The NBA’s 10 Most Athletic Players

By: 01.21.14  •  2 Comments
Russell Westbrook, Iman Shumpert

Russell Westbrook, Iman Shumpert (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

The most athletic players in the NBA today are highlight reels in waiting. These athletic freaks of nature – if you will – process incredible leaping skills and hops, massive wingspans, electrifying speed, amazing explosiveness, and impressive hang time. They continually keep the fans on the edge of their seats, and leave them scratching their heads and saying, “How did he do that?”

Before going any further, it should be noted that Derrick Rose is omitted from this list due to his injury that is sidelining him for the regular season. Because of his multiple serious injuries, there are now questions of what form the former MVP will return in and play with for the remainder of his career. If Rose returns to his pre-injury style of play, he will certainly rank in the top five of this list.

With that said, let’s take a look at who the top 10 athletic players in the NBA today are.

Honorable Mention: Paul George and DeAndre Jordan

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DeMar DeRozan is making a steady climb of progress in the past four-plus years in his overall game. He is currently playing his best season yet, as he is entering the beginning stage of his prime at the age of 24. From being a player who was simply known for two things, his athleticism and potential, DeRozan has now evolved into the go-to-guy for the Toronto Raptors and a potential All-Star.

DeRozan’s natural athleticism willed him into a top-ten pick, and has spurred other improvements to his game, such as creating space around the perimeter and in the midrange. He already equipped NBA elite level explosiveness during his one-and-done tenure at USC. He is a terrific finisher at the rim, and while he possesses an average wingspan and standing reach numbers, his leaping abilities – up to 40 inches – has impressed basketball fans everywhere. DeRozan’s athleticism was compared to Vince Carter‘s when he entered the draft in 2009. That should tell you something.

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Kenneth Faried’s nickname, The Manimal, perfectly sums up his athletic ability. He has hops that are quite astonishing, enabling him to outreach seven-footers on the glass on a regular basis. Faried is insanely quick on the court for his size, as he will chase-down opponents on the break and demoralize them with a denial at the rim, as he showed with a monster, two-handed block against Dion Waiters on Friday (below).

The Manimal uses his freakish athleticism to throw down the hammer with fury over opponents, regardless of size. Faried’s athleticism is the perfect fit for Denver’s transition game – even though it has slowed down a bit under Brian Shaw‘s tutelage – and has provided a plethora of jaw-dropping plays for the highlight reels.

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