There is no doubt that two of the most exciting eras in NBA history were the 2000s and 2010s decades. The 2000s saw the rise of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant as teammates and foes, with both superstars basically owning the league for the majority of it. Of course, guys like Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, and Tim Duncan had their share as well.
The 2010s era is the latest decade to get completed in the NBA, and there have been quite a few superstars to stamp their legacy during that period. LeBron James won NBA championships and also competed against some top-tier superstars such as Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant countless times. Of course, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo have also come onto the scene as two of the greatest two-way players ever.
But which decade had the better all-time starting lineup? By selecting the best possible 5-man lineup on both sides, it is time to find out whether the 2000s Superteam or 2010s Superteam comes out on top in a 7-game series.
Allen Iverson vs. Stephen Curry
This matchup is between two of the most unstoppable guards in NBA history. Allen Iverson will have no problem scoring against Curry, who is not considered the best on-ball defender. Against a quicker Iverson, Curry will give up a lot of points.
But Steph will get his revenge throughout the series because he is a few inches taller than Iverson and will be able to get his three-point shots off whenever he wants. Curry is the best shooter ever, after all.
Kobe Bryant vs. Kawhi Leonard
Kobe Bryant is the type of player to relish superstar matchups and will perform at his best throughout the series. Having Kawhi Leonard, a taller and stronger player, against him will be tough but the Mamba will find a way to dominate.
Leonard will be his usual efficient self, scoring the ball at a high clip and defending as consistently as possible. The former Spurs forward will not have the best stats in the series but will be a key performer on the court.
Tracy McGrady vs. LeBron James
T-Mac plays alongside Kobe Bryant in one of the best scoring duos in the history of basketball. McGrady will be able to score against LeBron James because he is one of the most unstoppable offensive players of his era.
Meanwhile, LeBron James will the best player and key for his team. The King will handle the ball throughout the series, allowing Steph to free-roam on offense while the other shooters such as Leonard and Durant feed off accurate passes.
Tim Duncan vs. Kevin Durant
Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward of all time and will slot into that position for his team exceptionally well. With The Big Fundamental down low, the 2000s Superteam will slow the pace down and let Timmy go to work against a physically weaker Kevin Durant.
Meanwhile, Durant will give Duncan fits when the big man is on an island. The swingman is one of the most unstoppable shooters and scorers in the league, and his play on the fastbreak will also be extremely key for his side.
Shaquille O’Neal vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo
At the center spot, dominant Shaquille O’Neal will steal the show at times for his side. He will average 27 PPG in the series, while also chipping in 13 rebounds. There is no answer for Shaq down low, and that also includes a lengthy Giannis Antetokounmpo who gives up girth and strength.
Giannis will be a force on the fastbreak and will have some Finals MVP-quality games in him during the series. The Greek Freak realizes that he must push the pace and get Shaq out of position because he has the skills and athleticism to do so.
2000s Superteam Advantages
The 2000s Superteam will slow the pace down because they have the best natural bigs in the series. Duncan and Shaq are two of the top-5 players in their positions all time and will dominate the series in terms of rebounding and paint scoring.
The squad also has elite perimeter scorers around the big men, because Iverson, Bryant, and McGrady will have free reign when the bigs are being covered. There is no stopping this team in the half-court.
2010s Superteam Advantages
The 2010s Superteam’s advantage comes in their ability on the break. With LeBron James handling the ball, he has 5 unstoppable options to pass to when grabbing defensive rebounds. Not to mention, James is the best pure point guard on the floor.
Curry, Durant, and Leonard are all elite shooters from the perimeter and the 2000s Superteam will have trouble stopping them once they get going. Of course, Giannis is one of the greatest fast-break players of all time alongside LeBron James.
Who Wins A Best-Of-7 Series?
Game 1 goes to the 2000s Superteam, who control the pace early and never let up. McGrady acts as the primary point guard throughout the game and finishes with a game-high 12 assists. He leads a balanced effort by the squad, as each player scores at least 20 points. The highest scorer is Bryant with 24 points, while the other stars spread the wealth as well. The game ends in a 130-103 blowout.
Game 2 goes to the 2010s Superteam thanks to a Kevin Durant game-winner. The first half ends in a tie, 57-57, but the 2010s squad go on a 12-2 run to start the third. The fastbreak proves to be the factor here, as the 2000s squad get run out of the building. But they fight back in the 4th, cutting the lead to 2 points. Bryant nails a tough jumper to even the game with 20 seconds left, but Durant takes his time and drills the game-winner over a helpless McGrady.
Once again, the 2010s Superteam use the fast break to take an early lead, except they hold onto it until the end of the game. With only 2 lead changes, the shooters come to play alongside LeBron who posts a triple-double. The game ends 120-110, with the 2010s superteam making 15 three-pointers.
The bigs for the 2000s Superteam need to answer, and they do. Shaq and Duncan combined for 70 points and 25 rebounds, completely dominating the paint. A slender Durant cannot cope against the bigs and Giannis gets burned out on offense for having to defend them as well. In a slow-paced game, the 2010s Superteam own the paint in a 99-90 victory.
With the series tied, a big-time performance needs to happen. And it comes courtesy of Kobe Bryant, who scores 14 points in the fourth quarter. In a virtuoso performance, Bryant takes over in the last quarter and hits some big shots including some fadeaways over his rival LeBron James. This game is for the fans, and Bryant comes through with 33 points on 45% shooting from the field.
Game 6 is an absolute thriller. The first quarter ends 30-30, and the first half ends 62-62. The key performers are LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kevin Durant. But the second half kicks off on a different level. Steph Curry heats up in the third, nailing 4 big threes to give his team a lead entering the fourth. If not for the pay of Duncan and Shaq, the 2000s Superteam do not have a chance. But the 4th quarter starts, and LeBron James and Kobe Bryant go to work against each other. A late jumper by Leonard ties the game and sends it to overtime.
In the OT period, Bryant scores another 5 points while KD scores 6 of his own. Tim Duncan comes up with a massive block on Giannis down low, giving his side a chance to take the last shot. Bryant is doubled and finds T-Mac on the wing, who makes a pass to a cutting Iverson to give the 2010s a 2-point lead. Durant tries to answer, but the shot rims out, ending the series in 6 games. Shaq and Kobe each deserve Finals MVP, but the shooting guard earns it for his clutch performances throughout the series.
Final Result: 2000s Superteam vs. 2010s Superteam 4-2
Finals MVP: Kobe Bryant