We’re getting closer to the top of our rankings.
Today, HoopsHype takes a look at the players ranked between No. 30 and No. 21 of our Top-100-players-of-this-century ranking.
Today’s list includes some of the most explosive wings of all time, two of the greatest shooters ever and one of the most creative players basketball has ever seen. Obviously, today’s 10 players include multiple guys who have won more than one title, too.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at today’s list.
30. KLAY THOMPSON
Stats: 19.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 41.9 3% in eight seasons
Accolades: Three NBA titles, five-time All-Star, two-time 3rd Team All-NBA, 2nd Team All-Defense, one World Cup, one Olympic gold medal
It’s Klay Thompson’s sublime outside stroke and sturdy defense that have helped push him to such a special career merely eight years into it.
Besides sharing guard duties with Stephen Curry in the best backcourt ever and winning multiple titles, Thompson will most be remembered for various breathtaking moments whenever he does decide to metaphorically hang them up.
There was the night he scored 60 points against the Indiana Pacers in fewer than 30 minutes of action; there was the time he scored 37 points – what would be a career-high for most players – in one quarter of action; and there was the night he broke the record for most three-pointers (11) in a playoff game – in an elimination game, no less – against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Thankfully, Thompson’s career is far from over, so he should be able to bless us with plenty more unforgettable performances over the coming seasons.
29. TRACY MCGRADY
21st century stats: 21.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.9 apg, 43.4 FG% in 12 seasons
21st century accolades: Seven-time All-Star, two-time 1st Team All-NBA, three-time 2nd Team All-NBA, two-time 3rd Team All-NBA, two-time scoring champion, Most Improved Player
For a time, Tracy McGrady was one of the best wings in basketball. His explosive scoring, freakish size and decent enough shooting helped make him an absolute force through the early to mid-2000s. In back to back seasons, he finished Top 4 in MVP voting, proving just how otherworldly he was at his peak.
The one thing that holds McGrady back legacy-wise, and in this ranking, is the unfortunate fact that he was never able to lead a team out of the first round of the playoffs during his prime, only getting past that threshold once, as a deep bench piece for the San Antonio Spurs just before he retired.
Still, McGrady’s production and overall impact on basketball as a whole – he was one of the first supersized do-everything wings that has become so popular in modern basketball – cannot be denied.
28. GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO
Stats: 18.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 4.1 apg, 52.1 FG% in six seasons
Accolades: Most Valuable Player, three-time All-Star, 1st Team All-NBA, two-time 2nd Team All-NBA, 1st Team All-Defense, 2nd Team All-Defense, Most Improved Player
Speaking of supersized do-everything wings, Giannis Antetokounmpo was almost carved out of McGrady mold, but took it to an even more freakish level. McGrady checked in at 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan; Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, is 6-foot-11 (if not taller) with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, while also possessing a ton of skill as a ball-handler and playmaker.
Despite struggling as a shooter, Antetokounmpo has averaged 27.3 points per game over the last two seasons, to go with 11.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists and a 55.2 percent shooting mark. With the ball in his hands and even the slightest bit of downwind momentum, the near-7-footer is impossible to stop.
Antetokounmpo also provides huge impact as a defender, jumping passing lanes, defending elite wings and protecting the paint at unbelievable rates.
Set to enter his age-25 season in 2019-20, Antetokounmpo should continue to stake his claim as one of the most game-changing forward in modern league history.
27. ANTHONY DAVIS
Stats: 23.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 51.7 FG% in seven seasons
Accolades: Six-time All-Star, three-time 1st Team All-NBA, 1st Team All-Defense, two-time 2nd Team All-Defense, three-time blocks leader, one World Cup, one Olympic gold
Another modern two-way force, Anthony Davis is the prototypical big man built to dominate the current NBA landscape. Able to shoot, dribble, post up, face up and swat away shots defensively, Davis can do just about everything at an elite level.
Davis’ only issue thus far throughout his career has been concerning his health; be it missing entire games or just having to check out to get looked at in the locker room a little too often, the Kentucky product has had the term “fragile” thrown out when discussing his injury history.
Even so, Davis is dominant on both ends of the floor, and now that he’s joined the most talented team he’s been on since college, he’ll get a chance to prove his game can translate in a deep playoff run.
26. SHAWN MARION
21st century stats: 15.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.5 spg, 48.5 FG% in 15 seasons
21st century accolades: One NBA title, four-time All-Star, two-time 3rd Team All-NBA, one Olymic bronze medal
One of the most underappreciated players of the 21st century (just look at his accolades), Shawn Marion was a swingman who could do a bit of everything: attack the glass on both ends of the floor, cut to the basket for easy buckets, get after it on the open floor and defend multiple positions (it’s actually criminal Marion never made an All-Defense team considering his effectiveness as a point-stopper).
Oh, and despite having one of the ugliest jump shots ever, he could even knock down triples when given time and room.
Marion was an important piece on some of the best Phoenix Suns teams in that franchise’s history, and he helped the Dallas Mavericks win their lone NBA title in 2011, which put a nice bow on his legacy.
25. CHAUNCEY BILLUPS
21st century stats: 15.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.6 apg, 39.5 3PT% in 14 seasons
21st century accolades: One NBA title, Finals MVP, five-time All-Star, 2nd Team All-NBA, two-time 3rd Team All-NBA, two-time 2nd Team All-Defense
It took him a long while to hit his peak, but once he did, Chauncey Billups became one of the most under control and impactful floor generals of the 21st century.
Not only was he a great defender at the lead-guard spot, Billups was impossible to pressure with the ball in his hands, and could create for teammates and hit triples at near-elite clips. According to Phil Jackson, who had to coach against Billups’ Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, it was Billups who was the team’s most important player, an impressive feat considering how many extremely talented players were on that squad.
Billups’ longevity also helped set him apart, as the 6-foot-3 guard played for 17 seasons, and was quite productive into his mid-30s.
24. VINCE CARTER
21st century stats: 16.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.1 apg, 43.4 FG% in 19 seasons
21st century accolades: Seven-time All-Star, 2nd Team All-NBA
Vince Carter probably should have been more impactful and productive than he was, especially when you consider the vast array of skills he had going for him.
He could shoot, and not just when spotting up, but off the dribble; he had a solid post-up game, featuring a difficult-to-contest fadeaway jumper; he was a ridiculous athlete, especially in his prime; he could handle the rock and play the role of primary playmaker for spells; and… did we mention his freakish athleticism?
Truthfully, there’s not much more a player needs to be a perennial All-NBA team member, and Carter was only able to earn that honor twice (just once this century), and never as a first-teamer.
So that forces one to wonder: What could have been, had Carter shared the attitude of a Kobe Bryant, or a Dwyane Wade or a LeBron James in his prime?
We’ll never know the answer to that, but never the less, it’s great to see Carter still in the league, earning his nightly place in the rotation, and playing the role of low-usage analytics darling.
23. MANU GINOBILI
Stats: 13.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, 44.7 FG% in 16 seasons
Accolades: Four NBA titles, two-time All-Star, two-time 3rd Team All-NBA, Sixth Man of the Year, one Olympic gold medal, silver medal at the World Championship
Unlike Carter, Manu Ginobili didn’t have freakish athleticism to help push him to stardom. He reached the heights he did in a different manner: by being one of the most artfully skilled players the game has ever seen.
Be it with behind-the-back, no-look passes, creative dribbles (the kind that went through his own legs or those belonging to whichever unfortunate soul was defending him), or with his knockdown step-back three-point jumper, Ginobili had ways to break down defenses that others wish they could replicate. And thanks to those skills, the Argentine maestro carved out a long, impressive career with the San Antonio Spurs, winning four titles and making two 3rd Team All-NBAs, one of which came in a year that he mostly came off the bench.
Ginobili wasn’t just a winner in the NBA, either. He won a EuroLeague and Olympic gold as well, becoming just the second player ever (along with Bill Bradley) to earn that distinction.
Simply put: There will never be another Manu.
22. CHRIS BOSH
Stats: 19.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 49.4 FG% in 13 seasons
Accolades: Two NBA titles, 11-time All-Star, 2nd Team All-NBA, one Olympic gold medal, bronze medal at World Championship
Chris Bosh might be best remembered for his exploits as the Miami Heat’s third fiddle and safety valve when defenses loaded up to keep LeBron or Wade out of the paint, but his legacy goes far beyond that.
Bosh, a two-time champion, was one of the first star-level floor-spacing big men that eventually became so popular in the NBA. The almost-7-footer could receive the ball in the high post, turn around, face up his defender and hit a jumper right in his eye. Towards the latter stages of his career, he was even extending his range to beyond the three-point arc, which would have taken his game to an even higher level.
Unfortunately, that amazing career was cut short due to multiple issues with blood clots, and we never got to see what a three-point-centric Bosh could do.
Of course, Bosh could do more than just shoot. He possessed a well-rounded offensive game, both inside and out, and was a very underrated defender thanks to his quick feet that helped him hold his own on the perimeter.
21. RAY ALLEN
21st century stats: 19.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 40.3 3P% in 14 seasons
21st century accolades: Two NBA titles, nine-time All-Star, 2nd Team All-NBA, 3rd Team All-NBA
Prior to the appearance of some dude named Stephen Curry, Ray Allen was unquestionably the greatest shooter of all time.
Now, he’ll have to settle for second.
Nevertheless, Allen still ranks first all-time in three-pointers made with 2,973, and second place (Reggie Miller) is over 400 makes behind him.
It must be noted, however, Allen was more than just a jump shooter. In his prime, he had legitimate bounce off the dribble and was known to rock the occasional slam on unsuspecting opponents’ heads. What’s more, over a 10-year stretch, Allen posted averages of 22.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists, proving that he was more well-rounded than given credit for these days, especially as a distributor.
Allen also has those two NBA titles to his name, one as an elite starter for the Boston Celtics and the other as reserve role player for the Heat.
Oh, and we can’t fail to mention that Allen hit one of th biggest shots in league history in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals against the Spurs. Down by three with the clock – and Miami’s chances of extending their season – nearing zero, Allen received a pass from Bosh, took a couple of steps back and… well, actually, we’ll just show you:
How many players who have suited up in the NBA’s illustrious history could have made that same shot?
That question was meant to be rhetorical but we’ll answer it anyway: not many.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.