A lot of NBA big men think they have guard skills, but only a select few truly possess the talents of their backcourt counterparts. Marc Gasol, for example, essentially runs the Memphis Grizzlies offense with his pinpoint passing. Plenty of other bigs, like Dirk Nowitzki, have used some of the league’s best perimeter strokes to mimic the play of sharpshooting guards.
Before ranking the NBA big men with the best guard skills, it’s important that we set some parameters.
The primary tenet here is that the player must actually be a power forward or center. That means guys like Kevin Durant and Danilo Gallinari, who are both over 6’10”, don’t qualify as “big men” for our purposes because they’re just wing players who happen to have big-man height. We all know they’re really just oversized guards.
The second rule in our rankings is that we’re emphasizing the word “skills.” Lots of bigs try to impersonate guards, but most such attempts result in awkward plays or turnovers. Blake Griffin, for one, is a big fan of putting on ball-handling displays that get him nowhere. And Andray Blatche loves to operate off the dribble in the mid-range area. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really work for him—he made less than 30 percent of his two-pointers from outside of 10 feet last year.
We’re looking for NBA big men who are actually effective when using their guard skills. All of the following bigs are (or in some cases, were) terrific shooters, ball-handlers and passers.
These guys represent a truly rare breed: big men with real guard skills.
*All stats accurate through games played Dec. 2