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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36) Deron Williams

Former NBA star Deron Williams was the third pick by the Utah Jazz in the 2005 draft and appeared to be well on his way to superstardom over the first four seasons of his career. Williams averaged a terrific 16.2 points, 8.7 assists, and 2.9 rebounds in 310 games over his first four seasons.

While Williams didn't make an all-star team until 2009-10, he did average at least 18.5 points and 10.5 assists over the final two seasons of the decade. He also led the Jazz to the Western Conference Finals during the 2006–07 season, just his third season in the league.

That caused many NBA fans to put him ahead of fellow 2005 draftee Chris Paul. Obviously, that turned out to be ridiculous in retrospect, but Williams would make five straight all-star teams and average at least 10 assists in four straight seasons.

Most of those years don't qualify so we won't include them in these rankings. Even without those subsequent seasons, Williams' stellar play at the start of his career ensures that he makes the cut when choosing the seventy-five greatest players of the 2000s.