Speed is an ability that, although perfected by practice, is somewhat natural to specific athletes. In the game of basketball, especially in the NBA, speed is starting to become the new main attribute scouts look for in players. Once a league dominated by big men, it is now dominated by fast men.
Several attributes will be considered for the construction of this list. These attributes include forward speed, side movement, quick hands and feet both offensively and defensively, as well as speed running plays and setting teammates up for scoring opportunities.
Point guards are usually the fastest players in a team, and the NBA has plenty of these speedy players. Here are the top 10 fastest point guards currently active in NBA rosters.
Leandro Barbosa was known as “The Brazilian Blur” down in Phoenix for his speed from one free throw line to the other. His ability to run down the court for a fast break score was one of the main reasons the Suns led the league in that category in his days in Phoenix.
Now in Toronto, Barbosa has not been able to get the easy buckets in transition as he once did, but he is still the first one down the court. His ability to get into the lane as quick as the blink of an eye is still there as well. He is still one of the fastest point guards in the NBA, even if his statistics and team success make his efforts a bit forgettable nowadays.
Tony Parker does not look like a guy who can beat any player in a straightaway race. This is because his quickness is not forward but lateral motion. There is really no one better in the NBA at switching directions in order to squeeze into the paint for what a lot of times ends up being an uncontested layup.
With a higher octane offense in San Antonio this season, Parker has had more and more opportunities to show his speed in games.
Injuries have significantly slowed down Devin Harris since he became an All-Star with the Nets two seasons ago. Also, New Jersey’s lack of success has contributed to the loss of popularity by the young guard. Even with these setbacks, Harris still stands out as the fastest player on the court almost every single time he is playing.
As Harris improves his jumpshot and decision-making on the court, more opportunities will open up for Harris to show his repertoire of fast moves that made him who he is today.
With his injury-plagued season this year, people have forgotten what made Aaron Brooks one of the best up-and-coming point guards in the league. Brooks can run with the best of them and is one of the fastest players with the ball in the league. It's one thing is to be fast; it's another to be fast while dribbling a basketball.
Brooks is not a finisher at the rim and usually lives off long-range jumpers, but his ability to penetrate defenses leads to open teammates and easy scores.
Brooks will slowly get his feet back and remind the NBA community what made him stand out among young point guards in the NBA.
This is probable the least likely player to know for the average basketball fan. Regardless, any fan that watches pro basketball games consistently (or any Mavericks fan) knows that Barea has serious speed. Perhaps it is the fact that he is really shorter than 5’10” that makes him look fast relative to other players, but the young guard makes a strong display of speedy moves every time he gets on the court.
Although speed is mostly appreciated offensively, Barea’s quick feet have already gained him popularity as one of the peskiest defenders in the league. He might not block a shot or steal the ball regularly, but staying in front of his man and forcing offensive fouls is a specialty of Barea that is only achieved by his quickness.
Ty Lawson came into the league out of North Carolina as one of the fastest college players in recent memory. Speed is something that easily translates to the pro league, and Ty has shown over and over again that he is now one of the fastest pro players.
Lawson is a pace changer. His ability to get into the lane in a split second is only matched by a few other players on this list. Even though he is undersized, he possesses great upper body strength that allows him to finish his speedy plays strong.
Speed and athleticism are often a function of each other. Derrick Rose is not an exception to this correlation. Rose combines his speed with his athleticism to control the game easily and maximize his efficiency.
On the court, being athletic is not enough, and if not dealt with correctly can often lead to bad turnovers and bad shots. Rose has gotten much better about this with experience. Presently, he is able to use his speed efficiently to position himself to use his athleticism to finish plays.
This is not a list ranking the best point guards, although it is easy to see the correlation. Chris Paul is an amazing player both defensively and offensively, but that is only possible because he has mastered his quickness on the court.
Paul is often at the right place at the right time, and that is not a coincidence. Paul follows the basketball around the court with the best of them and knows precisely when and where to go on the court, and gets there before anybody else does.
Paul’s quickness allows him to control the game from a variety of angles and give him enough space to operate using his other incredible abilities.
Rajon Rondo does not have the offensive skills others in this list possess. This limits Rondo from taking advantage of his speed’s full potential. Regardless, his quickness is enough to do many things well on the court.
Rondo has one of the best eyes in the league as he leads the NBA in assists per game. In order to accomplish such a feat, good passing skills are simply not enough. Rondo often makes the best pass possible, but it is his quick reaction to an open teammate that separates him from other point guards.
Monta Ellis might start at shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors, but he is a point guard. Golden state arguably starts two point guards in Ellis and Stephen Curry.
Ellis is a relentless scorer and that is because of his speed. While speed is mainly appreciated when players are going forward towards the basket for a score, Ellis shows his speed in plenty of other ways. Ellis is the NBA’s fastest point guard (and perhaps player) at pulling up for a jumpshot off the dribble. This ability allows him to have defender closer to him which then gives him the angles he needs to blow past them.
In the defensive end, Ellis has one of the fastest pair of hands in the league that has him stripping the ball off opponents with ease in a nightly basis. He is also excellent reacting to passing lanes and defensive switches. In summary, Ellis has the best combination of fast attributes in the league.