Over the past decade, two players have stood out as the best in the league. The reason being is that two players often fight for the throne as to who is the number one player in the league at that particular moment. Debates between the two best players in the NBA at one point sparks a lot of controversy and the opinions from fans and media alike.
Therefore, it is time to narrow down the two best players in the NBA since the 2010-2011 NBA season. What will be particularly impressive is that one player will dominate this list and he’s often regarded as the greatest player in the past decade.
2010-2011 Season: LeBron James and Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose became the youngest MVP ever at 22 years old when he led the Chicago Bulls to a 62-20 record. Rose averaged 25.0 PPG and 7.7 APG and beat out LeBron James for the title as the best player in the regular season. Rose was at his absolute best this year, using a mix of unprecedented athleticism and explosiveness to be completely unstoppable.
LeBron James might have lost the MVP Award to Derrick Rose, but most still regarded him as the best overall player in the league. James did it all for the Miami Heat this year, putting up 26.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 7.0 APG. Unfortunately for LeBron, he fell short in the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks who were led by a rampant Dirk Nowitzki.
2011-2012 Season: LeBron James and Kevin Durant
LeBron James was on a tear all season long, and he would not be denied an NBA title this time. Leading the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron was on a completely different level and captured his first NBA title and Finals MVP Award alongside the MVP Award. This was truly the year of LeBron James.
Kevin Durant led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the second-best seeding in the West, with a 47-19 record, and led the league in scoring with 28.0 PPG. Durant and Russell Westbrook were a dynamic duo all season long, and with the likes of James Harden off the bench, they beat the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals with a chance to play the Heat. They fell short to LeBron James and the Heat, but KD was still the second-best player in the world.
2012-2013 Season: LeBron James and Kevin Durant
LeBron James once again captured the MVP Award and led the Heat to a second straight Finals appearance. LeBron and the Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs this time, thanks to an amazing Game 7 performance by LeBron James. LeBron had a game-high 37 points and was unstoppable with his long-range shooting. LeBron once again reigned supreme as the best player in the league.
Kevin Durant made the All-NBA First Team by averaging 28.1 PPG and also leading the league in FT% at 90.5%. KD was his typical scoring machine-self during the season and was unstoppable on offense. Unfortunately for KD, the Thunder fell short in the second round of the playoffs by losing in 5 games to the Memphis Grizzlies. KD still paired LeBron as the best two players in the league.
2013-2014 Season: Kevin Durant and LeBron James
Kevin Durant was the best player in the NBA after winning the scoring title and MVP Award. He led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Western Conference Finals only to lose to the eventual Finals Champions San Antonio Spurs. KD had a great season but once again failed to capture his first NBA title. It was looking clear that he was getting fed up with falling short of a title.
LeBron James and the Heat made the NBA Finals again, but this time they fell to the San Antonio Spurs who blew them off the floor in 5 games. LeBron still had a tremendous season by averaging 27.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 6.3 APG. James might not have won a third straight title, but there was no doubt that he was a top-two player in the league alongside Kevin Durant.
2014-2015 Season: Stephen Curry and LeBron James
Stephen Curry officially arrived as an NBA superstar and arguably the best player in the league in the 2014-2015 season. He won his first MVP Award by averaging 23.8 PPG and 7.7 APG and began changing the game with his three-point shooting. He led the Warriors to the NBA Finals where he won his first NBA title.
LeBron James was still the beast of the East, carrying the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals against MVP Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately for LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love would both go down with injuries leaving James to fend off the Warriors on his own. He performed admirably, averaging 35.8 PPG and 13.3 RPG in the Finals. If LeBron had his crew with him, he might have captured an NBA title this year.
2015-2016 Season: Stephen Curry and LeBron James
2015-2016 was the year of Stephen Curry, at least in the regular season. Curry won a unanimous MVP Award after averaging 30.1 PPG and completely running riot in the NBA. We witnessed a legendary season that is not comparable to any previous player because Curry was so lethal from three. He shot 45.4% from the three-point line, 50.4% from the field, and 90.8% from the free-throw line. Unfortunately for him, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Out of all the legendary accomplishments LeBron James had, his third NBA title in the 2025-2016 season might be his most important. He came back from 3-1 down to defeat the Golden State Warriors and capture the NBA title in 7 games. With help from a sensational Kyrie Irving, LeBron averaged 29.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 8.9 APG, 2.6 SPG, and 2.3 BPG in a legendary performance. LeBron once again took the throne as the best in the NBA.
2016-2017 Season: LeBron James and Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant bolted for the Golden State Warriors in the offseason, joining a crew of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. KD made the Warriors unstoppable, and it wasn’t really fair for the rest of the league. LeBron had a strong crew with him including Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but the Warriors were unstoppable. KD was the best player in the Finals by averaging 35.2 PPG and took home his first Finals MVP Award and first NBA title.
LeBron James was still the king of the NBA and he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. LeBron once again was amazing in the Finals, averaging a whopping 33.6 PPG, 12.0 RPG, and 10.0 APG. Unfortunately for him and the Cavs, they fell short in 5 games to the juggernaut Warriors and that was the only downfall in LeBron’s tremendous season.
2017-2018: Kevin Durant and LeBron James
Kevin Durant won his second straight NBA title and Finals MVP Award with the Golden State Warriors juggernaut. They were much better than LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers and they swept them in 4 games. Durant was a monster all season long, putting up 26.4 PPG during the regular season and also 28.8 PPG and 10.8 RPG in the Finals.
LeBron James seemed to be aging a bit but was still regarded as one of the best players in the NBA. He carried the average Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals with a chance to go 1-0 up in Game 1 of the series, only to lose this chance due to a pivotal J.R. Smith blunder.
LeBron did his part, averaging 34.0 PPG and 10.0 APG during the Finals and making it clear that he only needed a better team to get it done.
2018-2019: Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo
Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard takes the throne as the king of the NBA following the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA title. Kawhi was by far the most consistent performer in the 2019 NBA Playoffs and his clutch shooting resulted in some truly memorable moments. Kawhi’s 28.5 PPG average in the Finals led the Raptors to their first-ever championship.
While Kawhi was the king of the postseason, Giannis Antetokounmpo was the king of the regular season. He averaged 27.7 PPG and 12.5 RPG en route to his first MVP Award. Giannis led the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the NBA and reached the level as the best player in the league.
2019-2020: Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James
Shortly after a disappointing season with the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James regained the throne as the best player in the world once his team traded for Anthony Davis. LeBron is leading the NBA in assists per game with 10.6 APG and is currently the best player for the best team in the West.
On the other end, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player on the best team in the East. Giannis is averaging 29.6 PPG, 13.7 RPG, and 5.8 APG and is on his way to a second straight MVP Award. Alongside LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the most dominant and impactful player in the league.