There are moments in any basketball game that can take your breath away. A player grabs a rebound, and takes off down court in flash; he looks like a blur racing down the court. Seconds later a fast break is ignited, and it is finished by a vicious slam dunk; the arena rises as one, and the roars make the ground shake. Not only are these scenes exciting, but they captivate our attention. They are the moments we talk about the rest of lives.
I always glance at the national TV schedule to see how many times certain players are on because I know they are going to give me more of those “WOW” moments.
Here is my list of the 10 most watchable players in the NBA.
10. John Wall
John Wall is pure speed. He’s a turbo-engine sports car that can go zero to sixty in a blink of the eye. All of his knee injuries have not slowed him down a bit, and he looks to embarrass foes at all times. On a more subtle level, he is a brilliant passer that always finds the open man.
9. Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki is an all-time great NBA player, and one of the best shooters to ever play the game. Unfortunately for us, he is nearing the end of his career. There are only a few more chances to catch a living legend playing ball. His signature fadeaway with the knee-up, to create separation, is an all-time great shot. I will miss it, and him, when he retires.
8. Chris Paul
I love watching Chris Paul get a defender behind him, stick his butt out to shield him off, and then shoot from the free throw line. It looks weird, but it is signature shot. Also, he is the maestro of Lob City. He throws the prettiest and most accurate alley-oop passes in the NBA.
7. LeBron James
My first memory of being in awe of a player was watching Charles Barkley grab a rebound, take one huge behind the back dribble, and barrel his way down court for a ferocious two-hand slam. I get that same feeling every time LeBron James has the ball. He such a physical marvel that he seems like a man destroying boys on the court. He is one-of-kind.
6. Stephen Curry
Just watch Steph Curry shoot the ball. How can anyone not be awe-struck by it? After you pick your jaw off the floor, tell me that wasn’t fun. He is so pure, consistent, effortless, stylish, and precise that his shot is a work of art; it should be on display at the Louvre.
5. Kyrie Irving
How do you describe watching this guy? Watching Kyrie Irving is like going to a Sci-Fi movie, and suspending reality for a few hours. How can anyone handle to ball that deftly? How can a little guard finish so consistently and creatively at the rim? I guarantee thousands of kids sprint to their nearest court to attempt to mimic the english he gets on the ball in order to softly kiss the ball off the glass; scientists have not invented some of the angles he creates. It is just amazing to witness.
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
If your must watch list has criteria that each player had to have a nickname than your first choice would Giannis Antetokounmo. They call him the Greek Freak; that makes me want to watch him all day. He is tall, but moves like a ballerina; you can’t take your eyes off of him.
3. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is 6’9”, and looks like a string bean. When he is standing still, nothing about him screams super athlete or talented baller. But once he gets a ball in hand, he transforms into a graceful gazelle. He handles the ball like he is auditioning for the And-1 Tour. He has enter-the-gym range on his jump shot, and I am pretty sure he was sent to Earth by his alien parents to get buckets. Along with Stephen Curry, he has the prettiest looking shot in the game.
2. James Harden
James Harden is not nearly the athlete that Westbrook is, but I get joy from the subtle things he does. First, you have to appreciate the beard. It has its own Tweeter account, so it deserves watching, and makes him must watch. More importantly it is his ability to change pace, Euro-Step, and create havoc on the offensive end. When he dribble around a screen no one in the gym knows when he will fake one way, and take that giant Euro-Step the other way for the finish. Also, I am hypnotized by his ability to find open teammates for three-pointers. In a game that promotes such similar skills, it is fun to see someone so quirky but so good emerge.
1. Russell Westbrook
As the most athletic guard in the NBA, Russell Westbrook can jump over the moon and finish with such ferocity that you feel the vibrations through the TV. He plays with such an unbridled passion that it literally makes your heart pound. Now that he has a new 5 year, $205 million extension, he might spontaneously combust on the court from pure adrenaline. I can’t wait to see him take the court next season.