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LeBron James and the 25 Most Versatile Players in the NBA

Shane DePutronCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2017

LeBron James and the 25 Most Versatile Players in the NBA

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    LeBron James has put up huge numbers across the board for the 30-12 Miami Heat throughout the 2010-11 season, despite playing alongside perennial All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

    However, during the past week, the Heat lost against the Los Angeles Clippers, in a game where James sprained his ankle, and then proceeded to drop two straight without him, in contests against the Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls.

    Furthermore, all of that came following a 21-1 stretch, illustrating just how much LeBron does for his team in nearly all aspects of the game.

    Consequently, one has to accept how versatile LeBron James truly is.

    Nevertheless, James is not the only versatile player in the league—not by a long shot.

    So, the following players are all individuals who, like LeBron, support their respective teams with their impressive versatility, contributing on the court in a wide variety of ways, from scoring, to defending, to handling the ball and much more.

No. 25: Tie, Derrick Rose and Deron Williams

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    Both Derrick Rose and Deron Williams do loads for their teams from the lead guard position. 

    They can score (Rose 24.5, Williams 22.0), set up their teammates (Rose 8.0 ast:3.6 to, Williams 9.4 ast:3.4 to), hit the three ball (1.6, 1.8) and shoot decent percentages across the board.

    And while neither of them are among the best defensive point guards, they still do an adequate job of defending their opposition and manage to steal the ball more than once per game.

    Moreover, the 6'3", 190-pound Rose and the 6'3", 207-pound Williams are more than capable of matching up against shooting guards.

    Consequently, they are two of the most versatile point guards in the NBA.

No. 24: Ron Artest

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    Although his 2010-11 numbers may not show it, Ron Artest is certainly a solid all-around player.

    As a former Defensive Player of the Year, the 6'7", 260 pounder has never been questioned on the defensive end, still managing to average 1.4 steals.

    However, his block and offensive numbers are down considerably in his 28 minutes per game, as the 31-year-old has seen his playing time and offensive role both diminish since joining the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009-10.

    Nevertheless, throughout his time in the NBA, Artest has shown that he can score inside and out, on his way to a career scoring average of 15.1.

    Furthermore, he has always been a solid playmaker, rebounder and one of the most versatile players in the game.

No. 23: Shane Battier

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    Shane Battier has made a career out of being versatile.

    While not an overpowering offensive player, Battier is currently averaging 8.5 points per game, knocking down threes when called upon and maintaining a solid 2.2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

    However, defense is where he has mostly stood out throughout his career, as he was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and has managed to hold a career average of over a steal and block per game.

    Furthermore, much has been made about Battier's significant contributions to his team, the Houston Rockets, during the past few years.

    Consequently, since he has proven to be an all-around efficient player, instrumental to his team's success, Battier's versatility is undeniable. 

No. 22: Jeff Green

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    In his four seasons in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder's Jeff Green has proven that he can get it done from  all over the court.

    From both forward positions, the 6'9", 235 pounder has been able to use his combination of size, athleticism and skill to score from both inside and out, averaging 15.1 points per game and 1.1 threes.

    Furthermore, Green has proven to be an effective defender and rebounder throughout his career, and this season he has cut his turnover average to an all-time low of 1.4—despite playing the most minutes of his career.

    And while his shot hasn't been falling with the same consistency which it had been earlier in his career, Green's versatility is still remarkable.

No. 21: Dorell Wright

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    In his first season as a Golden State Warrior, there's no question that Dorell Wright is finally hitting his stride, proving that he can produce across the board when given an opportunity. 

    The 25-year-old, seventh-year wing has managed to lead the league in three pointers per game at 2.7, while showing the ability to score inside as well, totaling 16.5 points per contest.

    Furthermore, the 6'9", 210 pounder has the talent to do some of everything on the court, also posting per-game averages of 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.8 blocks per game.

    Consequently, Wright has shown that he can hold his own among the NBA's most versatile players.

No. 20: Danny Granger

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    Danny Granger has been the backbone of the Indiana Pacers for the past few years.

    He is an elite three-point shooter (leader in threes per game in 2009-10), yet he's still capable of scoring in numerous ways and he is a solid defender from both forward positions.

    In his career, Granger has also been able to take advantage of his athleticism to average about a steal and a block per game.

    The 6'9", 228 pounder has also dished out nearly three assists per game during the past couple of seasons, while managing to maintain a positive assists-to-turnover ratio.

    Consequently, Granger's ability to score from all over, coupled with his solid defensive output, have allowed him to establish himself as an extremely versatile NBA star.

No. 19: Paul Millsap

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    Paul Millsap is having a great all-around season after finally being significantly featured with Utah Jazz.

    With averages of 17.5 points (54.1 percent shooting), 7.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks, the fifth-year power forward has made it easy for Jazz fans to forget about Carlos Boozer on their way to a 27-14 record.

    And with efficient man defense and shot blocking, the ability to go off on a given night, and effectiveness at scoring inside and out, the 6'8", 250-pound Millsap has performed as one of the most versatile fours in the NBA.

No. 18: Andrei Kirilenko

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    For years, Andrei Kirilenko has been one of the NBA's most versatile performers.

    The 6'9", 235-pound Russian is currently averaging 11.2 points, along with 0.7 threes and 2.9 assists—all in only about 32 minutes per contest.

    And if the forward were not playing alongside standout point guard Deron Williams, one could easily expect him to handle the ball much more, allowing his numbers to jump to some extent (a la Hedo Turkoglu leaving the Phoenix Suns). 

    Nevertheless, it is his defense which is the most impressive, as he has put up 1.4 steals and 2.1 blocks throughout his career, with those each standing at 1.2 in 2010-11.

    And with 5.1 rebounds per game as well this season, AK-47's versatility is without question.

No. 17: Joe Johnson

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    During the summer of 2010, the Atlanta Hawks made Joe Johnson the highest-paid free agent of the offseason, locking him down with a six-year contract, worth approximately $120 million.

    But given how much Johnson does for the Hawks, it's hard to argue with their desire to lock him down for the long term (although one could argue against the amount of money spent).

    A 6'7", 240-pound wing, Johnson has the ability to handle and distribute the ball like a point guard (5.4 assists per game) and score with the best.

    And although his numbers have been down so far this season—likely due to a mid-season elbow surgery on his shooting arm—he has been playing out of his mind of late, averaging 28.8 points (52.4 percent from the field) and 2.3 threes thus far in 2011.

    Additionally, Johnson is no slouch defensively, as his performance in this area has been lauded by Hawks management.

    So with the ability to play three positions, do it all on offense and hold his own on D, Johnson is certainly among the most versatile in the league.

No. 16: Dirk Nowitzki

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    Dirk Nowitzki is a player who, like LeBron James, has seen his team struggle drastically in his absence.

    In 2010-11, the German-born former MVP is continuing to perform at a high level, averaging 23.8 points per game on a career-high 54.3 percent shooting from the field.

    Furthermore, he is doing it from all over, also managing to hit 1.0 threes per game.

    And with 7.3 rebounds and 0.7 steals and blocks each per contest, the nine-time All-Star was putting up another MVP-caliber season until his injury.

    But with his recent return, look for Dirk to continue his versatile play and right the ship for his Dallas Mavericks.

No. 15: Kevin Garnett

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    While it is obvious that Kevin Garnett's best days are behind him, the 34-year-old Boston Celtic still brings more to the table than most.

    An eight-time member of the NBA All-Defensive First Team, a two-time member of the Second Team and a former Defensive Player of the Year, KG's last defensive accolade was awarded in 2008-09.

    However, despite that, the forward is still considered to be among the best bigs at defending the pick and roll while averaging 1.7 steals and 0.7 blocks per game.

    Furthermore, Garnett is also managing to continue to rebound effectively, grabbing 9.5 boards per contest.

    Add that to his 15.1 points per game and solid passing and it's clear that the former MVP is still one of the NBA's most versatile players. 

No. 14: Rudy Gay

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    With his extremely versatile play this season, Rudy Gay is well on his way to living up to that huge contract he signed over the summer.

    With averages of 20.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.2 threes and 1.1 blocks—nearly all career highs—the 6'8", 230-pound forward is certainly getting it done on both ends of the court.

    Consequently, if he continues to perform at this all-around impressive level, he possibly could see himself making his first career All-Star Game this February.

No. 13: Manu Ginobili

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    Manu Ginobili is having quite the year in 2010-11 for the league-best 35-6 San Antonio Spurs.

    The 6'6", 205-pound Argentinian has been outstanding on the offensive end; knocking down shots, attacking the basket and setting up his teammates, on the way to averages of 18.9 points, 4.7 assists and 2.3 threes per game.

    Furthermore, he's been pretty solid on D, swiping 1.8 steals per contest.

    Consequently, it's obvious that a healthy Ginobili is an outstanding player and certainly among the league's most versatile.

No. 12: Hedo Turkoglu

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    Since returning to the Orlando Magic, forward Hedo Turkoglu has seen his level of play increase exponentially.

    Through 15 games, the 6'11", 220-pound Turk has been performing like an exemplary point-forward, with averages of 11.5 points, 6.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 threes and only 1.9 turnovers per contest.

    And while the 31-year-old is likely in the decline of his career, his 1.2 steals per game with the Magic illustrate that his defense isn't really suffering.

    Therefore, look for Turkoglu to continue to thrive in the Orlando system, with his versatility helping him to play like one of the NBA's best playmaking forwards.

No. 11: Stephen Jackson

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    Stephen Jackson has long been among the most versatile players in the NBA.

    As a point-forward, Jackson has a complete offensive game with 2010-11 per-game averages of 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.0 threes.

    Moreover, the 6'8", 215 pounder's 1.4 steals and 0.5 blocks are evidence of his solid defensive play.

    And while the 32-year-old is in the decline of his career, he is still among the NBA's most versatile.

No. 10: Monta Ellis

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    Monta Ellis has been one of the NBA's most exciting players during the past couple of seasons.

    Managing to score 25.7 points (third overall) per game on 47.1 percent shooting, the 26-year-old guard has shown an ability to score in every way imaginable; attacking the rim, sinking 1.7 threes per game and showing the ability to knock down any shot.

    Furthermore, Ellis is currently second in the league in steals, at 2.3 per contest, demonstrating his blistering quickness on the defensive end.

    And with a playmaking ability evidenced by his 5.6 assists average, it's clear that Monta can get it done across the board.

No. 9: Chris Paul

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    Considered by many to be the best point guard in the league, Chris Paul has consistently proven his worth as a quarterback of the offense.

    Thus far in 2010-11, he is third in the NBA with an average of 9.6 assists per game, however, his assist-to-turnover ratio leads the league at 4.2:1.

    Moreover, despite his diminutive 6'0" stature, CP3 gets is done on D, as he is by far the leader in steals per game, with an impressive 2.7.

    And with 16.2 points (48.4 percent shooting) and a three per game (45.2 percent from three), Paul can certainly do it all, proving to be the most versatile point guard in the game.

No. 8: Lamar Odom

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    Lamar Odom has been an intergral part to the Los Angeles Lakers success in 2010-11.

    With center Andrew Bynum missing 24 of the Lakers' first 43 games, the 6'10", 230-pound Odom helped to fill the void inside, grabbing 9.5 boards and sending away 0.9 shots per game.

    The forward has also posted an average score of 15.4 points on an amazing 56.8 percent shooting and with 0.7 threes and 3.0 assists per contest as well, the forward has often displayed the grace of a guard when the ball was in his hands.

    Furthermore, he has done all of this while only playing 34 minutes each night, so consequently, Odom is, without a doubt, one of the most versatile players in the game

No. 7: Gerald Wallace

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    Gerald Wallace has seen his number regress slightly in 2010-11, but his performances have still been impressively versatile.

    Furthermore, his drop in production may be due in large part to experiencing both a coaching and point guard change this year.

    Nevertheless, as a 6'7", 220-pound forward, Wallace has been able to rebound with the best of them, as he's pulling down 7.8 boards this season after managing an average of 10.0 during last year's campaign.

    Furthermore, he is averaging 16.3 points, 2.1 assists and 0.8 threes per game.

    On the defensive end, the reigning 2010-11 NBA All-Defensive First Teamer is currently snatching 1.1 steals and sending away 1.1 block each contest.

    Therefore, with his rebounding, defense and ability to score in a variety of ways, Wallace is certainly rather versatile.

No. 6: Amar'e Stoudemire

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    In his first season as a New York Knick, Amar'e Stoudemire has proven to be a smart investment.

    The 6'10", 240-pound forward-center is currently averaging a career-high 26.4 points per game (second in the NBA) on 50.5 percent shooting; getting it done with a lethal mid-range game, slashing ability and solid moves inside.

    Furthermore, he has done much to shed his label as a poor rebounder and defender, grabbing 8.9 boards (13th in the NBA) and blocking 2.4 shots (tied for third in the NBA) on the year.

    Rounding it all out, Amar'e is getting 2.7 assists, 0.9 steals and even 0.2 threes (53.3 percent) per contest.

    So with his strong showing, all-around success and subsequent MVP candidacy, it's hard to argue that Amar'e isn't one of the most versatile players in the game.

No. 5: Kevin Durant

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    After leading the league in scoring in 2009-10, Kevin Durant is back at is again with a versatile offensive attack, leading the NBA this season with 28.4 points per game.

    Additionally, he has been doing it efficiently, shooting 47.1 percent from the field, 88.1 from the line and 33.2 on his 1.7 makes from three.

    However, the 6'9", 230-pound forward does more than just score, as he's currently averaging 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

    Moreover, his defense has been much improved since his entrance into the league and he's currently nabbing 1.1 steals and racking up 1.0 blocks per game.

    So with a scoring heavy, but nonetheless, all-around game, Durant is definitely a too versatile to be considered simply a scorer.

No. 4: Dwyane Wade

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    Playing on the star-studded Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade has also seen his numbers dip a little in 2010-11.

    Nevertheless, the two-time All-NBA First Teamer and three-time NBA All-Defensive Second Teamer is still impressing across the board.

    He is currently averaging 25.1 points (49.2 percent shooting), 6.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.1 blocks and 0.9 threes per game, clearly illustrating his versatility on the court.

    Consequently, Wade will likely earn himself some more postseason accolades for his continuously strong performances.

No. 3: Josh Smith

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    During the course of his seven-year career with the Atlanta Hawks, Josh Smith has made a habit of doing everything on the court.

    Currently the 6'9", 240-pound forward is averaging 16.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.9 blocks, 1.4 steals and 0.7 threes per contest—numbers which, save for being down nearly half a block, are all slightly above his career averages.

    So obviously, he is a versatile player.

    And due to his invaluable contributions to his squad, Smith ought to improve upon last season's accolades, earning a spot on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.

No. 2: Kobe Bryant

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    Everyone knows what Kobe Bryant can do.

    Now in his 15th NBA season, the 32-year-old is still putting up some of the best stats in the league—25.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 threes and 1.3 steals per game.

    Furthermore, the former MVP has been on the last five consecutive All-NBA First Teams and NBA All-Defensive First Teams.

    And those are only a fraction of his accolades.

    Therefore, needless to say, Kobe is among the best and most versatile, not only currently in the league but of all time.

No. 1: LeBron James

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    If LeBron James is one thing on the court, it is versatile.

    The 6'8", 250-pounder came into the NBA as a point guard and it's obvious why—he is dishing out 7.2 assists this season, just slightly above his career average.

    However, the reason James made the move from point was to become more of a scorer—something which he has certainly achieved.

    The forward is scoring 25.4 points per contest this season, good for fourth in the league but well short of his 27.7 point career average.

    Furthermore, LeBron is adept at defense as well, with 2010-11 averages of 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks, which are also short of his 1.7 and 0.9 career numbers.

    Finally, his stats are rounded out by his 7.0 rebounds and 1.4 threes, numbers which match his career averages.

    Consequently, it's clear that the two-time NBA All-Defensive First Teamer, four-time All-NBA First Teamer and two-time reigning MVP can do everything, performing as the most versatile player of his era.

Honorable Mentions

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    Jason Kidd, Russell Westbrook, Raymond Felton, Tyreke Evans, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Wilson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony, Boris Diaw, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan

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