By Chris Lehman
Just because there is a lockout and we can’t watch basketball, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to talk about it. In fact, it should be talked about more.
When’s the last time you saw someone throw down a nasty dunk or grab a rebound at its highest point and go, “Man, that guy must be one of the most athletic guys in the league!”? Well here you have it. This is a list of the ten most athletic players in the NBA:
Trevor Ariza, Nate Robinson, Andre Iguodala, Gerald Wallace, Gerald Green
#10 J.R. Smith – While he may not be the tallest player on the list, he sure makes it happen with the height he has. His athleticism sometimes gets overlooked by his ability to catch fire from beyond the 3-point line. But make no mistake, Smith has been known to throw down a dunk or two in his day.
#9 Derrick Rose – It seems crazy that someone of his athleticism should fall to the ninth spot on a list. But with the tremendous athletes in the league, Rose is doing something right just by making the list. He is one of the highest flying and fastest point guards in the league and is a matchup nightmare for anybody who has to try to guard him.
#8 Russell Westbrook – This guy is a straight up stud. Just like Rose, Westbrook played for one year in college before bursting onto the NBA scene. Westbrook declared for the draft after a breakout performance in the NCAA tournament and got drafted fourth overall where he made an immediate impact and instantly became known as one of the fastest players in the league with serious bounce.
#7 Josh Smith – A complete freak of nature. While it’s been said that he doesn’t have the most basketball skill, he sure makes up for with his athleticism. He is consistently one of the leagues blocks and rebounds leaders. Not because he has good low post fundamentals or because he boxes out well, but because of the Flubber he puts under his shoes.
#6 Amare Stoudemire – Any time you have a guy who’s close to 7′ tall and can move like Amare, you have something special. He has a ridiculous combination of speed, finesse and power. He came onto the scene straight out of high school and was raw talent. He hadn’t played very much basketball in his life but it didn’t take him long to figure it out. I still am looking forward to hopefully seeing him in a dunk contest.
#5 Shannon Brown – Bringing showtime back to Los Angeles. After playing for below average teams, Shannon got traded to the Lakers where he was given a chance to shine. He hasn’t disappointed. He’s a smaller guy but you wouldn’t be able to tell from his 44.5″ vertical.
#4 Dwyane Wade – While most would consider him one of the top 3 players in the league, a lot of people don’t recognize how athletic he is. Since he’s always hurt and limping up and down the court, you rarely see his burst. But when he’s healthy enough to go full speed, there’s no denying his athletic ability. Remember when he posterized 6’11” Joakim Noah? I sure do.
#3 Dwight Howard – The picture says it all. Dwight Howard is Superman. While I still don’t think his famous dunk was as great as everyone makes it out to be, it still displayed a great deal of athleticism. In order to throw the ball in, you must be above the rim. Just watch the games. Dwight Howard probably can jump over small buildings.
#2 LeBron James – Take a picture, because this is probably the only time I’ll talk positively about him. While I can’t say that he’s not a phenomenal player, I have always felt that he is overrated. People say he’s the best in the league, but in terms of basketball skill, he’s not close. What he does have going is his athleticism. He’s bigger, stronger and faster than just about everyone, arguably making him the most athletic.
#1 Blake Griffin – Blake Griffin is absolutely in a league of his own. As a “redshirt rookie,” in his first game, Griffin had several unbelievable plays that instantly made everyone understand what this guy could do. The scary thing was when game after game, he just got better. When you take a 6’10” player and give him a 37″ vertical, you know something crazy is going to happen every time he takes off.