The 75 greatest NBA players of the 2000s, ranked

The 2000s were an important decade for the NBA, with new stars emerging to carry the league into a new era. But which players were the best of the decade?
Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal
Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal / Jed Jacobsohn/GettyImages
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50) Jamal Mashburn

The name Jamal Mashburn doesn't get brought up much any longer, despite him having a strong start to his NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks. Mashburn was a part of the Three J's, which consisted of Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson, and himself, with Mashburn averaging as many as 24.1 points per game during the 1996–97 season.

However, that team eventually fell apart, with Kidd being traded to the Phoenix Suns and injuries derailing Mashburn's career. He was subsequently traded to the Miami Heat, where he began to regain some of his peak form, averaging 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists during the 98-99 and 99-00 seasons.

He was then dealt to the Charlotte Hornets prior to their move to New Orleans, where he put up similarly strong numbers. Over his four seasons with the Charlotte / New Orleans Hornets, Mashburn averaged an impressive 21 points, 6.6 rebounds, and five assists per game. He even made the All-Star team for the first and only time in his NBA career.

Unfortunately, his injury problems began to reappear, with him playing just 19 games during the 2002–03 season and missing all of the 2003–04 season, forcing him to retire at the age of 31. In fact, his retirement was one of the reasons why the Hornets were in a position to select Chris Paul in the 2005 NBA draft.

All told, Mashburn averaged 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 317 games during the 2000s while making one All-Star team. That is terrific production from a player who often gets forgotten considering how short his career was.

He only played nine seasons and 600 games in the NBA but he holds a career average of over 20 points, while his numbers during the 2000s were more than good enough for him to be included as one of the best players of the decade.