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Power Ranking the 15 Best Ball-Handlers in the NBA

Rich KurtzmanSenior Analyst IJanuary 8, 2017

Power Ranking the 15 Best Ball-Handlers in the NBA

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    Ball-handling—it's one of the most underrated skills in the game of basketball, yet it's an essential element if one wants to perform at an elite level.


    Dribbling a basketball well is one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports, especially when opposing players are swiping at every opportunity to steal the rock.


    To handle the ball with grace is as savvy as it is special—it's principal for a guard to become great in the NBA—and it's a skill that must be developed tirelessly from day one on the hardwood.


    Some players are flashy—utilizing crossovers and behind-the-backs to confuse and frustrate defenders.


    While others are more controlled—smooth with the rock in their hands, using more fundamental play to break down the defense.


    This list ranks the best of the best ball-handlers in the NBA today.

15. Mike Conley Jr.

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    Mike Conley Jr. is a blossoming talent that is slowly coming into the spotlight with the Grizzlies recent playoff appearances.

    He's growing at a fast rate, as evidenced from his playoff averages of assists (7.1-6.5) being better when the pressure was on in the postseason this year.

    He's both smooth, and at times, explosive, and his ball-handling is already helping him become known as one of the better young point guards in the game.

14. Tyreke Evans

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    Evans is a bit special because he's one of the only players on this list to look to make plays for himself before teammates.

    But, it's what he's best at—dribbling through defenders and getting to the lane, controlling the ball as he lays it in at the hoop.

13. Stephen Curry

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    Stephen Curry is a rising talent in this league, and it's not just for his stellar three-point shooting.

    Curry is an incredibly efficient dribbler, getting low and keeping his dribble compact which results in very few turnovers (2.5 per).

12. Chauncey Billups

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    Mr. Big Shot has been known for his last-second, buzzer-beating threes throughout his career, but he's much more than a scoring point guard.

    Billups is, perhaps, the best in the game at controlling the tempo, excelling in both the transition and half-court games, due to his stellar ball-handling.

    As one of the bigger points in the NBA, Billups uses his size and strength to protect the ball, and he's possesses deceptively quick moves to get to the hole.

11. Tony Parker

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    Tony Parker is sneakily fast and can explode to the hoop for layups, something he's done his entire career in San Antonio.

    When he drives, he gets so low to the ground that it's nearly impossible for the ball to get stolen, which makes him a deadly driver.

    And once he's inside, he doesn't have to lay it off the glass, he's great at dishing to teammates like Tim Duncan to get them going.

10. Jason Kidd

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    Jason Kidd's name is ironic in his advanced age, and his game is old school like him.

    Kidd doesn't do much to “wow” fans or opponents, but he does exactly what his team needs him to do to win.

    He was a catalyst of the Mavericks winning the NBA title last year, as the floor general who directed traffic, was sure passing and comfortable with the ball in his hands.

9. Deron Williams

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    Williams utilizes his size well to keep his body between the defender and the ball and has a great court vision as well.

    His height allows him to see over smaller defenders and find passing lanes, and he always seems to be in control of the ball when it's in his hands.

8. Steve Nash

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    Steve Nash's skill is diminishing in his old age, as his fourth-most 229 turnovers last year shows, but he can still handle the ball with the best of them.

    Nash is at his best on the break, and when his teammates run with him, he can get them the ball for easy scores down the lane.

7. Jamal Crawford

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    Jamal Crawford is another flashy player, and his ball-handling is more reminiscent of street ball than the NBA.

    That's exactly why he's so high on the list; Crawford is fun to watch because you'll never know what he's going to do next.

    On top of that, he looks like he's having fun every time he's out on the court.

6. Dwyane Wade

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    Dwyane Wade is flashy, magical with the ball in his hands.

    He regularly does the seemingly impossible—spinning to throw up and-ones that somehow go in or crossing defenders so hard they fall over.

    He's basically unguardable due to the vast variety of moves he can perform with the ball in his hands, and Wade's one of the top passing two guards in the league today.

5. Ty Lawson

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    Lawson is special due to his blinding speed that allows him to go the length of the court faster than any other player in the game.

    It's amazing he can fit in dribbles when he kicks it into high gear and goes to the rack with strength.

    But what lands Lawson so high on this list is his quickness.

    The fourth-year point guard's first step is so explosive he can get past any defender with the simplest of crosses.

    Once past them, he shows off his strength by holding the basketball in his gut like a football running back, with both arms cradling the ball to ward off would-be steals.

4. Derrick Rose

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    Derrick Rose is too fast, too strong and too quick for opponents, which makes him one of the best players in the NBA today.

    His handles are astonishing, and he can be seen leaving would-be defenders on the ground nightly due to crazy crossovers and killer quick moves that allow him to get to the iron for thunderous dunks.

3. Rajon Rondo

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    Rajon Rondo is currently the most pure point guard in the game of basketball, and much of it has to do with his ball-handling.

    He's not huge or strong, and opponents try to bully him at times. But he just leaves them confused and frustrated with his superb passing prowess.

    His 11.7 assists per game were No. 1 in the NBA, and he was a key reason the Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference finals.

2. Ricky Rubio

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    Ricky Rubio is a circus act on the basketball court, and I mean that in a good way.

    He's the most flashy ball-handler in the game today, spinning circles wildly and passing behind his back to teammates with ease.

    Rubio's drawn comparisons to “Pistol” Pete Maravich because of his extremely entertaining style of play, which has landed him so high on this list.

1. Chris Paul

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    Chris Paul, the greatest point guard in the world.

    Paul's too quick, too smart, plainly—too damn good.

    He's unstoppable in so many phases of the game, able to take over and take control on either end.

    Paul can cross you, and he loves to do that, and set up the step-back, mid-range jumper.

    Don't blink. His first step is so quick he'll leave you in his dust before you knew what happened.

    And when it comes to passing, CP3 is the master at getting his man the ball in the best position possible, whether it be an alley-oop or simply hitting them in the shooter's zone.




    Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. Follow Rich on Facebook and/or Twitter.

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