The Transition of NBA Talent
Hello Smash fans and welcome to this week’s article. I thought today was a great time to talk about the NBA and the transformation of its players and talent over the last 20 years. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
In the 2000 to 2010 era, a 17 year career, whether or not you were dominant for most of it or not, was an amazingly long career. Now in the year 2021, not only has Mello surpassed that mark, but LeBron and Chris Paul are still dominating in years 19 and 18. Additionally, it doesn’t look like Steph Curry is slowing down anytime soon and neither is Kevin Durant.
According to Str8Hoops, the top 10 players in the NBA in the 2000 - 2001 season were Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Chris Webber, Vince Carter, Steve Francis, and Dirk Nowitzki. However, we’re going to replace Steve Francis with Paul Pierce because Francis was really never that good and Pierce is 11th on the list. Some of the players on this list ended up playing for a very long time. Tim Duncan played for 19 years, Kobe played for 20 years, Dirk played for 21, and Vince Carter played for 22 years. However, outside of Kobe, who has the greatest work ethic in NBA history, Tim Duncan the best power forward of all time, and Shaq, the most dominant player ever and a borderline top-five player of all time, the players on this list were not dominant for long periods.
Kevin Garnett has 9 All NBA appearances in his career, Allen Iverson has 7, Ray Allen has 2, Chris Webber has 5, Vince Carter has 2, Dirk is the outlier here with 12, and Paul Pierce made 4 All NBA teams. On average that is a little under 6 All NBA appearances per person. And even if we add Kobe, Duncan and Shaq the average comes out to 8 and a half All NBA appearances per person.
Now I believe the top 10 players in the NBA right now, in no particular order are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Damien Lillard, and Luka Doncic. If we do the same thing and take out the three best players all time from this list which are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry as well as take out Luka Doncic because he’s only had three years under his belt and replace him with Chris Paul because he still playing at an All NBA level and was in MVP contention last year. The average All NBA appearances comes out to just over 5 1/2 All NBA appearances per person. And when you add LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry that number goes to 7.2.
Now you may ask, how do these numbers support my claim. Well, the first list is of players that have already played their entire careers. On the other hand, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis are all 27 or younger, meaning they will most likely get at least 5 more All NBA appearances apiece. Additionally, minus Kawhi Leonard and maybe Chris Paul, all the players on the list should make an All NBA team this year, raising the first average to just under 8 and the overall average from 7.2 to over 9.
Not only that, the first list has three arguably top 10 players of all time and one top 15 player of all time whereas the second list only currently has 1 top 10 player of all time and 2 players who are arguably top 15. This shows the depth of today’s NBA. By the time the top players from this season finish their careers, I would not be surprised if the first average gets to the 9 mark, and the second average creeps up to the 10.5 mark.
In the end, we don’t know where the NBA is headed. However, it is clear to me that we are currently in one of the most talented eras of NBA basketball, so sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the show.
Thank you Smash Fans for sticking with me until the end. If you want to talk about this topic or any other topic sports-related, please email me or text me using the information on the contact page. If you want to support me even more, please consider following my Spotify as well as subscribing to my youtube channel and blog for weekly podcasts and articles. Until next time, PD Smash signing off.