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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22) Pau Gasol

NBA legend Pau Gasol was the number one overall pick of the 2001 Draft and certainly lived up to the hype. He spent the first six and a half seasons of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies, giving them their first star after expansion in 1996.

Gasol would be an immediate help, winning Rookie of the Year in 2001–02. He would then lead them to their first 50-win season in 2003–04 as well as their first playoff appearance. He'd do it again in 2004–05 and 2005–06, turning the awful Grizzlies into a respectable team.

Gasol was later dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers in a controversial deal that turned the struggling Lakers back into a contender. With Gasol as their second-best player, Kobe and LA went to the NBA Finals in 2007–08 and again in 2008–09, winning against the Orlando Magic.

They would win again the following season, though that doesn't technically count here. Nevertheless, in 584 games, Gasol posted 18.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, with a Finals appearance and an NBA championship to show for it.

Factor in winning Rookie of the Year and two all-star appearances and Gasol had a better decade than most players on this list.