The Most Physically Imposing Players in the NBA by Position
In a recent interview with Matt Petersen of Suns.com, Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic had some rather kind words for one of his new teammates, former Los Angeles Clippers bench mobster Eric Bledsoe:
He’s a mini-Lebron James. He’s got that big strength so when he's in the open court, he’s unstoppable.
That praise may seem a bit too effusive at first glance. After all, Dragic and Bledsoe have yet to play a single second together, and Bledsoe, for his part, is a full seven inches shorter and about 60 pounds pounds lighter than the reigning NBA MVP.
But Dragic is hardly the first to make the comparison. As ESPN's Justin Verrier noted last November, Jamal Crawford had encouraged the entire Clippers team to refer to Bledsoe as "Mini-LeBron," leading to James himself acknowledging the powerful point guard in similar fashion (as "Baby LeBron") after a game between the Clippers and the Miami Heat in LA.
As impressive a physical specimen as Bledsoe may be, can he even be deemed the most imposing among his point-guard peers? And who are the top choices for just such a distinction at the other four positions?
Point Guard: Deron Williams
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Weight: 210 pounds
The answer to the first question: not if Deron Williams has anything to say about it.
Williams has long ranked among the bigger, bulkier point guards in the NBA. His combination of size, strength, speed and athleticism made him nearly impossible to cover during his heyday with the Utah Jazz and should allow him to lead a loaded Brooklyn Nets squad with aplomb when he's fully healthy this coming season.
Like Bledsoe, D-Will is particularly bullish in the open court where opposing players are often hesitant to get in his way.
Lest they get run over by the stocky All-Star.
Shooting Guard: Lance Stephenson
Weight: 228 pounds
Shooting guard isn't a position that typically lends itself to bruisers, which is why Lance Stephenson stands out from the crowd.
Well, that and his penchant for playing the part of "tough guy."
Stephenson isn't the tallest or even the most athletic 2-guard around, but what he lacks in height, he more than makes up for in sheer strength and physicality. The Brooklynite has thus far put his physical advantages and brash attitude to good use on the defensive end, where he's established himself as an "attack dog" on the perimeter and as a surprisingly productive rebounder for the Indiana Pacers.
Stephenson's offensive game remains a bit raw, though the Pacers won't likely need much from him in the scoring column with Danny Granger set to return this fall.
Small Forward: LeBron James
Weight: 250 pounds
LeBron James is such a physical freak for a small forward that it might not even be fair to list him as one. Considering how James' game has changed over the years—with the development of a stellar low-post repertoire and the move into a pivotal, point-forward-style role on the small-ball Miami Heat—he'd probably be a better fit at power forward.
For now, though, LeBron is listed as a small forward/wing-forward/guard-forward by most reputable sources, so we'll evaluate him as such. In that category, James is clearly without equal. Between his Adonis-esque physique, his ridiculous hops and his transformation into a freight train in transition, LeBron is about as impossible a cover as you'll yet find in the NBA.
Now, or ever, for that matter.
Oh, and there's a chance that his skeleton is made of Adamantium. He's missed a shade under four games per season through his first 10 years in the NBA, many of which have come on the tail end of successful campaigns.
Power Forward: Blake Griffin
Weight: 251 pounds
Size and strength alone don't make an NBA player imposing. It's what a player does with those attributes that matters most.
For example, consider Blake Griffin. By most measures, he's a massive human being, though he's only slightly larger than LeBron.
But, like LeBron, Blake makes his presence felt whenever and wherever possible. In just three seasons, Griffin has established himself as arguably the premier dunker in the NBA, thanks to an ever-lengthening highlight reel of alley-oops, tomahawks and Twitter-crashing posterizations.
Surely, every defender with even a shred of self respect will think twice about getting in Griffin's way, lest he subject himself to public humiliation and plenty of ribbing (good-natured and otherwise) from his peers.
Center: Dwight Howard
Weight: 265 pounds
Dwight Howard isn't the tallest or the heaviest center in the NBA. He's not even the toughest player to defend at his own position.
But Dwight's greatest impact comes on defense, where his mobility, agility, length and muscularity come into play—when healthy, that is. No single defender strikes fear into the hearts and minds of players looking to score in the lane more often than does Howard, who already has three Defensive Player of the Year awards, five rebounding titles and two block crowns in his back pocket.
Dwight may not be as massive as Shaquille O'Neal, as skilled as Hakeem Olajuwon or as long and durable as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But, like the great pivots before him, Howard's package of physical abilities is wholly unique among his similarly sized peers.
The Houston Rockets are banking on Howard's advantages, to the tune of $87.6 million, to put them over the top.
Like my picks? Think I got some (or all) of them wrong? Let me know on Twitter!