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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73) Bruce Bowen

With a paltry scoring average of just 6.2 points per game over a 10-year span, some may wonder why former San Antonio Spurs small forward Bruce Bowen makes the cut. The reason is that Bowen was the prototypical small forward that teams often dream about. Bowen went undrafted, didn't make the NBA until he was 25 and didn't play a major role on a team until he was 26.

After a brief stop with the Philadelphia 76ers and a season and a half with the Miami Heat, he found a home with the Spurs and became a key part of their dynasty. He started 560 out of 630 games with San Antonio over an eight-season span and was tasked with guarding many of the players on this list.

His length and doggedness made him a pest, particularly during the first half of the decade, when the NBA was far more lenient with defenders using their hands. His defensive versatility was especially impressive, guarding players such as Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Carmelo Anthony, and even Dirk Nowitzki.

And although he was a mediocre offensive player, at best, who could barely dribble and was a poor free throw shooter, he developed into a deadly 3-point shooter. Prior to the NBA allowing zone defense, teams were forced to literally leave a player open and Bowen was often left alone.

With him often camping out on the right corner, Bowen shot 40.5% from three, turning him from a liability on offense to a weapon. Bowen was ultimately a product of his era, and while his defense would translate, as evident by his eight straight All-Defense selections, his offense would be too niche to keep him on the floor nowadays. On the other hand, we're only talking about the best players of the 2000s and Bowen contributed heavily to three championships.