Top 25 since '96 Part 3: Counting down the greatest modern NBA players

Photo illustration by Nick Roy/theScore

It's been a quarter century since the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary by naming the top 50 players in league history. To mark the latest milestone, theScore's basketball news editors voted for the top 25 players since the original list debuted.

Reminder: players on the original list were ineligible for inclusion - so no Michael Jordan, Shaq, or anyone else who continued to star beyond 1996. Second, players who debuted before 1996 were eligible, but they needed to have made an impact over the last 25 years.

25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

Here's the third entry of our five-part series:

15. Jason Kidd

Jim McIsaac / Getty Images Sport / Getty
12.6 6.3 8.7 1.9 0.3 34.9

Teams: Mavericks, Suns, Nets, Knicks

One of the most versatile floor generals of his generation, Jason Kidd possessed an elite ability to control games with superb playmaking, defensive prowess, and impressive rebounding skills for his position.

The best stretch of the Hall of Famer's 19-year career came between 1998 and 2004 when he captured the assists title in five out of six seasons, earned six straight All-Defensive team selections, and guided the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003.

Kidd went on to finish his career with nine All-Defensive nods, 10 All-Star appearances, and the second-most assists (12,091) and steals (2,684) all time behind only John Stockton. He finally captured an elusive ring as a key Dallas Mavericks role player in 2011. - Josh Weinstein

14. James Harden

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
25.1 5.5 6.5 1.6 0.5 36.3

Teams: Thunder, Rockets, Nets

Love him or hate him, James Harden is among the greatest scorers of the 21st century. "The Beard" has depended on his patented step-back three and uncanny ability to reach the free-throw line en route to becoming the NBA's third-ranked active points per game scorer.

Harden's role will surely shift while playing alongside fellow stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with the Nets, but his solo brilliance in Houston remains one of the most impressive offensive statistical stretches in modern NBA history. He recorded five top-three MVP finishes - including taking the honor in 2018 - as a result. - Matthew Winick

13. Chris Paul

Joe Murphy / National Basketball Association / Getty
18.3 4.5 9.4 2.1 0.1 37.1

Teams: Hornets, Clippers, Rockets, Thunder, Suns

Ten All-NBA selections. Nine All-Defensive nods. Four assist titles and six steal titles. Five top-five finishes in MVP voting (and nine top-seven finishes). And despite suiting up for six different franchises, Chris Paul has piloted those teams to 13 playoff appearances over the past 14 years, including this past summer's run to the NBA Finals with the Suns.

Paul remains the prototype for the traditional point guard. He's a pass-first floor general with enough scoring ability at all levels to keep the defense honest. Wins have come in bunches whenever he goes because of how Paul's skills complement and ignite his teammates' abilities. - Andrew Joe Potter

12. Allen Iverson

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport / Getty
26.7 3.7 6.2 2.2 0.2 31.3

Teams: 76ers, Nuggets, Pistons, Grizzlies

Under the unforgiving scope of advanced metrics, Allen Iverson was a supremely talented, yet inefficient superstar. To those who witnessed his heroics firsthand, the 2001 MVP and 11-time All-Star's status bordered on mythical.

Step-back buckets, fearless one-versus-five drives, dizzying crossovers, and no-look dimes were his calling card. Despite his David-like stature, Iverson was a Goliath on the court as one of the league's best scorers.

More than just an irrepressible attacking force, he was also the catalyst for an era-defining subculture that inspired the next generation and challenged the league's squeaky-clean image, all while garnering the adoration of die-hards and casuals alike. Iverson was truly a singular talent. - Michael J. Chandler

11. Steve Nash

Christian Petersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty
14.3 3.0 8.5 0.7 0.1 42.8

Teams: Suns, Mavericks, Lakers

Widely regarded as the greatest Canadian basketball player ever, Steve Nash personified leadership. Following a modest start to his career with the Suns, the eight-time All-Star started to blossom into one of the game's premier point guards after joining the Mavericks in 1999. He'd achieved superstar status before returning to Phoenix in 2004.

"Captain Canada" helped orchestrate Phoenix's revered "Seven Seconds or Less" offense alongside head coach Mike D'Antoni with a combination of pinpoint passing accuracy, a highly efficient scoring touch, and a tendency to push the pace. The Suns' run-and-gun style is largely credited with setting the groundwork for the pace-and-space era of today's NBA.

Nash won his first of back-to-back MVP awards after his first campaign back with the Suns in 2004-05. He also finished four different seasons as a member of the rare 50-40-90 club, the most in NBA history. - Weinstein


Come back tomorrow for part four of our series, which features two of the greatest power forwards ever.

Top 25 since '96 Part 3: Counting down the greatest modern NBA players
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