The 10 Best Southpaws in the NBA
The NBA is perhaps the only sport which forces players to be somewhat ambidextrous.
Players must be proficient at using both hands when it comes do dribbling, passing and when they take shots around the rim.
The majority of the players, however, are primarily right-handed.
I could not decide if I should count down the best left-handed shooters, or best left-handed overall players. So I decided to call it simply ‘The 10 Best Left-Handed Players in the NBA’ and the word ‘best’ can be interpreted in any way you, the reader, chooses.
It is with great disappointment that I was unable to find a spot for the great talent of Pat Burke.
10. Kareem Rush
Kareem Rush is a journeyman who was drafted by the Toronto Raptors (but never played for them), signed at one point with the Seattle Sonics (but was waived before he ever suited up) and has played for the Lakers, Bobcats, and Pacers, as well as one year in Lithuania.
Never a great player, Rush is known for his three-point shot and scored a career-high 35 points in a game while with the Bobcats.
However, perhaps he is best known for his Game Six performance in 2004 in the Western Conference Finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in which he scored 18 points and connected on his first six three point attempts, finishing the game six of seven from behind the line.
9. Troy Murphy
Troy Murphy was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 2001 and played for them up through 2007, until he was traded to Indiana, where he currently plays.
Murphy has three seasons in which he has averaged a double-double, with his best year coming in the 2004-2005 season in which 15.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
Murphy remains as a solid big man that can start or come off the bench, and has the ability to knock down the three pointer, with a career average of 37 percent behind the arc.
8. Derek Fisher
Derek Fisher is the kind of point guard every coach would love to have. Good passer, excellent shooter, plays solid defense, dives after loose balls, takes charges, and is a leader on the court.
Fisher was drafted by the Lakers in 1996 and played with them until 2004. He returned to the Lakers last season after short stints with the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz from 2004 to 2007.
Fisher was an important piece for the Lakers as they won three consecutive NBA titles from 2000 to 2002. Once again, Fisher is a key component as the Lakers look to get back to the Finals and win their first championship since that 2002 season.
On the court, Fisher is perhaps best known for his miraculous shot in game five of the 2004 Western Conference semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs.
With just 0.4 seconds left in the game, and the Lakers down by one, Gary Payton looked to pass the ball in bounds, and with the first two options heavily guarded, passed the ball to Fisher, who caught the ball, turned and shot the ball at the basket.
Being a southpaw was the reason Fisher was able to get the shot off in time. Had he been right-handed, he would have had to turn his body in the opposite direction before shooting, and there simply was not enough time for that to happen.
The Lakers finished off the Spurs, as well as the T-Wolves in the next round, only to be defeated in the NBA Finals 4-1 by the Detroit Pistons.
7. Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2001. He played in Portland until 2007, was then traded to the New York Knicks, and just over a year later was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, where he is currently suiting up.
Randolph is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He averages over 16 points per game for his career, and has had three seasons in which he averaged over 20 points, and four seasons in which he averaged over 10 rebounds.
His entire career has been spent with some of the worst teams in the NBA, and he would be a valuable player for any contending team. He is 6’ 9’’ 260 pounds, but can beat you with an outside jumper, just as easily as posting you up.
6. Josh Smith
Josh Smith is a very talented young man that was drafted straight out of high school by the Atlanta Hawks with the 17th-overall pick in 2004.
Smith was named to the All-Rookie second team during the 2004-2005 season and won the Slam Dunk contest during that year’s All-Star weekend.
Smith is one of the more gifted athletes in the league, and has averaged 2.5 blocks per game for his career, as well as 7.4 rebounds and just under 14 points.
He is a big reason that the Atlanta Hawks have gone from possibly the worst team in the NBA to a very competitive Eastern Conference team, in just a few short seasons.
5. Tayshaun Prince
Tayshaun Prince was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2002 and has been a consistent player for them ever since. His numbers won’t dazzle you, but he does everything the Pistons need him to do.
He is a superb defender, he can rebound, he can score and he can handle the ball. He plays small forward but at 6’ 9’’ tall, he presents matchup problems for many teams in the league.
He was a very instrumental part in taking down the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. During the playoffs that year he averaged 10 points, six rebounds, two assists, and over one block, and one steal per game.
Prince is another player that is very underrated and unappreciated by most.
4. Michael Redd
Michael Redd was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2000, and was an absolute steal with the 43rd-overall pick.
Redd played in just six games in his rookie season, but it did not take long after that for him to develop into one of the best shooters in the NBA. In his second year, he posted the best field goal percentage (48) and three-point percentage (44) of his career, and averaged 11 points per game.
Since the 2003-2004 season, Redd has averaged over 21 points per game each season and has accumulated numerous accolades. In 2004, he was named to the All-Star team, as well as to the All-NBA Third Team. He currently sits in fifth place on the all-time Milwaukee Bucks scoring list.
Redd holds the NBA record for most three pointers hit in one quarter, with eight. He also won gold medals with team USA in 2007 at the FIBA Americas Championship, and at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
Finally, in 2006 he scored a franchise-record 57 points against the Utah Jazz. When it comes to lefties, Redd is one of the best in the game, and might have the prettiest shot of any southpaw in the league.
3. Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 1999 and was an even bigger steal then Michael Redd was for Milwaukee, as Ginobili was taken with the 57th overall pick. However, he did not join the Spurs until 2002.
Ginobili had quite a professional career, even before the Spurs drafted him, as he played in the Argentine Basketball League as well as the Italian League.
Ginobili is well-known around the league as a ‘flopper,’ but he is no flop when it comes to scoring the basketball. He averages 15 points per game for his career, and 16 points per game during the playoffs in his career. He is a great defender and averages 1.5 steals per game and is a terrific three point shooter.
Last season Ginobili was crowned sixth man of the year, and was named to the All-NBA Third Team. Ginobili has the ability to take over any game at any time and was a big reason the Spurs were NBA champs in 2003, 2005, and 2007.
2. Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom was taken with the fourth-overall pick in the 1999 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. He played with the Clips for four seasons and was signed by the Miami Heat as a free agent in 2003.
After just one season, he was traded (with Caron Butler and Brian Grant) back to the west coast, but this time to the Los Angeles Lakers, in the deal that sent Shaquille O’Neal to the Heat.
Odom is a walking double-double and flirts with triple-doubles more frequently than most. He averages 15.6 points and 10 rebounds per game for his career, as well as 3.5 assists, one steal, and one block.
Odom is a special specimen. His size allows him to play multiple positions. If he has a smaller guy on him, he can post up and use his left hand to finish at the rim. If he has a bigger guy on him, he can take him off the dribble.
Odom is quite adept at playing point guard also, as often times when he gets a defensive rebound, he can take the ball the length of the court and finish with a layup or dunk.
When aggressive, Odom is probably one of the most talented players in the entire league. Getting him to play with that aggression on a consistent basis, however, is not an easy task.
Nonetheless, Odom is easily one of the best lefties in the game.
1. Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh is one of the most dominant players in the game that never gets recognized. He was drafted in 2003 by the Toronto Raptors as the fourth-overall pick.
Bosh stands 6’ 10’’ tall but has a very smooth 18- to 20-foot jump shot. He averages 20 points, nine rebounds, and one block per game for his career.
Bosh is a four-time All-Star and was named to the NBA All-Rookie team in 2004 and the All-NBA Second Team in 2007. Bosh, like Redd, won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing with team USA.
In just six seasons with the Raptors, Bosh already is the all-time leader for Toronto in offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, blocks, double-doubles, free throws made and free throws attempted. Not to mention he was the third youngest player in NBA history to record 1,000 rebounds and fourth youngest ever to record 20 points and 20 rebounds in one game.
Hard to believe Bosh is only the fourth-best player from the 2003 draft class, behind LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade.
Bosh gets almost no recognition for his dominance, playing in Toronto, but he is due to be a free agent at the end of next season, and is sure to get numerous offers from many NBA teams.