Who will be Player of the Decade?

Originally Published: August 26, 2010
ESPN.com

LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe BryantUS PresswireAccording to our experts, LeBron, Durant and Kobe will battle it out for player of the decade honors.

We asked our ESPN panel of 93 NBA experts: For the current decade (Jan. 1, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2019), which player will be considered the greatest?

Well, three guys are especially off to strong starts in 2010:

LeBron James won another MVP trophy and formed a super team in Miami that could go on to win several rings. Kevin Durant, still just 21, earned his first scoring title and led an up-and-coming Thunder team to its first playoff appearance. And Kobe Bryant helped the Lakers win yet another NBA championship while snagging Finals MVP honors along the way.

With LeBron just hitting his peak years, KD barely scratching the surface, and Kobe still at the top of his game, who will rule as the player of the decade is wide open for debate. And anything can happen from now until the end of 2019, with other candidates possibly emerging as well, including No. 1 draft pick John Wall, who received some early support in our poll.

So how do we see the decade unfolding? Here's how we voted:

2010-11 Forecast: Player of the Decade

Experts: Player of the Decade?


Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: LeBron James.

He produces at a level just about nobody ever has, and now he's on a path to right the one wrong of his biography -- the lack of NBA titles. Once he has a few of those, it'll be nearly impossible to make the case people love making now -- that he's somehow doomed as a player.


J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: LeBron James.

He's already one up on the field in MVP trophies for this decade, and he'll win more with the Heat in addition to putting some championship jewelry on those infamously empty hands. He still has two birthdays to get to his 27th, the typical peak year for an NBA player. Just imagine if he develops a low-post game.


Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: LeBron Raymone James.

He might not have endeared himself to the NBA's fan base this summer, but at age 25, he's in the prime of his career. Kevin Durant projects to have a spectacular decade, but James will continue to refine a game that's already close to complete.


Larry Coon, ESPN.com: Kevin Durant.

He's hitting his peak at just the right time, and will be going strong even after Kobe and LeBron fade. He's got the talent, he's got the drive, and he's got a team that's on the upswing.


John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Kevin Durant.

His prime years are almost perfectly aligned with the coming decade, which makes him a safer choice than LeBron James -- who will be 35 by the decade's end. He already opened the decade with the first of what are likely to be several scoring titles, and with James splitting credit with his new Miami teammates, Durant is likely to win a few MVP trophies, too.

The only question, then, is the rings -- it's difficult to ordain Durant without a title. The guess is that somewhere along the line he'll get one.


Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: Kevin Durant.

He can shoot and score as well as anyone in the league, he's only 21, his height (don't believe that listing of 6-foot-9 -- it's more like 6-11½) makes him a particularly tough player to defend, and his ego is not out of control. He'll probably win the scoring title six to eight times if he stays healthy, and he sounds as though he wants to spend his entire career in Oklahoma City, a small market where he's comfortable and happy. In many ways, he is the anti-LeBron.


Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Kobe Bryant.

If my Finals prediction is right, Kobe will have snagged the first two championships of the new decade. As long as Kobe and Pau Gasol can stay together, winning one or two more before Bryant's eventual retirement isn't hard to imagine no matter what kind of competition is out there. And four rings for the second successive decade would be a strong hand for No. 24 … especially if we end up losing the 2011-12 season to a lockout as some around the league fear.

Click here for the complete list of voters.