A bunch of top fantasy basketball minds have agreed to participate in a Roundtable Debate. It’s my turn again.
This Week’s Topic
With the 2000's behind us, I wanted to ask the top basketball minds who they thought was the fantasy player of the decade.
Alex of BleacherCreatureRotoTalk.com
This one is close. Who is the top fantasy basketball player of the 2000s? It comes down to three candidates: Sean Marion, Ben Wallace, and Jason Kidd. These three dominated the fantasy landscape for a good portion of the 2000s.
While Chris Paul and Lebron James are also on this level, they have really only hit their stride toward the end of the decade. For that reason, we leave them off the list.
They call him "The Matrix" because he jumps like the characters in the movie The Matrix. Making athletic, high-flying moves that most human beings cannot make.
While he is at the tail end of his career, during the early and mid 2000s Shawn Marion was a dominant NBA player. Over the course of the 2000s he averaged 16.6pts, 9.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks, all while shooting 48 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line.
They call him Big Ben because he is freaking huge. For years Big Ben Wallace was the personification of an intimidating big man.
He won defensive player of the year four times throughout the 2000s. While most NBA stars make a name for themselves on the offensive end of the court, Big Ben earned his reputation by playing defense. Rebound, steals, and blocks were what his game was all about.
Amazingly, despite his terrible free throw shooting and lack of scoring, he always managed to rank as one of the top fantasy basketball players during the 2000s. That is a true testament of the impact his defense had on games.
During the 2000s Big Ben averaged 6.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 42 percent from the free throw line. While these numbers are not great, if you just look between 2000-2007 Big Ben averaged 12.6 boards, 1.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.65 blocks per game—those are some big numbers.
Jason Kidd (aka J-Kidd; aka J-Smooth) was probably the best point guard in the NBA during the 2000s. He turned the sorry New Jersey Nets into a contender and even led them to the NBA finals. Ballers loved playing with Kidd because he consistently made everyone around him better. He was regarded as a one-man fast break.
Kidd is the only player that consistently threatened averaging a triple double in the modern era and it was his contributions across multiple statistical categories that made him one of the top fantasy basketball players of the 2000s. During the 2000s, Kidd averaged 12.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 1.8 steals, and .6 blocks per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line.
In the end, we must crown one winner from these three. The winner? Shawn Marion.
The Matrix clearly established his dominance by frequently being the number one ranked fantasy player over all the big name stars during the 2000s. Not only was he consistently a top ranked fantasy basketball player, but despite his statistical dominance he was never regarded as an elite real-life player makes this award even more interesting.
The truth is that during the 2000s there was no other player who contributed across all statistical categories without hurting you in free throw percentage, field goal percentage and turnovers like Shawn "The Matrix" Marion.
Ryan of LestersLegends.com
Kobe Bryant came into his own as the decade kicked off, and he has never looked back. Entering Sunday, Jan. 3, he had 20,560 points in 714 games for an impressive 28.8 points per game average. He also averaged 5.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists.
He wasn’t just an offensive force though, averaging 1.69 steals as well. He shot 45.7 percent from the floor, 84.5 percent from the line, and 34.2 from downtown.
Kobe averaged 25.0+ points for all but the 2003-04 season. He averaged 5.2+ rebounds and 4.5+ assists every year. Quite simply, he was one of the finest, most consistent player in any decade.
He’s not quite Michael Jordan level, in my opinion, but he’s in the conversation.
Kobe didn’t win running away though. LeBron James was even more impressive, but in a shorter span. He enters Sunday’s Jan.3 game averaging 27.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.9 blocks. He shot 47.3 percent from the field, 74.1 percent from the line, and 33.1 percent from behind the arc.
Kobe holds him off though, because LeBron had just five and a half years of dominance.
Tim Duncan can easily be overlooked because of his quiet nature, but he had a monster decade as well. He scored 15,295 points in 722 games for an average of 21.2 points. He added 11.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game.
I chose Kobe over Duncan because he trumped him in points, three-pointers, assists, steals, and free-throw percentage. Duncan won the rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage categories.
Kevin Garnett was right up there with Kobe and Duncan for the better part of the decade, but his production took a hit when he was finally surrounded by some talent in Boston.
Tommy of HoopsWorld.com
Kevin Garnett (Timberwolves, Celtics)
Kevin Garnett gets my vote as the best individual fantasy performer of the last ten years. The Big Ticket is one of the most versatile seven-footers in the history of the league and stuffed the stat-sheet on a nightly basis like very few players either before or since. His all-around value was second to none, as he was the top-rated fantasy player, and often the No. 1 overall pick in drafts, for a healthy chunk of his prime.
Garnett finally hit a bit of wall once he was traded to the Celtics and had to share the spotlight with Paul Peirce and Ray Allen, and then was later derailed by a knee injury; but during his years in Minnesota nobody was definitively better.
Take his three-year stretch from 2002-2005. During that span, he played in all 82 games each season (246 straight games) and posted seasonal averaged of AT LEAST 22 points, 13.5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks—while shooting over 50 percent from the floor.
And check out his career-ranks among active players (with the vast majority of these numbers having been compiled from 2000 on): He is second in rebounds, fourth in points, fourth in steals, sixth in blocks, and eighth in assists (Yes, he has more career assists than Kobe Bryant).
Garnett was the ultimate, well-rounded, consistent, and prolific fantasy stud.
Nels of GiveMeTheRock.com
I’m going with Kobe Bryant. According to Give Me The Rock Player Rater (GMTR), Kobe averaged 4.375. LeBron James and Chris Paul were sort of tied for second since they both had at least one year where they weren’t in the top 20 (which was enough to push their averages down to eight and 10.25, respectively). Plus, Kobe played in more seasons than the other two, which makes his average ranking that much more impressive.
Erik of PointsInThePaint.com
Kevin Garnett—I was about to pick Chris Paul—but then his career is only just beginning and as good as his career line is, it is unfair to judge him against some other fantasy basketball studs who have managed to log in their contributions during their career peaks.
Kevin Garnett was a beast in the early 2000s (during his Minnesota days). His career numbers average per game, 20 points, 11 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.6 blocks. These solid percentages are simply and undeniably a complete package. Garnett, while in the winter of his career now over in Boston, was once a regular first-pick fantasy target and rightfully so.
His best season was in 2003-04 when he compiled an insane line per game of 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.2 blocks, a 49.9 field goal percentage and a 79.1 free throw percentage, with only 2.6 turnovers. He was the model of all-around efficiency and big-man number production at the same time. Those numbers, while compiled in a seemingly almost different era to that of Chris Paul and LeBron James, are just dominating and out right impressive.
Over the course of the 2000s, I would have to say that Kevin Garnett was at the very least arguably the best fantasy stud of that milieu.
Patrick of GiveMeTheRock.com
While he’s certainly not the player of 2009, only Kobe can rival his fantasy consistency year-to-year over the entire decade. According to the GMTR, Kevin Garnett finished on the top of the list twice in 2004 and 2005 (Kobe also finished first twice in 2001 and 2003) and was in the top five every single year until he was traded to Boston.
Average-wise, he does come in slightly worse than Kobe at 5.1 compared to 4.4 for the decade, but he plays at a scarcer position and was an anchor for teams in those all important rebound and block categories. Kevin Garnett was the player I remember being drafted first year after year and he always delivered.