its list of the league’s best players over the last decade.
The website, in partnership with NBA TV, gathered a panel of its producers and analysts to decide which 15 superstars deserve to be included in its All-Decade First, Second, and Third Teams — each consisting of two backcourt and three frontcourt stars.
This comes after the wildest free-agency summer in NBA history saw some of the game's biggest stars switching teams, tipping the balance of power in the NBA in the immediate future.
It's perfectly understandable for fans to have strong feelings about any ranking, however "unofficial," involving their favorite ballers, especially with emotions still running high from all the major player movement that happened weeks ago and the 2019-20 season just a couple of months away.
While those 10 titles in 10 years won by the All-Decade First Team stars (except 2018 NBA MVP and perennial Playoffs heartbreak kid James Harden) make them virtually safe from fans' vitriol, the rest of the entries on the list raises a few questions that naturally incite a slew of bitter barstool debates among fans.
Seriously, Melo over Wade? Even the writer admits that the members All-Decade Second Team, whose members are “lambasted for their lack of postseason success,” are really distant runners-up to the more accomplished studs on the First Team.
Carmelo Anthony, believe it or not, is the epitome of this group’s collective regular-season statistical excellence. But stats alone, contend the followers of Third Team member Dwyane Wade, do not a well-rounded body of work make.
While another veiled putdown doesn’t help Melo’s attempt at a league comeback, ranking him above Dwyane Wade feels like a disservice to the latter. The Miami Heat legend has a far more decorated resumé than his 2003 draft batchmate, with more All-Star appearances (13 to Anthony's 10), All-NBA First Team inclusions (two to zero), and, more importantly, championships (three to none).
One can argue that Anthony had better competition in terms of position — the likes of prime Bron and KD — and didn’t even team up with one of them. What puts Wade ahead of him, though, was how the former adapted his game as his career progressed. The one-time Finals MVP went from taking the last shot to embracing a lesser role, while still delivering when it mattered.
Guess which Banana Boat crew member had a farewell tour?
No love for D12, TP, or Dame? Are Dwight Howard and Tony Parker victims of familiarity complex? What about Damian Lillard?
Say what you want to say about Howard as a teammate now, but any team would have loved to have the eight-time All-Star in its fold, especially early in this decade. Before starting each of the last four seasons with a different squad, Howard extended his All-NBA First Team streak to five (2008 to 2012), in which he won three-straight Defensive Player of the Year awards (2009-2011). He’s the reason Shaq couldn’t retire as the NBA’s unanimous Superman.
Parker’s case seems tricky at first. Chris Paul was at the peak of his powers from 2011 to 2014, which was why the Spurs Big Three member could only go as far as All-NBA Second Team in that span. After the French guard’s last All-Star appearance in 2014, his game declined over the course of the decade’s second half. However, he has one thing that nine of the selected players doesn’t have: a ring in 2014.
Meanwhile, as consistent as LaMarcus Aldridge has been during his transition from Portland to San Antonio, Lillard has no doubt had the bigger influence on the Blazer franchise since being named unanimous Rookie of the Year in 2012. The four-time All-Star is only getting better by the year, as evidenced by his four All-NBA Team selections in a hotly contested Western conference no less.
Kobe blasphemy? Nah. Before you grab those pitchforks and torches, hear us out first.
If we're talking about the 2000s, Kobe Bryant, without a doubt, would have been an automatic All-Decade First Teamer. Four rings, 10 All-Star appearances, seven All-NBA First Team selections, seven All-Defensive First Team mentions, one Most Valuable Player trophy, one Finals MVP, two scoring titles — the list of accolades goes on for arguably the best two-guard of the previous decade.
It’s not his fault that the Black Mamba entered 2010 as a 32-year-old in his 14th season. Following his last championship in 2010, he sustained superstar production until 2013 before his Achilles tear and his body started breaking down on him. Admit it, Kobe diehards: Vino just wasn’t the bad man he used to be in his twilight years.
Despite being ultra-competitive, Bryant will be the first to tell you that his All-Decade spot is just about right.