Ranking the Top 100 players of the century (80-61)

Ranking the Top 100 players of the century (80-61)

Ranking

Ranking the Top 100 players of the century (80-61)

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The 2019 offseason has officially hit its most boring stage and yet, to overcome that, HoopsHype has decided to kick off an interesting offseason project.

Our entire team voted and ranked each of our Top 100 players of the 21st century – which, for our purposes, begins with the 2000-01 season – which we’ll be presenting over a series of eight articles.

This was not a simple project, as multiple-time MVP winners to All-NBA-level studs to defensive stalwarts litter this list of players ranging back through the last 19 seasons.

Part one, starting at player No. 100 and going through No. 81, can be found here.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into the next 20 players in our Top 100 list.

80. STEPHON MARBURY

21st century stats: 19.3 ppg, 7.3 apg, 1.2 spg, 43.9 FG% in nine seasons
21st century accolades
: 3rd Team All-NBA, two-time All-Star

In his prime, Stephon Marbury was one of the most exciting players in basketball.

He may have not been the most efficient player, but Marbury used his creative ball-handling, strength near the rim and solid burst to get buckets with the best of them, while also distributing the ball at high rates.

It should also be noted that Marbury is probably the New York Knicks’ best point guard this century, a noteworthy feat for a franchise that’s had more downs than ups over the last 20 years.

Marbury’s career was made even more noteworthy by the fact that he experienced a resurgence following an ugly NBA flameout playing in the Chinese CBA. Marbury won a Finals MVP in the CBA along with the Foreign MVP award, winning three total championships during his time in China.

Marbury’s time in China was so legendary that he even had a statue and a museum made in his honor.

79. RICHARD HAMILTON

21st century stats: 17.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.5 apg, 45.1 FG% in 13 seasons
21st century accolades
: Three-time All-Star, one NBA title

His game may not have translated that well to the modern, three-point-centric NBA, but in his era, Richard Hamilton was one of the better 2-guards in the league.

Hamilton’s specialty centered around his non-stop motor that allowed him to be constantly moving, usually preferring to come off screens to knock down mid-range jumpers.

A three-time All-Star, Hamilton was vital to those tough mid-2000s Detroit Pistons teams that are remembered so fondly today. The UConn product averaged 21.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the 2004 Finals, when Detroit won their third championship as a franchise.

78. JAMAL CRAWFORD

Stats: 14.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 41.0 FG% in 19 seasons
Accolades: Three-time Sixth Man of the Year

Jamal Crawford can be described as a professional scorer, as well as one of the best reserve players in league history. Only Lou Williams can match Crawford in career Sixth Man of the Year awards, with the two ball-handlers possessing three to their name apiece.

Crawford’s agility, ballhandling and step-back jumper made him a load to stop throughout his prime, and against second units, he was nearly unstoppable.

Crawford ranks seventh in NBA history in made three-pointers (2,220), first in four-point plays and 18th in career games played (1,326).

77. DEMAR DEROZAN

Stats: 19.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.4 apg, 45.1 FG% in 10 seasons
Accolades: 2nd Team All-NBA, 3rd Team All-NBA, four-time All-Star, one World Championship

One of the most under-appreciated players in the modern game, DeMar DeRozan may have fit better between 10 and 20 years ago when mid-range jumpers were more in vogue, but over 10 career seasons, he’s still nearly a 20-point-per-game-scorer with multiple All-Star appearances to his name.

So maybe some of the criticism he gets is a bit unwarranted.

DeRozan will never be the best player on a championship team, but as a third option on an elite team, he could do some serious damage.

76. KEMBA WALKER

Stats: 19.8 ppg, 5.5 apg, 1.3 spg, 41.8 FG% in eight seasons
Accolades: 3rd Team All-NBA, three-time All-Star

Once Kemba Walker found his three-point stroke in his fifth career season, his game reached another level. Over the past four years, the UConn legend has averaged 23.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game while hitting 37.7 percent of his outside looks.

And it’s not like he’s just taking spot-up three-pointers; the degree of difficulty on Walker’s jumpers make his above-average accuracy in that department all the more impressive.

Now set to join a Boston Celtics team with a lot of talent on it, Walker will be able to – for the first time in his pro career – show what he can do on the biggest stage in basketball.

It’ll be fun to see what’s he’s capable of in the playoffs.

75. DEMARCUS COUSINS

Stats: 21.2 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 3.2 apg, 46.1 FG% in nine seasons
Accolades: Two-time 2nd Team All-NBA, four-time All-Star, one World Championship, one Olympic gold medal

One of the best centers in basketball prior to his achilles injury in 2018, DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t quite looked the same since that unfortunate night, which has really hurt his career trajectory.

He’ll get the chance to find his former form as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers this upcoming season, for what should be one of the best teams in the league, but it’s unlikely he’ll be putting up 27 points a night again like he was during his prime.

When he was healthy, Cousins’ size, ball-handling, shooting and passing made him the complete package on offense, and he had good instincts on the defensive end that helped him make an impact on the less glamorous side of the floor when he was locked in.

Hopefully we can see that version of Cousins again at some point.

74. RICHARD JEFFERSON

Stats: 12.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 46.4 FG% in 17 seasons
Accolades: One NBA title, one Olympic bronze medal

His peak may not resemble that of most of the other players on this list (a fact evident just by looking at his career accolades section), but Richard Jefferson was a very solid player for a ridiculously long time, which helped give his ranking a boost.

At his peak, Jefferson averaged 19.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists over a five-season stretch, an impressive stat line for a non-star level player, and one that speaks to how productive he was for the New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee Bucks back in the day.

What’s more, despite being 35 at the time and in his 15th career season, Jefferson was an important contributor for the 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers championship team that was able to upset the 73-9 Golden State Warriors in the Finals.

73. YAO MING

Stats: 19.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 52.4 FG% in eight seasons
Accolades: Two-time 2nd Team All-NBA, three-time 3rd Team All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, NBA Hall of Famer

Injuries ultimately caused the untimely demise of his basketball career, but prior to that happening, Yao Ming was one of the best bigs in the world for a decent stretch of time.

His accolades might be a touch inflated due to the eight All-Star Game appearances – one for each year of his career – that were completely buoyed by fan voting, but he still made five All-NBA teams in his career, an accomplishment that not a lot of players can match.

Ming obviously possessed otherworldly size standing at 7-foot-6 and weighing over 300 pounds, but it was his touch at that size that made him so absurdly special. He could hit turnaround jumpers from the low-block as well as knockdown face-up mid-range jumpers, which, along with his bruising post game, made him an absolute nightmare to defend.

It’s a true shame his body couldn’t hold up.

72. GILBERT ARENAS

Stats: 20.7 ppg, 5.3 apg, 1.6 spg, 42.1 FG% in 11 seasons
Accolades: 2nd Team All-NBA, two-time 3rd Team All-NBA, three-time All-Star, Most Improved Player

For a ridiculous three-year stretch, Gilbert Arenas was one of the best guards in basketball.

Starting in the 2004-05 season and ending in 2006-07, Arenas put up 27.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.9 steals and 2.6 triples nightly over 234 games, numbers that resembled that of other elite guards – such as Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade – of the time.

His prime may not have lasted that long (mostly due to injuries but partially due to other shenanigans), but Arenas’ peak, when he was pouring in crazy numbers and hitting game-winners seemingly every night…

…was quite memorable.

71. JERMAINE O’NEAL

21st century stats: 15.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 46.6 FG% in 14 seasons
21st century accolades
: 2nd Team All-NBA, two-time 3rd Team All-NBA, six-time All-Star, Most Improved Player

It took him a while to get going, but Jermaine O’Neal blossomed into one of the league’s best bigs early in the 21st century.

A shot-blocking menace who could hit face-up jumpers out of the mid-post, O’Neal went to six All-Star games and made three All-NBA teams this century as a member of the Indiana Pacers, accolades that should be remembered more fondly than they are.

Over a five-season span in his prime, O’Neal averaged 20.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks nightly while shooting 45.9 percent from the floor. Additionally, he ranks 23rd in league history in total blocks with 1,820.

70. MIKE BIBBY

21st century stats: 15.4 ppg, 5.4 apg, 1.1 spg, 38.5 3P% in 12 seasons
21st century accolades
: One FIBA Americas gold medal

Mike Bibby’s accolades might not look that impressive compared to others in these rankings, but he was a solid playmaker and an apt outside shooter in his prime, one capable of playing an important role on elite teams.

He was a staple of those memorable early-2000s Sacramento Kings, forming a potent 1-2 punch with a certain power forward coming up on our list.

Bibby also deserves credit for his longevity, as he played 14 seasons, averaging double-digit points for 11 of them.

69. LUOL DENG

Stats: 14.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 45.6 FG% in 15 seasons
Accolades: Two-time All-Star, 2nd Team All-Defense, 1st Team All-Rookie

Had he not been worn down by head coach Tom Thibodeau playing him over 37 minutes nightly for eight years of his prime, Luol Deng might still be a starter-level player today. Instead, he has appeared in just 23 games over the last two seasons, with injuries and ineffectiveness being the primary reasons for that.

During his time with the Chicago Bulls, Deng led the league in minutes per game twice, and came close to the top of the list multiple other times.

Deng was a great perimeter defender in his heyday, playing the role of 3-and-D wing very well while also chipping in some playmaking as a secondary option when attacking closeouts.

68. CARLOS BOOZER

Stats: 16.2 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 52.1 FG% in 13 seasons
Accolades: 3rd Team All-NBA, two-time All-Star, one Olympic gold medal

His game may not have been the prettiest, but Carlos Boozer was devastatingly effective in his prime.

Boozer had a four-year stretch with the Utah Jazz where he averaged 19.9 points (on 54.8 percent shooting), 11.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per contest, a level of play which he used to earn a spot with the 2008 Olympic “Redeem Team”.

He was defensively challenged, but Boozer’s offensive production made him a memorable player nonetheless.

67. ANTAWN JAMISON

21st century stats: 18.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.0 spg, 45.0 FG% in 16 seasons
21st century accolades
: Two-time All-Star, Sixth Man of the Year

Speaking of unorthodox styles of play and defensively-challenged forwards, Antawn Jamison was similar to Boozer in that his offensive game also helped carry him despite his relative deficiencies.

Jamison was a 20-plus-point-per-game scorer for a lot of his career, and he did it using a variety of awkward floaters and a difficult-to-contain post game.

In the modern game, he may have been the prototypical small-ball 5.

66. METTA WORLD PEACE

21st century stats: 13.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 spg, 41.5 FG% in 16 seasons
21st century accolades
: 3rd Team All-NBA, All-Star, Defensive Player of the Year, two-time 1st Team All-Defense, two-time 2nd Team All-Defense, one NBA title

Unquestionably, Metta World Peace was one of the best defensive wings in league history.

With massive size, quick feet and football-player-like strength, World Peace made life impossible for players he was locking up on a nightly basis, and he used those skills to help the Lakers win the 2010 title.

Although World Peace may be remembered more for his extracurriculars than his actual game, that shouldn’t be the case because for a stretch, he was legitimately one of the most impactful wings in basketball.

65. ANDREI KIRILENKO

Stats: 11.8 ppg, 1.4 spg, 1.8 bpg, 47.4 FG% in 13 seasons
Accolades: All-Star, 1st Team All-Defense, two-time 2nd Team All-Defense, one-time blocks leader

Like Artest, Andrei Kirilenko wasn’t the best scorer, but made his money as one of the best defenders in the league.

The Russian forward’s length, size and instincts on the defensive end made him a menace to score on, and helped him lead the league in blocking once while racking up swats and takeaways consistently throughout his career.

In today’s NBA, Kirilenko would be an elite small-ball center capable of spacing the floor and locking down opposing wings and bigs.

It’s a shame we’ll never be able to see it but regardless, Kirilenko will be remembered for his international impact and insane point-stopping prowess.

64. CHRIS WEBBER

21st century stats: 20.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 4.2 apg, 45.7 FG% in eight seasons
21st century accolades
: 1st Team All-NBA, two-time 2nd Team All-NBA, three-time All-Star

Bibby’s power forward and the player who helped Sacramento reach some of their best campaigns as a franchise, Chris Webber was an absolute force.

With the ability to pass, hit jumpers, dribble and explosively finish near the basket, it’s no wonder Webber was one of the most productive players in the league for a long stretch of time.

Webber was so good that many consider his recent annual Hall-of-Fame voting snub a bit of a travesty.

We’ll see how much longer he continues to get left out of the all-important Hall. Hopefully, it doesn’t take too much longer.

63. DEANDRE JORDAN

Stats: 9.6 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 67.0 FG% in 11 seasons
Accolades: 1st Team All-NBA, two-time 3rd Team All-NBA, All-Star, two-time 1st Team All-Defense, two-time rebounds leader, one Olympic gold medal

He may not stand up to the otherworldly centers of the 80s and 90s but for his era, DeAndre Jordan was one of the best bigs league-wide for a decent amount of time.

An elite screen-setter, rebounder and finisher out of the pick-and-roll, Jordan put up impressive numbers while doing a lot of the dirty work for teams he suited up for.

Jordan has led the league in rebounding twice and in field-goal percentage five times, crossing the 70 percent accuracy threshold three times in that span.

62. BARON DAVIS

21st century stats: 17.2 ppg, 7.6 apg, 1.9 spg, 40.9 FG% in 12 seasons
21st century accolades
: 3rd Team All-NBA, two-time All-Star, two-time steals leader

One of the most exciting floor generals of his time, Baron Davis had surprising bounce, excellent passing ability and solid scoring touch that made him special.

Most of all, Davis is remembered for being the leader of the We Believe Warriors, who upset the No. 1 seed Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs and put up a great fight against the Jazz as that year’s eighth seed.

Davis’ best play that season was a legendary dunk on a player who just came up previously on our list and an elite defender in Kirilenko…

…which lit Oracle Arena – and NBA fans everywhere – on fire for one brief moment.

61. JOHN WALL

Stats: 19.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 9.2 apg, 43.3 FG% in nine seasons
Accolades: 3rd Team All-NBA, five-time All-Star, 2nd Team All-Defense, 1st Team All-Rookie, slam-dunk champion

Unlike Jordan, John Wall is playing in a golden era for his position, with the modern point-guard spot absolutely loaded with talent.

And yet, Wall, prior to his latest injury troubles, has been able to shine nonetheless.

Defensively, not many other point guards can match Wall’s length and explosiveness, and on offense, his speed and court vision helped set him apart.

Set to miss all of next season, hopefully Wall is able to bounce back once he gets healthy and return to his top-point-guard form.

You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.

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