After finishing 2nd for 3 years in a row, Gary Payton was finally recognized as the best guard in the NBA in 2000. He had arguably his best season. Following him were terrific guards such as Kobe, Kidd, and Iverson. However, I felt Kobe was still too mature at age 21. He had a decent regular season, but played very poorly in the NBA Finals. So it was really between Kidd and Iverson. Kidd had a stronger regular season than Iverson, but I felt Kidd choked in the playoffs. Iverson was 2nd behind O'Neal in scoring and led his team to the 2nd Round.
2001 was MVP Iverson's year. He fought like a warrior and led his team all the way to the NBA Finals. Kobe Bryant had a career year in 2001 as he continues to get better and better. He was also once again part of a championship squad. The last spot came between rivals Kidd, Payton, and rising star T-Mac. T-Mac was not quite at the level of Payton or Kidd yet. Payton still had the small advantage over Kidd with his ability to score, dish, and play defense. Kidd still lacked the playoff extinct as he choked once again right away. Though the difference between Kidd and Payton that year was very small. Vince Carter also had a spectacular year.
Kobe Bryant for the 1st time in his career was recognized as the best guard in the NBA. He had another great season and led his team to yet another NBA championship. After Kobe; Payton, Kidd, McGrady, and Iverson were all options for top 3 guards. Kidd was given a lot of credit for turning around the Nets franchise and nearly won MVP. Payton had another great individual year. McGrady and Iverson also were fantastic. Kidd definitely deserved his credit, after all he did lead his team all the way to NBA Finals as well. Gary Payton had simply had slowed down to age, he was now 33. Kidd had the intangibles advantage over Payton. McGrady got the slight nod over Iverson due to AI's injuries in 2002. McGrady also led all guards in PER.
Both McGrady and Kobe had very dominant seasons in 2003. Both put up similar statistics, 30/7/6 and 32/6.5/5.5. Though McGrady might have had a better scoring season, Kobe was the better defender and played for the 50 win Lakers with those numbers. Following McGrady and Kobe's impressive seasons was Jason Kidd once again. Kidd was able to lead his team all the way to the NBA finals again averaging 20/8/8 in the playoffs.
Kobe Bryant once again was the best guard in the NBA in 2004. This year the competition for guards seemed a little lower. Kobe didn't have the greatest statline, yet he was still clearly the best guard in the NBA. Following Kobe Bryant was Jason Kidd once again. Kidd also not his best, but with the low competition this year was able to slide to 2nd. Iverson finished 3rd this year behind Jason Kidd once again. McGrady finished out of the top 3 this year as his team won only 21 games. Iverson's season wasn't too impressive either as his team also missed playoffs.
This year, Wade, Iverson, Bryant, Nash, and McGrady all could have been 1st. It was really that open and close. Based on regular season alone, I would not have Nash at #1 despite him winning MVP. Though he was the best playmaker in the NBA at the time, elevating the game of his teammates, he was really also in the right system. However, in the playoffs he played incredibly well and deserved the spot for #1 guard in the NBA. He displayed excellent offensive scoring the ball at will, which cemented his spot at #1. Best offensive player in the NBA by far. Iverson had arguably his best season as well. He averaged 31/7 in 2005 while leading his team to the playoffs. Though Nash's unselfish play gave him the small edge over AI. Kobe I feel was slown too much by injuries and didn't show any leadership as his team miserable missed the playoffs with only 34 wins. If Kobe was healthy, then he would have a strong argument for top 3. Kobe also received no All-NBA selections in 05..McGrady got the nod over Wade. McGrady was still very much in his prime in 2005 while Wade was just now starting to learn. Kobe once again would have been top 3 had he been healthier.
Healthy Kobe makes his return back to being the best guard in the NBA. He averaged over 35 points per game in 2006 and led his team to the playoffs. He was simply unstoppable in 2006. Wade was right behind Kobe with a big season himself leading his team to the playoffs and eventually winning Finals MVP. This year Nash got the nod for being the 3rd best guard. His competitors Iverson and McGrady were either slown by missing playoffs or injuries. Nash also proved himself to be elite by stepping his game even further in the playoffs. Not to mention his back to back MVPs.
Kobe Bryant once again was the best guard in the NBA for the 2nd consecutive year. He had another impressive season in 2007 doing great again. Behind Kobe came Steve Nash who continued to play at a high level. This was arguably his best season yet as well. Nash also played very well in the playoffs once agian. Behind Nash & Kobe was Dwyane Wade. Wade would've been 2nd had he been healthier. However even though he played just 51 games, he was too good to be left out of top 3.
And finally we arrive in 2008. Once again, Kobe Bryant was the best guard in the NBA. He won MVP and proved himself further leading his team to the NBA finals. Behind Kobe this year were too young PGs. Players like McGrady, Nash, and Iverson were a little slower due to age. Wade's injuries had become too much. It was a perfect opportunity for some young ones to take over. Chris Paul was easily and a clear cut Top 3 guard in 2008. The last spot was between Nash and Deron primarily. Deron just had the slight edges both in the regular season and playoffs.
For the first time in his career, I felt Dwyane Wade was the best guard in the NBA. He had arguably his career best season. He led the NBA in scoring and was Top 10 in assists and steals. His play was just a little stronger than Kobe's this season despite Kobe winning the championship. Wade did not have a great starcast around him, though he showed what he can do when given a strong starcast in 2006. Kobe once again played at an elite level and led his team to the NBA Championship. Chris Paul once again was a Top 3 guard, leading his team to the playoffs. He continues to display brilliance on the floor both scoring the basketball and setting up teammates. He might have been 2nd, if it wasn't for the embarrassing 1st round performance against Billups.