We are almost two weeks into 2010, and like many others, I have been reflecting on the NBA throughout the last decade (starting in the 99-00 season and ending in the the 08-09 season). In retrospect, it’s been nothing short of bad-ass. We were blessed with:
-the primes of several will-be all-time greats (to be heavily discussed later).
-the historically awesome draft class of 2003.
-the unpopular-but-should-be-super-effin’-popular dominance of the small market San Antonio Spurs. Why is it that people complain about “a league full of tatted-up thugs”, big-market/NBA/referee corruption, lack of basketball fundamentals, excessive dunking and contested three-point shots, and selfish basketball and isolation plays when the Spurs–who refute all of the the aforementioned complaints–have dominated the decade of basketball? Oh wait, I forgot. We live in a world of racism, stupidity, AND xenophobia. Sorry on behalf of the You Ess of Frickin’ Ay! to the French Tony Parker, the Argentinean Manu Ginobili, and the Virgin Tim Duncan (that joke was too easy I know, but also fitting for the not-so-attractive and relatively quiet Duncan, born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Maybe his blogosphere nick name should be “The Big Virgin”?).
-the reemergence of tiny, dominant, point guards (this is paramount seeing as I, myself, am the 5’11” white guy dishin’ and dodgin’), which goes hand in hand with a more aesthetically pleasing NBA product as a result of increased pace, defensive 3-seconds, and stricter hand-checking rules.
-the development of the extensive NBA blogosphere and the use of advanced statistics (APBRmetrics, in case you haven’t heard Vathsup! *Bruno Voice*) within and outside of NBA organizations. PER, Win Shares, WARP, Wins Produced, Adjusted +/-, SPM. It’s taking over the world faster than Adam Morrison!
-in speaking of which, the breathtaking transition of a mid-major towel-man/reserve to breathtaking superstar on the NBA champion Lakers. Congrats, Adam Morrison.
-Having a porn-star coach lead a team to the NBA finals (keep lookin’ sexy Stan).
-the awesomeness, excitement, and sheer popularity that the new-look NBDL has brought to the basketball world.
-the sustained, unrivaled dominance of USA basketball in international play.
-the long awaited dominance of the Washington Wizards franchise. Who can argue with four championships in ten years? Take that Spurs/Lakers!
Okay, so maybe the last five bullet points were blatant falsehoods, and maybe I didn’t have to take two shots at Adam Morrison, but the other, more true points severely outweigh the negatives (Donaghy scandal, Brawl at Auburn Hills, and uh, uh [insert casual sports fan] the Spurs’ boring ways and the thuggery of the NBA!) You get the point, the 2000’s as a decade was an phenomenal decade for basketball. At the end of this post, we will link you to some of the best articles reviewing the past decade of the NBA that have been circulating the NBA blogosphere. For now we will keep it simple: This post will determine All-Decade teams (1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams) with some not-so-brief commentary. In the next post, we will argue the merits of four candidates in the debate for “Player of the Decade.” This is just an exercise–nothing here is fact–however after my own personal reflection and after having reviewed trillions of other arguments (side note: I’ve heard a lot of arguments…after collecting opinions on facebook like the guy who asks the world “Should I choose Harvard or Yale?”, relentlessly stalking the NBA blogosphere, and having an abundance of NBA conversations in college (double side note: this is what we are forced to talk about at the Tufts University parties that lack attractive girls…well, maybe that was a cheapshot, I guess it’s that I just love to talk about this stuff)), I am excited to present to you Alone in the Green Room’s (AGR’s) All-Decade Teams!
All-Decade Teams: We will attempt to ensure the best players headline these lists while making loose attempts at positional accuracy.
PG: Jason Kidd
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Kevin Garnett
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Shaquille O’Neal
Thoughts: We know KG isn’t a SF, but we had to include Garnett on the 1st team as he is a surefire candidate for Player of the Decade. And we couldn’t move Duncan or Shaq there as SF, well because, they are not SFs in any way, shape, or form. Anyway, for LeBron to make the list having only played 6 out of 10 seasons is a little unfair (almost as unfair as it is having a 6’9″ 275lb superhuman dominating the NBA players as if they were the 7th grade B-Team–whoops, that was agist). Beyond that, Kobe was an obvious lock for the 1st team SG and Jason Kidd was ultimately chosen over Steve Nash because of his defense and rebounding and over Chauncy Billups because of sustained all-star play, better rebounding, and better passing. Plus he made two straight NBA finals, although he was torched both times.
PG: Steve Nash
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Ben Wallace
Thoughts: To us, Nash, Dwyane, LeBron, and Dirk are locks. Although Dwyane and LeBron have only played 6 out of 10 possible seasons, they have been among the top 5 players in the league much of that time while enjoying frequent post-season success (last season each put up historically great regular seasons in terms of PER). In fact, Dwyane put up a historically great NBA finals performance (thanks, unfailingly perfect NBA officials!) en route to the greatest finals comeback in NBA history! As for LeBron, because he had Darius Miles, Flip Murray, Larry Hughes, and Ricky Davis as his perimeter-player role models as a youngsta, he morphed into the damn-near perfect basketball player (don’t worry David Stern, we got your back!). I mean, who wouldn’t want his It’s Always Sunny-esque combination of Mac’s ninja skills, Charlie’s unmatched smarts, Dennis’ drop-dead looks, Frank’s confidence and humor, and Sweet Dee’s, uh…hmm, I’ll get back to you on that one. Meanwhile, Nash and Dirk, who played on the same team in Dallas and keyed maybe the greatest offense ever (Kevin Pelton of BasketballProspectus says, “The 2003-04 Dallas Mavericks, relative to league average…were actually the most potent offense in modern NBA history, just above the 2004-05 Suns”), each embodied consistent and efficient offense–each posted at least one season of 50% FG, 40% 3pt, 90% FT. Over the course of the decade, those two combined for 3 MVPS, high-arching and amazingly efficient jump shots, Ish-no-think-so defense *Bruno Voice*, and a lot of alternating between long, short, and disgustingly unfashionable hair. As for the Center position, Ben Wallace wins over several deserving candidates because of his incredible rebounding, defense, and individual/team success. He made the playoffs 9 out of 10 years, was in 6 straight ECF appearances, had two straight 2 Finals appearances and 1 Finals Victory in an upset over the talent-laden Lakers in 03-04. Over a 5 year span in the middle of the decade, he won 4 DPOYs. I could go on and on about Defensive Win Shares (he led the league 4 straight years), rebound titles, All-NBA teams, All-Defense teams, but you get the point that at least when Big Ben was rockin’ the ‘fro, he was a defensive monster with the added height (I always thought he was shorter than the listed 6’9″).
PG: Chauncy Billups
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Shawn Marion
C: Amare Stoudemire
Thoughts: I know I am writing this blog for fun, but deciding that 3rd Team was painful. Chauncy was a lock and could even be higher for reasons I needn’t explain (defense, efficiency, playoff success, leadership, overall baller-ness). Ray Allen beats out Iverson and McGrady due to sustained playoff success/clutchness and efficiency. Ditto in choosing Paul Pierce over Tracy McGrady (McGrady happened to put up one the greatest seasons of all time in 2002-2003 lest we forget. Only Wade, Jordan, LeBron, David Robinson, Shaq, and Wilt have ever topped his single-season PER of 30.27. Sorry Bird, Magic, Kareem, KG, Duncan, Barkley, Moses, and crew, but T-Mac’s 2002-2003 season was better, from a PERspective, than any of yours ever were.) Marion gets the nod over other great PFs of the decade such as Pau Gasol, Elton Brand, Rasheed Wallace, Antawn Jamison, Chris Webber, Chris Bosh, and Antoine Walker (don’t worry, we’re just kidding about the three-jackin’ shimmy-master. We should mention though, that Antoine has had a tough past couple years dealing with financial debts and gun-point robberies. Keep shimmyin’ my man, keep shimmyin’.) Back to Marion though, he always whined about being under-appreciated, and ultimately, he was. The Matrix was a defensive and rebounding force who could guard almost any position at a mere 6’7″ 220lb, and he somehow managed to score a good amount (and efficiently!) while never having a play called for him and having a shooting form that looks like he is playing hot potato with the ball. Seriously Shawn, it’s just weird. Looking back at our top three PFs along with that list of PFs that didn’t make the cut, we can really see what a glorious decade it was for PFs. The injury-riddled Amare gets the nod over other injury-riddled centers such as Yao, Jermaine O’Neal, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Dwight Howard is obviously the man, but he hasn’t played quite enough to merit a spot on the all-decade 3rd team. Meanwhile, all-time greats Alonzo Mourning and David Robinson were just a little too old, while Jamaal Magloire royally sucked and won the award for lamest NBA All-Star of any decade. Thanks for the memories, Jamaal. Amare is a bad-ass dunker who stands tall and talented, and although he doesn’t rebound or play enough D, he shoots efficiently from the field and from the stripe. Also, it has to be added that he won a (controversial) ROY, caused Stephon Marbury’s face to shrivel up like a raisin after his infamous dunk on Olowokandi, played a mere 3 years of HS basketball for 5 different high schools (and then jumping to the NBA), and was legally blind for much of the decade. It is unbelievably amazing for a dude to walk into the league and win ROY over some 7’6″ dude from China after suffering terrible poverty, playing only 3 years of HS ball at 5 different institutions, all the while he is blinder than a ref on a Corey Maggette drive. Woweewow *Borat Voice*.
Anyway, there is more to come from Alone in the Green Room: Where Amazing Blogging Happens, but for now we won’t overwhelm you with our paradoxical affinities for advanced statistics and under-the-radar/beyond-the-box-score defense. For now, we’re out like Gilbert Arenas (too soon?).
Here are links to a few other all-2000’s related articles:
–Yahoo! BDL’s all-decade Top 10 lists
–Basketball Prospectus’ Best Players of the Decade and Decade Summary
–Basketball Reference’s All-Decade Teams
–The Painted Area’s NBA All-Decade 2000s: The Underachievers
Who do you think should be on the All-Decade Teams? Comment on the article or e-mail us at AGRbasketball (at) gmail (dot) com. Don’t forget to follow @AGRbasketball on Twitter and to like us on Facebook!