Thursday, January 7, 2010

2000s In Review, part 1

As the 2000s have ended, and the 2010s have begun, here is a look back at the decade, starting with the best (and worst) players of the decade.

All-NBA-1st Team
C: Shaquille O'Neal
PF: Tim Duncan
SF: Kevin Garnett
SG: Kobe Bryant
PG: Jason Kidd

I know Garnett wasn't a small forward, but he was the 2nd most productive player of the decade, behind Duncan, so it felt right to put him on the first team. The toughest choice was Kidd vs Nash, and I went with defense over offense.

All-NBA-2nd Team
C: Pau Gasol
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
SF: Paul Pierce
SG: Ray Allen
PG: Steve Nash

I'm counting Pau Gasol as a center, and he really was this good, even with Memphis. His 2006 season, when he averaged 20-9-4.5 with efficient shooting (without a real point guard) for one of the best defensive teams in the league, was probably the best season by a center not named Shaq or Dwight Howard this decade, and his 2009 was just as good. In addition, he played a lot more than other comparable centers like Yao Ming and Dwight Howard.

All-NBA-3rd Team
C: Ben Wallace
PF: Elton Brand
SF: LeBron James
SG: Manu Ginobili
PG: Chauncey Billups

Ginobili gets the nod over Wade and Iverson because I think he had more value between 2000 and 2009. It was a tough decision, though, especially between Wade and Ginobili, and I'm not sure I made the right call. I will say this-if Ginobili had played 32-36 minutes a game instead of 28, there would be no question here.

Least Valuable Players
C: Michael Olowokandi (LVP)
PF: Mark Madsen
SF: Darius Miles
SG: Trenton Hassell
PG: Milt Palacio

I made the cutoff 400 games, which is about 5 seasons. Miles wasn't as bad as the rest of the guys on this team, but he was almost as bad, and wreaked enough financial havoc that I gave him a subjective "boost".

C: Shaquille O'Neal
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
SF: Peja Stojakovic
SG: Kobe Bryant
PG: Steve Nash

One of the great "what-ifs" of the decade. What if Nowitzki doesn't get hurt in the 2003 playoffs? The Mavericks play the Spurs tight without him, and with him, they probably win the championship. This probably persuades Cuban to keep Nash over Erick Dampier, and instead of a multipolar decade controlled by San Antonio, Phoenix never becomes a contender, and the next five years become an arms race between Dallas and San Antonio. Probably.

C: Ben Wallace
PF: Tim Duncan
SF: Ron Artest
SG: Bruce Bowen
PG: Jason Kidd (Just forget the past couple years, okay?)

This was the decade of the great defensive small/combo forward, when what I call the "Pippenization" of the position reached its apex. This started in the late 1980s when the best small forwards had included the likes of Larry Bird, Adrian Dantley, Dominique Wilkins, Alex English, Bernard King, Kiki Vandeweghe, James Worthy, and Mark Aguirre. A decade and a half later, the pendulum had swung the other way. Besides Bowen and Artest, we had Shane Battier, Tayshaun Prince, Shawn Marion, Gerald Wallace, Andrei Kirilenko, Josh Smith, and LeBron James.

No Rings All-Stars aka The Gollum Awards
C: Yao Ming
F: Dirk Nowitzki
F: LeBron James
G: Jason Kidd
G: Steve Nash

I suspect LeBron will win (at least) one over the next few years. Kidd was never on a good enough team until now, Yao was never healthy for long enough, and Dirk and Nash ran into the hellacious combination of the Spurs and controversial (bad) officiating.

Worst Championship Starters
C: Rasho Nesterovic (07 Spurs)
F: Fabrico Oberto (05 Spurs)
F: Antoine Walker (06 Heat)
G: Ron Harper (00 Lakers)
G: Derek Fisher (09 Lakers)

To be clear, this means that a player has to be the team's starter in the playoffs. I'm not counting cases like Samaki Walker starting the majority of his team's games, then never seeing the court during the playoffs. These generally fall into two categories: player who used to be good, and team without a center that needs somebody to jump for the opening tip and play twenty minutes (to be fair, Nesterovic wasn't a bad player, just a mediocre player having a below average year).

Best Role Players
C: Kendrick Perkins
F: Udonis Haslem
F: Shane Battier
G: Brent Barry
G: Raja Bell

Other candidates included Anderson Varejao, Mike Miller, half of the players on the 2001 Sixers and 2009 Rockets, Birdman, Doug Christie, Leandro Barbosa, late career Reggie Miller, and Jameer Nelson, when healthy.

Worst Stars
C: Carlos Boozer
F: Zach Randolph
F: Antoine Walker
G: Latrell Sprewell
G: Stephon Marbury

There wasn't a good choice at center, so I just added another forward. I'm not claiming that these players are necessarily overrated now, just that they were treated as stars, or put up "star numbers" without being that good.

All-Crazy Team
C: Chris "Birdman" Andersen
F: Rasheed Wallace
F: Ron Artest
G: Stephen Jackson
G: Agent Zero

Gil is a crazy in a good way. I wish we had more NBA players like, but him. I don't know how crazy Birdman every is, but (1) he looks crazy and (2) he plays like a crazy person.

I'd Like To Thank My Point Guard For Making Me Look Good
Richard Jefferson
Shawn Marion
David West

Point Guard? What's A Point Guard?
LeBron James
Kobe Bryant
Elton Brand

Point Guard? What's A Point Guard? (Point Guard edition)
Allen Iverson
Gilbert Arenas
Steve Francis

And Some Individual Awards

Marlon Brando Award for widest career swing: Tracy McGrady, for going from a top 5 player to a guy that a team without a consistent perimeter scorer refuses to play in just six years.

Tim Duncan Award for consistency: Tim Duncan, for being Tim Duncan.

Ted Stepien Award for front office mismanagement: You might think I'm going with Isiah Thomas, for just about everything he did while running the Knicks. And you'd be right. However, he gets to share the award with James Dolan, who let Isiah run amok far after it should have been clear to any rational person that Isiah was incompetent.

The "Can We Get A Mulligan On This Award" Award: Avery Johnson for Coach of the Year.

Bill Sharman Award for best shooter: Ray Allen
Dennis Rodman Award for best rebounder: Ben Wallace
John Stockton Award for best passing: Steve Nash
Manute Bol Award for shotblocking: Theo Ratliff
Adrian Dantley Award for being a free throw machine: Dwayne Wade
MVP of the Decade: Tim Duncan

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