Then Magic had to sit and watch as the Boston Celtics won yet another NBA Title and Larry Bird won his third consecutive MVP award. 2009-present: 23.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.6 apg, 103.2 Win Shares, 2-time MVP, 6-time All-NBA, 3-time champion. And the numbers of late are downright dominant. But if push came to shove, dealing Embiid remains the ultimate last resort. Jordan wasn't even needed as a superhuman player on this squad. Now armed with a true running mate once again, there’s no reason to think James won’t be adding a fourth ring in October. Magic, Worthy, Byron Scott and A.C. Green were all key parts of the 1980s dynasty, and they were all still playing major roles in 1991 as well. It took L.A. seven games to get past the Jazz in the semis. On defense, he was the Bill Russell of his era, able to erase teammates' mistakes with his unreal quickness and anticipation. Once in the Finals, the Spurs were faced with a one-man team. We could have another classic Kawhi buzzer beater in the 2020 playoffs. The Pistons were able to use their experience to defeat less experienced, less prepared postseason entries on the road to the finals through the east. They came through, but it was a struggle. The NBA as whole was not in the midst of a "weak" era for the first decade of the 21st century. He never pulled down fewer than 18.2 rebounds per game in any season during his 14-year career, with a high of 27.2. Sitemap The southpaw guard is still a potent offensive threat, perfect for a contender in need of scoring punch off the bench. Chicago was a machine. How high do modern players need to climb in order to surpass their legendary predecessors? The talent level was sky-high, but the 2001 Lakers would crush the 2000 Lakers if they met in a best-of-seven series. He leads the NBA in clutch points. 1997 Chicago Bulls: 69-13 (1) beat Utah Jazz 64-18 (1) 4-2. Author: Artest played for the Pacers for 4 years, during which he made 2 All-Defensive teams and won the Defensive Player of the Year award. Mitchell isn’t in the same league as Harden and Lillard as an isolation player. All of this was accomplished with the Defensive Player of The Year guarding him. We rank the careers of the 7 perimeter defenders who have won the Defensive Player of the Year award in the past. But even shading help his way is a massive mistake. The former top-10 draft pick was better in the Lakers’ run to a championship, averaging 10.7 points and shooting 37.8 percent from 3-point range during the playoffs, than he was during the regular season. Once they reached the Finals, the Heat were in a fragile state, and once they blew a fourth quarter lead in Game 2, the team started to fold mentally. Few players provide a matchup nightmare quite like Davis. Lillard would be discussed among the best shooters of all time if he wasn’t in Steph Curry’s shadow. Thanks for contacting us. Is one leadership style inherently better than others? Halfway into his 30s, the undersized forward can still be effective, if used in small doses. Artest's primary defensive strength were his quick hands, which he used to great effect while making steals - during his 3rd season in the league, he was averaging 2.8 steals with the Bulls before being traded. The Lakers had enough youth and talent to beat this Pacers team soundly. There's regular season record, postseason record, margin of victory and strength of opponent. 1984-93, 1995-98, 2002-04: 30.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 214.0 Win Shares, 5-time MVP, 11-time All-NBA, 6-time champion. No Ewing while facing off against Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Every game, except for a Game 3 blowout, was very close in the Finals. He’ll add another All-NBA honor this year, and he should add to his career resume across the next decade. Embiid sports an impressive 101.4 defensive rating this season, with units featuring Embiid, Simmons and Al Horford locking down opponents at a dominant rate. No one truly knew how many internal problems their opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers, had at the time. You can’t go wrong with any of the three final players on our list in the top spot, and Antetokounmpo could very well be the undisputed best player in basketball by the end of the 2020 playoffs. Game 7 was won by Los Angeles, with a herculean effort from James Worthy. 1992 Chicago Bulls: 67-15 (1) beat Portland Trail Blazers 57-25 (1) 4-2. And more rings, of course, remain within grasp. 1 definitive rankings TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 30: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors DeMarcus Cousins … His speed and wingspan make even the most difficult close out look routine. The Lehigh product is consistently used as trade-machine fodder for basketbloggers across the country, so much that it has obscured his impact as an All-Star caliber player. 1 factor for him. There may be just 22 teams heading to Orlando to resume the 2019-20 season, but the talent on hand rivals any collection of players in NBA history. He wasn't simply a jack of all trades -- he mastered most of them as well. He is remembered mostly for his sheer physical dominance, but there was always more to his game than power -- young Shaq had elite quickness before peak Shaq punished double-teams with his passing. This was the best Lakers team in the post-Kobe/Shaq paring era. Boston gets lots of credit for basically gelling immediately. Kawhi Leonard is perhaps the only player in Orlando more trustworthy at the end of games. 1995 Houston Rockets: 47-35 record (6) beat Orlando Magic 57-25 (1)  4-0. Build your custom FanSided Daily email newsletter with news and analysis on All NBA and all your favorite sports teams, TV shows, and more. James embraced his low-post game in Miami. You can argue about competition level, but Chamberlain was basically the Babe Ruth of basketball during his era. 1996-2016: 25.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.7 apg, 172.7 Win Shares, 1-time MVP, 15-time All-NBA, 5-time champion. The Orlando Magic were the third seed in the east, and a perfect matchup for the Lakers, similar to how the 2007 Cavaliers were an ideal matchup for the Spurs. Once the playoffs started, the team only got better. But we all know where Jokic truly shines. In ranking these 7 players, we have judged the entire careers of the players in question. We're at the point where a team ranked below another team isn't really anything to be too concerned about. Jokic’s offensive arsenal is extensive. That's not a finals—that's futile. 2003 San Antonio Spurs: 60-22 (1) beat New Jersey Nets 49-33 (2) 4-2. From there the experienced and focused Rockets were able to overwhelm the talented but young Magic who were anchored by Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway, 1999 San Antonio Spurs: 37-13 (1) beat New York Knicks 27-23 (8) 4-1. Walker is an efficient scorer from all levels of the floor, and his percentage beyond the arc is impressively steady. Rays star Randy Arozarena was detained in Mexico's Yucatan state after an incident involving domestic violence allegations. Artest had a high basketball IQ, good bulk and was a versatile defender who could guard positions 1-4. Once the playoffs started, the Celtics had an unimpressive 16-10 record, but when the games counted, they won big. The 10-time All-Star has full control of Oklahoma City’s offense after splitting time with James Harden last season, leading the Thunder to a surprising 40–24 record. Previous postseasons have featured some of Harden’s lowest moments, with ugly exits fueled by simple exhaust. The Lakers were coming off a season in which they were upset in the Western Conference finals by the Houston Rockets. He agreed to participate in the film only after LeBron James won his third championship in 2016 and the notion that he might no longer be the greatest player in NBA history began to gain some momentum.

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