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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28) Yao Ming

Hall of Famer Yao Ming might actually be a surprise inclusion on this list, given how short his career was, but, at the start of his career, he was healthy. He didn't miss a game the first two seasons of his career and missed only two over his first three years in the NBA. By his fourth season with the Houston Rockets, the wheels had begun to fall off, with him missing at least 25 games in three out of the four other seasons he played during the 2000s.

Even so, he played more than enough games for him to crack this list.  In 481 games, Yao averaged a stellar 19.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks. He also made five All-NBA teams and seven All-Star teams during the 2000s, putting him in elite company. While he was known for his height at 7'5, Yao had more of a finesse game, utilizing turnaround jumpers in the post and knocking down shots from mid-range.

Combined with his height and length, that shot was unblockable. Unfortunately, his frame couldn't hold up, and he missed all of the 2009–10 season and played just five games during the 2010–11 season before retiring. Although he really only played eight seasons, his peak was high enough to ensure that he made the Hall of Fame and also this list.