Presenting the First, Second, and Third NBA All-Decade Teams

Liam McKeone
Members of the NBA All-Decade Teams
Members of the NBA All-Decade Teams /

Basketball has changed significantly over the course of the decade. Many players and legends have come and gone. But the following athletes have made their mark on this decade-- and in 30 years, when we look back on this era of the NBA, it'll be impossible to have a conversation without bringing up their names. Here are the first, second, and third All-Decade NBA teams for the 2010s. For simplicity's sake, each team gets two guards and three forwards.

All-Decade First-Team

Steph Curry
Steph Curry / Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

G: Steph Curry

Steph Curry changed the game of basketball as we knew it in the span of seven years. He burst onto the scene in 2012 after injuries hampered the early part of his career and became the deadliest three-point shooter the game has ever seen. His ability to shoot from quite literally anywhere past half court fundamentally altered defensive schemes in ways no one ever had before. Simply put, Curry made the impossible possible, and you can see his impact when you watch any NBA game in 2019.

He earned the only unanimous MVP award in NBA history when he averaged 30 points per game while shooting 11 threes per contest, making them at a preposterous 45 percent clip. He won three championships as the fulcrum of one of the greatest teams the league has ever seen. For as long as the NBA continues to exist, no conversation can be had about the game without bringing up Curry’s name. He’s an all-time great, and his skillset defined this decade of professional basketball.

G: James Harden

Harden’s meteoric rise from OKC’s sixth man to one of the greatest pure scorers in NBA history has been an absolute treat to watch, even if you hate the man’s foul-baiting. When he was traded to the Rockets, he jumped from 16 PPG to 25 PPG, and hasn’t looked back since. Houston created an entire ecosystem around him that established the foundation of the NBA’s obsession with analytics today.

Harden’s game doesn’t appeal to everyone, but none can deny his greatness. He’s putting up numbers this year we haven’t seen since Wilt freakin’ Chamberlain. His step-back three is the most unguardable move in basketball. Sometimes, when a player gets hot, good defense can only do so much; you just have to stay on them and pray they miss. Harden is one of those players, but every defender feels that way all the time. He’s a five-time First-Team All-NBA member and MVP. He lacks the playoff success of the other first-team All-Decade members, but nobody on the planet has been better at the first objective of basketball: putting the ball through the hoop.

LeBron James
LeBron James / Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

F: LeBron James

For all the impact Curry had, LeBron James owned this decade. He created the first modern-day superteam to kick it off and won two championships. He reached the peak of his physical dominance and put together perhaps the most efficient season we’ll ever see from a league MVP in 2012. He returned to Cleveland to duke it out with the newer, shinier version of the superteam he created and won the city’s first championship in a half century. He upended the league’s balance and economy once again as he headed to Los Angeles to resurrect the Lakers’ franchise from the ashes with his presence alone. 

He went to EIGHT STRAIGHT NBA FINALS. Eight! For almost the entirety of the 2010s, if you wanted to win a championship, you had to go through LeBron James. I don’t need to list his stats or accolades to explain why he earned this spot. James ruled this decade as a generational player at the peak of his powers. He is synonymous with basketball. He is The King. 

F: Kevin Durant

If LeBron James is 1A as far as wire-to-wire excellence the past 10 years, Kevin Durant has been 1B. Never before had the league seen a legit seven-footer with the handles and shooting ability of a guard. He led the league in scoring three times, and earned himself an MVP trophy in the process. 

Whether you love or hate him for it, he irreversibly changed the league when he signed with Golden State. It might be the greatest collection of talent on one squad in NBA history. They were so good they were blamed for literally everything that went wrong in the NBA for three years. He came up big when it counted, winning two Finals MVPs. He firmly cemented himself as the second-best player this decade and one of the best scorers to play this game.

Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard / Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

F: Kawhi Leonard

He was a late bloomer in comparison to the other players on this first team, but Kawhi Leonard’s role in how this decade unfolded will forever be mentioned along with these other names. He’s the only player in the world who can guard LeBron straight-up. He toppled not just one, but two dynasties over the course of five years-- putting an end to both the Heatles and the overwhelmingly dominant Warriors. He has five All-Defense nominations and two Defensive Player of the Year awards in his trophy case. 

His evolution has been shocking. He went from a total no-name buried on San Antonio’s bench to a player capable of scoring from everywhere on the floor while terrorizing opponents defensively. He made the greatest spot appearance in league history, winning a championship in Toronto before heading to Los Angeles. For all the jokes about his robotic demeanor, it feels like he was made in a laboratory-- perfectly manufactured to play basketball at the highest level.

All-Decade Second Team

Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook / Cooper Neill/Getty Images

G: Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook normalized a triple-double. That’s a ridiculous statement, but it’s true. In 2013-14, Lance Stephenson led the NBA in triple-doubles with five. In 2016-17, Westbrook averaged a triple-double en route to an MVP award. The method through which he earned those numbers are divisive, but the stats don’t lie-- and neither do his eight All-NBA selections this decade. Westbrook is also one of the greatest athletes to grace the parquet; his explosiveness was unmatched early in the decade, and his tomahawk jam compilations are still a joy to watch. He’s a truly unique player, and one who has come to define the do-it-all attitude.

G: Chris Paul

He’s slowed down in recent years, but Chris Paul solidified his Point God moniker throughout the 2010s. He led the Clippers back to relevance and was the engine that drove Lob City. He averaged at least nine assists per game for five straight seasons, leading the league twice when he averaged 10 per game in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He notched seven All-NBA selections. His lack of playoff success has been well-documented., but no one has played the point guard position as well as Paul this century. Westbrook has the stats and Curry has the scoring, but as far as all-around game goes, no one can match Paul.

F: Anthony Davis

It feels like Anthony Davis has been all potential but little production since he was drafted in 2012, but that’s chalked up to the fact that he has so much of that potential. In reality, even if he couldn’t lead the Pelicans to much postseason success while he was in New Orleans, Davis has lived up to the billing. He averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks every season since 2013-14. He earned three All-NBA selections and three All-Defensive team selections. It hasn’t happened often on the national stage, and he’s missed a lot of games, but when Davis is on, he’s as dominant as any big man has been in a decade where guards and wings rule.

F: Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin has undergone a truly remarkable revolution from a high-flying, elite athlete who dunked on everyone and anyone to perhaps the most skilled big man in the NBA not named Nikola Jokic. He stormed onto the national stage with obscene posters as a member of L.A.’s Lob City crew. Griffin averaged over 21 points per game over a six-year stretch, but here’s the interesting thing: the first year he topped 21 points, he took 0.6 three-pointers per game. The last year? He took 7.0. In the bigger picture, he’s the face of the NBA’s transition from big men who dominate with athleticism to big men who dominate with skill-- and the five All-NBA selections don’t hurt, either.

Paul George
Paul George / Harry How/Getty Images

F: Paul George

PG-13 was a star in the middle of the decade for Indiana, but he’s really come into his own over the last two seasons as an absolute force who embodies the idea of a two-way player. He has four All-Defense and five All-NBA selections. He’s averaged at least one steal per game every year he was in the league outside of the injury-shortened 2014-15 campaign. For the decade, he averaged 24 points per game despite not topping 17 through his first three seasons. There’s no better player on both sides of the court right now outside of his teammate Kawhi Leonard.

All-Decade Third-Team

Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson / Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

G: Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson doesn’t necessarily have the individual acumen that many of his compatriots on this list have, with only two All-NBA selections and one All-Defense team nomination. But there really hasn’t been a player in NBA history who can catch fire as quickly as Thompson. Who can forget his 37 points in one quarter-- on 13 dribbles? Or when he hit an NBA record 14 three-pointers against the Bulls? What about when he dropped 41 in Game 6 against the Thunder back in the 2016 WCF, indirectly leading to Durant joining the Warriors? No one, not even his Splash Brother Curry, has a hotter hand when he gets cooking. Add in his championship resume, and Thompson is one of the players from this decade we’ll be talking about for a long, long time. 

Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard / Steve Dykes/Getty Images

G: Damian Lillard

As hot as Thompson can get, Dame Lillard is as cold as they come. He has hit not one, but two playoff series-ending buzzer-beaters this decade-- and both were downright absurd shots. He’s averaged 26 points this decade as one of the best scorers at the PG position in the league, and always comes alive when his team needs him most. He hasn’t averaged less than 25 points per game since 2014-15, and earned four All-NBA selections on top of that. The lack of playoff success has more to do with the league around him than his own personal performance. When the shot clock is off and you need a bucket, there’s only a few players you’d take over Dame-- and they’re above him on this list. 

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a late-comer to stardom relative to his fellow members of TBL’s All-Decade team, but he’s been one of the league’s most dominant forwards over the last three years. He won MVP last year while averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per contest. He’s as unstoppable in the paint as anyone the league has witnessed since Shaq. We haven’t seen a player cover as much ground in two strides as he can this century. He’s catapulted the Bucks into the championship discussion with three All-NBA seasons to go along with two All-Defense selections. The scary part is that he’s only getting better, and is averaging 31 points a game this year. It’s easy to imagine him at the top of this list come 2029. 

F: Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert is, without a doubt, the best defensive big man of the 2010s. Dwight Howard has a claim for 2010 and 2011, of course, but Gobert has been at the top of that particular mountain for the last five years. He has a pair of Defensive Player of the Year award trophies to prove that much, one of only 10 players in NBA history to earn multiple. He’s averaged over two blocks per game for each of the last five seasons. In an era defined by offensive revolution, Gobert has made an indelible mark- and that earns him the last spot on this list.

F: Marc Gasol

Unlike Gobert, Marc Gasol only has one Defensive Player of the Year trophy and two All-NBA selections to his name this decade. But like Gobert, Gasol's consistent defensive excellence deserves recognition. He's been a force on that end of the floor for nearly all of the 2010s, both as the embodiment of the Grit 'n Grind Grizzlies and the quarterback of the Raptors' championship defense. He doesn't put up gaudy stats, and he never topped more than 19.5 points per game. But Gasol averaged at least one block per game for the past 10 years and was considered one of the premier passing big men for much of that timespan. It's been tough for centers to make much of a consistent impact with the way the league has shifted, but Gasol's elite defense has allowed him to alter games in ways few other players at his position can claim.