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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46) Steve Francis

Former Rookie of the Year, Steve Francis, was once nicknamed "The Franchise," partly as a play on his name and also because he was seen as the future of the Houston Rockets. For a while, it seemed like that might be the case, until the arrival of Yao Ming in 2002. Francis was already an all-star by then but the Rockets wisely decided to trade him after two seasons with Yao in a blockbuster deal with the Orlando Magic for Tracy McGrady.

While McGrady and Yao had limited success, Francis was pretty unsuccessful post-Houston. His scoring dropped by 6.9 points playing with a young Dwight Howard and he was subsequently dealt to the New York Knicks, where his career quickly spiraled.

He played just 68 games with the Knicks over two seasons before being traded to the Trailblazers and then waived. He signed with the Rockets and played 10 games with Yao and T-Mac before injuries forced him into retirement after just nine seasons—all in the 2000s. Nevertheless, his winning Rookie of the Year and making three all-star teams during the decade were enough to make the cut.