Ranking the Top 100 players of the century (60-41)
With the 2019 offseason dragging along, HoopsHype has decided to kick off an interesting offseason project in which we rank our Top 100 players of the 21st century – which, for our purposes, begins with the 2000-01 season – and that we’ll be presenting over a series of eight articles.
This task was not an easy one, as multiple-time MVP winners to All-NBA-level studs to defensive stalwarts litter this list of players ranging back through the last 19 seasons.
Let’s jump into the next 20 players in our Top 100 list.
60. DAVID WEST
Stats: 13.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.2 apg, 49.5 FG% in 15 seasons
Accolades: Two-time All-Star, two NBA titles
Longevity and a solid peak helped set David West’s career apart, as the floor-spacing big man played 15 years (two of which were All-Star campaigns) before finally calling it quits last year.
West was part of multiple good-to-great teams, ranging from running the pick-and-pop alongside Chris Paul in New Orleans, to sharing the frontcourt with Roy Hibbert and Paul George as Indiana Pacers, to winning two titles late in his playing days with the Golden State Warriors – championship-winners to which he was a valued reserve contributor.
West was never a superstar, but his career will be remembered fondly thanks to his toughness, his team-first attitude and his will to win over all else.
59. ANDRE MILLER
21st century stats: 12.6 ppg, 6.6 apg, 1.2 spg, 46.1 FG% in 16 seasons
21st century accolades: One-time assists leader
Like West, Andre Miller lacks the star credentials that many others in these rankings possess, but he more than makes up for it thanks to the fact that he was a serviceable player for such a long time.
Miller was nearly a complete non-factor from behind the three-point arc, but his pure passing and playmaking ability helped make that less of an issue than it would be for other players. The Utah product was also a very crafty scorer, who knew how to use his creativity to score on the inside around bigger and more athletic defenders, while also possessing a decent post-up game.
To this day, Miller ranks 11th in NBA history in career assists (8,524) and 38th in career steals (1,546).
58. ZACH RANDOLPH
Stats: 16.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 47.1 FG% in 17 seasons
Accolades: Two-time All-Star, 3rd Team All-NBA, Most Improved Player
For a brief stretch, Zach Randolph legitimately made a good case to be considered one of the best big men in the league.
During a three-year run in the midst of his prime, starting in 2008-09 and ending in 2010-2011, Randolph averaged 20.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest while shooting 49.0 percent from the floor. His face-up game was extremely difficult to stop due to Randolph’s ability to knock down mid-range jumpers and his quick first step, while his post-up game frustrated many an opponent.
Kevin Durant, one of his foes during that stretch, particularly in the 2011 playoffs when the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies faced off, referred to Randolph as the best player at his position on the planet at that time.
High praise from an all-time great in regards to one of the greats of this century.
57. LAMAR ODOM
21st century stats: 13.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.7 apg, 46.6 FG% in 13 seasons
21st century accolades: Two NBA titles, Sixth Man of the Year, one World Championship
One of the most unique players of his era, Lamar Odom, standing at 6-foot-10 and being left-hand dominant, was a matchup nightmare in his heyday.
Odom was best known for being able to grab rebounds in traffic, bring the ball down on his own and either flush it down in transition himself or dish picture-perfect dimes to teammates on the open floor. He could also knock down threes and defend multiple positions, making him an excellent complementary player.
Odom was a vital part of two championship Los Angeles Lakers teams, playing the role of sixth man wonderfully for those Kobe Bryant-led squads. He even got recognized for his bench dominance in 2010-11, the season after Bryant’s last title, receiving Sixth Man of the Year honors after posting an impressive 14.4/8.7/3.0 campaign.
It’s crazy to think that Odom’s career would be over just two seasons after winning that award, but a trade out of Los Angeles and off-the-court issues unfortunately ended his time in the NBA all too soon.
56. DRAYMOND GREEN
Stats: 9.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 4.9 apg, 43.9 FG% in seven seasons
Accolades: Three NBA titles, three-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA, Defensive Player of the Year, five-time All-Defense, one Olympic gold medal
When you take into account the list of accolades Draymond Green has already amassed in just seven seasons, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him shoot his way up this list as his career continues to progress.
Already considered one of the greatest defenders of all time, Green’s capacity to mark players positions 1-5 while also quarterbacking the Golden State Warriors’ defense, as well as protect the paint and shoot passing lanes, all help make Green an otherworldly point-stopper.
Combine that with his playmaking on offense and you have a complete player, one that proved crucially important as a part of the NBA’s most recent dynasty.
55. JASON TERRY
21st century stats: 13.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.8 apg, 44.5 FG% in 18 seasons
21st century accolades: One NBA title, Sixth Man of the Year
His lethal pull-up jumper and pretty outside stroke made him one of the better 2-guards in the Association for a very long stretch of time, so even if he was never a superstar, Jason Terry was still one of the best players of this century nonetheless.
Terry is best remembered for his time with the Mavericks, and for good reason: Dallas made the playoffs every year Terry was there, won at least 51 games each of those (non-lockout) seasons and even took home the 2011 title.
No, Terry wasn’t the top dog on any of those teams, but he still played a vital part in helping Dirk Nowitzki lead the Mavericks to great heights for those eight memorable campaigns.
54. DERRICK ROSE
Stats: 18.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.6 apg, 45.3 FG% in 10 seasons
Accolades: Most Valuable Player, 1st Team All-NBA, three-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, two World Championships
If his insane peak had lasted longer than 2.5 seasons, Derrick Rose would find himself sitting in the Top 10 of this ranking.
Alas, that wasn’t the case, as multiple knee injuries ended Rose’s prime way too soon, and he went from absolute superstar in 2011-12 to inefficient chucker the year he came back from a torn ACL in 2013-14. Rose has sadly never been to capture his early-career form, though he did have a solid resurgence in 2018-19 coming off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
At his peak, Rose’s absurd athleticism and ability to hit jumpers off the dribble were outrageous, and he truly was one of the hardest-to-stymie ball-handlers in the league in the early 2010s.
53. RASHARD LEWIS
21st century stats: 15.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 45.1 FG% in 14 seasons
21st century accolades: One NBA title, two-time All-Star
A player whose game is probably more suited for the modern game than for his actual era, Rashard Lewis would be the prototypical stretch-4 if he were in his prime today.
Lewis, a 6-foot-10 floor-spacer at power forward, had three seasons where he shot at least 40 percent from three, and three others where he shot at least 39 percent. Considering the 4-men of that time were mostly expected to defend, rebound and hit mid-range jumpers, not threes, Lewis’ game was well ahead of its time.
Lewis wasn’t just a stationary floor-spacer, either. The Louisiana native averaged over 20 points nightly three separate seasons, as he had the ball-handling and back-down prowess to score in multiple ways.
He was appreciated in his time as the two All-Star appearances would attest to, but Lewis’ prime coming today would have given him a very different career.
52. MIKE CONLEY
Stats: 14.9 ppg, 5.7 apg, 1.5 spg, 44.1 FG% in 12 seasons
Accolades: 2nd Team All-Defense
One of the most under-appreciated players of his time, Mike Conley has had the misfortune of playing in an absolutely stacked Western Conference his entire career, and in an era that is considered a sort of Golden Age for the point-guard position he plays.
Nonetheless, Conley most likely doesn’t care about his lack of personal accolades, as he has always cared more about team success than anything else. And despite playing for a small-market franchise in the Memphis Grizzlies that doesn’t spend like the Lakers or Warriors, Conley has experienced a fair share of team success over the years.
Conley, a great leader and teammate, is a crafty scorer, one who can mix three-point bombs with awkward off-hand floaters in the paint, as well as a reliable floor general, and a solid defender against other lead guards.
Conley is set to join the most ambitious team he’s been on as a newly minted member of the Utah Jazz, so it’ll be fun to see what he can do for an elite team in the playoffs.
Odds are, though, his game will continue to translate quite well in postseason play.
51. JIMMY BUTLER
Stats: 16.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.6 spg, 45.4 FG% in eight seasons
Accolades: Two-time 3rd Team All-NBA, four-time All-Star, four-time 2nd Team All-Defense, Most Improved Player
Jimmy Butler’s antics over the last year, forcing a trade out of Minnesota and then leaving the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency in favor of the Miami Heat, may have forced fan opinion of him to sour just a bit.
Regardless, one can’t question the Marquette product’s ability.
Butler has consistently been one of the best two-way players league-wide throughout his prime, with the size, strength and athleticism to defend elite wings at a high level and to play bully-ball on offense; the four-time All-Star has a solid pull-up jumper and a stout post-up game which has helped him be a 21.2 point-per-game scorer since 2014-15.
Now locked up to a four-year deal with the Heat, one of the teams he originally wanted to get traded to to begin with, Butler should be able to focus on just basketball, which could, in turn, help him return to an All-Star level in 2019-20.
50. PREDRAG STOJAKOVIC
21st century stats: 18.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 40.6 3P% in 11 seasons
21st century accolades: One NBA title, 2nd Team All-NBA, three-time All-Star, one World Championship, one Eurobasket
A key piece to those great Kings teams of the early 2000s, Predrag Stojakovic made a huge impact thanks to his elite three-point touch.
For the five years Stojakovic was a full-time starter for Sacramento, the 6-foot-10 wing made a preposterous 842 three-pointers, including a league-leading 240 in the 2003-04 season. Over that stretch, Stojakovic converted 40.8 percent of his threes on a high volume of attempts, making him one of the best marksmen in the league.
Stojakovic’s game was able to age quite well, as he was able to play an important role for the championship-winning 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks team, years after his prime. Despite being 33 and it being his last season in the Association, Stojakovic made 40 percent of his triples that year.
49. TYSON CHANDLER
Stats: 8.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 59.6 FG% in 18 seasons
Accolades: One NBA title, 3rd Team All-NBA, All-Star, Defensive Player of the Year, three-time All-Defense, one World Championship, one Olympic gold medal
His accolades may be a bit inflated due to playing in an era not known for historically good center play, but nevertheless, Tyson Chandler was a memorable player because of his defensive tenacity, efficiency on the glass and rim-protecting abilities.
Chandler was named the NBA’s best defender in 2011-12 as a member of the New York Knicks.
That season, Chandler also led the league in field-goal percentage, finishing a tidy 67.9 percent of opportunities, proving that he was more than just a defensive monster. An elite screen-setter, Chandler was outstanding finishing out of the pick-and-roll in his prime.
48. MARC GASOL
Stats: 15.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.4 apg, 48.3 FG% in 11 seasons
Accolades: One NBA title, two-time All-NBA, three-time All-Star, Defensive Player of the Year, one World Championship, two-time Eurobasket champion, two Olympic silver medals
A defensive maestro who doubled as a play-making floor-spacer on offense, Marc Gasol will go down as one of the most unique big men in NBA history.
He may be lacking as a rebounder and he’s not some post-up force, but Gasol’s well-rounded game made him one of the top centers in the NBA for a good long while. What’s more, as his game has aged, it has done so with grace, as his shooting and ability to create for others hasn’t gone away.
If anything, those skills have gotten even better.
This summer, Gasol is also coming off the first championship of his career, as his mid-season trade to the Toronto Raptors ended up paying off wonderfully for both parties.
Now, his legacy can’t be questioned.
47. RASHEED WALLACE
21st century stats: 14.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 44.7 FG% in 11 seasons
21st century accolades: One NBA title, three-time All-Star
Another big man, like the aforementioned Lewis, who would have fit beautifully in today’s game, Rasheed Wallace was another near-7-footer who was ahead of his time.
Wallace’s specialty lied on both ends of the floor: as a floor-spacer on one side and as a rim-protector on the other. Throughout his prime, Wallace was a plus-35 percent shooter from three while averaging 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals nightly.
Wallace also possessed a pretty post-up game featuring a nearly unstoppable turnaround jumper.
Wallace even won a championship as a key piece of the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons, proving that he wasn’t just an empty-stats guy.
46. KEVIN LOVE
Stats: 18.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 44.2 FG% in 11 seasons
Accolades: One NBA title, five-time All-Star, two-time 2nd Team All-NBA, Most Improved Player, one-time rebounding champion, one World Championship, one Olympic gold medal
Kevin Love, unlike Wallace, had the good fortune to experience his prime in an era perfectly suited to accentuate his skill set.
Love, a floor-spacing, post-up beast with vicious rebounding toughness and underrated passing skills, has enjoyed a very impressive career thus far.
From being a stat-producing monster during his time with the Timberwolves to his championship run with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Love has gone through multiple peaks during his 11 years as a pro.
And he’s not close to being done yet.
45. PAUL MILLSAP
Stats: 14.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, 49.1 FG% in 13 seasons
Accolades: Four-time All-Star, 2nd Team All-Defense
Paul Millsap never produced stats similar to Love’s, but his versatility both on offense and defense have pushed him to a noteworthy career anyway.
Millsap has been known as one of the better defenders around the Association for most of his prime, and that hasn’t changed since he joined the Denver Nuggets. The Louisiana Tech product and four-time All-Star helped transform Denver’s defense from pretty much sieve to within the Top 10 stingiest in the league.
So he may not be the flashiest player, but Millsap’s teams have usually been much better with him on the floor.
44. KYLE LOWRY
Stats: 14.4 ppg, 6.1 apg, 1.4 spg, 42.4 FG% in 13 seasons
Accolades: One NBA title, five-time All-Star, 3rd Team All-NBA, one Olympic gold medal
The starting point guard of the reigning champion Toronto Raptors, Kyle Lowry has been able to change the narrative on his career multiple times throughout, including, most recently, from being considered a regular-season player to one who has proven he can contribute to playoff wins.
In the 2019 Finals, Lowry posted an impressive 16.2/4.0/7.2 stat line to go with 1.7 steals and 2.3 triples over six games, helping Toronto take down the heavily favored Warriors.
Now, there’s no question about Lowry’s pedigree as one of the top floor generals of the 21st century.
43. DERON WILLIAMS
Stats: 16.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 8.1 apg, 44.5 FG% in 12 seasons
Accolades: Two-time All-NBA 2nd Team, three-time All-Star, two Olympic gold medals
At one point, there was a legitimate argument about the superiority of Deron Williams over Chris Paul.
No, that argument hasn’t aged well whatsoever, but for a time, Williams was one of the best ball-handlers the league had to offer, as evidenced by his multiple 2nd Team All-NBA appearances.
Williams did, unfortunately, fall off pretty rapidly, but his prime is one that will be remembered fondly, as few other floor generals could touch his crossover and strength near the basket.
42. AL HORFORD
Stats: 14.1 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.2 apg, 52.5 FG% in 12 seasons
Accolades: 3rd Team All-NBA, five-time All-Star, 2nd Team All-Defense
Similarly to Millsap, Al Horford is another great of the 21st century whose stats don’t reflect his impact.
An elite defender who is able to lock up either big man spot, as well as a fantastic playmaker and an adept three-point shooter, Horford impacts games in a multitude of ways far exceeding his raw statistics.
Millsap and Horford were teammates as Atlanta Hawks, back when they would be among the East’s best in wins every year, which goes to show how important the duo are to winning, even now that they’re no longer teammates.
41. ANDRE IGUODALA
Stats: 12.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.4 apg, 46.6 FG% in 15 seasons
Accolades: Three NBA titles, Finals MVP, All-Star, 1st Team All-Defense, 2nd Team All-Defense, one World Championship, one Olympic gold medal
Once Andre Iguodala decides to hang them up, he’ll most likely be remembered most for his exploits as a Warrior, when he was one of the top role players league-wide for the best team in the league, even taking home Finals MVP in the 2015 championship series for his exploits.
But Iguodala was an All-Star before joining Golden State, as well as one of the best defenders of this century.
Iguodala’s peak, production-wise, came during a three-year stretch with the Philadelphia 76ers when he was a do-everything forward averaging 19.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.9 steals per contest.
So although he’ll be remembered for his prowess as a role player for one of the best teams ever, his statistics prior to that show that he was a legitimately great player overall.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.