Ballhandling is a skill that can define a player. Now that the game of basketball has been influenced more than ever by streetball played on the blacktop, ballhandling skills are increasingly being showcased and developed by players. Strong handles, whether it is a simple behind-the-back crossover or a hesitation move, can benefit the player in a multitude of ways. It is an entertaining, yet difficult to master method to take advantage of an opponent.
NBA greats like Isiah Thomas, Tim Hardaway and Allen Iverson have all influenced ballhandlers everywhere in their quest to handle the ball with beautiful creativity. However, this list below is about ballhandling as a whole, not simply possessing the best crossover moves.
It should be noted that the reason Derrick Rose in not on this list is because of his absence for essentially the entire season with his knee injury. By doing so, we were able to include another player who has demonstrated impressive ballhandling this season.
So, who are the ten best ballhandlers this NBA season? Let’s take a look.
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10. Mike Conley Jr.
Mike Conley Jr. has taken most of the NBA and its fans by surprise, as most didn’t think Conley would be this good. However, he has slowly made a name for himself as Memphis’ true point guard and is on the brink of joining the other top tier, elite lead guards. Besides showing high basketball smarts, superior court vision and leadership, Conley has better ballhandling skills than one may think.
The 26-year-old from Indianapolis has lightening fast hands, but his dribbles are smooth and in control. He can switch to either hand when dribbling on command, which is a problem for defenders trying to predict his next move. Conley has a quick first step and the necessary explosiveness to beat any defender to the rim. If his jump shot would only improve in accuracy, his ballhandling could be that much more dangerous.
9. Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson is known around the NBA for two main things: 1. Speed, 2. Ballhandling. Lawson is so quick that it would be easy to imagine him losing control of his dribble. However, he has the necessary body control to make his extremities work as one. On top of that, Lawson is an undersized point guard at 5-11 and he is able to dribble the ball so low that a defender trying to reach in has a risk of losing balance.
The former Tar Heel uses ball fakes and shrewd dribbling to isolate defenders, staying low after a first crossover dribble, and exploding to the rim while using his strength to protect the ball or find a kick-out pass (averaging a career-high 8.9 assists per game). Lawson is sometimes overlooked, but with a league exploding with point guard talent today, that is bound to happen. However, when Lawson pulls out a ridiculous maneuver in his bag of tricks, fans will watch it over and over. Right, Jodie Meeks?