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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16) Dwight Howard

Former NBA star Dwight Howard was still coming into his own during the 2000s after being drafted in 2004. In five seasons during the decade, Howard posted strong numbers, even when including his rookie season, averaging 17.3 points as well as 12.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 407 games. He also made three of his eight all-star appearances, won the first of his three Defensive Player of the Year awards, and led the Magic to the NBA Finals during that span.

Even still, the best was yet to come for Howard. He had yet to truly become one of the best players in the NBA, squander his good will, and get traded to the Lakers. His post-Orlando career was far less impressive but during the 2000s, the sky seemed like the limit for what many expected to be Shaq 2.0. That didn't happen but he was still a terrific player in his own right, just not a low-post monster like his predecessor.

All things considered, Howard was one of the 20 best players of the 2000s, despite being only 23 at the end of the decade. Howard bouncing around from team to team later in his career didn't help his legacy, but he definitely should make the Hall of Fame with this five-year span being part of his resume.