Fantasy sports picked up steam during the 2000s, and fantasy basketball participants had a handful of sensational contributors to target. The following names represent the cream of the crop in fantasy NBA talent during this decade.
Point Guard: Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson filled the stat sheet throughout the 2000s. Despite his small 6-0 frame, he attacked the lane ferociously as a scorer and distributor. He led the league in scoring three times during the decade, and the 33.0 points per game highlighted below was amazingly not one of those seasons (see Kobe’s average). His scoring was fantastic, but his uniquely elite value was enhanced by his assists. It’s highly rare to see someone average 7-plus assists per game while pouring in over 30 PPG, which is what helped propel him ahead of other point guard candidates including Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. And then throw in his steals per game (which he led the league in three times) and you can conclude that he was The Answer to your fantasy struggles. A.I. may have not had a knack for liking practice, but he certainly had a knack for showing up on game night.
Best stat line (2005-06): 33.0 PPG, 44.7 FG%, 81.4 FT%, 1.0 3PM, 3.2 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.9 SPG
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant was getting rings throughout the 2000s while also posting big-time numbers. His best statistical seasons came during L.A.’s dry seasons after Shaquille O’Neal left and before Pau Gasol arrived. Kobe specifically became a chucker in 2005-06, when he hoisted 27.2 shot attempts per game (his highest total in another season is 23.5). Kobe’s extremely high usage led to his highest PPG and 3PM. He also chipped in decent rebounds, assists and steals. Moreover, the Black Mamba maintained a level of consistency throughout the decade, something that wasn’t the case for early-2000s phenom Tracy McGrady. Kobe produced in a reliable fashion and serves as the face of this era.
Best stat line (2005-06): 35.4 PPG, 45.0 FG%, 85.0 FT%, 2.3 3PM, 5.3 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.8 SPG
Small Forward: LeBron James
LeBron James entered the league in 2003, and it took him no time to establish fantasy relevance. His numbers quickly grew ridiculous. He was scoring, rebounding, assisting, stealing and even shot-blocking. He even had acceptable percentages and was cashing over a trey per outing. Basically, LeBron has been arguably a top three fantasy player from the time he hit the NBA scene. His first stint with Cleveland afforded him plenty of usage, and he made the most of this by showcasing pure brilliance on the stat sheet as well as on the highlight reel. James continues to be a top-tier fantasy weapon today, but it’s doubtful he’ll ever return to being the beast he was during the mid-to-late 2000s.
Best stat line (2007-08): 30.0 PPG, 48.4 FG%, 71.2 FT%, 1.5 3PM, 7.9 RPG, 7.2 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.1 BPG
Power Forward: Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett secured his legacy with the Boston Celtics, where he anchored their core that made two trips to the Finals with one championship. These playoff performances in many ways serve as the defining moments of Garnett’s career. It’s easy to forget that he spent a total of 12 seasons playing for Minnesota before he was traded to Boston. It was during his younger, bouncy years in the early 2000s that KG was a dynamic individual force. He ranked first in the league in RPG for four consecutive seasons, and he also averaged at least 20 PPG, 10 RPG and five APG for six consecutive years. That’s highly unique production, and when you throw in his superb SPG and BPG, you recognize that The Big Ticket truly was one of the greatest power forwards of all time (and an unreal fantasy asset).
Best stat line (2003-04): 24.2 PPG, 49.9 FG%, 79.1 FT%, 13.9 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 2.2 BPG
Center: Tim Duncan
It’s incredibly difficult to leave Shaq off this list as well as the 90s one. However, the 90s were loaded with centers, and Hakeem Olajuwon provided more in the defensive categories as well as from the charity stripe. In the 2000s, it’s very tempting to include Shaq based on his figures from the 2000-03, but there’s a steady decline after these years. On the other hand, Tim Duncan was a model of consistency throughout this decade. It’s easy to argue that Shaq’s best year in this era (1999-00: 29.7 PPG, 57.4 FG%, 54.0 FT%, 13.6 RPG, 3.8 APG and 3.0 BPG) was better than Duncan’s best, but the bottom line is that Duncan was a consistent threat as a scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker. This especially becomes apparent when considering that Duncan averaged a double-double every season in the decade, whereas Shaq didn’t do this after 2005. The Big Fundamental may not have been flashy, but he was downright reliable and productive.
Best stat line (2001-02): 25.5 PPG, 50.8 FG%, 79.9 FT%, 12.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 2.5 BPG