Ranking the Top 7 Players with the Sickest Ball-Handling Skills
The top seven players with the sickest ball-handling skills include the league's most effective players off the bounce.
This group features the most creative and productive dribblers, along with those currently demonstrating the best crossover.
This list is comprised of six point guards and one shooting guard and is ranked according to each of their combined skill sets as ball-handlers. The margin separating each player in this ranking is extremely slim.
The awe subjectively inspired by the ball-handling wizardry of each was also incorporated.
No. 7: Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose is a driving point guard whose ball-handling skills feature a unique blend of speed and strength.
In a one-on-one situation, Rose's lightning-quick crossover has made him simply unguardable. His use of the push-dribble has also helped Rose power through defenders when double teams are sent in his direction.
The 21 points that Rose has averaged throughout his career have been fueled by this ability to navigate through defenses at will with the ball in his hands.
Just as soon as he makes his return for the Chicago Bulls in 2013-14, the NBA community will be reminded of all that and much more.
No. 6: John Wall, Washington Wizards
John Wall may have the most underrated crossover in the NBA.
Unless, of course, Phoenix Suns' guard Ish Smith is the person charged with constructing said ratings.
Last season, as a member of the Orlando Magic, Smith was dropped to the floor by Wall's ball-handling skills during a January matchup with the Washington Wizards.
The game was only Wall's second after returning from injury.
Despite his health issues, Wall has demonstrated in spurts a superior athleticism with the ball in his hands that helped make him the No. 1 overall pick in 2010. If he is able to stay healthy throughout the 2013-14 campaign, that same ability could move him up lists like this and many others by season's end.
No. 5: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul isn't the quickest player in the league these days, nor is he the strongest.
His ability to see the floor and anticipate, however—combined with a cerebral approach to the point guard position—has helped Paul remain an elite ball-handler well into his career.
CP3 excels by using his court vision to identify how defenses will attempt to guard him and then reacts with the ball in his hands before they do. His crossover is still deadly enough to prevent single coverage, and he's rarely surprised or slowed by the double-team.
He may have been more electric when he first broke into the league as a rookie in 2005, but Paul remains an impossible cover with the ball in his hands.
No. 4: Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
According to legend, Rajon Rondo's hands are so big he once palmed six basketballs.
On the court, he consistently capitalizes on this strength by redefining what we think is possible from a ball-handling perspective.
Rondo's unique ability to dribble into a pass that others didn't see coming is special. It's also a primary reason why you can't take your eyes off him in transition.
In the half-court set, however, Rondo's ball-handling skills are most apparent. When he's at his best, Rondo can routinely move past not only his defender, but also the first layer of help to create scoring opportunities for his teammates from the painted area.
His brilliance with the ball is why he was missed by not only Boston Celtics fans, but NBA fans alike after suffering the injury that sidelined him last season.
No. 3: Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
In a league comprised of the best basketball players on Planet Earth, it takes a special type of ball-handler to be identified by his crossover move alone.
Jamal Crawford, aka @JCrossver, has earned that right, though, because of his uncanny ability to change directions.
Crawford's crossover is so effective it will be remembered by NBA heads long after he's retired.
Despite being the only shooting guard on this list, his cross is the very move that has created the space necessary to average double-digit points on an annual basis since 2002-03.
It's also the same move that will help him lead what could be the best bench in the NBA again for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013-14.
No. 2: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Ricky Rubio's wizardry with the basketball in his hands put the NBA on notice immediately after breaking into the league with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011.
His creativity and mastery of the ball-handling art form has also left the league engaged with his brilliance ever since.
Rubio may not use his ball-handling skills to move north and south like a Derrick Rose does, for example, but that doesn't make his exploits any less entertaining.
At times, Rubio pushes the limits of what's traditionally accepted from ball-handling standpoint more than anyone has since Jason Williams was a rookie with the Sacramento Kings.
He makes the routine play during the routine game in the middle of the season nothing but pure entertainment because of all that.
No. 1: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyrie Irving currently owns the NBA's premier crossover move.
That honor may have belonged to Jamal Crawford a season or two ago, but Irving has done enough to edge out the league's elite for the title.
Besides that, though, he also operates with what appears to be an invisible string tied to both his hand and the basketball at all times. He can manipulate the ball to bounce in ways off the floor that defenders are simply not used to seeing, and he can get anywhere on the court because of it.
Additionally, Irving is consistently extending his ball-handling repertoire to feature new hesitation dribbles and change-of-direction moves on an ongoing basis.
He is the best ball-handler in the league heading into the 2013-14 campaign because of all that. If you don't believe me, just ask Brandon Knight.