Derrick Rose and the Most Dynamic Athlete of Every NBA Team
Every NBA team has a player who can provide the high-flying highlights for his squad thanks to his athleticism.
These are those guys.
Blessed with rare physical gifts like the ability to elevate higher than the vast majority of human beings on the planet, the speed to leave defenders trying to read the name on the back of their jersey, the quickness to break the ankles of opposing players and more, these are the premier athletes from each team.
One quick caveat, though: When deciding who the most athletic player from each team was, I only considered players who regularly find themselves in the game. If you're athletic but that athleticism is wasting away on the bench, who really cares?
It's because of this that you won't find a guy like Travis Leslie challenging Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan for the right to represent the Los Angeles Clippers. There is one notable exception to this rule, though, which you'll find out about soon enough.
Because I know you don't really want to hear me wax poetic about the athletic feats of these superhuman basketball players, I've included a video of each and every player that attempts to showcase their athleticism. The text is fairly limited in an attempt to encourage you to spend valuable minutes of your day watching feats that will make your jaw drop.
So get excited and read on to find out who these players are.
Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith
You don't play forward and become the youngest player in NBA history to block 1,000 shots without an elite level of athleticism.
If you're ever wondering exactly why Phillips Arena is nicknamed "The Highlight Factory," look no further than the above-the-rim play of Josh Smith.
Boston Celtics: Brandon Bass
Brandon Bass is by no means one of the most athletic players in the NBA, but the Boston Celtics may very well be the least athletic team in the league, preferring to rely on experience, craftiness, skill and tenacity more than anything else.
Bass does increase the team's athleticism, but it's not really anything to write home about.
Charlotte Bobcats: Tyrus Thomas
I thought about giving Kemba Walker this spot, but then reconsidered and gave it to Tyrus Thomas. A player who has never really lived up to his potential, Thomas does have absolutely insane athleticism that he uses to reject shots with his elbow and score with his head at the rim.
Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose doesn't play like a point guard when he decides to drive into the lane. The only word that I can possibly use to describe his body control in the paint and the air would be "exquisite." His ability to elevate and throw the ball down through the hoop is simply exhilarating.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Alonzo Gee
I tried to find a compilation video of Alonzo Gee's highlights this season, but I couldn't find one. So in addition to showing you the video that is embedded in the slide, I'd like to show you the following plays that my nomination for "Breakout NBA Athlete of the Year" has put together: this one, this one, this one and this one.
Dallas Mavericks: Vince Carter
Perhaps the beard is weighing him down a little bit. Or maybe it's the years starting to pile up.
Vince Carter can still get up and throw down with the young guns of the NBA, but the occurrences are just fewer and further between.
Denver Nuggets: Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson is fast. In fact, he may very well be one of the fastest players to ever put on a uniform for an NBA squad.
Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight
The Detroit Pistons aren't a particularly athletic team, which makes Brandon Knight stand out in that area a bit more than he actually should. The young rookie from Kentucky is a great athlete, but not a top-tier one.
Golden State Warriors: Nate Robinson
Nate Robinson is 27 now and doesn't have quite as much athleticism as he did two years ago when he won his third Slam Dunk Contest, but he's still a 5'9" guard who plays above the rim.
Houston Rockets: Terrence Williams
Terrence Williams has by no means developed into the player that he should have become after a standout career with Louisville, but that doesn't mean he can't put up the occasional SportsCenter highlight.
Indiana Pacers: Paul George
Paul George wants into the 2012 Dunk Contest and I really hope that his request is met with open arms by the NBA. There's no telling what we could see from him.
Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin
If you have watched basketball over the past year and a half, you'll understand why this one needs no explanation.
That said, DeAndre Jordan does come fairly close to taking the crown away from Blake Griffin on the Los Angeles Clippers.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant
Memphis Grizzlies: Rudy Gay
If you're a regular subscriber to NBA.com's Top 10 Plays of the Night, then you have the pleasure of seeing a Rudy Gay highlight almost each and every night. This guy doesn't get nearly enough publicity; his plays are just something else.
Miami Heat: LeBron James
LeBron James jumped over an NBA player to dunk a basketball. No disrespect to Dwyane Wade or anything, but there's no way that "Flash" could do that.
Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings
Brandon Jennings likes to resort to his craftiness and his jump shot, but he's blazingly fast and can dunk without a second thought. The volume-shooting lefty has taken a huge step forward this season, not unlike the huge steps he takes while running past defenders.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams
Derrick Williams is just crazily athletic and explosive. How many other rookies could throw down a sick reverse slam off an alley-oop like the former Arizona Wildcat did during his very first game?
New Jersey Nets: Deron Williams
Athleticism may not be the first thing you think of when you hear Deron Williams' name, but the big guard still possesses more than his fair share of speed, quickness and leaping ability. Just ask Roy Hibbert.
New Orleans Hornets: Eric Gordon
One of the only things that this 2011-12 NBA season has been missing so far is the monstrous dunks and great feats of athleticism that Eric Gordon can provide to viewers.
Fortunately, that should be changing soon.
New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert
You may not be able to tell it from this video (I didn't want to include one of him back in his collegiate days at Georgia Tech, so the selection was quite limited), but Iman Shumpert is finding himself on the basketball court during his rookie season because his incredible athleticism trumps his rawness.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook
If you're ever trying to find a point guard who plays with a greater combination of athleticism and unrelenting anger at the rim than Russell Westbrook, I'll save you the trouble and just tell you right now that you won't find one.
Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard
When you're almost seven feet tall and have shoulders that look like they belong to Hercules, you shouldn't be able to jump higher than the vast majority of NBA players. Dwight Howard simply isn't fair.
Philadelphia 76ers: Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala is one of my favorite players to watch in all of basketball because of what he can do on a basketball court. He can settle down and play lockdown defense, fill up the box score with a ton of different contributions or get out ahead on a fast break and absolutely pummel the rim.
Phoenix Suns: Shannon Brown
Even though he missed the dunk in this video, one thing is abundantly clear: while most normal human beings have muscle fibers running up and down their legs, Shannon Brown has springs.
Portland Trail Blazers: Gerald Wallace
Gerald Wallace, the stat-stuffing swingman known as "Crash," plays with a recklessness made possible by his tremendous athleticism that both literally and figuratively puts him head and shoulders above the other players on the court.
Sacramento Kings: Isaiah Thomas
When you're 5'9" and can do this, much less make it in the NBA at all, you belong on a list like this.
San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard was a successful collegiate player because he did everything well. That versatility is translating well to the NBA so far and athleticism is one major part of the reason for the easy transition.
Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan is struggling to score at a level everyone expected this season, but he can still elevate and throw down the monstrous jams seemingly at will.
Utah Jazz: Jeremy Evans
I know I said that I would limit the selections to the players who were making a significant for their teams, but Jeremy Evans is enough of a high-flyer that I had to make an exception.
Washington Wizards: JaVale McGee
Yes, JaVale McGee makes some immature decisions and doesn't play with enough fire and intensity, but he can sure elevate his massive frame up into the air to either slam home the basketball or send an opponent's shot flying into the stands.