Ranking! Who are 20 of the most Influential NBA players of this decade?

Ranking! Who are 20 of the most Influential NBA players of this decade?

Lewis Injai
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:12 PM

In the last three decades, the NBA has undergone a lot of transformation. In that time frame, we have witnessed the league having a couple of players dominating its entire landscape to now, where almost every franchise has a dominating player. The advent of the 2020s introduced us to players of different sizes and exceptional skills in their repertoires. But who are the most influential so far?

The most Influential NBA players
Photo: canva.com (modified by author)
Source: UGC

In the 1990s, we had the big three dynasties of Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman. Then in the 2000s, we saw the rise of the likes of Kobe, Shaq, Phil Jackson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginóbili, and Tony Parker. While the 2010s gave us LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, to name a few. Barely two years into the decade, the league has one of its most diverse pools of talent in its entire history.

Who are the most influential NBA players in the world in 2022?

It was a close call for the league has a lot of great players at the moment who have had an impact both on the league and fans, but based on credible online sources and online fan polls, we have managed to rank 20 of the most influential NBA players in the world in 2022.

20. Ja Morant

Recruited in the 2019 NBA Draft pick, this Memphis Grizzlies point guard has gone from a newbie in the league to a bonified star in two seasons. In 2020 he was named NBA Rookie of the year, and this year he got his first NBA All-star nod as a starter and was also subsequently named NBA's most improved player. His jersey being the league's seventh highest seller is a testament to his influence.

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Most Influential NBA Players- Ja Morant
Ja Morant drives to the basket to shoot against the Golden State Warriors in the second half of Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs. Photo: Thearon W. Henderson
Source: Getty Images

19. DeMar DeRozan

Though his record-breaking $136 million 2016 deal with the Raptors caused quite a controversy, this 33-year-old star has proven his critics wrong by getting in form season after season, showing that he was worth every penny.

Most Influential NBA Players- DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan during Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks on 27 April 2022. Photo: Stacy Revere
Source: Getty Images

This past year, his first with Chicago Bulls was phenomenal and single-handedly credited as the reason the Bulls made it to the playoffs since 2017.

18. Donovan Mitchell

Last month Donovan was set to join New York Knicks from Utah Jazz, at least; that's what everyone thought. But his team last minute decision to trade him to the Cavaliers caught everyone by surprise, including Donovan himself.

Most Influential NBA Players- Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell in action during the second half of Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks on 28 April 2022. Photo: Alex Goodlett
Source: Getty Images

Trade politics aside, while at his former team, Utah Jazz, he established himself into a bonified star and helped revitalize the franchise.

17. Trae Young

With just four seasons to his belt, this Atlanta Hawks point guard has made two NBA All-Star appearances as a starter. His last season's performance which catapulted him to become a top-tier player, saw him become the second player in the league's history to lead the league in total points and assists.

Most Influential NBA players-Trae Young
Trae Young poses for portraits during media day during Atlanta Hawks media day. Photo: Kevin C. Cox
Source: Getty Images

16. Devin Booker

Devin is a name synonymous with the Phoenix Sun. The 25-year-old is set out to become NBA's next big star. However, when he joined the Sun in 2015, he was the youngest player in the league and was not considered a force to reckon with. But this rising star has now come of age. He has three NBA All-star nodes to his name and recently finished fourth in the MVP vote.

Most Influential NBA Players- Devin Booker
Devin Booker shoots the ball against the Dallas Mavericks in the second quarter of Game Six of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on 12 May 2022. Photo: Ron Jenkins
Source: Getty Images

He is widely credited for being the main player behind the Sun's revival and reaching the NBA final in 30 years.

15. Jayson Tatum

Though he has come under a lot of criticism for his performance in the NBA finals, he broke the record of having the most turnovers; Jayson is a bonified star in the NBA top-tier category. This 24-year-old had three All-Star and one All NBA node to his name. He is widely regarded as a key player that helped guide the Celtics back into the finals since 2010.

Most influential NBA player- Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum during the second quarter in Game Six of the 2022 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Photo: Elsa
Source: Getty Images

14. Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler's rags-to-riches story, dedication, and work ethic make him one of the league's most loved players. Through his 11-year career and four teams, Jimmy is a five times All-Star, has been named to three All-NBA and four All-NBA Defence teams, and won an Olympic gold medal and NBA most improved player award.

Most Influential NBA Players-Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler during the second quarter in Game Six of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. Photo: Maddie Meyer
Source: Getty Images

Butler is credited for reviving the Miami Heat franchise, guiding it to the NBA finals in 2020 since the LeBron era.

13. Nikola Jokic

In the NBA, a player is considered great by having championship titles. However, this would be an unfair category to put Jokic. Currently reigning as the league's MVP for the second time in a row, this Denver Nuggets big-man from Serbia became the first player in NBA's history to record more than 2000 points, 500 assists and 1000 rebounds in a single season.

Most influential NBA players- Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic shoots against the Memphis Grizzlies on 7 April 2022. Photo: Ethan Mito
Source: Getty Images

12. Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis, or AD, as he is popularly referred to, is a force to reckon with in the NBA. Currently, the 29-year-old is one of the two LA Lakers franchise players. The other one is LeBron. In his ten-year career, he has been an eight times NBA All-Star, a one-time NBA All-Star MVP, and an NBA champion. In addition, he became the first player in basketball history to win an NCCA title, NBA title, an Olympic gold Medal, and FIBA World Cup.

Most influential NBA players-Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis looks on after the Los Angeles Lakers are defeated by the Denver Nuggets on 03 April 2022. Photo: Sean M. Haffey
Source: Getty Images

11. Kawhi Leonard

Though he is known for being quiet and nonchalant, Kawhi's Skills on the court and influence supersedes him. The world first got a glimpse of his greatness with his first team, the San Antonio Spurs, where he led them to the 2014 NBA finals and was awarded the NBA finals MVP. After that, he led the Raptors to their first franchise history championship the second time and won the finals MVP again. He is the only one of the three to have ever won the finals MVP twice.

Most influential NBA players-Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard during a previous workout session. Photo: Thearon W. Henderson
Source: Getty Images

10. Damian Lillard

Point guard is one of the hardest positions to thrive in any level of basketball. However, this is a position that Damian Lillard has managed to thrive in. he is the team's franchise player at the moment and is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Portland Blazers' players of all time.

Most Influential NBA players-Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard during a pre-game workout session. Photo: Steph Chambers
Source: Getty Images

Though he is contended by not having any championship title under his belt, this 32-year-old star has six NBA All-Star and All-Team nodes and was named among the greatest 75 NBA players of all time.

9. Kyrie Irving

Kyrie's views might always land him in hot water and stir controversy, but the outspoken point guard is a force to reckon with and is even considered one of the best dribbler basketball players. In the eleven years and three teams he played for, he has won an NBA championship and gotten seven All-Star and three All-NBA Team nods.

Most Influential NBA Players- Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving during the first quarter of Round 1, Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics. Photo: Boston Herald
Source: Getty Images

The NBA came under a lot of criticism over him missing out on the 75 Anniversary team.

8. Luka Dončić

Commonly referred to as the gentle giant by many, Luka Dončić has all the qualities that might make him the next biggest player in the league. In his four years in the league, the 23-year-old already has three All-Star and three All-NBA Team appearences to his name and won the 2019 Rookie of the year. As the Dallas Maverick franchise player, his elevated game and performance are credited for helping them advance to the Western Conference finals in the postseason.

Most Influential NBA Players- Luka Dončić.
Luka Dončić during the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 quarterfinal match between Slovenia v Poland 0n 14 September 2022. Photo: Maja Hitij
Source: Getty Images

7. Joel Embiid

Even though the Philadelphia 76ers did win the 2021/22 title, one name is synonymous with the team, Joel Embiid. The Cameroonian led the scoring list and became the first centre since Shaquille O'Neal in 2000 and the first foreign player to do so. In the last five years, this franchise player has been named to the All-star five times and All-NBA four times and finished second in the MVP vote for the second year in a row.

Most influential NBA Players- Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid Poses for the camera during 76ers media day. Photo: Tim Nwachukwu
Source: Getty Images

6. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis, or Greek Freak as he is popularly known, has popularity and influence that transcends basketball. His athleticism and background story makes him one of the most lovable players in the NBA.

Most Influential NBA Players- Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo during the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 quarterfinal match between Germany and Greece on 13 September 2022. Photo: Pedja Milosavljevic
Source: Getty Images

He is also one of basketball's most decorated players. He won the NBA MVP title for two consecutive seasons, 2019 and 2020, becoming one of the two to have ever won the title before turning 26. in 2021, he led the Milwaukee Bucks to the first Championship since 1971.

5. Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook, or Mr triple-double, is quite a polarizing figure in the league. The mere mention of his name invokes heated discussions and mixed emotions among fans, for those that love him do so with a passion, but those that hate him can not stand his sight.

Most influential NBA players- Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook handles the ball during the first half of the NBA game of the Los Angeles Lakers against the Phoenix Suns. Photo: Christian Petersen
Source: Getty Images

However, he is one of the greatest players in the league's history. A member of the NBA's 75 greatest players of all time, he won the league's 2017 MVP and has nine NBA All-star and eleven All-Team nods to his name.

4. James Harden

Critics often cite Harden as one of the smartest, if not the smartest on-court player in the league. His wide array of offensive skills, with the prominent ones being the Euro step and one-step back jumper, makes him one of the most entertaining players to watch.

Most influential NBA players- James Harden
James Harden during Game Six of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals between Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers. Photos: Tim Nwachukwu
Source: Getty Images

His legacy, on the other hand, is quite cemented. Harden is the highest all-time left-handed scorer in NBA history, the 2018 MVP, 2012 Sixth man of the year, and a ten times NBA All-Star.

Who are the most influential NBA players of all time?

Before we continue to our top three, below is a list of the top 10 most influential NBA players of all time.

  • Michael Jordan
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • LeBron James
  • Magic Johnson
  • Steph Curry
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Allen Iverson
  • Shaquille O'Neal
  • Wilt Chamberlain
  • Kevin Garnett

3. Kevin Durant

Once named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Kevin Durant or KD, is one of the three most famous players in the league.

He is often admired for his unselfishness, always putting the team's interest ahead, and extensive philanthropic work outside the court.

Most influential NBA players- Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant during Three of the Eastern Conference of Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets First Round NBA Playoffs on 23 April 2022. Photo: Al Bello
Source: Getty Images

His Legacy in the NBA is equally impressive. He is a two-time NBA champion, a two times NBA finals MVP, 12-times NBA All-Star, a two-time NBA All-Star MVP, and an NBA MVP (2014).

2. Stephen Curry

Steph Curry, widely regarded as the greatest shooter of all time in the NBA, has revolutionized the game in many ways. His back story of overcoming adversities to make it to the NBA while staying humble and keeping his faith rooted in God makes him a fan favourite.

Most influential NBA players- Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry drives to the basket during the NBA Japan Games Team Practice on 29 September 2022. Photo: Takashi Aoyama
Source: Getty Images

As a franchise player for the Golden State Warriors, he is a four times NBA champion, two-time NBA MVP, and eight-time NBA All-Star. He is considered the man behind the team's establishment as a dynasty in the league.

1. LeBron James

When it comes to the most influential basketballer in the world in 2022, it doesn't get any bigger than LeBron or King James, as he is popularly known. However, his legacy and accomplishments transcend beyond the court and basketball. He is widely considered one of the greatest players and is often compared with Micheal Jordan.

Most influential NBA players- LeBron James
LeBron James reacts after scoring during the second quarter of an NBA game P against the New Orleans Pelicans. Photo: Sean Gardner
Source: Getty Images

LeBron is a four-time NBA Champion, four-time NBA MVP, four-time NBA finals MVP, and three-time All-Star MVP and has been selected to the All-Stars 18 times.

Who is the most influential NBA player ever?

Micheal Jordan is widely considered the most influential player in the history of the NBA.

Who is the most recognizable basketball player?

Micheal Jordan is widely known as the greatest player of all time. Though retired, he is a cultural icon and the most recognizable player worldwide.

Who will be the best NBA player in the 2020s?

It is too early to call at the moment, for we are barely two years into the decade. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo already emerges as the most decorated player of this decade.

Who changed basketball the most?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered the man who changed basketball forever. No one has scored more points, won more MVPs, or gotten more All-star nodes than him.

Who are the most loved NBA players of all time?

According to several publications and fan polls, here is a list of the most loved players throughout the history of the NBA.

  • Tim Duncan
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Stephen Curry
  • Magic Johnson
  • Yao Ming
  • Nate Robinson
  • Wilt Chamberlain
  • Muggsy Bogues
  • Micheal Jordan

As it is quite evident, the NBA players highlighted in this article have cultivated a niche for themselves through exemplary performance in one of the most competitive leagues in the world. This makes them worthy of the attention that they get and the influence that they have.

READ ALSO: José Ramírez: wife, stats, contract, age, height, net worth

Sportsbrief recently did an article on Cleveland Guardians' third baseman Jose Ramirez and revealed some fascinating facts about him. Undoubtedly, the Dominican baseball star is headed for another MVP vote. He helped lead the Indians to its first World Series appearance in 19 years. As a result, Ramírez was named winner of the Bob Feller Man of the Year Award for the first time and received the award again in 2021.

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Lewis Injai