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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6) Paul Pierce

Long-time Boston Celtic Paul Pierce spent the entire decade with the team and was the league's fourth-leading scorer of the 2000s with 17,812 points. Even so, he often went overlooked during that era, with more prominent wings like Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady stealing the spotlight. That changed when the Celtics traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Pierce's offensive game made him the go-to scorer for the Big 3 Celtics, particularly during their championship run.

During their 26-game championship run in 2008, Pierce averaged 19.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists, helping the Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, and lastly, the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe.

That helped to solidify Pierce's legacy after going underrated for nearly a decade. Had Garnett not gotten injured the following season, the Celtics could have potentially repeated as champions, and we'd be talking about Pierce differently when it comes to all-time rankings. The same could have been said if Boston had held on to beat the Lakers in Game 7 in 2010.

That probably would have prevented Draymond Green from famously proclaiming, "They don't love you like that. You thought you were Kobe?" That line probably haunts Pierce, who will always live in his shadows, including in these ratings. Still, Pierce is definitely one of the best players of his era.