Imagine if you go into any era of the NBA, and build a team from the best players at each position. Even more, the ability to take any player when they were playing in their “prime”.
Who would you choose? While I think Michael Jordan was the greatest player to ever play the game, I also think the pool of players that followed his reign are a lot harder to choose from. It’s not that I think the LEVEL of talent increase, but more the KIND of talent. Jordan was a 2K player in a 90′s league. He had the style and athleticism of many of today’s players (still better). If you watches this season’s NBA Finals, you heard the commentators talk about how Oklahoma City Thunder “Sixth Man” James Harden plays like an old man. That slow, methodical style resembles many players from the 80′s-90′s era. Today’s players come equipped with speed, strength, artistry, and a showmanship unlike any other era in the sport.
Choices, choices. Who to choose in an era packed with talent? In my previous piece, looking at the 1990-2000 era, it was easy to select players like Magic, Jordan, Bird, Barkley, and Olajuwon. In a talent rich decade like 2000-2010, it becomes more about the type of player you want at each position. Due to this, I will be more open with how I made my choice.
This position has been loaded for years. You could go with a recent star like Derrick Rose or Deron Williams. Or think about if you could have Jason Kidd, 10-12 years younger. The same for a player like Steve Nash. You couldn’t go wrong with his a pure point guard, who can create from any angle and shoot from the outside. Personally, I would have to go with a guard that is a threat in every aspect of the game. A few years younger, and without all the injury problems, and my choice is….CHRIS PAUL
This is the easiest of all the categories. When you’re talking post-Jordan, and a player in their prime, there is no comparison to….KOBE BRYANT. And I repeat, no one at the position is close to Kobe’s skill when we subtract the last 5 or so years off his career. Dwayne Wade has been very good, and flashy, but has never had the all-around game to match Bryant.
It gets a little harder to go into the selection pool and easily choose a player. LeBron James, the most dominant SF in the game today, was 7 seasons into his career, and would definitely be a good pick. But do you want him at that point in his career? Based on three NBA Scoring Titles, and his performance in the 2012 Playoffs, Kevin Durant would be an easy pick. But again, would he be an easy draw two years ago? Call me crazy, but again, think back about 7 years ago, and I would have to go with….TRACY MCGRADY. McGrady packed an offensive punch that once as deadly and intimidating as Kobe, for a good stretch of his career. He had a “killer-instinct” only matched by Kobe at the time, and played on several rosters where he had to carry the entire team.
There have been several great Power Forwards in the league over the last 10 years, but my picks come down to two. You have Tim Duncan, who is arguably, and correctly considered the best Power Forward to ever play the game. While I agree with that evaluation in several ways, I also look at the quality he has had around him as well. He came onto a San Antonio Spurs team that already had great leadership and talent. He has played his entire career with great players and a great coach. My other selection would have to be Kevin Garnett. Not the gimpy knee, old KG we see today. But the intense, never-take-a-play-off Garnett that we saw in his younger, Minnesota T’Wolves days. Two great choices. You couldn’t go wrong either way. But I would have to go with….KEVIN GARNETT. I would be bold enough to argue that if 10 years ago, Garnett had been traded for Duncan, giving him the opportunity to play under the same guidance, and with the same talent, he would have just as many, if not more, Championship rings that “Timmy”.
This position is another one of those that does not take much time to sort out. Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has been a dominant force since coming into the league, but he is still yet to realize the importance of being dominant every game. Of course, retired center Yao Ming was a dominant force on the offensive and defensive end, ut he was more big than he was intimidating. But when you talk about a player who has been an offensive “machine”, as well as a defensive force, there is no comparison to SHAQUILLE O’NEAL. He may have played a few seasons longer than he should have, but all the great ones do. Let’s not forget that days when the NBA had to issue fines every time he ripped the rim off the backboard, stood in a shower of glass, and then watched the goal frame collapse in the middle of the game.
Think you can put together a better All Star team from this era? Send me your roster below.
- MY NBA ALL STAR TEAM: 1990-2000 Era (couchsportsexpert.com)
- You: Is Kevin Garnett Now the 3rd Best Power Forward in NBA History? (bleacherreport.com)
- Kevin Durant vs. Michael Jordan and the Greatest NBA Scorers of All Time (bleacherreport.com)
- My HIGH SCHOOL All-Star Team is Better Than Your NBA All-Star Team (couchsportsexpert.com)
- All-time NBA players; first and second teams (rrstar.com)