The Ultimate NBA Starting Lineup of the Millennium

lebrondurant021017 560x315When it comes to ranking the best players in the NBA each season, voters take into account several different categories and statistics including how well they perform on offense, defense, and as a team player. If a player averages 30 points per game for several seasons, or even his career, and is constantly on a team that struggles to reach the playoffs each year, then they will not be winning any MVP awards any time soon. On the other hand, simply winning games and championships also does not mean a player is good enough to be considered the best at his position over the course of multiple seasons.

For some players, it is simply bad luck and a change of scenery is in order. There have been some incredibly talented players in the NBA over the years who wound up playing for the wrong team, leaving them to be exploited as a less-than-perfect player. Kevin Durant, for example, has widely been considered one of the league’s best scorers but he lacks a NBA title. So he left Oklahoma City and signed with the Golden State Warriors to be a part of a super power team that has looked the part this season, even without him following his season-ending injury a few weeks ago.

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So what makes a NBA player the best at his position, or for that matter, what makes a player eligible to be a part of the best starting lineup of the past 17 seasons? It is more than just being élite in one category, it is a combination of things, across the board, that covers scoring, rebounding, assists, and one or two defensive categories like steals or blocks. It always helps when the player can shoot for a high percentage from all over the court, whether it be a mid-range jumper, free throw, or a perimeter three.

As the NBA post-season continues, let’s have some fun today and put together a fantasy lineup of the greatest NBA players of the new millennium, from 2000 until 2017. For our starting lineup, we will have a traditional one using a Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward, Power Forward, and Center. We are also going to include a Sixth Man, and six bench players along with our favorite Head Coach during the same time period. Enjoy.

PG: Steve Nash

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If there was ever one player who could be considered a stud at the Point Guard position since 2000, it was Steve Nash. He was a leader who took the Phoenix Suns to the playoffs in consecutive seasons with his ability to score. He was able to score and dish the ball better than anyone in the league for most of his career.

Career Overview

  • Years: 2000 to 2014
  • Teams (Games): Dallas Mavericks (312), Phoenix Suns (603), Los Angeles Lakers (65)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season
      • 49.7% FG Pct, 16.0 Pts, 9.6 Ast, 3.2 Reb, 0.8 Stl
    • Playoffs
      • 47.5% FG Pct, 18.3 Pts, 9.4 Ast, 3.7 Reb, 0.6 Stl
  • Awards:
    • MVP, 2 (2005, 2006)
    • All-Star, 8 (02, 03, 05, 06, 07, 08, 10, 12)
    • All-NBA, 7 (1st Team – 3, 2nd Team – 2, 3rd Team – 2)
    • Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor
    • Retired Jersey by Phoenix Suns, No.13

SG: Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant is one of the best players of all time, let alone since 2000. Who else would be an easy replacement for Kobe in this starting five? No seriously, who?

Career Overview

  • Years: 2000 to 2016
  • Team (Games): Los Angeles Lakers (1,080)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 44.7% FG Pct, 27.2 Pts, 5.5 Reb, 5.1 Ast, 1.5 Stl
    • Playoffs
      • 45.1% FG Pct, 28.5 Pts, 5.5 Reb, 5.2 Ast, 1.5 Stl
  • Awards:
    • NBA Champion, 5 (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
    • Finals MVP, 2 (2009, 2010)
    • MVP, 1 (2008)
    • All-Star, 18
    • All-Star Game MVP, 4
    • All-NBA, 15 (1st Team – 11, 2nd Team – 2, 3rd Team – 2)
    • All-NBA Defensive Team, 12 (1st Team – 9, 2nd Team – 3)

SF: LeBron James

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Winning isn’t everything, but for fans of the NBA, if LeBron James does not win, he is nothing. They forget that his career averages in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks are so incredible that he is the only one in NBA history to average the numbers he puts up. The ONLY one.

Career Overview

  • Years: 2003 to Present (Active)
  • Teams (Games): Cleveland Cavaliers (767), Miami Heat (294)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 50.1% FG Pct, 27.1 Pts, 7.3 Reb, 7.0 Ast, 1.6 Stl, 0.8 Blk
    • Playoffs
      • 47.8% FG Pct, 28.0 Pts, 8.8 Reb, 6.8 Ast, 1.8 Stl, 0.9 Blk
  • Awards:
    • NBA Champion, 3 (2012, 2013, 2016)
    • Finals MVP, 3 (2012, 2013, 2016)
    • MVP, 4 (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)
    • All-Star, 13
    • All-Star Game MVP, 2 (2006, 2008)
    • All-NBA, 12 (1st Team – 10, 2nd Team – 2)
    • All-NBA Defensive Team, 6 (1st Team – 5, 2nd Team – 1)
    • NBA 2004 Rookie of the Year
    • AP Athlete of the Year, 2 (2013, 2016)
    • Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, 2 (2012, 2016)
    • Olympic Gold Medals, 2 (2008, 2010)

PF: Tim Duncan

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You are mistaken to think that Tony Parker, Manu Ginoboli, and Robert Horry were the reasons the San Antonio Spurs won all those titles since 2000. It was Tim Duncan, who is easily the greatest Power Forward in NBA history.

Career Overview

  • Years: 2000 to 2016
  • Team (Games): San Antonio Spurs (1,186)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 50.4% FG Pct, 18.5 Pts, 10.6 Reb, 3.1 Ast, 2.1 Blk, 0.7 Stl
    • Playoffs
      • 50.0% FG Pct, 20.4 Pts, 11.5 Reb, 3.1 Ast, 2.2 Blk, 0.7 Stl
  • Awards:
    • NBA Champion, 4 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)
    • Finals MVP, 2 (2003, 2005)
    • MVP, 2 (2002, 2003)
    • All-Star, 15
    • All-Star Game MVP, 1 (2000)
    • All-NBA, 15 (1st Team – 10, 2nd Team – 3, 3rd Team – 2)
    • All-NBA Defensive Team, 15 (1st Team – 8, 2nd Team – 7)
    • NBA 1998 Rookie of the Year

C: Ben Wallace

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Shaquille O’Neal is probably the most popular pick for this slot but with a lineup of players that can score at will, Ben Wallace would be a much better starter. He would be perfect in his role as a rebounding shot blocker who has the job to get the ball back and nothing more.

Career Overview

  • Years: 2000 to 2012
  • Teams (Games): Detroit Pistons (655), Chicago Bulls (127), Cleveland Cavaliers (78)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 46.7% FG Pct, 6.2 Pts, 10.5 Reb, 2.1 Blk, 1.5 Ast
    • Playoffs
      • 48.2% FG Pct, 7.2 Pts, 7.6 Reb, 1.9 Blk, 1.5 Stl
  • Awards:
    • NBA Champion, 1 (2004)
    • All-Star, 4
    • All-NBA, 7 (2nd Team – 4, 3rd Team – 3)
    • All-NBA Defensive Team, 6 (1st Team – 5, 2nd Team – 1)
    • NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 4 (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006)
    • Retired Jersey by Detroit Pistons, No.3

Sixth Man: Dwyane Wade, SG

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Career Overview

  • Years: 2003 to Present (Active)
  • Teams (Games): Miami Heat (855), Chicago Bulls (57)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 48.5% FG Pct, 23.3 Pts, 5.7 Ast, 4.8 Reb, 1.6 Stl, 0.9 Blk
    • Playoffs
      • 47.7% FG Pct, 22.8 Pts, 5.3 Reb, 5.0 Ast, 1.6 Stl, 1.0 Blk
  • Awards:
    • NBA Champion, 3 (2006, 2012, 2013)
    • Finals MVP, 1 (2006)
    • All-Star, 12
    • All-Star Game MVP, 1 (2010)
    • All-NBA, 8 (1st Team – 2, 2nd Team – 3, 3rd Team – 3)
    • All-NBA Defensive Team, 3 (2nd Team – 3)
    • NBA All-Rookie First Team, 2004

Bench #1: Dwight Howard, C

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Career Overview

  • Years: 2004 to Present (Active)
  • Teams (Games): Orlando Magic (621), Los Angeles Lakers (76),  Houston Rockets (183), Atlanta Hawks (73)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 58.5% FG Pct, 17.5 Pts, 12.7 Reb, 2.0 Blk, 1.0 Stl
    • Playoffs
      • 58.9% FG Pct, 19.1 Pts, 14.1 Reb, 2.6 Blk, 1.4 Ast

Bench #2: Chris Paul, PG

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Career Overview

  • Years: 2005 to Present (Active)
  • Teams (Games): New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans (425), Los Angeles Clippers (407)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 47.3% FG Pct, 18.7 Pts, 9.9 Ast, 4.4 Reb, 2.3 Stl
    • Playoffs
      • 48.3% FG Pct, 21.0 Pts, 9.4 Ast, 4.7 Reb, 2.3 Stl

Bench #3: Tracy McGrady, SG

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Career Overview

  • Years: 2000 to 2012
  • Teams (Games): Orlando Magic (295), Houston Rockets (303), New York Knicks (24), Detroit Pistons (72), Atlanta Hawks (52)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 43.4% FG Pct, 21.8 Pts, 5.7 Reb, 4.9 Ast, 1.3 Stl, 0.7 Blk
    • Playoffs
      • 42.7% FG Pct, 22.5 Pts, 5.6 Reb, 5.1 Ast, 1.1 Stl, 0.9 Blk

Bench #4: Kevin Durant, SF

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Career Overview

  • Years: 2007 to Present (Active)
  • Teams (Games): Oklahoma City Thunder (641), Golden State Warriors (60)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 48.7% FG Pct, 27.2 Pts, 7.2 Reb, 3.8 Ast, 1.2 Stl, 1.0 Blk
    • Playoffs
      • 45.5% FG Pct, 28.8 Pts, 8.0 Reb, 3.7 Ast, 1.2 Blk, 1.1 Stl

Bench #5: Kevin Garnett, PF

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Career Overview

  • Years: 2007 to 2017
  • Teams (Games): Minnesota Timberwolves (603), Boston Celtics (396), Brooklyn Nets (96)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 50.0% FG Pct, 17.9 Pts, 10.3 Reb, 3.8 Ast, 1.3 Blk, 1.2 Stl
    • Playoffs
      • 48.3% FG Pct, 18.2 Pts, 10.8 Reb, 3.1 Ast, 1.3 Blk, 1.2 Stl

Bench #6: Shaquille O’Neal, C

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Career Overview

  • Years: 2000 to 2011
  • Teams (Games): Los Angeles Lakers (275), Miami Heat (205), Phoenix Suns (103), Cleveland Cavaliers (53), Boston Celtics (37)
  • Stats:
    • Regular Season:
      • 58.8% FG Pct, 20.7 Pts, 9.6 Reb, 2.4 Ast, 1.9 Blk
    • Playoffs
      • 55.8% FG Pct, 21.9 Pts, 11.2 Reb, 2.3 Ast, 2.1 Blk

Head Coach: Gregg Popovich, Spurs

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Career Overview

  • Years: 2000 to Present (Active)
  • Team (Games): San Antonio Spurs
  • Records:
    • Regular Season: 987-389
    • Playoffs: 138-88
  • Awards:
    • 4 NBA Championships (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)
    • 5 Western Conference Championships
    • 3-Time NBA Head Coach of the Year (2002-2003, 2011-2012, 2013-2014)
    • 4-Time NBA All-Star Game Head Coach (2005, 2011, 2013, 2016)
    • 14-Time NBA Head Coach of the Month