We're coming to the end of 2019 and this seems as good a time as any to reflect upon the NBA decade that we've just lived. We've seen two dominant teams, a handful of all-time players, some controversies and some of the most beautiful basketball come about from a statistical revolution dictating how the game is now played.
Championships: 2 MVP's: 1 All NBA: 9 All Star: 10 All Defense: 0
Other notable achievements: NBA Scoring leader (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014); Finals MVP (2017, 2018)
Notable Stats: PPG 28.0 RPG: 7.4 APG: 4.4 BPG: 1.2 3PG: 2.0 3P%: 38.4%
Wind the clock back to 2015. A 26 year old Kevin Durant has finished in the top 2 in the MVP race for 4 of the previous 5 years. He's led the league in scoring 4 times and hasn't yet hit his peak. That man is going to be your All Decade MVP, right? The only reason he hasn't is that LeBron is able to defy the ageing process and keeps adding strings to his personal bow.
Since 2015, KD has won a pair of title's – winning Finals MVP in both Championship years – and spearheaded the Warriors ascension from mere Championship team to All Time Legacy team.
His shot over LeBron James in 2017 was a 'torch passing' moment. If he wasn't already, it's been clear that he's been the best player in the league from that point, right up to his last play of the decade – tearing his achillies.
Because of his move to the Warriors, many don't truly appreciate Kevin Durant. He's certainly a complicated individual and tough to gauge. However, when you stick to his on court game, and take out the individual, he's completely overwhelming. Through the decade he's averages are All Decade worthy, whilst changing our perceptions of what somebody that tall should be able to do with a basketball in their hands. An unstoppable scorer (he's the league leader in points per game this decade), were it not for the presence of a top 3 All Timer, Durant would have been our MVP of the Decade.
Championships: 3 MVP's: 3 All NBA: 10 All Star: 10 All Defense: 5
Other notable achievements: Finals MVP (2012, 2013, 2016)
Notable Stats: PPG 26.9 RPG: 7.7 APG: 7.6 SPG: 1.5
We covered LeBron James' legacy and his achievements in the section above, so let's have a look at his decade from a statistical standpoint here.
For the decade, LeBron is in the top 10 in points, rebounds dimes and steals. He's won a decade best 3 MVP's, as well as 3 Finals MVP's.
He is the only player in the NBA to be selected an All Star in each year of the decade – he's also been voted All NBA every year (nine 1st team selections).
James has evolved as the years have passed. His 3 pointers per game have increased almost two fold whilst he's improved his accuracy from deep from low 30's to a consistent mid to high 30's. He's maintained his steal and block numbers, despite having to pick his moments on defence as he ages. He has increased his assist numbers, an indication of that genius level basketball IQ of his.
LeBron has done it all this decade: he has the statistical case, the achievements and the legacy to be the clear best player in the NBA through the last 10 years.
Championships: 0 MVP's: 0 All NBA: 3 All Star: 6 All Defense: 3
Other notable achievements: NBA Blocks leader (2014, 2015, 2018); Rookie of the Year (2013)
Notable Stats: PPG 23.7 RPG: 10.5 SPG: 1.4 BPG: 2.4
A slightly controversial pick, given that AD plays less centre than he does power forward. Nevertheless it'd difficult to deny the impact that he's had since making his NBA debut in 2012.
Davis toiled for a bang average New Orleans franchise that was never able to surround their transcendent star with enough talent, due to a front office that was never able to look beyond their own noses. Because of that, Davis hasn't been a 'winner' through his career. To that end, the start of this decade will go a long way to shaping Davis' legacy.
However, it's worth speculating where those Hornets/Pelicans squads would have been without the Brow. Jrue Holiday is a fantastic player, but who else did he have by his side? Tyreke Evans? A constantly injured Eric Gordon? Solomon Hill? Enough said.
Statistically, the case is overwhelming. Davis averaged 20+ points and 10+ boards for 6 consecutive seasons. He's led the league in blocks on 3 occasions. He's 6th in total points scored from 2013-2018. He's 5th in boards and 1st in blocks through that period.
Before Luka cam along, AD was widely considered the most coveted building block in the NBA. He's the centre in our NBA Team of the Decade.
Lets run it back with a quick recap of Inside Sports All-Decade NBA Awards.
Executive of the Decade: Daryl Morey
Rookie of the Decade: Blake Griffin
Coach of the Decade: Gregg Popovich
Defensive Player of the Decade: Draymond Green
MVP: LeBron James
3rd Team: Dwyane Wade, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Dirk Nowitzki, Al Horford.
2nd Team: Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Marc Gasol.
1st Team: Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Anthony Davis.
All NBA Team Apologies: Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, Kyle Lowry, Damian Lillard, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert, Tony Parker.
Here's to the new decade of NBA basketball.