Forget Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan Is the NBA's Best of the Decade

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IMay 31, 2009

When thinking of the best players of this decade, there are certainly plenty of players who come to mind, but the two at the forefront are Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. The winner, though, is Duncan and not Bryant.

Here is the comparison between Bryant and Duncan since the 2000-2001 season.

Duncan has three championship rings with the San Antonio Spurs since the 2000-2001 season. The difference is that Duncan, during each title won, was the unquestioned leader of the team.

Duncan also helped develop his teammates into the players they are today and that includes Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli who have become very valuable to the team. Also, like Bryant, Duncan was helped out by Robert Horry as well who has hit clutch shots for both teams.

Whereas when Kobe won the two championships, Bryant was the second option on the Los Angeles Lakers, with Shaquille O'Neal being the first option. Even during this time, it wasn't Bryant taking the clutch shots, it was Horry.

Bryant, since becoming the leader of the Lakers, has not developed anybody around him to the point of being an All-Star. Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Trevor Ariza were all brought in by trades, whereas Ginobli and Parker were drafted by the Spurs.  

Bryant is a one-time Most Valuable Player award winner, seven-time First Team All-NBA, sevein-time NBA All-Defense, one-time Second Team All-NBA, two-time Second Team All-Defense, and one-time NBA Third Team All-NBA.

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Duncan is a two-time Most Valuable Player award winner, a two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award winner, seven-time NBA First Team All-NBA, six-time First Team NBA All-Defense, two-time Second Team All-NBA, and two-time Second Team All-Defense.

Duncan has more Most Valuable Player awards, more Finals Most Valuable Player awards, more Second Team All-NBA,  tie with First Team All-NBA with seven, Bryant has won one more First Team All-Defense, and Kobe has the only Third Team All-NBA.

Let's look at the Lakers in terms of how many wins in a season: 56, 58, 50, 34, 56, 45, 42, 57, and 65 wins since the start of the 2000-2001 season for the Lakers.

The Spurs win total the past decade has been: 58, 58, 60, 57, 59, 63, 58, 56, and 54 wins, meaning the average record for the Spurs has been 51-31.

So, on average, the Spurs have won seven more games per season than the Lakers have. The Lakers may have had the best record out of any of the teams when they won 65, but that was the only 60 win season for the Lakers in this decade, compared to the Spurs having two.

Duncan has also led the Spurs to more victories than Bryant has as well. As it shows, the Spurs have never had a season with less than 54 wins, whereas the Lakers have had two seasons under 50 wins, including a 34-win team with no playoffs.

Since the 2000-2001 season, Bryant has averaged 28.6 points per game, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.65 steals, .54 blocks per game, has shot 45.5 percent from the floor, 33.4 percent from beyond the arc, and 84.5 percent from the line.

Since the 2000-2001 season, Duncan has averaged 21.2 points per game, 11.7 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game, .8 steals per game, 2.33 blocks per game, and shot 50.5 percent from the field and 67.6 percent from the free throw line.

Bryant, throughout the decade, has been known for his athleticism, his ability to score, being a solid defender, and his ability to come up in the clutch.

Duncan has been known as being the model of consistency. Whether it's on the defensive end or the offensive end of the floor, Duncan has been known to come up big.

Bryant beats Duncan in terms of scoring, assists, steals, three point percentage, and free throw percentage, but Duncan beats Kobe in rebounding, blocks, and field goal percentage.

Yet, when putting everything together in terms of awards, championships, and winning teams, the winner in that category is Duncan.

So, who is the best player of this decade? It's Tim Duncan, and there is little question about it. Duncan reigns supreme in terms of the best player of this decade.