Fast, up-tempo play is what NBA fans love and there are players today that absolutely take their ability to move to the next level. Whether it is outrunning an opponent down the court for an easy bucket or breaking down a defender with quick footwork and dribble moves, speed is a necessary attribute and can help turn a player into an All-Star.
There aren’t many accurate ways to determine speed in the NBA. Is it burst? Is it acceleration? Can you decipher it by watching a game? Or do you have to watch someone run some suicides? It’s a guessing game, and even with that, I attempted a list of the 25 fastest players in the NBA…
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25. JAMES HARDEN
Do not let his massive 6-5, 220-pound frame fool you. James Harden is one of the most athletic guards in the NBA. A player of his size should not be as fast as he is off the dribble. Basketball fans really witnessed his deceptive speed last season. There were several occasions where Harden made point guards look lost on the court. Harden’s speed will be a key factor in his rise to NBA hierarchy.
24. ANDRE IGUODALA
When Andre Iguodala is the focal point of a conversation, his dunks and sheer athletic ability are more than likely the topic. He is one of the fastest and most physically gifted players in the league. There are not many players who have his speed and agility in transition.
23. MIKE CONLEY JR.
Mike Conley Jr. is one of the most under-appreciated guards in the game today. His name is not brought up in the conversations for best at his position, but he is definitely one of the fastest. His elite speed allows him to blow by defenders on the fast break and dish out a beautiful assist, or finish strong at the rim. Hoop fans need to pay closer attention to his game.
22. ERIC GORDON
Some might be surprised by this pick, but let me explain. When Eric Gordon was in Los Angeles, he was flying up and down the court with no signs of slowing down. After he returned from his knee injury, it appeared Gordon had not skipped a beat. His speed (and power) is directly responsible for his offensive productivity.
21. ISAIAH THOMAS
Isaiah Thomas is extremely small, but this translates directly to blazing speed. He uses his 5-9, 185-pound frame to his advantage. NBA fans double-take when they see him run the length of the floor, and he plays with a high-motor every second. He uses his speed to generate easy buckets for an offensively-challenged Kings team.
20. DWYANE WADE
Formally known as Flash, Dwyane Wade, when healthy, is still one of the fastest players in the game. He is ranked at 20 because he has trouble staying healthy towards the end of seasons. When he is not picking his spots, D-Wade is fully capable of slashing through the lanes with superhero-esque speed and maneuvering. Wade is turning 32 in January. It is only natural to lose a step or two as a player begins to age, so enjoy Wade while he is still able to produce at his current level.
19. DEVIN HARRIS
Devin Harris recently signed on (officially) with Dallas, the organization that originally unleashed his speed to help boost the Mavs to a 2006 NBA Finals run. Since then, he’s suffered through injuries and bit roles on subpar teams. Harris, for the most part, has been a middle-of-the-pack player, yet is still able to use his track-like speed to help his team on both ends of the floor. It’s not uncommon to him cause disruption on the defensive end, and then sprint back to get an easy layup or dunk.
18. ERIC BLEDSOE
This year with Phoenix, Eric Bledsoe finally has an opportunity to showcase his talents. It will be exciting to see how he plays with his new team. Bledsoe is actually one of the more athletic players in the league; quick feet and an explosive first step make him dangerous in the open court. Expect to hear a lot more of Eric Bledsoe’s name next season.
17. NATE ROBINSON
He is the smallest big man in the NBA. Nate Robinson plays with so much intensity and heart; it is inspiring. He has quick crossover moves, and staying in front of him defensively is no easy task. A combination of Lawson and Robinson automatically puts Denver in the top five teams in the Western Conference.
16. JEFF TEAGUE
Another athletic guard makes his way onto this list. Jeff Teague averaged a career-high in points last season and, as a matter of fact, he has improved in points per game every year he’s been in the league. Jeff Teague has a well-rounded game, topped off with great court vision and considerable speed.
15. TONY PARKER
Tony Parker is the best point guard in the league, in my opinion. From a historical standpoint, there are not many floor generals who have a resume that compares to Parker’s. So, what makes Parker so lethal? His ability to shift gears at any given moment and his unbelievable speed off the pick-n-roll. The good news for Tony Parker is that he is still young, and he stays healthy. He has four or five years left to display his dominance.
14. MONTA ELLIS
Monta Ellis is hardly a stat nerd’s favorite player, but denying his explosiveness and speed is out of the question. He is not the most efficient shooter, but he creates easy offense for his teammates by blowing past his defenders with a quick first step. Not many players can keep up with Ellis. In fact, last season rookie Dion Waiters told us Ellis was the fastest player he’d ever played against. Ever.
13. LEANDRO BARBOSA
Leandro Barbosa used to be one of the fastest players in the game. But as he progressed through his career, we started to see less and less of him. Off the dribble, no defender can stay in front of him. He was traded to the Wizards last season, but is now a free agent with a reported offer from the Mavs. It will be interesting to see where he lands next.
12. CHRIS PAUL
Some might raise their eyebrows at this. Yes, Chris Paul is ranked number 11 on my list. I see Chris Paul as more of a methodical point guard with quick feet. But he can definitely turn on his burners when needed.
11. BRANDON JENNINGS
The new guy in Detroit, Brandon Jennings is similar to Monta Ellis, but faster. Jennings lacks offensive efficiency and defensive prowess but to his credit, his ability to move up and down the court is quite amazing. He weaves through traffic like it’s not there. There are few players in the NBA who can match is speed off the dribble.
10. RAJON RONDO
Rajon Rondo is one of the fastest players in the league. The only reason he is not higher on this list is because he does not always play to his highest level. A player that moves as fast as him should not be slowed down. With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett now in Brooklyn, Rondo will have the opportunity to carry the majority of the offensive duties in Boston. He is currently rehabbing an ACL injury, and I expect him to return to full form next season. Look out for Rondo to make a statement next year.
9. LeBRON JAMES
I am one of LeBron’s biggest supporters. NBA fans become mesmerized by a man as big as LeBron moving like he does. To his credit, LeBron uses his rare gift to make game-changing on both ends of the floor. Not many players can stop LeBron when he is running in the open court.
8. KEMBA WALKER
Kemba Walker and the Bobcats were not nationally televised a lot last season, so some fans probably do not know how fast this man is. His quick feet and crossover allow him to get to the bucket with ease, and he’s been doing it since back in the day when they called him EZ Pass on the NYC playgrounds. If he is not finishing at the rim, he is speeding by his defenders and creating easy offense for his teammates.
7. KYRIE IRVING
Kyrie Irving is rising through the ranks of the NBA, and it’s his quickness off the dribble that’s almost unrealistic. Put a ball in his hands and the dude is a missile. The fact that he is so young, and has already taken the league by storm is quite amazing. As he matures, I am sure he will develop more consistency and the ability to raise Cleveland’s play. Irving’s ability to stop and go on a dime has caused him to be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
6. PATTY MILLS
Mills does not play a lot, but when he does, he makes the most of his minutes. He has a quick dribble move that he utilizes to open up his midrange jump shot. When he is coming off screens, his defenders have a tough time chasing him around the court to contest his shot. It is unclear where his NBA career will take him, but one thing is certain: his speed keeps him involved in Gregg Popovich‘s game plans.
5. TY LAWSON
There is not much to say here. Ty Lawson is explosive and fast. He plays with a high-motor every second he is on the court. At times, he makes defenders look silly for trying to keep up with him. Not many have a first step like Lawson’s and if he develops more versatility in his game, he will be one of the better point guards in the NBA.
4. DARREN COLLISON
Darren Collison will probably never be on the level of the NBA’s other elite point guards, but in terms of speed, he is one of a kind. Speed is in Collison’s blood. His parents were elite track and field athletes when they were younger.
3. RUSSELL WESTBROOK
Russell Westbrook is an athletic freak of nature, something you must see in person to believe. His explosive jumps and quick first step have earned him multiple All-NBA Second Team honors. Westbrook is a highlight waiting to happen, and even though he’s coming of a meniscal injury, the OKC guard should be ready to be the explosive player he was before.
2. DERRICK ROSE
When healthy, Derrick Rose is the second-fastest player in the league. It may take awhile for him to get back to his normal speed because, as we all know, he is coming off ACL surgery. Derrick Rose is not limited to one type of speed, he changes gears within the blink of eye. He slashes to the rim and runs out on the break with ease. In the larger picture, it is a “put up or shut up” year for Derrick Rose. Many fans thought he should have been playing last season, but he claimed he was not mentally ready. All eyes are on Derrick Rose this season, and I think he will deliver.
1. JOHN WALL
Another obvious choice for me. I have not seen a player in today’s game who is on Wall’s level in regards to speed. It is John Wall’s biggest strength. Speed is the reason John Wall scores at the rim the way he does. Hopefully Washington can add more pieces around him, so the fans can see if he can take his game to the next level.
What do you think?
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