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Ranking the NBA's 10 Most Physically Intimidating Players

Denim MillwardContributor IIIJanuary 10, 2017

Ranking the NBA's 10 Most Physically Intimidating Players

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    The NBA has no shortage of ego, bravado and completely irrational self-confidence.  The dearth of humility and critical, realistic self-evaluation makes the likelihood of any given player admitting that an opponent intimidates them extremely low. 

    However, the fact remains that a small handful of NBA players is extremely intimidating to face off against. 

    Let me clarify in this introduction that there are several different means of intimidation.  Perhaps the most common is physical imposition.  A hulking, jacked NBA center would certainly qualify. 

    Dominance at his position would also qualify as intimidating.  What causes more ulcers for defenders than the advanced knowledge that they'll be going against a player who is damn near unstoppable? 

    The following 10 players, for one reason or another, are the most intimidating in the league. 

10: DeMarcus Cousins

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    Cousins combines brute strength, a large frame, a bull-in-a-china-shop approach to the game of basketball and a reputation for being a headcase to make himself one of the NBA's most imposing players. 

    Cousins also has a history of behavioral problems, and while his petulant behavior can drive coaches crazy, it has the unique byproduct of making opponents very wary of Cousins.  Everyone knows Cousins has zero fear about mixing it up based on the slightest provocation. 

9: Josh Smith

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    I'm thoroughly convinced Josh Smith has never cracked a smile on an NBA court.  If he did, I don't think I'd even know how to react.  It would be as unnatural as a Shaquille O'Neal three right down the pipe. 

    Yes, Smith is quite the surly fellow, his attitude about as far from warm and fuzzy as you can possibly get. 

    Smith is a super-saturated ball of intensity, has no qualms about jawing with opponents and only adds to the intimidation factor by viciously swatting more than his fair share of shots. 

8: Tyson Chandler

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    Chandler, a perennial candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, has the reputation of one of the toughest players in the league.  I'm sure he's a nice guy off the court, but I still wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley. 

    The defensive stalwart makes players think twice about driving the lane and infringing on his space, either by emphatically blocking their shot or making absolutely sure the ball comes nowhere near going in by a clean but hard foul. 

7: Kobe Bryant

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    Kobe's obviously not the hulking, statuesque intimidator we might picture when we visualize an intimidating player, but Kobe's tenacious defense, unparalleled will to win and clutch shooting make it a very tall order to defend him. 

    The daunting task of D'ing up Kobe is further made difficult by the fact that Kobe seems to get somewhat of a benefit of the doubt when it comes to foul calls.  It's understandable that a longtime vet who's as popular as they come would get a little help from refs, which makes the task even harder. 

6: Dwight Howard

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    Honestly, Dwight could be as high as No. 1 on this list, but his inability to stay healthy combined with the damage done to his image by his constant waffling and whining in Orlando have knocked him down to No. 6. 

    Howard is an absolute nightmare on the defensive end.  Howard combines mammoth size and strength with cat-like quickness to affect nearly every offensive possession by the opposing team.  Mammoth swats into the stands have become commonplace in Dwight Howard contests. 

5: Kevin Durant

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    Possibly the nicest guy in the league, Kevin Durant's intimidation comes entirely from one place: his unstoppable scoring ability. 

    Durant has also gone all "eye of the tiger" since his loss in the finals and should see his intimidation factor increase tenfold this year now that his normally intense focus is positively laser-like. 

    I fail to see what anyone can do to slow down this offensive behemoth. 

4: Serge Ibaka

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    Serge Ibaka is made of solid muscle, can throw down thunderous jams practically at will and disrupts shots like disrupting shots is going out of style. 

    What's not to be intimidated by?

    Similar to teammate Kevin Durant, Ibaka seems like a genuinely nice guy, but his in-game tactics undoubtedly cause many a sleepless night for upcoming opponents. 

3: Metta World Peace

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    I don't care how long ago it happened.

    When you know a guy is crazy enough to climb into the stands and slug it out with a bunch of fans on a whim, you're going to be a little uneasy when going head to head against him. 

    And when you go head to head, you'd better watch your head—just ask James Harden, who took a vicious World Peace elbow to the head last season. 

    The fact that World Peace's biceps would look more fitting on a bodybuilder than a basketball player only makes World Peace's apparent instability that much more terrifying. 

    It's like putting a wrecking ball under the control of a toddler. 

2: Kevin Garnett

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    Unlike World Peace, Garnett knows precisely what he's doing when he decides to flex a little muscle and involve himself in extracurricular activities. 

    Garnett is usually voted one of the dirtiest players in the game by his peers, a distinction that, combined with his mammoth size and his perfect willingness to mix it up if it furthers his cause, lands him at No. 2 on this list. 

    Garnett prides himself on getting in his opponent's head, a process that usually involves an excessive amount of strategically timed and placed physical contact. 

1: LeBron James

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    Undoubtedly, this will be a controversial selection, but I stand by it 100 percent. 

    What in the blue hell do you do to guard a guy who is faster, stronger, smarter and quicker than anyone else in the universe? 

    If I was the one charged with guarding LeBron, I would embark on an ultimately fruitless search for any Achilles' heel or chink in the armor. 

    As far as I know, James' armor is 100 percent intact, and his Achilles' heels are both completely functional. 

    If I was going up against someone the caliber of LeBron, I think I might have to gobble Xanax pills just to not have a full-blown nervous breakdown. 

    The feeling of futility and helplessness opponents must feel when forced to try to tame the wild stallion is the most deflating of all.  This is exactly why James is No. 1 on the list. 

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