The ability to bench press over 300 pounds is typically seen as a unimportant measure of how good a basketball player is. Remember Kevin Durant at the pre-draft combine in 2007? Yeah, exactly. In basketball, a player can get away without that unique strength. Basketball players simply mark strength differently.
Players rely on completely separate strengths depending on their particular skill-set. For instance, James Jones, known primarily as a 3-point specialist, wasn’t known to lift much when he was on the Phoenix Suns. That won’t work for a player like Al Horford, who is forced to bang bodies down low and take a beating every night against bigger players. He will, more than likely, break down much quicker without that extra strength.
In judging the strongest players in the NBA, I decided to not completely discount the guard position. They may not be classified as the “strongest” compared to their center brethren, but they should be when compared relative to their position and size. Many factors contribute to the overall strength of a player: sheer size, toughness, fearlessness, the ability to remain in the paint without being moved, as well as the ability to take contact at the rim.
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15. DeJUAN BLAIR
Blair plays much bigger than his height. He is listed at 6-7 and 270 pounds, yet he crashes the boards and boxes out players five inches taller than him. He has been able to remain in the NBA without an ACL in either knee. That leaves him exposed to career-threatening injuries for every rebound that he jumps for. Try not to get in his way when he grabs a rebound, he may just take you out.
And remember what he did to Hasheem Thabeet in college? They had to pick the UConn center’s remains off the floor afterwards.
14. AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE
Stoudemire may have fallen from “superstar” to “half a star” but he is still highly regarded for his offense efficiency and ability to power himself in the paint. When he returned from his knee cyst during the 2012-13 season, he developed an inside game that consisted of him barreling into the chests of his opponent and dunking the ball on their head. Stoudemire showed off his impressive physique in the ESPN “Body Issue” in 2010.
13. NATE ROBINSON
One of the most tenacious players in the NBA, Robinson drives to the paint with reckless abandon. Robinson is listed at 5-9, even though most think he is 5-7, and weighs in at 180 pounds as one of the NBA’s very best all-around athletes. Robinson constantly displayed his ability to take on challenges and much larger defenders when push came to shove during the 2012-13 season.
12. ANDRE IGUODALA
The physically imposing, versatile defender is best off when wearing a sleeveless jersey. His bulging biceps are noticeable from the cheap seats and his athleticism can be felt through his explosive dunks. Iguodala’s greatest talent is his defense, though. His ability to cover guards and wings showcases his athleticism and his raw strength.
11. IVAN JOHNSON
Currently a free agent, Johnson definitely has the reputation as a survivor. Many of his former incidents in high school involve suspensions, fighting and punching a hole through a wall. He was unable to receive an extended scholarship to Oregon due to “anger management” problems but he has since channeled that anger into a productive NBA player. Not to mention he isn’t afraid to call out KG.
10. METTA WORLD PEACE
Even if you discount the crazy factor and propensity to fight, World Peace is still incredibly strong for his position. He mixes between power and small forward, displaying the ability to defend the post against much bigger opponents. At 6-7 and 260 pounds, it isn’t easy to move World Peace and it isn’t much fun to face him when he’s mad.
9. NIKOLA PEKOVIC
This bulldozer has no care for his opponent’s well being as he bangs the boards as hard as any other player in the NBA. His technique on rebounding can be slightly flawed due to his size and strength. Pekovic is 6-11 and 290 pounds, and he once used every bit of that size to take out Brandon Knight.
8. TONY ALLEN
He constantly bullies opponents by playing physical, tight defense. The stamina and relentless effort typically leads to a breaking down of the opposition, something that Allen thrives on. Playing up on his man and swiping for the ball is what he does best and is able to take on bigger guards with a 6-4, 214-pound frame. He may not be the biggest player in the NBA, but he has unbelievable strength in his legs, hands and wrists.
7. BLAKE GRIFFIN
The chiseled Griffin is one of the most powerful players in all of basketball. His explosiveness and raw strength were first seen before the NBA Draft where he did 22 bench press reps, a record for a No. 1 draft pick. In mid-air, he is able to take on defenders and push them out of his way. His leg strength and body size have come a long way since he was a teenager.
6. REGGIE EVANS
He screens hard, he rebounds hard and he is as tough as they come in the NBA. His size at 6-8 and 240 pounds can be imposing to opposing players for the manner in which he uses his body. Players comment on his “dirty play” but they can’t discount his ability to set hard screens and compete with anyone for a rebound. Seriously, think about it: this dude is only in the NBA because of his physicality and toughness.
5. ROY HIBBERT
4. CHRIS PAUL
He might not seem like the most logical choice but if you look at his defensive prowess and ability to take on contact at the rim, it makes plenty of sense. He isn’t that big — he’s only listed at 6-0 and 175 pounds, but he has a low center of gravity that allows him to plow through defenders. He has shown time and time again that he can hit shots when taking contact, especially in clutch moments. That takes more core strength than you realize.
3. DAVID WEST
West has shoulders like a linebacker and his physical style of play fits his physique. He is listed at 6-9 and 250 pounds, which makes him a tough obstacle to move in the paint. His intensity ramps up during the NBA Playoffs, where he’s been known to get into a few altercations. West is one of the last few real “bad boys” of the NBA, and even team mascots have to watch out for him.
2. DWIGHT HOWARD
Many claim that Howard is just a robot. The philosophy of strength, speed and power pretty much symbolize the player that he is. His defensive prowess allows him to showcase that strength as players have trouble posting him up. He was an elite rebounder before back surgery and after a full year, he may be ready to reclaim the title. If you have a chance to ever see Howard in person, you’ll be amazed. The dude looks like he was carved from stone.
1. LeBRON JAMES
He’s a powerful train when coming at you full force in the lane and there is nothing you can do to stop him. No other player can compare to his 6-8, 250-pound plus frame when you add on his athleticism. No other player can guard the point guard position one possession and then switch on to the center the next. James’ size gives him that advantage and it is one of the many reasons why he is the best in the game.
What do you think?
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