NBA: The All-Athletic Team

aSenior Analyst IApril 8, 2008

The other day I decided to start browsing through YouTube looking for some basketball videos.

That's when I saw it, a video of Jason Richardson's best dunks throughout his career. As I watched, I realized how easy he made everything look, like he was dunking on a Fisher Price basket. Tons of impressive windmills and off the backboard slams, weren't enough.

I wanted to see more.

As I watched video after video, I started wondering, who are the most athletic players at each position? After giving my question some thought, my All-Athletic team was born.

Without further ado, here's what I came up with:

Point Guard - Baron Davis - Golden State Warriors

When Baron Davis was younger, he was easily one of the most athletic players in the league.

His phenomenal vertical leap, large frame (he's 6'3" and 215 lbs.), and explosive quickness helped him dominate for two years at UCLA before being selected third overall in the 1999 NBA Draft by the then Charlotte Hornets (the team would later move to New Orleans).

During his stint with the Hornets, Davis filled many highlight reels and became one of the NBA's most exciting players. In 2005, Baron was traded to the Golden State Warriors and while injuries have taken their toll on him, he is still the most athletic point guard in the league.

He has expanded his game and has become a great all-around scorer but he still throws down some nasty dunks from time to time (just ask Andrei Kirilenko). 

Shooting Guard - Jason Richardson - Charlotte Bobcats

Richardson, a former Golden State teammate of Davis, has become a household name due to his freakish athletic abilities.

The two-time Slam Dunk contest champion has an astounding 46" vertical leap and is considered one of the best dunkers of all-time by many people. Richardson and Jordan are the only two players to win back to back Slam Dunk contests after J-Rich did so in 2002 and then 2003.

However, one of the main reasons Richardson is so exciting are his in-game dunks.

Almost every Golden State Warriors' highlight on ESPN from 2001 to 2006 featured a miraculous dunk from #23. As soon as Richardson takes off and starts soaring through the air, you know something exciting is about to happen.

He's the type of player who when he's alone on a fast break, an entire arena of people get out of their seats in anticipation for what's next.

Small Forward - LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers

Did LeBron James hit puberty when he was in elementary school?

It sure seems like it because he was a grown man when he entered the league right from high school. He's built like a tank, has incredible jumping abilities, and is one of the fastest players in the league (which is even more impressive when you consider his size).

While James may not throw down flashy dunks in-games like Richardson, he definitely has the athleticism to do so (check out his High School Slam Dunk contest if you don't believe me).

In high school, James also excelled in football and was a top prospect that was being recruited by nearly every college in America.  When LeBron decided to focus on basketball, some football experts believed that he was a better football player than he was basketball player which is a very scary thought.

It makes sense though. If he had focused on football and played in the NFL, he'd be matched up against cornerbacks who are barely six-feet tall. With his speed, vertical leap, and six-foot-eight body, he would basically be Randy Moss but four inches taller.

What else is there to say?

Simply put, LeBron is an amazing physical specimen who is so gifted athletically; he could dominate in not one but two professional sports. 

Power Forward - Josh Smith - Atlanta Hawks 


What else is there to say about this kid? He is one of the league's best shot blockers, averaging three per game, and is also an amazing dunker. Smith has been accused of having attitude problems and lacks a consistent jump shot but this list isn't about that!

It's about athleticism and that's pretty much Josh Smith's middle name.

Smith threw down his first dunk in seventh grade and has been doing it ever since. He won the 2004 Slam Dunk contest but, like Richardson, he has had his fair share of monstrous in-game dunks that eventually end up in ESPN's Top 10 plays

While his dunks are impressive, it's his blocks that grab my attention.

He doesn't just reject guys; he snatches shots out of midair, sends balls into the stands, and throws attempts off the backboard. Most athletic players can block a layup but it takes a lot of power and great timing to block a dunk, something Smith has perfected.

And if you’re still having doubts after watching all of those videos, check out one more. This sequence pretty much sums up why Josh Smith belongs in any article that deals with athleticism in the NBA.

Center - Dwight Howard - Orlando Magic

This was, without a doubt, the easiest position to fill on the list. Has there ever been another center in the history of the NBA with athleticism like Dwight Howard?

Which point should we take a look at first?

First, he autographed the backboard three feet above the rim at the RDV Sportplex, where the Orlando Magic practices, in one jump.

Second, let’s look at this video that leaked of him practicing his "Kiss the Rim" dunk and the video of his "Sticker Dunk" from last year's Slam Dunk contest.

You can’t forget about his performance in this year's Slam Dunk contest, becoming the tallest player to ever win in the contest's history.

How about the display of athleticism he puts on each and every night with his incredible power and hops. Why else did you think he's led the NBA in dunks for the last several seasons? 

Howard is easily the most athletic center in the league and if you don't see that, you must not be watching the same NBA as me. 

Honorable Mentions

Nate Robinson (New York Knicks), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix Suns), Vince Carter (New Jersey Nets), Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers), Jamario Moon (Toronto Raptors), Gerald Green (free agent), and James White (free agent currently playing overseas).

So there you have it, my All-Athletic team! Now I'm going to go dunk on an eight foot rim and sulk. Watching all of those videos definitely makes a five-foot-ten guy like me pretty jealous.

Anyways, feel free to post your own All-Athletic teams!


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