It’s hard to boil down to a simple, empirical definition, especially when we’re talking about basketball, so what constitutes a “smooth” NBA player? Any sort of ranking is subjective because smooth is an impression rather than a concrete fact. But we do know a smooth NBA player is one who knows who and what they are. Once a player is comfortable with themselves, both on and off the court, they can let their hair down a little bit. These five players knew exactly who they were, and their unfettered stylings turned them into progenitors of the cool that’s infused the game and the basketball lifestyle into the millennium.
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5. TRACY MCGRADY
T-Mac fans will argue until your ears fall off that he’s one of the greatest players of the early millennium. Those who got to see him as a rookie Raptor paired with his cousin, Vince Carter might agree if they watched his natural progression north of the border. In a lot of ways McGrady’s maturation needed him to strike out on his own in Orlando and then Houston because his game was too naturally elegant to play second-fiddle, even if it’s what he needed all aloong to be successful. He was a five-tool player stuck on a series of teams that needed him just to score, but no matter what McGrady did for his team, he made it look incredibly easy, which it probably was for this basketball savant.
4. STEPHEN CURRY
Anybody that legitimately terrifies opponents the moment he steps across half-court, has to be smooth. Steph’s jumpers fall with such regularity that his form must be wrinkle free. But while his three-point accuracy is what leads many to marvel at his game, he’s got the handle too, second only to Chris Paul in dimes per game this year, and one of the most electrifying finishers off the bounce in the league. But man, when you can look this smooth at a random zumba class, and your seeming flubs turn into dimes, you gotta make our list.
3. KEVIN DURANT
We debated putting Steph in this spot, but Durant’s recent ascension to legitimate 2014 NBA MVP frontrunner connotes larger things than just a smooth game. But every time the Durantula pulls up on that lanky 6-9 frame and unleashes another long-range bomb, how can you not recognize how effortlessly he drops buckets? He netted his career high earlier this year, and we can’t imagine anyone looking more natural on a basketball court. Even if >his new nickname , it lends credence to his smooth.
2. GEORGE “ICEMAN” GERVIN
Gervin, or “Iceman,” picked up that cool, cool nickname while playing for the ABA incarnation of the Spurs, one of the four teams that eventually got an invite to join the NBA. The rail-thin Gervin continued to assault scoring charts even in the NBA, and while you could muscle him inside on defense, he was basically impossible to stop on the offensive end, and so flawless while driving to the hole. Anybody that mastered the hard-to-handle finger roll and turned it into a go-to offensive weapon, deserves lifetime admittance to the NBA’s smoothest players club.
1. WALT “CLYDE” FRAZIER
Nobody is cooler and smoother on a basketball court, and off, than Walt “Clyde” Frazier. Clyde’s game was as smooth as the suede on the fashion-forward PUMA sneakers he wore throughout his career. In case you didn’t know, Clyde was the first player with his own signature shoe, PUMA’s “The Clyde,” which debuted in 1973. So for all the various signature kicks that have come out in the last forty years, PUMA’s initial iteration of “The Clyde” was the first of its kind, and they couldn’t have picked a smoother spokesman.
As the contemporary color commentator for the Knicks, Frazier’s expansive diction and knack for the perfect rhymed phrase to explain in colorful idioms what’s happening on the court, have become a part of our everyday basketball lexicon. It also doesn’t hurt his case that he helped lead the Knicks to the only two championships in their history, the only player on this list to do so (though we’re guessing KD joins him at some point). Nobody is as smooth as Clyde, whether he is in the club, one the court in those iconic PUMAs, or talking to the masses about the Knicks.
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