of the Los Angeles Lakers of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on February 19, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
The 2010s were filled with great NBA players who led their respective team to success and ultimately win the NBA Finals. The decade started with Kobe Bryant winning his last finals ring with the Los Angeles Lakers, then LeBron James winning the finals back to back with the Miami Heat and finally ended with the demise of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty. Some teams had superstars who flourished during this period.
The fifth best NBA player of this decade would have to be Kawhi Leonard. Gaining recognition with his elite defense, Leonard won the NBA Finals MVP during the 2013-2014 Finals against the LeBron James-led Miami Heat. Not only that, he was very efficient, averaging 17.8 points per game along with 61.2 percent shooting. Later in 2015 and 2016, he would win defensive player of the year and make the all-defensive first team from 2015 to 2017. In the 2018 and 2019 season, Kawhi Leanord would be traded to the Toronto Raptors. He moved past the Philadelphia 76ers with a buzzer-beater and beat the Milwaukee Bucks four games straight after their two-game defeat in the beginning. And finally, he dethroned the Warriors’ dynasty in six games and collected his well deserved 2nd NBA Finals award. In the following offseason, he joined the Los Angeles Clippers with Paul George and others. Kawhi Leonard will continue to flourish in LA or any team because of his young age of twenty-eight, an elite defense, and great scoring.
The fourth most talented NBA player of this decade is James Harden. Harden started off as a six-man in the Oklahoma City Thunder when they went to the finals against the Miami Heat in 2012. However, after failing to manage players’ contracts, the Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets in the 2012-2013 NBA season. He immediately showed his elite skillset as he averaged 25.9 points per game on his new team. Later, he would win the NBA MVP award for the 2017-2018 season as he averaged league-high 30.4 points per game. In the 2018-2019 season, he would also be an MVP candidate along with Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Harden dropped 30+ points for 32 consecutive games from December 13, 2018 to February 21, 2019. He reminded the NBA of arguably being the best scorer along with Kevin Durant. As Harden was destroying defenders with his elite scoring and shooting in the 10s, he will definitely continue to cook defenses in the 20s.
Next, the third greatest NBA player of the decade is Stephen Curry. Starting off slow in his career due to injuries such as in the ankle and knee, Curry was often doubted. However, in the 2012 to 2013 season, Steph Curry showed his dominance in shooting the ball. He attempted about 8 threes a game and averaged an amazing 45%. And from then on, things went great for Steph Curry. He earned his first all-star in 2014, won championships in 2015, 2017, 2018 and won back to back NBA MVPs in 2015 and 2016. Curry revolutionized the game of basketball by consistently shooting the ball from the 3 point land. People looked up to his shooting skills and his diligence, as he persevered through many setbacks like injuries.
The second-best NBA player this decade is Kevin Durant. Standing at about six feet and ten inches, he is the NBA’s best scorer. With Durant’s ability to dribble, create for himself, and shoot the ball, he proved to the league that nobody could come near his level of scoring. Not only that, his elite defensive ability such as shot-blocking has proved his superstar worth. Durant has multiple impressive accolades throughout this decade such as two-time finals MVP, MVP in the 2013-2014 season, six-time all NBA first team, and four-time scoring champion in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014. When Kevin Durant decided to join the Golden State Warriors in 2016, the majority of the basketball fans disliked Durant’s move. To prove the haters wrong, Durant won the NBA finals back to back years along with two finals MVP. However, in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Durant ruptured his Achilles, ending his season along with the 2019-2020 season being obscured with his terrible injury. With Kevin Durant dominating in the 2010s, he will certainly come back in the 20s and continue his great legacy.
Finally, the best NBA player this decade would have to be Lebron James. James’ ability to dominate defenses with his extreme athleticism propelled his greatness. Notably, his greatest achievement this decade is reaching the NBA finals eight seasons in a row ever since he was in the Miami Heat. Also, James’ perseverance in desperate situations showed his greatness. When he and the Cleveland Cavaliers were down 3-1 in the 2015-2016 NBA Finals, James scored 41 on game 5 and 6, and 27 on game 7. His team would come back and win the series in game 7. Later, the Cavs would get severely worse in the 2017-2018 season. James had little help on his team, but his leadership and dominance helped the Cavs achieve a 50-32 record and a finals appearance. Even though the Cavs got swept in the series, James showed his elite abilities with 51 points in the first game. And as of 2020, he and Anthony Davis are leading the Los Angeles very successfully, with a 36-10 record and number one seed in the west. Despite his previous success, James will look to solidify his legacy in the 2020s.
In conclusion, the past decade was filled with very talented NBA players. They proved their worth in the 2010s and revolutionized the game of basketball. Despite all of them aging in the 2020s, they will all find a way to be successful and continue to show dominance. None of these NBA players’ abilities or skills will slow down.