Top 5 NBA players of the 2010s

Arnav Thube, Staff Writer

With the current decade progressing into its middle stages, it’s time to revisit the best players of the previous decade. Here are my top five picks for the best National Basketball Association (NBA) players of the 2010s.

#5: James Harden

If there was any single player whose playstyle demonstrates the current state of basketball, it would be shooting and point guard James Harden. His free throw-baiting, three point technique is a perfect visualization of how the game has changed from the gritty defensive minded league of the 2000s to the high-flying offensive game we have in 2023. Harden won MVP as a Houston Rocket in 2018 after averaging a league high 30.4 points per game. Harden also led the league in scoring during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He also has made the NBA All-NBA first team four times in the 2010s.

#4: Russell Westbrook

When point guard Russell Westbrook won the MVP award in 2017, he achieved what nobody has done since Oscar Robertson in 1962: averaging a triple double (averaging 10 or more points, assists and rebounds) over the course of the entire season (31.6/10.7/10.4). He then did it again in 2019 and 2021, being the first player to ever achieve it more than once. Westbrook made 2 All-NBA first teams over the course of the decade. His explosive, physical play style made him one of the most entertaining players in the league.

#3: Kevin Durant

Widely regarded as one of the best pure scorers in NBA history, power forward Kevin Durant is the epitome of the “do-it-all” basketball player. Towering over most players at seven feet tall, he can still move and shoot better than all players his size while retaining the mobility of smaller players, making him a nightmare to guard. Durant won an MVP in 2014, to go along with his two rings as a warrior (2017, 2018) and four scoring titles (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014). 

#2: Stephen Curry

As one of the Splash Brothers, point guard Stephen “Steph” Curry has revolutionized basketball with his three-point heavy play style. Idolized by the younger generation, Curry has led the Golden State Warriors, the greatest basketball dynasty in recent history, to three rings in the past decade. He was the league’s first unanimous MVP in 2016, and won another the previous year in 2015. Curry will go down in history as the greatest shooter the game has ever seen.

#1: Lebron James

One of the generally accepted top 3 players of all time, small forward Lebron James has been dominating the league since he was drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. “King James” has won rings with an NBA record on three different teams: the Miami Heat (2012, 2013), the Cleveland Cavaliers (2016) and the LA Lakers (2020). James has won two MVPs in the 2010s, winning them back to back in 2011 and 2012. He has become the face of the NBA and basketball in general, taking over from Michael Jordan.