As we approach 2020, it is time to look back at the last ten years. We witnessed the retirements of some all-time great players including Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, while some other players took massive steps to become the top NBA players we see today with the likes of James Harden and Stephen Curry dominating the league.
Even LeBron James has continued his unworldly consistency on the court and has reigned king of the league for a while now.
As such, it is time to find the greatest player in the past decade in each category of basketball.
Scoring: James Harden
In terms of putting the ball in the basket, Harden has been the very best in this past decade. This is very impressive, considering the fact that he only became a full-time starter in 2012. Harden has dominated the league in scoring and has found a way to get two points at the bare minimum per possession.
His step-back three-point shot is one of the most deadly moves in NBA history, and time will tell if he can manage to surpass any of the top three scorers of all time.
Rebounding: Andre Drummond
Drummond blossomed into a defensive center early on in his career, after many had doubts over his NBA ability. Drummond seemed unathletic and incapable of making an impact on the game, but that soon changed once he began hauling 10+ RPG on a consistent basis. To date, Drummond is by far the best rebounder in the league and has averaged 13.8 rebounds per game for his career.
Thanks to his size, strength, awareness, and length, Drummond is the best rebounder and takes this category for the decade.
Playmaking: Chris Paul
In terms of pure playmaking ability, no one did it better than Chris Paul. Even though guys like Russell Westbrook and James Harden average a lot of assists per game, it was Paul who managed to provide solid floor leadership for both the Clippers and Rockets. Paul has outstanding court vision and always makes the right play in favor of his team.
HOF point guard CP3 is the best playmaker of the decade.
Shooting: Stephen Curry
This one is not very close. We have seen some really exciting shooters including the likes of Kyle Korver, Kevin Durant, and even Klay Thompson. But Stephen Curry runs away with this category, as possibly the number one greatest shooter of all time.
This decade consisted of Stephen Curry going ballistic on the rest of the league, and he managed to change the entire style of play in the entire NBA. Curry’s ability to consistently be a sharpshooter from beyond makes him one of the most valuable players that the league has ever seen.
Defending: Kawhi Leonard
While this decade is captured by great offensive players, dedicated basketball fans were blessed with extraordinary defenders as well. With the likes of Draymond Green and Rudy Gobert capturing the essence of playing impactful defense, only one player gets ahead of the pack here.
Kawhi Leonard managed to capture two Defensive Player of the Year Awards with the San Antonio Spurs and completely dominated the defensive side of the ball. Kawhi originally entered the league as a stout defender and has since improved his ball-stopping ability. Now a superstar two-way player, Leonard’s dedication to being an all-time great defender gives him this category.
Clutch: Damian Lillard
When it comes to clutch, Lillard has been the man this past decade. Despite coming into the league in the 2013 season, Lillard has nailed countless clutch baskets that he is possibly the most feared man in the league with the ball in his hands. Lillard ha shit some crazy shots in the playoffs as well, including two buzzer-beaters to send both the Rockets and Thunder home. Needless to say, both franchises have not looked the same since.
His track record and sharpshooting makes him the best clutch player this decade.
Efficiency: LeBron James
It is only a matter of time before LeBron James appears on a category. James is the most efficient superstar this decade since he has all the tools to be effective in every single way. James is a freight train to the basket and is one of the best pure passers in the league right now. James can also rebound the ball at a high rate and when motivated, has the physical tools to shut down most players on any given night.
He also shoots a very high percentage from the field since he takes most of his shots close to the basket, and has shown the ability to get hot from the perimeter this decade as well. James is easily the most efficient player in the past decade.
Leadership: LeBron James
While Chris Paul has been a tremendous floor general with an incredible ability to lead his team on both sides of the floor, James did it the best and the results back him up.
James made every team he joined an instant contender, including the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. James was the best player for both franchises and came up with three NBA titles as the main man. He held everyone accountable and leads both on the court and off the court. He works the hardest, takes care of himself most, and is pristine off the court.
His high basketball I.Q. and consistent production makes him the best leader of this generation.
Athleticism: LeBron James
In terms of pure athletic ability, LeBron James is a special talent. He is powerful, quick, and has immense verticality when he is near the rim. There probably isn’t a player in history with the build of James, who can move the way he does. He is a force of nature when he has his head down and there isn’t much anybody can do about it.
Even though Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook come close with extraordinary feats of athleticism including dunking over almost every NBA big, LeBron was simply a monster in the early 2010’s with Miami. His physicality and talent allowed him to win two straight NBA titles, as there wasn’t anyone who could slow him down. Even today, his athleticism has only deteriorated slightly, and this is a reason why he is still arguably the best player in the league right now.
Ball Handling: Kyrie Irving
In terms of pure ball-handling ability, there hasn’t been anybody better than Kyrie Irving this past decade. Stephen Curry comes very close but just misses out because Irving literally makes a living off of his handles.
Kyrie has an insane ability to beat defenders off the dribble and create space by breaking ankles all over the court. While not an official stat, it is safe to assume that Irving averaged most broken ankles per game than anyone in the league.
Kyrie almost never gets stripped, and his ability to create space every time makes him the best ballhandler of the decade.
Basketball I.Q.: LeBron James
No surprise here, 3-time NBA champion LeBron James has the highest I Q. of any player we have seen in the past decade.
James can do it all on the floor and will go down his history as one of the best at reading the game and making the right play. LeBron has become a smarter player each year in the league, and his growth from 2010 until now is astounding.
Thanks to his ability to play the team’s point guard, he is a pure extension of a coach on the floor and can control the pace of the game. The reason he is playing at a superstar level as he enters his late 30’s is simply because of his extraordinary I.Q.
Overall: LeBron James
All factors considered, LeBron James is the best overall player in the past decade. As a three-time NBA champion with three Finals MVPs, this one should not come very close. James managed to capture 2 regular season MVPs as well and has an argument for winning every single one of them. LeBron’s pure dominance every single night makes him the number one player of the decade.
Even though Stephen Curry and even Kevin Durant come close, no player faced more adversity and came out on top more than LeBron. The Warriors were a tremendous dynasty, but James managed to capture a title for a Cleveland franchise that might not ever win again.