Two All-Decade Teams add up to one great century

May 21, 2020 by Print

Any comparison of sporting greats from different eras is destined to be inconclusive, and that is especially true of the two Turkish Airlines EuroLeague All-Decade Teams chosen so far this century. Differences in formats, numbers of games and average playing time do not allow for easy quantitative comparisons. The fun part, however, is comparing them qualitatively, because even though no one can be right when doing so, it brings up the non-stop great memories that all of them left on the court.

From the first decade this century, the 10 best players were Dejan Bodiroga, Dimitris Diamantidis, J. R. Holden, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Trajan Langdon, Juan Carlos Navarro, Theo Papaloukas, Anthony Parker, Ramunas Siskauskas and Nikola Vujcic.

From the second decade were Diamantidis and Navarro again, plus Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nando De Colo, Luka Doncic, Kyle Hines, Sergio Llull, Georgios Printezis, Vassilis Spanoulis and Milos Teodosic.

Much better than comparing them is to simply thank them for all they did to lift European basketball to new heights!

The Scorers

Only one player on either all-decade team has won the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy for the highest average points in a season. Nonetheless, the greatest EuroLeague scorers ever fill both teams. The all-time top four in total points – Spanoulis, Navarro, Printezis and De Colo, in order – are among 11 all-decade honorees ranked in the top 20. The 2000-10 team has five such players and the 2010-20 team has eight, both counts including Navarro and Diamantidis. While the sole Ford Trophy winner was De Colo in 2015-16, the all-decade player with the highest single-season scoring average was Dejan Bodiroga, with 20.1 per game for Panathinaikos 2001-02. Anthony Parker (16.3 ppg.) Bodiroga (16.1) and De Colo (16.0) are ranked among the top 10 in scoring average all-time and second, third and fifth, respectively, for players with more than 75 games played this century.

The Shooters

When it comes to making shots from long range, the all-decade teams boast nine of the top 20 players all-time in three-point shots made. Appropriately for a player on both all-decade teams, Navarro is the runaway leader with 623. He and Diamantidis both rank in this category, while three more players on the list come from the first all-decade team and four from the second. One player from each team, Langdon from 2000-10 and Teodosic from 2010-20, rank in the top 20 in average three-pointers made in their careers. Meanwhile, Bodiroga and Parker ranked second and third in average two-pointers among players with more than 75 games played this century. As for total two-pointers made, Printezis and Hines rank among the top five ever, while Vujcic and Spanoulis also fit in the top 10. Interestingly, Navarro and De Colo rank 14th and 15th, respectively, proving that they were unstoppable both inside and outside.

The facilitators

Considering how much scoring they had to do, it is remarkable that nine of the 18 total all-decade players sit among the top 20 all-time assist-makers, as well. Spanoulis, Diamantidis, Teodosic, Llull and Papaloukas all rank in the first eight best passers ever, with Navarro, Jasikevicius, De Colo and Holden not far behind. Teodosic and Spanoulis boast the highest career averages of the eight, with 4.8 and 4.7 assists per game, respectively, and Diamantidis has 4.5. It should be noted that Vujcic, with 2.7 per game, was best passing center ever and his 524 career assists are exceeded by only one forward this century, as well.

The big men

They may be outnumbered by guards on both all-decade teams, but there's no forgetting the work that the three big men among the 18 have done on the boards. Printezis and Hines rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in all-time rebounds, while Vujcic has a higher career average than either, 5.4 boards per game, and ranks 15th. Hines, meanwhile, ranks third all-time in blocked shots, making him the only top-20 all-decade player in that category, although Vujcic ranks 21st. Of special note is Diamantidis, who proved you don't have to be big to play big. His lifetime 118 blocks, by far the most for any guard, rank him 24th overall.

The difference-makers

What unites all the players on both teams is their ability to lead their clubs to success. All were EuroLeague champions at least once, while Hines and Jasikevicius, one from each decade, lead the pack with four titles. Jasikevicius is the only player ever to win the EuroLeague with three different clubs. Papaloukas is tied for the second-most Final Four appearances with nine and Hines, Holden, Navarro and Teodosic have each made eight. Six players on the 2000-10 team were Final Four MVPs a total of seven times; five players on the new team did so six times. As for full-season MVPs, four of the 2000-10 players were so honored five times, while five of the 2010-20 team did so once each.