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Layups: Dwyer’s 10 Best of the Decade

Posted by Neil Paine on October 1, 2009

I'd be remiss if I didn't link to BBR Blog fave Kelly Dwyer's ongoing series at Ball Don't Lie, highlighting the top 10 players of the Oughts by position:

As always, they're fun reads even though I don't agree with everything in there. And besides, it's nice to see somebody getting more Kobe-related hate mail than me.

31 Responses to “Layups: Dwyer’s 10 Best of the Decade”

  1. Mark Wylie Says:

    Hi Neil, what off the top of your head don't you agree with?


    Come on Neil,you know your site is really AWESOME,but this rift/grudge/whatever of yours against Kobe is really irritating.I have almost read 10s of articles here,you are always on to a man who has already been enshrined in hall of fame at age 30 in any measure.
    Really come on,what happened tell us??.We all like LeBron,Wade,Arenas,TMAc,Vinsanity,etc people who bring ''watchability'' to NBA and basketball which otherwise can collapse into something very bland and boring.I respect your super complicated numbers as well.But tell us why do you bash/disrespect/denounce/diss/humiliate this guy everytime you have chance to?

  3. Neil Paine Says:

    It was a joke... Dwyer gets the same thing -- I have no problem with Kobe, but we joke about the way his fans overreact to writers who don't consider him either A) the best player in basketball today, or B) on the same level as Michael Jordan. Unfortunately, you kinda proved our point...

    As far as what I don't agree with: you know, little things here and there. I get why he listed Duncan as a C, but some of that felt like being contrary for its own sake (we listed him at PF, of course). Other things were that Arenas felt too high on the PGs list, I don't think Stackhouse or Mashburn (a pair of overrated guys IMO) deserved top-10 nods, Joe Johnson should be a SG, Jermaine O'Neal is probably overrated as the 5th-best center, etc. Like I said, little things with ordering.

    If you use Win Shares as a guide, you get these teams (remember, value is cumulative, so longevity matters a lot):
    1. Nash
    2. Billups
    3. Kidd
    4. Miller
    5. Payton
    6. Cassell
    7. Bibby
    8. Marbury
    9. Parker
    10. Davis

    1. Bryant
    2. Allen
    3. Carter
    4. Iverson
    5. Terry
    6. Finley
    7. Eddie Jones
    8. Ginobili
    9. Brent Barry
    10. Wade

    1. Pierce
    2. McGrady
    3. James
    4. Stojakovic
    5. Lewis
    6. Jefferson
    7. Kirilenko
    8. Battier
    9. Szczerbiak
    10. Maggette

    1. Nowitzki
    2. Garnett
    3. Duncan
    4. Marion
    5. Brand
    6. Ben Wallace
    7. Rasheed Wallace
    8. Gasol
    9. Jamison
    10. Stoudemire

    1. O'Neal
    2. Brad Miller
    3. Yao
    4. Camby
    5. Howard
    6. Ilgauskas
    7. Mutombo
    8. Chandler
    9. Dampier
    10. Robinson

    I don't think those lists are superior to KD's, of course, but they do provide an interesting counter-point.

  4. Jason J Says:

    Those numbers are actually pretty surprising. No CWeb. Yes Peja. Going by arbitrary decade dates causes some odd results. Payton is top 5 in 2000s and probably top 5 in '90s as well, but he's not going to score as high in either as he would in both.

    I thought Dwyer did a good job, though his choice to move Duncan to the 5 and leave Sheed at the 4 seems odd. Tim played most of the decade next to bigger, less versatile centers (David and Rasho) just like Wallace did (Dale Davis / Ben Wallace - actually Wallace is taller than Davis and Ben). Tim was his team's best low post scorer but also worked away from the rim to give his less skilled front court partners room down low, just like Sheed. They both worked the pick and pop with their All-NBA PGs. They both primarily defended powerforwards for most of the decade.

    It's a dumb point to get stuck on, but it is one that bothers me when people are so certain that Duncan's a center but Rasheed is a forward, yet they sort of parallel as far as roles go (or did for most of the decade anyway, until Rasheed started thinking he was Steve Kerr). It seems like the center position is being defined by who the better shotblocker / rebounder is. But of course Garnett isn't confused for a center. Neither is Gasol. Or Bosh. Nobody wondered about Webber or Horace Grant though they were better rebounders and shot blockers than Divac and Cartwright.

    And what the hell position does Amare play anyway? He's a 6' 10" drive-a-holic with the first step of Clyde Drexler who doesn't really defend anybody. Doesn't sound like a center. But he and Marion shared the same front court for most of his career, so can he be construed to play PF when he's the only real option to be considered the 5 man? Mysteries abound.

  5. Neil Paine Says:

    Maybe positions are dying... I mean, what is a position anyway? In baseball & football, general positions are clearly-defined and there is little player movement from one to another, but in basketball they're just shorthand for a player's preferred role on the typical team. Saying "small forward" conjures up a mental image of the playing style associated with that position, but on an individual basis one player's interpretation of what it means to be a SF can be radically different from another player's, even if the media considers both guys SFs.

  6. Jason J Says:

    You're probably right. I just wish people would be consistent when they make distinctions (or as much as possible). Hell one of my all-time favorite line-ups was Harper, Jordan, Pippen, Kukoc, and Rodman. No real point guard. No real center. Not even a pure power forward really, just a bunch of skilled, athletic wings playing ball.

  7. Wesley Says:

    Dwyer's lists are a joke, this guy knows nothing about basketball and i mean nothing. hey Neil i hope you don't respect this guy's basketball knowledge because he has none. did you see that list were he listed hinrich and eric snow as top 10 defenders over the last decade? Better defenders over the last decade weren't even mentioned (Mr. Bryant was one of them)on the list. how is that possible for a player with 7 first team all nba defensive selections? can you please explain this to me Mr. Payne. If that's not disrespect towards a player career and accomplishments i dont know what it is.

  8. Joe Schaller Says:

    I did a quick look at the point guards and didn't waste my time on any more. I have CP3 as the greatest point ever, over Magic and Stockton.

  9. Neil Paine Says:

    Eric Snow was a great defender. Hinrich's hard-nosed, I've always thought he could be better defensively, but he's still pretty good. When Kobe's able to focus on that part of the game, he can be a top-notch defender too, but when he has to expend all of his energy on scoring and carrying the load offensively, he understandably lets his defense slip. He was finally "the man" on offense for L.A. in 2004, and consequently he was average on D (sorry, he shouldn't have been all-defense). In 2005, L.A. was one of the worst defensive teams of all-time with Bryant playing 2700 minutes (and somehow they managed to be 2.4 points worse when he was on the floor!). The following year, L.A. improved defensively with Jackson back as coach, but their D was almost 7 points of defensive efficiency worse with Kobe on the floor than they were when he rode the pine; again, he had no business being named all-defense that year. Last year, same story -- after basically breaking even in on/off numbers in '07 & '08, they were 1.4 points of efficiency worse when Kobe was on the floor in '09. For someone who is supposedly an elite defender, it's strange how the only significant impacts he's made on his team's defenses in the post-dynasty years have been negative. Unfortunately, it's just another case of the actual in-game evidence being wildly out of step with Kobe's reputation.

  10. Wesley Says:

    lol i knew you would find a way to diminish kobe's accomplishments....after all you always do.kobe has earned every single honor in his career, he doesn't vote for himself. GM's, coaches and fellow player appreciate greatness. Neil your biased numbers didn't answer my question. were hinrich and snow better defenders than kobe over the last decade? real basketball fans know the answer.

  11. Joe Schaller Says:

    I'll have to side with Neil on this one. GM's, coaches and fellow players have proven to be poor judges of greatness. A good example is Kobe's reputation as "the closer" yet actual "close game" and "game winning shots" stats prove this to be greatly exaggerated. Kobe's "greatness" must be put in the perspective of comparisons to Dwyane Wade rather than someone like Michael Jordan. Jordan was superior to Kobe in ALL aspects including defense.

  12. Neil Paine Says:

    At what point does it occur to some of these Kobe megafans that I, and the numbers (you know, the impartial record of things that actually happened on the court!), might not be what's biased in our little debates?

    Basically, I can lay out all the evidence I want and it's never going to change their minds. The difference between us is that if Kobe were to suddenly start posting numbers in keeping with his reputation (and it'd probably have to be several seasons' worth, just in case it was a fluke), I'd be the first one to heap praise on him. But his most irrational fans will never be similarly swayed by evidence -- they could never be convinced he isn't what they need him to be, at least not enough to actually admit his shortcomings. Unfortunately, whenever you've invested too much of yourself in one argument to ever change sides if presented with compelling evidence, that's an intellectually dishonest position to come from in a debate like this.

  13. Wesley Says:

    Still didn't answer my question, I didn't came in here to say kobe's the greatest basketball player to ever live. I'm not a kobe fanboy but your numbers don't say much neil, not when you nitpick the ones you want people to see so it doesn't affect your agenda

  14. Neil Paine Says:

    I thought I had already answered it... When Kobe was Shaq's second fiddle and one of the Lakers' best stoppers in 2000, he was a better defender than either Hinrich or Snow ever were. As he focused more on offense, though, his defense slipped considerably, resulting in horrific performances like you saw in 2005. So, peak-wise for the decade, I'd rank them: 1. Kobe in 2000, 2. Snow in 2000-02, 3. Hinrich in 2005-07. But if we're talking cumulative, total performance for the entire decade, Hinrich and Snow were just better, because Kobe was having to expend a huge amount of energy on offense while the other two could focus on D (especially Snow, who did it almost exclusively). Snow deteriorated quickly and was actually pretty bad at both ends by his final few years, so with the entire decade in mind, I'd probably rank them: 1. Hinrich, 2. Snow, 3. Bryant.

  15. Neil Paine Says:

    And what exactly is my "agenda"? Do you honestly think I set out to minimize Kobe Bryant? I've always said, if Kobe produces at a level commensurate with the praise he gets from the media, I will join the chorus. I'd love it if he put up those kinds of numbers; it would make my life a lot easier, to be honest. But he doesn't. And he never has. If you're going to blame anyone, blame him -- all he has to do is produce at the level everyone pretends he can. Why doesn't he?

    And yes, I'm obviously nitpicking the numbers I want people to see... You know, the numbers that correlate the most with winning... My god, why would we want to isolate those numbers? You're right, though, I'm really just pushing my agenda. The agenda of identifying players who are the best at helping their teams win. Looks like you caught me red-handed.

  16. Mike G Says:

    Brad Miller may be the #2 center of the decade, or he may not be top 10.
    Brent Barry had a better decade than DWade?

  17. Neil Paine Says:

    Well, Barry did play almost 300 more games in the decade than Wade. Not saying I would subjectively put him ahead of Wade, but Wade's career consists of what, three full seasons and three "semi-seasons"? He's probably not going to beat out a lot of people in counting stats.

  18. Wesley Says:

    I actually respect your work. It's just that when ut comes to kobe you always find a way to discredit his abilities, excuse me if I'm wrong but that's what it seems like. Anyways, I agree that some people (including so called experts like mark jackson) overrate kobe but he's been puttin great numbers consistently over his career. Comparisons to jordan are ridiculous, kobe's production is just not at that level still he has accumulated enough numbers and honors that should rank him among the top 15 players of all time.

  19. Wesley Says:

    I will take time to look at hinrich's and snow's on/off court numbers, maybe I overreacted a bit. I just think that kobe did more over the past 10 years, hinrich hasn't even play 10 full seasons and snow was already finished in 2005.

  20. P Middy Says:

    Not sure how he justifies putting Big Z and Jermaine O'Neal ahead of Yao Ming, particularly since his main complaint is that Yao is too injury prone. Big Z. and Jermaine O'Neal. I mean, COME ON.

  21. Tsunami Says:

    "Unfortunately, it's just another case of the actual in-game evidence being wildly out of step with Kobe's reputation."


    This is why whenever Cavs fans and Kobe fans get into it, one side uses stats and the other side uses buzz words like "killer instinct".

  22. P Middy Says:

    AND the damn facts are wrong. Ming played 77 games last season. Sorry, just kind of livid about that centers list . . .

  23. Boss Says:

    I laugh at Dwyer's posts. I think he makes some decisions just to get a rise out of people because they are too ridiculous to explain otherwise.

  24. Mark Wylie Says:

    I was surprised to see Nowitzki ahead of Garnett and Duncan. Was there much separating those three?

  25. Boss Says:

    His 10 best players of the decade and coaches lists were hilarious.

    Can you really defend putting KG, LeBron and Dirk over Shaq? Really?

    Scott Skiles over Pat Riley, Larry Brown and Jerry Sloan???!!!! Please don't post any of that nonsense on this blog anymore.

  26. Neil Paine Says:

    Shaq wasn't an elite player for most of the 2nd half of the decade. Pat Riley had a losing record for the 2000s.

  27. hk Says:

    Even if we wanted to go by just numbers, I could definitely defeat Dwyer. His understanding of numbers is limited, he doesn't use enough sources of information (just goes by PER, Win Shares). For example he tried to make this silly argument about Chris Paul being better than Bryant in 07-08 when Paul gave up about 19 PER to his opponents (including playoffs), his per differential ( was not even better.

    The reason you should get heat Neil, is because 28 PER combined with Kobe's durability that year in 05-06 is almost unheard of. Not to mention that Kobe dribbles the ball less per possession (see than LeBron which I'll get into later. Also when you play with someone like Shaq in his prime, you're going to defer. Not sure numbers are completely relevant for Kobe he's definitely underrated. He's also played in a better era than Jordan perimeter wise. 1986-87 Jordan who averaged 37 PPG on a 56 TS% (almost 30 PER), would not have as high a PER now imo, and Kobe pace adjusted does best him in various stats if I am correct.

    Dwyer ranked Dirk above Shaq in one of his other lists. Sorry that's a joke. The top players of this decade are Kobe/Shaq/Duncan. And Duncan has played 34 minutes a game and cooled off over the last few years (from about 28 years old to now).

    Defensively, doesn't really show Kobe being a poor defender. He consistently guards positions at a high level, such as this past season where he had better defensive PER than Wade. Even if Kobe's defense is overrated I am not sure that there's been enough evidence to show Snow, whatever are better defensively. Kobe's durability should also factor into him being a top 10 defender, not just how effective one is per minute.

    And Shaq was Kobe's second fiddle in the 00-01 playoffs, at least according to Win Shares. Haha. :] Kobe has had more Win Shares than Shaq various times, and just won a title with Pau Gasol and a squad less talented than Michael Jordan's supporting cast.

    My problem with Dwyer is that he contradicts himself. Dirk had one of the best seasons in 05-06? higher Per than Kobe? Well what about Per value? Hollinger doesn't just take into account PER, there really was no reason to rank Dirk as high as he does. I get a Texas bias when I read some of that trash.

    Lastly LeBron actually leads the league in shots taken between 16-24 seconds into the shot clock. Half of his shots come in that period, far more than any other elite player in this league. While his team may be moving at a slower pace, I'm not sure he actually time uses up less time than Kobe to move the way he does. PER is not perfect in that sense and does not take that into account, Kobe fits better onto winning teams (I calculated something like, Kobe using ~16.2 seconds LeBron at ~17.5 seconds per possession last year. Something in that range, that certainly could make up the difference in pace if that value is close. Just watching LeBron play I could always tell that he needs more time than anyone else to play the way he does and accumulate those assists).

    Oh and Kobe's post-season Win Shares in 2009 were top 5 of all time. If I remember correctly, he's the one with 30 PER against the Nuggets, 27.5 PER against the Magic. While LeBron padded against the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks with an injured Joe Johnson (and to a lesser extent Al Horford).

  28. Wesley Says:

    Shaq won 4 titles and 3 finals mvp's in the 2000's, he was an elite/dominant player for a good portion of this decade.

  29. hk Says:

    Kobe's 09 post-season win share was indeed top 5 all-time, until the Win Share tweak BBR just did.

    A shame, that's ignoring the real time used by LeBron to play the way he does.

    Dwyer was pumping up LeBron for his 38 PPG against the Magic, while completely ignoring Kobe's 30 PER (and excellent D on Melo once Ariza was exposed) to Bron's 29 PER. He wrote this article "what a bad man!" (something like that), completely clueless of the nuances of the series and of Bryant. No such praise was heaped on Bryant, Kelly's lists are awful.

  30. Jared Ras Says:

    I guess I'm one of the few that doesn't have a problem with his lists... maybe the coaches list, but that's it. On another forum, someone was saying how bad his lists are, then they went on to make their own list as a group... everyone had the same 10 people, just in slightly different order.

  31. Jake @ Jump Higher Says:

    I like Steve Nash on top of that Point Guard list. His passes are just too crazy, he can find you wherever you go. Jason Kidd is great too, but Nash is better. And what about John Stockton?