Blood Yes's Ultimate Guide: Best Players in the NBA Year-by-Year since 1999
Hello! My name is Blood Yes, and unlike many people on this forum, I am an unbiased fan of the game. I, unlike many others, extensively research the game, being a major fan of the game. In this guide, I will be giving my UNBIASED, HIGHLY THOUGHT OUT, and Un-Prisoner of the Moment Opinion on who the best player in the NBA was every year after the retirement of Michael Jordan.
I am starting with the year after Jordan, because I actually never got to see Jordan play when he was with the Bulls, as I was too young at the time. However, I am well-knowledged and unbiased in the years after Jordan. I do not let annoying stans and the media cloud my opinion, so without further ado, let us begin!!
PS: Note that when I mean best player of that year, I dont mean just regular season or just playoffs, but both, so the best player for the WHOLE YEAR.
1999: Alonzo Mourning
Now, before you go all crazy on me, I dont think people today realize just how incredible Alonzo Mourning was in his prime. The fact that they lost to the 8th seed Knicks, plus the fact that Mourning was terrible in his later years, not to mention that Mourning has 1 "role player" ring, makes him incredibly underrated.
On the defensive end, Mourning was dominant in 99, averaging FOUR blocks a game. He was 2nd place in MVP voting to Malone, who only won because the Jazz had a better record. Mourning was no doubt better than Shaq and Duncan, as Duncan/Shaq at the time were both young.
Shaq in 99 was not the defensive player or the excellent passer he became when Phil entered the scene a year later, and Duncan was still young and not yet at the peak of his powers. Malone was no longer a dominant offensive player, and his defensive skills were half of what Mourning was.
I see people trying to compare DWIGHT HOWARD to Mourning on this forum, and it makes me cry. Either people are really young here, or they are comparing 2006 mourning to d12. Mourning is TWO TIERS ABOVE Howard. In fact, I'd say Mourning today would be averaging 26/13/5. he was THAT dominant. On the defensive end, he was just as good as Duncan/Ben Wallace. Mourning was a force to be reckoned with in 99, and if the Knicks didnt hit that game winner, the Heat would have gone to the finals that year, and who knows what Mourning could have done to the twin towers in Texas.
Alonzo Mourning, whether you like it or not, belongs in the tier of shaq and duncan, and is a top 30, yes i said it, top THIRTY player of all time. Anyone who tries to compare him to Dwight, or even Ewing, is out of their mind. Mourning was on a truly elite level on the defensive end, and people only underrate him because of their hate for the heat, or because of his lack of a long peak.
Mourning was truly dominant, and is arguably the best defensive player ever post-Jordan's retirement with the Bulls. This includes Ben Wallace, Ron Artest, and Dikembe Mutombo.
This is a no-brainer. The Lakers had far and away the best record in the league that year, and Shaq was the main reason. Shaq, with the addition of Phil Jackson, improved his passing skills dramatically (though im sure the improvement of Kobe's jumper helped), and his defense became dominant. Nobody was stopping Shaq that year, NOBODY. Shaq was far and away the best player, and there was no competition really. Alonzo Mourning, best player in 99, was the 2nd best player in 2000, winning 3rd in mvp voting only because KG (who was 2nd) had a better offensive game, which the media overrates.
Once again, shaq was the best player in the league, though this time, it was much closer. Shaq wins it not because of his regular season performance, which was worse than 2000, but because of his INCREDIBLE PLAYOFF RUN.
(By the way, Mourning, after two dominant seasons, would sadly have surgery over the offseason, officially making it impossible for fans to remember and properly acknowledge him in the years to come. Mourning would never be the same)
If going by regular season alone, Duncan, Iverson, Webber and Bryant (in that order) could consider themselves somewhat close to Shaq inthe race for best player, but the 2001 playoff run put Shaq in a league of his own for the second straight year. His stats were the same from the 2000 Playoffs, but it is clear that Shaq was much better in 2001. His team lost just one game in the playoffs, and he would have more "I am the King games", which includes a game in which he had 44 points, 21 rebounds, and 7 blocks against Sac Town.
2002: Chris Webber
Another player who is incredibly underrated because of the media, Kings haters, and David Stern/Greed of the NBA.
Now once again, dont go all up on me, and hear me out, before asking, "How can a 2nd team all nba player be Top baller in the league?"
First, Webber should have been on the first team over McGrady that year.
Second, Webber's playoff run was incredible. The Kings would storm their way to the WCF, led by a motivated Chris Webber, who in his prime was Kevin Garnett with even BETTER passing skills. Webber was a triple double threat EVERY night, and his passing is incredibly underrated. In terms of PURE passing, he is nearly as good as LeBron (Though of course, Lebron is a better point guard and playmaker because of his ball-handling, speed, quickness, and court vision). Thats how good Webber was at passing, best big man passer in the game.
As an Un-biased fan of the game, I, with a sad and heavy heart, must admit that game 6 of the 2002 WCF was RIGGED so the NBA could make more cash. Not surprised really, as the NBA is a company, and the goal of every company is to MAKE MONEY. This is not a threat to Laker fans, as the Lakers have had the short end of the stick in the 2008 NBA finals game 2, when Leon Powe of the Celtics shot more ft's than the entire Lakers team (Kobe should have gotten the FMVP that year!) Game 6 2002 was ugly to see, and who knows how dominant Webber would have been in the finals. Imagine how high Webber would skyrocket on all-time lists if he gotten his DESERVED ring?
Ring or not however, Webber was the top dog in 2002. He led his Kings to the top seed, proved to be a diverse big man who could DO IT ALL, and he should have a FMVP. No disrespect to Shaq/Kidd/Duncan/Bryant, but Webber was on a level of his own that year. A shame that injuries/greed would rob him of a dominant career.
Webber is a top 50 player of all-time for sure, despite being vastly underrated. His passing skills were out of this world, and he was very good at scoring and rebounding.
Webber had ALL the tools that year. Leadership, Toughness, Rebounding, Passing, Scoring, Defense, Jumpshot, Free Throws. All improved. He didnt have the eye-popping numbers shaq had, but he was the leader of a team that should have taken down the Purple-and-Gold giants that swept them just the year before.
2003: Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan finally matures, and was CLEARLY the most dominant player in 2003. Chris Webber, best player in 2002, would struggle in 2003, averaging less points in a worse shooting percentage. Of course, his injury in the 2nd round would also end his run as a dominant player. Shaq was injured to start the season, and would not perform nearly as well.
Duncan finally rose up to the top, with his defense and passing ability being top notch. He would lead his spurs to the first seed, and would then proceed to crush his opponents in the playoffs, topping it all off with a near quad-double against the Nets in the finals, still known to be one of the greatest playoff performances of all time.
Nobody was really close to Duncan in 2003, but if anyone was close, it was Kobe Bryant, who was 2nd best. Kobe, now entering his prime, averaged 30/7/6/2.2 on great defense, and was clearly more engaged than his teammate Shaq. In terms of regular season, Kobe is on equal footing with Duncan, as Kobe had a truly dominant year, but the playoffs is what gives Duncan not only an edge, but a BLOWOUT edge. Duncan's playoff run was one of the greatest, averaging 25/16/5/3 a night.
This was an incredibly weak year for the NBA. Chris Webber, top player in 2002, would be gone nearly the whole year with injury, not to mention the fact that he would NEVER be the same again. Kobe, after a dominant year, would struggle, mainly because of the Colorado Case, and Duncan would not have the same success he did in the playoffs in 2003. Jermaine O'neal would rise as the 3rd best player in 2004, but his lack of performance in the playoffs cuts him out as a competitor for top dog.
Shaq was still very good in 2004, but he is no longer in his prime, and a part of the reason why he wins is because 2004 was a weak year for the league. He gets a slight edge over the 2nd best player of 2004, Kevin Garnett, for a couple reasons.
Garnett averaged 24/14/5, but on 49% shooting, while Shaq averaged 22/12/3 on a league high 58% shooting. Also, Shaq would once again dominate in the playoffs, taking down Garnett's timberwolves in the playoffs on route to yet another finals appearance. This is not hating on KG, who won MVP, but Shaq was the better player, barely. OFC, the media wants variety in its MVPs!
Last edited by blood yes : 07-06-2014 at 12:18 AM.
Re: Blood Yes's Ultimate Guide: Best Players in the NBA Year-by-Year since 1999
2005: Tim Duncan
For the 2nd time, Tim Duncan is the top player in the NBA. With Shaq being a step older, Kobe struggling, now faced with having to lead a team for the first time, and Garnett having a less productive year, Duncan only has Nash as his major competitor for best player in the league.
Unlike 2003, Duncan does not easily win the award, as Nash proves to be an incredible player, averaging nearly 12 assists a game, leading the Suns to the top seed in the West, a 33 game improvement. However, it is once again the PLAYOFFS where Duncan shows himself to be the top player in the league. Duncan takes his Spurs to the finals, which includes a 39/14 game against Denver, and a 33/15 game against Nash and the Suns. Then, he proceeds to take down the Defensive minded Pistons, led by Ben Wallace in the finals, something Shaq and Kobe couldn't do a year before. That in itself should tell you who the best player of 2005 was. Duncan dominates a dynasty-level Pistons squad, in a grueling 7 game series.
Duncan's shooting % wasnt the best against the Pistons, but that shows the Pistons defensive ability. Despite this, Duncan was still productive, capping off another great playoff run, and his 3rd ring.
2006: Kobe Bryant
After struggling in 2005, Kobe finally figures out how to lead a team by himself, and is the best player in the league in 2006. The competition is close, with Steve Nash, LeBron James, and Elton Brand (Yes, Elton Brand) following right on his tail at 2, 3, and 4 respectively. However, what gives Kobe the slight edge at number 1 over Nash, James, and Brand was his INCREDULOUS and absolutely MINDBLOWING numbers in January. We all know he averaged 35/5/5/2 for the season, which is good, but what about how he averaged 43.4 in January?
He had a 61 point performance against Dallas, in a mere 3 quarters of play, scored 45+ points in 4 consecutive games, had TWENTYSEVEN 40+ point games, and of course most importantly, dropped EIGHTYONE(81) points against the Raptors, a number that hasnt been achieved since Wilt's 100,and quite honestly, will never be achieved again, making it that much more impressive.
This was clearly Kobe's prime year, and it wouldnt be a ludicrous statement to say that in terms of just SCORING, Kobe was just as good as Jordan. Kobe was on a level on his own in terms of scoring the basketball, truly incredible. Kobe's jab-step move+jumper was on a whole new level that year, and if his shot missed, it was due to him making a mistake, as the defense couldnt contain him that year.
To top it off, Kobe would nearly lead his rag-tad squad in an upset against the Suns in 2006 (yes, the suns didnt have amare, but they had nash, marion, and a ton of excellent role system players). Kobe was ice vein clutch as well, hitting many key shots/game winners throughout the reg season and playoffs.
Anyone who says Kobe never had a great peak must be lying, as 2006 Kobe was as good at scoring the ball as Jordan was. It seemed that if he wanted to score 40, he could. His 81 point game will also be in the minds of basketball fans forever.
2007: LeBron James
Now, once again, before you go all crazy on me again, let me say this. I TRULY believe that 2006-2007 was LeBron's greatest year as a pro. Look, I never said it was the year he was the best, but I believe it was his most accomplished. Yes, that includes his 2012 and 2013 seasons in which he won a ring.
I don't think people can EVER truly grasp just how incredible LeBron was in 2007, especially against Detroit in the ECF. This was a TWENTY-TWO year old player in his FOURTH season, absolutely DEMOLISHING the pistons dynasty SINGLE-HANDEDLY. The Pistons would never be the same again.
LeBron James was a different animal in the 2006-2007 NBA season. He would lead the Cavs to the 2nd seed, with a shit team, half of them would have played in the d-league if it wasn't for LeBron. Then, in the playoffs, he TOOK OFF.
The 1st round, sure, that was expected. But the 2nd round Nets were a playoff threat, despite their bad regular season record. The Nets were built for the playoffs that year, weak bench, but strong lineup. Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson were all allstar caliber players, and Kidd produced tremendous numbers in that series. It didnt matter however, and LeBron came through.
The big reason why LeBron wins player of the year in 2007 however, instead of Kobe (who was 2nd) and Duncan (who was 3rd), is because of what will be remembered forever in the record books.
Game 5 2007 ECF, LeBron goes OFF. He scores the last TWENTYFIVE points for his team. He essentially took on 5 Pistons players AT ONCE. Double-clutch layups, fadeaway Jumpers, ferocious dunks, incredible jab-steps. That was LeBron that night. It is still, and will most likely FOREVER be LeBron's greatest performance as a professional basketball player.
ESPN has it as the 4th best playoff performance since 1978, losing to just Jordan and Magic.
Steve Kerr called it "Jordanesque"
This performance alone puts LeBron over Duncan (who had a great year, but was not at statistically dominant as 03 or 05, and wasn't as good, now aging) and Bryant (Still very good, but didn't have the jaw-dropping numbers he did in 06, plus he didn't have the same playoff success).
I honestly don't think people realize how good LeBron's performance was. I remember watching with my friends (who were Pistons fans) in front of the TV, and we were just in absolute SHOCK.
LeBron would take a rag-tad team to the Finals, in which his 2nd best player was DANIEL BOOBIE GIBSON (Who is an excellent 3-pt shooter and pretty good perimeter defender, but should definitely not be 2nd best on a Finals Team).
LeBron was incredible this year, and it was by far his best year as a Cavalier, and his best as a PRO so far.
2008: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant would have a tremendous year in 2007-2008, capped off by leading the USA team to a gold medal in 2008, just four years after Team USA's embarrassing performance in Greece.
Kobe, for the first time, would learn how to win by himself. A big myth that Kobe haters try to spread about Kobe is that the only reason why the Lakers went 57-25 in 08 was because of Pau Gasol. However, they forget to realize that Gasol was a mid-season acquisition, and that the Lakers were still the 2nd seed in the tough West when they traded for Gasol.
Kobe, after a disappointing 2007 season, would rebound back in 2008 and absolutely dominate. His offensive skills would stay relatively the same, maybe even taking a step back, but his DEFENSE is what truly elevated to an elite level.
Up until this point, Kobe wasn't exactly a great defender. He would gamble too much for steals, and he wouldn't be as mentally focused. However, in 2007-2008, Kobe would become a lock-down defender, a large reason why the Lakers had such great success compared to the previous season. He would win his first MVP award, and also be the only unanimous selection to the All-NBA squad.
Kobe would beat out Chris Paul (2nd) and LeBron James (3rd) for POY.
Chris Paul was incredible as well in 08, leading the Hornets to the 2nd seed, and in terms of regular season only, was actually better than Kobe. However, his fall in the 2nd round to the Spurs, a team Kobe excelled against a round later, would be his downfall. As for LeBron (who was POY in 2007 after his legendary game 5 performance), LeBron would struggle in terms of team success, with his team dropping 5 games from last year, with a 45-37 record. Also, despite his great playoff performance against Boston in game 7, he would not have the same playoff success as well.
Kobe's incredible year ends with a gold medal in Beijing, after leading his team USA squad to a close win over Spain in 2008. While Wade would lead the team in scoring with 27, along with 1 board and 2 assists, Kobe would drop 20, along with 6 assists, 3 boards, and 2 blocks, and a CLUTCH 3 pointer with 3 minutes to go that would essentially be the dagger for Spain.
2009: LeBron James
Is this even a question?
66 wins, bad team, incredible stats, a legendary series against Orlando.
LeBron didn't win it all, but he was absolutely incredible in 2008-2009. He led the Cavaliers to a mere ONE home loss, and to nearly 70 wins, with Mo williams, Delonte West, Big Z, Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson, and Sasha Pavlovic.
Kobe was great this year, winning his first ring as the man. So was CP3 and Dwyane Wade, both having stellar years. Neither of these 3 however, had the year that LeBron had. He had a monster regular season, and then went on to crush the competition in the first two rounds. He nearly took down the Steroid-Juiced Magic as well, if it wasn't for a missed half-court shot at the buzzer that nearly went in, which could have tied the series at 2-2. LeBron was clutch that year as well, hitting multiple game winners and key baskets.
I remember at the end of the 09 season, thinking to myself, "With how talented LeBron is, there's no way he won't end up winning a ring in Cleveland, even with how talent-less his squad is"
Last edited by blood yes : 07-05-2014 at 11:53 PM.
Re: Blood Yes's Ultimate Guide: Best Players in the NBA Year-by-Year since 1999
LeBron was a man amongst boys in the 09 season. His near 40 point average against the Magic, as he tried to carry his cavaliers through Dwight Howard and Steroid Lewis, was Jordanesque as well.
2010: Kobe Bryant
This time, Kobe Bryant edges out LeBron (2nd) for the Player of the Year. Kobe was, like always, a BEAST. His regular-season statistics would actually improve slightly from 2009, and once again, his Lakers would grab the top seed in the west.
Kobe was beyond amazing in 2009-2010. His statistics didn't cause jaws to drop like 2006, and his defense wasn't elite like in 2008, but his CLUTCHNESS was on FULL display in 2009-2010. Kobe Bryant would hit SIX game winners in the regular season, including an unbelievable shot over Dwyane Wade and the Heat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-3s90fR1ak)
Kobe Bryant would then proceed to TAKE OVER in the playoffs, averaging 29.2 points per game, beating out LeBron by 0.1 points, in 9 more games. In his series against the Suns, Kobe would average THIRTYFOUR points per game, including a 40 point game 1, and a 37 point game 6, in which he hit a clutch jumper to seal the game over a Suns team that had a good shot at winning it all. The Suns semi-dynasty would fall apart after this, with Stoudemire going off to New York.
LeBron had a great year, like in 09, but would struggle in the playoffs. Instead of dominating like he did against the Magic in 2009, he would play poorly for his standards in 2010, turning the ball over many times, as if he didn't care for the game. This, along with Kobe's incredible series against the Suns, gives Kobe the slight edge over LeBron. At 3, would be Dwyane Wade, followed by newcomer Kevin Durant at 4.
2011: Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki was an absolute beast this year. I seriously don't think people realize how incredible his playoff run was. But before that, his regular season performance was as usual, decent, but nowhere near as good as LeBron/Wade/Rose/Bryant/Howard/Paul.
The playoffs is where it all changes however. I think people criminally underrate Dirk's playoff performances, instead focusing on LeBron's "choke" (Which to most players in the NBA would be a career best playoff series).
Dirk's 2011 nba playoffs run is one of the GREATEST in NBA history, certainly the best one since Jordan's retirement, and is the reason why he beats out King James(2nd), Derrick Rose(3rd), Chris Paul(4th) and Kobe Bryant(5th) for the POY.
Do people realize that Dirk, with his pretty decent but not great squad, took out 4 VERY GOOD teams. He beat the Modern Kobe-Shaq combo of Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge in 6 games. This Blazers team was VERY good, and roy/aldridge were both easily capable of dropping 25 a night. In the closeout game 6 against the Blazers, he would drop 33 points and 11 rebounds on 11-17, being unstoppable on the offensive end.
Next up, he SWEPT the 2-time defending champs in the Lakers. Stacked with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, MWP, Bynum, and others, this seemed to be an easy series for the Lakers. Dirk would dominate again however, including a crucial game 3 performance which essentially ended the Lakers dynasty, with 32 points and 9 rebounds.
In the next round, he absolutely TORE up KD/Westbrook in the 2011 WCF. He scored 48 points on 12-15 shooting, then would score 40 points on 12-20 shooting in the crucial game 4 that would put a stake in the Thunder's finals chances. In the finals against the Heat, he would just in general dominate pretty much every game, playing much more dominantly than stats would suggest. Nobody could guard him Bosh, Haslem, Joel Anthony, LBJ all could not stop him.
To sum it up, he took out Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh ALL in ONE playoff run. A difficult run, but was no problem for Dirk, who shot a RIDICULOUS 46% from 3 in the playoffs, along with 28 points and 8 rebounds.
2012: LeBron James
LeBron was absolutely legendary in 2012. After a disappointing 2011 NBA Finals, LeBron would become a man on a major MISSION. He would thoroughly dominate the regular season, with shooting statistics we have never seen from a perimeter player in the history of the NBA. His 2012 playoff run would be absolutely monstrous, as he would flat out dominate EVERY team he played.
In game 4 of the ECSF against Indiana, when the Heat needed him most, he would go absolutely berzerk, scoring 40 points and EIGHTEEN rebounds, along with 9 assists. An absolute stat-sheet stuffer. And when people thought he couldnt top that, he would go absolute clutch with a must win in Boston, scoring 45 points and 15 rebounds, 30 points in the first half, and oh yeah, he did it in a way that essentially ended Boston's mini dynasty. He would then go on and absolutely PULVERIZE Kevin Durant (2nd), posting him up repeatedly. There truly was no contest in 2012, LeBron was the best.
2013: LeBron James
Once again, LeBron would dominate the NBA. Is this even a question? 27 game win streak, 66 wins, incredible statistics, excellent postseason, capped off by a CLUTCH game 7 against the Spurs, in which he would go absolutely bezerk from downtown?
The better question to ask is, who was the SECOND best player in the nba in 2013?
It comes down to Kobe Bryant (2nd) and Kevin Durant (3rd). Now, Kobe Bryant at age 34, was doing things most nba superstars cant do in their absolute primes. Kobe was an absolute beast, dragging a not-so-good-on-the-court Lakers team to the 7th seed in the West. Along the way, Kobe absolutely beasted on the court, with games like a 47 point game against POR, a 42 point, 12 assist comeback win against NOLA, a 41 point, 12 assist game against Toronto, and a 38-12-7 game against Dallas.
Kobe Bryant would also change his mentality and play style. Knowing that Nash was injured, and that the Lakers were struggling without a playmaker, Kobe stepped out of his usual comfort zone of being a scorer, and became almost a LeBron James/Magic Johnson type player, showing off his incredible passing ability. He would have THREE 14 assist games, all in wins, along with 2 triple doubles, and MULTIPLE 12 and 11 assist games. Kobe was not only a monster in his scoring, but his point guard skills as well.
Kevin Durant was INSANELY good as well in the regular season, but he absolutely WET the bed in the postseason. There is other way to say it. He played very well in the regular season, but after the Houston series, everything fell apart. Durant would struggle mightily against Memphis, absolutely blowing it, which gives Bryant the edge over Durant in POY for 2013.
2014: LeBron James
Again, no question about it, LeBron was the best player in the NBA. He would once again have a dominant regular season, which included a 61 point game against the Charlotte Bobcats. He would then go on to dominate in the playoffs, which included a near 50 point game against Brooklyn to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. He would play very well in the Finals, but a lack of help from his teammates, along with an incredibly unselfish passing display by the Spurs would end his chance at the 3-peat.
(The 2014 Spurs may very well be the best TEAM of the decade. Incredible passing, unselfishness, 3-pt shooting, and defense was unbelievable. Even statistics dont do the 2014 Spurs justice. Watching them play, the Spurs clearly had an incredible,almost soccer like vision with the ball. Ball moved VERY well, making it impossible to guard when nearly EVERY spurs player could hit the deep 3. I would argue that not even Michael Jordan could have beat that Spurs team. The Spurs were just built incredibly well, and they are IMO ridiculously underrated. Coach Pop should be given a lot more credit, the way he took a handful of decent role players and made them perform 10x their capabilities on another team. I cant stress enough just how good the 2014 PLAYOFF Spurs were)
Durant would be 2nd, but a distant 2nd, as he would struggle in the playoffs, especially against Memphis, who help him to horrendous shooting percentages. However, he would perform excellently in the regular season and play good defense.
Rankings for best NBA players since Jordan's retirement: (1st is 4 points, 2nd best is 3 points)