The National Basketball Association (NBA) has featured many stars over the years, including Magic Johnson and Larry Bird in the 1980’s and Michael Jordan in the 1990’s. However, the beginning of the 21st Century saw Jordan retired (although he would return for 2 more seasons) and the NBA was in need of a new set of superstars to lead the league into the post-Jordan era. Listed below are the top 10 NBA players who have had the most impressive career since 2000. These players have combined to win an astounding 21 NBA championships and 13 MVP awards since 2000.
1. Kobe Bryant
The iconic Los Angeles Laker tops our list of the Top 10 NBA Players since 2000. While Bryant established himself as an up and coming NBA star in the late 1990’s, his career took off in the 2000’s. Bryant, one of the most popular players in NBA history, won 5 titles with the Lakers, including 3 in a row from 2000-2002. He has also won 1 NBA MVP, 2 Finals MVP’s, 2 Olympic gold medals, and is an 18 time all-star, including a streak of 17 straight all-star appearances from 2000-2016. Bryant, who retired after the 2015-2016 season, is best known for spending his entire career in a Laker uniform and for scoring 81 points in an NBA game in 2006.
2. Tim Duncan
Duncan is the NBA’s poster boy of quiet, consistent excellence and productivity without excess flash. Nicknamed “The Big Fundamental”, Duncan has 5 NBA championships to his name, 4 of which came after 2000, 2 NBA MVP’s and 3 Finals MVP’s. He played his entire 19 year career with the San Antonio Spurs, who drafted him 1st overall in the 1997 NBA draft, before retiring after the 2015-2016 season. Duncan, a 6 foot 11 power forward, was dominant both offensively and defensively throughout his career.
3. LeBron James
LeBron James entered the NBA in 2003, after being drafted 1st overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers straight out of high school. Since then, the 6 foot 8 small forward has been a dominant force in the NBA. James has racked up many individual and team awards thus far in his career, including a Rookie of the Year award, 4 MVP’s, 3 Finals MVP’s, 3 NBA titles, 13 all-star appearances, and 2 Olympic gold medals. James left Cleveland after his first 7 seasons to join the Miami Heat, with which he won 2 championships in 4 years. James returned to the Cavaliers in the summer of 2014 and in 2016 led Cleveland to the city’s first major pro sports championship in 52 years. At the age of 32, James is still in his prime and may ascend this list further over the next few years.
4. Shaquille O’Neal
By the time 2000 rolled around, Shaquille O’Neal, better known as Shaq, had already made a name for himself in the NBA as a dominant force with the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers. He continued this high level of play in the early 2000’s and translated it into team success, winning 3 straight championships with the Lakers from 2000-2002. 2000 was a particularly successful year for Shaq, as he won the regular season MVP award, a Finals MVP, an all-star game MVP, a scoring title, and his first NBA championship. O’Neal would add a 4th championship with the Miami Heat in 2006, and retired as a member of the Boston Celtics after the 2010-11 season. Shaq was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
5. Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett, also known as KG and “The Big Ticket”, jumped to the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves straight from high school in 1995. Garnett played a remarkable 21 seasons in the NBA with the Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets before retiring in 2016. His NBA resume includes an MVP award, 15 all-star nominations, 4 rebounding titles, an Olympic gold medal, and a championship in 2008 with the Celtics. Garnett stood an imposing 6 foot 11, but possessed the skills and fluid movement of a much smaller man. His skill combined with legendary intensity to make KG one of the NBA’s all-time greats.
6. Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2003, and went on to play 13 memorable seasons with the Heat before leaving to join his hometown Chicago Bulls in the summer of 2016. Wade, a 12 time NBA all-star, won 3 championship titles with the Heat, picking up a Finals MVP award in 2006. While injuries have slowed the 6 foot 4 shooting guard at times, Wade is known for his dynamic, athletic style of play, a style that has won him many fans over the years.
7. Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki, who has spent his entire career up to this point with the Dallas Mavericks, helped redefine the expected skill set of big men in the NBA. The German born Nowitzki is one of the NBA’s great all-time shooters, a skill historically not commonly seen in players standing 7 feet tall. His career highlights include an NBA championship and Finals MVP in 2011, an MVP award from 2007, and 13 all-star selections.
8. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is one of the great NBA scorers of the 21st Century, as evidenced by his 4 scoring titles. Since beginning his NBA career in 2007, Durant has racked up an MVP award, 8 all-star nods, a Rookie of the Year award, and 2 Olympic gold medals representing the USA. The award that has eluded Durant thus far in his career is an NBA title. After spending the first 9 seasons of his career with the Seattle Supersonics / Oklahoma City Thunder franchise, Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 off-season in order to chase his first championship.
9. Allen Iverson
Listed at just 6 feet and 165 pounds, Allen Iverson has to be one of the best pound-for-pound players in NBA history. Despite his relatively small stature, Iverson played an energetic, fearless style of basketball, which made him a fan favourite throughout his 14 years in the NBA. Iverson was the NBA’s MVP for the 2000-2001 season, during which he also won the second of his 4 scoring titles. Iverson played for 4 teams during his time in the NBA, but is best known for his contributions as a member of the Philadelphia 76er’s. He entered the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
10. Steve Nash
Steve Nash is best known for his offensive flair, especially his passing ability, as shown by the 10,335 assists he racked up over 19 years in the NBA. The Canadian born Nash also won back to back NBA MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 as a member of the Phoenix Suns. He also made 8 all-star appearances during his career, and led the NBA in assists 5 times.
Top 10 NBA Players of the 2000’s
- Kobe Bryant
- Tim Duncan
- LeBron James
- Shaquille O’Neal
- Kevin Garnett
- Dwyane Wade
- Dirk Nowitzki
- Kevin Durant
- Allen Iverson
- Steve Nash