All-NBA All-Decade Teams

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I was looking over the historical All-NBA teams and noticed several surprising facts. Did you know that Kobe Bryant is tied with Kareem for the most total All-NBA teams made for a career at 15 and is tied with Karl Malone for the most times on the 1st team at 11? That’s amazing longevity. No other guard has more than 12 career All-NBA teams (Cousy and West both have 12). Only 9 players have double figure All-NBA 1st team appearances: Malone, Bryant, Cousy, West, Baylor, Pettit, Jordan, Kareem, and Duncan. The most consecutive All-NBA first teams earned is by Karl Malone with 11 (every year from ’89 to ’99). Several players won the MVP in years that they did not make the All-NBA 1st team for their position including Bill Russell on multiple occasions. The player with the most All-NBA team selections who never made an All-NBA 1st team is Hal Greer who was selected to 7 All-NBA 2nd teams, which shows the dominance of Oscar and West in the ’60s. The only player to make multiple All-NBA 1st teams no All-NBA 2nd or 3rd teams in Elgin Baylor with 10 first team appearances. A surprisingly high number of players who only made 1 All-NBA team in their careers made the 1st team that year including Kevin McHale (shocking!), Latrell Sprewell, Truck Robinson, Gail Goodrich, Earl Monroe, and Derrick Rose and Wes Unseld who each won the MVP that same year.

Below are All-NBA All-Decade teams taken from the players who best represented each decade’s All-NBA list. Note – I went exactly by the numbers and took 2 PGs, 4 Wings (Sg-Sf) and 4 Bigs (Pf-C) from each decade. In a fairytale fantasy series played out between the various eras, I think I’d mix the teams differently. Some of the them are light on shooters or ball-handlers depending on the decade. It does show what the voters tended to value most though.

1960s

P – Oscar Robertson
P – Bob Cousy
W – Jerry West
W – Elgin Baylor
W – Hal Greer
W – Bill Sharman
B – Bill Russell
B – Wilt Chamberlain
B – Bob Pettit
B – Jerry Lucas

I like this group. I could see an 8 man playoff rotation of Big O, Cous, West, Elgin, Greer, Russ, Wilt, and Pettit competing with absolutely anyone. They would want to play uptempo and pressure on defense relying on two of the great basket protectors of all time to erase mistakes. They ought to own the glass and could rely on Oscar and West in clutch situations.

1970s

P – Walt Frazier
P – Tiny Archibald
W – Julius Erving
W – John Havlicek
W – Rick Barry
W – Billy Cunningham
B – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
B – Elvin Hayes
B – Spencer Hayward
B – Willis Reed

This is one of those groups that comes out a little uneven because all the wings are forwards, but Hondo and Barry both played enough guard to get by as the secondary ball handlers, and Clyde’s big enough to defend the two in a double PG lineup with Tiny. This team’s got everything. Great guard play, great athleticism, great shooting, and the most unstoppable post player this side of Shaq.

1980s

P – Magic Johnson
P – Isiah Thomas
W – Larry Bird
W – George Gervin
W – Dominique Wilkins
W – Sydney Moncrief
B – Moses Malone
B – Robert Parish
B – Terry Cummings
B – Kevin McHale

The ’80s cupboard was a little bit emptied by my need to assign the ’84 draft class to the ’90s team, so they missed out on three of the 5 best players of the decade in Jordan, Hakeem, and Barkley. That said, this group would still hold its own with any other – a sure sign that the talent was brimming over back in the day. It’s a great breakdown of all the skills you’d want on the court with a great ability to run mixed lineups with Magic or Larry at the 4. As with any team with Magic Johnson on it, the gameplan is “give the ball to Magic and fill the lanes.”

1990s

P – John Stockton
P – Gary Payton
W – Michael Jordan
W – Scottie Pippen
W – Clyde Drexler
W – Grant Hill
B – Hakeem Olajuwon
B – Karl Malone
B – Charles Barkley
B – David Robinson

Size? Check. Athleticism? Check. Defense? Double check! Playmaking? Check. Shooting? Well, shooting could be an issue. I love the versatility of this team. You could run out a Riley style slugfest group built around Hakeem, David, Scottie, MJ, and Glove and just dare the other team to try to score. Sure you’d be reliant on Michael and Hakeem turning nothing into something on offense, but that’s why you’ve got Michael and Hakeem. You could play crazy up and down ball with what might be the best team speed of any of the decades. You could go Phil Jackson big guard crazy and bench both PGs or give the team to Jerry Sloan and watch the Stockton / Malone magic ensue. Or you could just tell them to pretend it’s the 1992 Olympics since most of the Dream Team is here.

2000s

P – Steve Nash
P – Jason Kidd
W – Kobe Bryant
W – Tracy McGrady
W – Allen Iverson
W – Paul Pierce
B – Shaquille O’Neal
B – Tim Duncan
B – Dirk Nowitzki
B – Kevin Garnett

Like the ’80s this group is missing a lot talent that got assigned to the 2010 squad in the form of LeBron, Wade, and Melo from the 2003 draft, but also like the ’80s team, there’s still talent to spare. Probably the best group of bigs in the pool with Snaq Daddy, Timmy!, Dirk, and KG providing the mad combo of offense, defense, and Germanic heritage. Like the ’90s squad they are a little short on shooters, but they make up for it in skill and intensity. This is just a great amalgam of talent that could do anything it wants to. 7 second or less, triangle all day, any of Pops stuff, Docs stuff, inside-out, drive and kick, defensive clusterfudge, whatever you want. They could even go huge with TMac playing point forward, Kobe defending point guards, KG defending 3s, and Dirk spacing the floor, with Tim or Diesel holding down the paint.

2010s

P – Chris Paul
P – Russell Westbrook
W – LeBron James
W – Kevin Durant
W – Dwyane Wade
W – Carmelo Anthony
B – Dwight Howard
B – Blake Griffin
B – Kevin Love
B – Marc Gasol

This team is sort of a project in the works kind of a unit. I promise Bron and KD are correct. Everyone else is sort of suspect at this point. It’s a nice mix that would probably be better off playing to this era’s strengths and going small most of the time to maximize the amount of time its best player are in the game together. I think the easiest way to get a good offense out of them would be to give the ball to Chris Paul and let him run pick and pop with Durant until the other team goes home in tears. If that fails there’s always LeBron in the mid-post. This unit’s best quality would be the ability of just about everyone on the floor to put the pressure on and attack, attack, attack. Defensively they are solid all over with special standouts in James, Dwight, and Gasol the Lesser to really make it tough. This will probably be a much different group by 2019.

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