NBA All-Decade Team: The best starting five from the super-team era

Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade reacts as teammate LeBron James goes up for a dunk during an NBA game against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2010. (Morry Gash/AP)

This decade — maybe moreso than any other — has redefined the landscape of NBA culture at large. In time, it could prove to be the greatest in the league’s 73-year history on all fronts.

From the introduction of the “super-team” era — with LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach to begin the decade — to the league’s three-point revolution, the 2010s produced a plethora of superstar talent, ground-breaking moments, smashed records and historical achievements.

Reflecting on the last 10 years, here are the players who would make first team “All-Decade.”

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Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrates after scoring against the Portland Trail Blazers. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Accomplishments this decade:
• Two NBA MVPs
• Six All-NBA team selections
• Six NBA all-star selections
• Three NBA championships
• Made an NBA record 402 three-pointers in a season
• One NBA scoring title

There’s no denying the greatness of Stephen Curry, and the 2010s will reflect that.

He has single-handedly changed the trajectory of basketball, revolutionizing the way the game is played with his three-point accuracy. There’s a legitimate claim that he has been the most influential player since Michael Jordan, and, perhaps, could eventually pass Magic Johnson as the most significant point guard the game has ever seen.

Curry has never been the most physically imposing player — he stands at six-foot-three and a mere 190 pounds — but he can have the most demoralizing effect on his opponents on the court.

This is because what he lacks in size and sheer physical dominance, he makes up for in masterful skill and efficiency.

Curry is in elite company as one of only eight players in NBA history to add his name to the coveted 50/40/90 club – a distinction that indicates when a player shoots 50 per cent from the field, 40 per cent from three-point range and 90 per cent from the free-throw line.

For the entire decade, Curry shot 48/44/91. These are inhuman statistics, which directly correlated to him winning two MVP awards.

But this isn’t to say his past 10 years have just been about marksmanship. Curry has also been the catalyst for the most dominant modern NBA dynasty, leading the Golden State Warriors to a league-record 73-win season, and three-championships.

Curry, who turned 31 this year, will look to add even more to his legacy in the next decade.

Dwyane Wade

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade runs up the floor during an NBA basketball game. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Accomplishments this decade:
• Four All-NBA team selections
• Eight NBA all-star selections
• Two NBA championships
• One NBA All-Defensive team selection

Yes, Dwyane Wade (not James Harden) is the shooting guard of the decade.

While Harden has done everything possible to break every scoring record imaginable, Wade remained at the head of the pack and held true to who he is: A winner.

The latter part of the 2010’s wasn’t the kindest to Wade, but that shouldn’t put a damper on what he did to kick off the decade. He was instrumental to the Miami Heat’s four consecutive trips to the finals, helping them win back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

Then, when LeBron James brought his talents back home to Cleveland, Wade still managed to carry the undermanned Miami Heat and the young Chicago Bulls back to the playoffs on aging knees.

And as his ability started to fade, Wade still found ways to be relevant amongst the league’s best — such as in the first round of the 2016 playoffs. After being heckled courtside by a Charlotte Hornets fan in a purple shirt, Wade recorded eight points in the final three minutes before coming up with a game-clinching block on Kemba Walker to save Miami’s season.

Or how about the game-winner against the then-defending champions Golden State Warriors? And, of course, the triple-double in his final NBA game.

A pure winner, from beginning to end.

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi
Kawhi Leonard celebrates his last-second bucket with Raptors teammates in a Game 7 win over the 76ers. (Frank Gunn / CP)

Accomplishments this decade:
• Two Finals MVPs
• Two NBA championships
• Three All-NBA team selections
• Three NBA all-star selections
• Two Defensive Player of the Year awards
• Four NBA All-Defensive team selections

The individual numbers and the games played don’t support this selection, but how can anyone leave off the lone player that utterly dismantled two super teams in the heart of the super-team era?

Arguably the greatest perimeter defender of the decade, Leonard’s path to overall greatness took some time, but his resumé remains elite.

He’s a two-time champion and two-time finals MVP on two different teams. In 2014, with the San Antonio Spurs, he became one of three players — the others being Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan — to ever win NBA Finals MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

In his lone season with the Toronto Raptors, Leonard spent his time reminding everyone of his greatness when it mattered most. After nearly missing the entire previous season, he took the Raptors and their fans on a wave, doing more for them in one year than most players have done in a career, carrying them all the way to their first-ever championship.

His two-way brilliance is in a class of its own. Offensively he has transformed into an elite scorer, with a clutch baseline jumper to complement his already suffocating defence. He’s the best example of a complete player, and his two-way brilliance is impossible to discount.

LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James celebrates with his teammates after winning Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Accomplishments this decade:
• Three NBA MVPs
• Three Finals MVPs
• Three NBA championships
• 10 All-NBA team selections
• 10 NBA all-star selections
• Five NBA All-Defensive team selections

LeBron James took hold of the 2010s and never let go. He’s easily the most consistent player of the decade, if not of all time.

His dominance over the Eastern Conference is something we haven’t seen since Jordan in the ’90s. Especially in 2012–13, when he won his third MVP award of the decade and fourth in his career.

As a year that will go down in history, James was the first player to average 26 points, eight rebounds, and six assists while shooting 55 per cent or better in a season. Additionally, he shot better than 40 per cent in 90 of the 99 games he played that season and never scored fewer than 13 points in a game.

During the decade, James represented the East in the Finals eight consecutive times, winning three championships and three Finals MVPs.

And that last Finals MVP he won might be his greatest accomplishment. In the 2016 NBA Finals, down 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors, James willed the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first-ever NBA championship, ending the city’s 52-year championship drought.

You can write an entire book on all the things James has accomplished during this decade. From the immeasurable, breath-taking moments on the court to his influential decisions off it, James’s impact on the game and on his peers will forever have a prominent place in basketball history.

Kevin Durant

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant gestures as he holds the 2017 Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Accomplishments this decade:
• One MVP
• Two Finals MVPs
• Two NBA championships
• Nine All-NBA team selections
• 10 NBA all-star selections
• Four NBA scoring titles

Solidifying himself as an all-time great during the 2010s, Kevin Durant is the only player on this list who had a puncher’s chance at dethroning LeBron James as the most consistent player of the decade. His effortless offensive ability helped him become one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, and he averaged a decade-best 28 points on a 50/38/89 shooting line.

An all-star in every season during the decade, there’s not much Durant didn’t accomplish.

After winning the first MVP trophy of his career in 2014 then struggling to advance to his second NBA Finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors in 2016. The move was panned by his critics because of how well established the Warriors already were, but without Durant the Warriors wouldn’t have won back-to-back titles. Durant was awarded the NBA Finals MVP in each of those Finals.

The combination of Durant’s overall ability on the basketball court and his notable resumé is second to none. There’s no denying the role Durant played on both his teams and in the growth of the game during the 2010s.

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