NBA Power Rankings: Rajon Rondo and the Craftiest Player from Every Team

Shane DePutronCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: Rajon Rondo and the Craftiest Player from Every Team

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    In today's NBA, where size, length and athleticism reign supreme, craftiness is a trait which has been largely overlooked. 

    Nevertheless, there have been a number of NBA players who have made a career out of being crafty, using this trait to overcome physical limitations or excel far beyond most people's expectations.

    As a result, players like Rajon Rondo—who was initially projected as a rather limited player—have become some of the biggest stars in the league.

    This article is a testament to all of those players, as it will profile the craftiest player from every NBA team. 

Atlanta Hawks: Jamal Crawford

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    Entering the league as an undersized combo guard, Jamal Crawford has taken advantage of his craftiness to find a niche in the NBA.

    Currently, he is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and flourishing as a scorer and creator off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks.

    As a result, he is averaging 15.0 points and 3.2 assists per game, while regularly baiting opponents into sending him to the line.

    And by achieving all that he does in a mere 30 minutes per contest, there is no doubt that Crawford is the craftiest player on the Hawks.

Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo

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    In the 2006 NBA Draft, Rajon Rondo fell all the way to the No. 21 selection—not due to his athletcism, but due to a concern over his skill set.

    Nevertheless, Rondo achieved some success early on with the Boston Celtics, and eventually developed into one of the best passing point guards in all of the league.

    This season, he is averaging an NBA-high 12.1 assists per game, regularly using his crafty ball skills to create open looks for and set up his teammates. 

Charlotte Bobcats: Stephen Jackson

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    Stephen Jackson is another individual who plummeted on draft night, going 33rd overall in 1997.

    But that wasn't all, as Jackson didn't even play in his first NBA game until the 2000-01 season.

    Nevertheless, he has thrived as a pro since then, bringing a well-rounded game and crafty approach on offense.

    And now in his 11th season, the 32-year-old is still managing to put up 19.4 points, grab 4.6 rebounds and dish out 3.7 assists per game.

Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose

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    Derrick Rose is having a breakout season in 2010-11, emerging as an MVP candidate for the Chicago Bulls.

    Most notably, he has been even more efficient on offense this year, using an increased craftiness to notch career highs in points (24.8), assists (8.1) and rebounds (4.4).

    And as he gains more and more experience, expect Rose, now only in his third season, to only get better.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Ramon Sessions

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    A former 56th overall draft pick, Ramon Sessions has developed into a solid NBA point guard.

    Currently playing for the league-worst Cleveland Cavaliers, Sessions has still managed to notch 12.7 points and a team-high 5.5 assists—all in a mere 26 minutes per game.

    And with limited shooting ability, he has done all of this by utilizing crafty finishes or kick-outs when attacking the basket. 

Dallas Mavericks: Jason Kidd

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    Now 37 years old, Jason Kidd is still able to perform as one of the NBA's better point guards.

    While his athleticism is certainly diminishing, he has still used his craftiness to set up teammates at a high rate, averaging 8.4 assists per contest.

    So with skills like his, it appears as though Kidd could continue to play in the league into his 40s, should he so desire.

Denver Nuggets: Danilo Gallinari

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    With limited athletic skills, the Denver Nuggets' Danilo Gallinari has still managed to emerge as a good, young player, averaging 15.9 points per game.

    And while he is primarily an outside shooter, his craftiness has allowed him to occasionally attack the rim.

    Moreover, it has led him to become one of the NBA's more skilled players at drawing fouls.

    He is only 22 years old; it's likely he will become even more skilled at his craft down the road. 

Detroit Pistons: Tracy McGrady

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    After it appeared as though injuries may have derailed his career, Tracy McGrady is back proving his doubters wrong with the Detroit Pistons.

    And by somewhat transforming his old athletically-oriented game to that of a crafty veteran, the 31 year old is currently averaging 8.4 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebound per game.

    Furthermore, the 6'8", 223 pounder has even logged some time at point guard, showing that he certainly still has the skills to play in this league.

Golden State Warriors: Monta Ellis

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    Monta Ellis was picked by the Golden State Warriors with the 10th pick of the second round in 2005, due in large part the concerns about the skill-level of the high school prospect.

    However, Ellis has more than proven himself since, as he currently is managing per-game averages of 24.7 points and 5.4 assists.

    Furthermore, he has achieved this while showing the crafty ability to do it all on the offensive end.

Houston Rockets: Kevin Martin

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    Kevin Martin, another late draft pick, has excelled in the NBA because of his knack for scoring.

    Showing the ability to knock down deep shots, improvise when finishing around the basket, and get to the line at an uncanny rate (second in the league in free throws made), Martin's craftiness with the ball is rivaled by few.

    And following the Houston Rockets recent trades, he will likely build upon his current 23.2 points per game average.

Indiana Pacers: Darren Collison

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    In his first season with the Indiana Pacers, Darren Collison has done a decent job as a full-time point guard.

    However, with per-game averages of 13.4 points and 5.0 assists, Collison hasn't performed as highly as expected.

    Nevertheless, he has displayed a certain craftiness, which has helped his team fight their way to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

    As Collison becomes more and more acclimated with his teammates, one can only expect his performance to continue to improve. 

Los Angeles Clippers: Mo Williams

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    Despite only once suiting up for the Los Angeles Clippers, point guard Mo Williams has immediately become the team's primary playmaker.

    And this is due in large part to his craftiness on offense.

    Playing the majority of the season on the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, Williams still managed to dish out 7.1 assists per game, to go along with his 13.3 scoring average.

    Now teamed up with scorers like Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, he will get even more of a chance to thrive.

Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant

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    At 32 years of age, Kobe Bryant has long been the heart and soul of the Los Angeles Lakers.

    However, with his increasing age and injury concerns, his game has become more and more crafty.

    Consequently, he often utilizes a back-to-the-basket offense and the infamous Dream Shake, in addition to his already impressive face-up game.

    And with averages of 25.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists, Kobe's craftiness will likely allow him to play in the NBA for years to come. 

Memphis Grizzlies: Shane Battier

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    The Memphis Grizzlies' most recent acquisition, Shane Battier, makes this list for a reason much different than most—his craftiness on the defensive end.

    Battier has long been one of the NBA's better defenders, doing so without possessing top-tier athleticism.

    Evidently, it's not only his size and effort, but his mastering of the defensive craft which has allowed him such success.

    And with Rudy Gay looking to miss a significant amount of time, Memphis will certainly need the expertise of Battier on the defensive side of the ball.

Miami Heat: LeBron James

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    Despite all of the criticism geared toward LeBron James and his Miami Heat this season, he has still managed to post impressive numbers, with per-game averages of 26.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists.

    And as a 6'8," 250-pound forward who came into the NBA as a point guard, these number truly illustrate the craftiness it takes for him to succeed night in and night out.

    So down the stretch, expect James to continue to post his gaudy numbers as his team pursues its intended goals of an NBA Championship.

Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings

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    After storming onto the scene in 2009-10, the Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Jennings has run into a few speed bumps this season.

    Nevertheless, he has still managed to post averages of 15.5 points and 4.8 assists, utilizing a combination of quickness and a crafty offensive arsenal.

    While it may be too late to salvage this season, expect Jennings to overcome his sophomore slump and come back as strong as ever next season for the Bucks.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love

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    The lone bright spot this season for the Minnesota Timberwolves has undoubtedly been the play of Kevin Love.

    In addition to his tenacity on the boards, averaging 15.5 per game, Love has displayed a crafty offensive repertoire, with the ability to finish both inside and out.

    And as a 22 year old in his third year, expect him to develop his game increasingly as time goes on.

New Jersey Nets: Deron Williams

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    Since joining the New Jersey Nets, Deron Williams has immediately become the star of the franchise.

    And with superb playmaking ability, capable of posting 20.9 points and 10.0 assists per game, Williams' craftiness on offense is without question.

    However, with his contract running out at the end of the 2011-12 season, the question now is whether or not Williams will elect to remain with the team in the future. 

New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul

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    Since entering the NBA in 2005, Chris Paul immediately became one of the NBA's best point guards.

    He routinely scores points and sets his teammates up with scoring opportunities, despite his small stature and relatively average athleticism (by NBA standards).

    And seeing as though he is posting a healthy per-game average of 16.0 points and 9.6 assists, Paul is undoubtedly one of the most crafty players in the league.

    He, like Deron Williams, faces serious questions about his future, with his contract expiring in 2012. 

New York Knicks: Chauncey Billups

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    Chauncey Billups has been an outstanding performer on the year, averaging 17.0 points and 5.4 assists, however, his play since joining the New York Knicks has been truly exceptional.

    In their uptempo offense he has shown an ability to be a highly-efficient scorer, an unselfish ball-handler and a master at getting to the free thow line.

    Should he continue his high level of crafty play, people will certainly begin to think twice about considering him an afterthought in the Carmelo Anthony trade.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook

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    Now in his third NBA season, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is certainly coming into his own.

    Furthermore, with averages of 22.0 points and 8.4 assists, it's clear that the poor-shooting Westbrook has been getting to the rim with ease.

    However, his crafty passing and finishes are what have truly made him stand out in 2010-11

Orlando Magic: Hedo Turkoglu

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    Ever since rejoining the Orlando Magic earlier this season, Hedo Turkoglu has been witness to a resurgence in his level of play.

    The 6'10", 220-pound point-forward has become one of the more versatile and crafty playmakers in the NBA, managing to put up 10.5 points, 5.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds with Orlando.

    And the Magic are going to need him to continue this if they hope to make another run to the Championship, as they did when last together in 2009. 

Philadelphia 76ers: Andre Iguodala

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    After entertaining trade offers for Andre Iguodala early in the season, the Philadelphia 76ers eventually decided that they would be best off in retaining his services.

    It appears as though that was a wise decision, as Iguodala's crafty playmaking has been essential to the team's recent run.

    Furthermore, with per-game averages of 14.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds, AI will definitely be essential to the success of the Sixers as they march into the playoffs.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash

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    Throughout NBA history, there have been few players as crafty as Steve Nash.

    The Phoenix Suns point guard has two MVPs and multiple assist titles to show for it.

    Moreover, this season the 37 year old is still managing to average 16.4 points and 11.4 assists, despite limited physical tools.

    So long as he remains a Sun, Phoenix will likely have a good chance at staying in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Portland Trail Blazers: Andre Miller

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    Over the course of his 12-year career, Andre Miller has always been one of the league's better pass-first point guards.

    And at 34 years of age, Miller is continuing to use his craftiness to succeed at this, dishing out a solid 7.3 assists per game. 

    Additionally, he has managed an average of 13.3 points for the Portland Trail Blazers, helping the team fight to hold their seventh spot in the West.

Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans

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    After earning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2009-10, Tyreke Evans has hit somewhat of a sophomore slump.

    And although his impressive totals are down from his previous campaign, he is still racking up 18.3 points and 5.5 assists per game. 

    So with his ability to get to the rack and do crafty things with the ball, he will look to play a large part in the Sacramento Kings' attempt to turn their franchise around.

San Antonio Spurs: Manu Ginobili

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    Manu Ginobili has long been one of the most crafty players in the league, displaying a veteran's understanding of the game since day one.

    The San Antonio Spurs have benefited largely from Manu's play, as they have three NBA titles during his time.

    Moreover, the Spurs are currently the best team in the league, due in large part to Ginobili's per-game averages of 18.0 points and 5.0 assists.

Toronto Raptors: Jose Calderon

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    Despite receiving relatively little acclaim for his play, Jose Calderon is one of the more crafty point guards in the NBA when it comes to setting up teammates.

    This can clearly be illustrated by the 29 year old's 9.2 assists per game average, although his Toronto Raptors are struggling after losing Chris Bosh over the summer.

    But with a Calderon at point and some talented young players, the team already has a solid foundation upon which to build as they look to fight back into contention.

Utah Jazz: Devin Harris

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    As one of the newest members of the Utah Jazz, Devin Harris will rely on his quickness, length and craftiness to fill the shoes of former Jazz point guard Deron Williams.

    By bringing per-game averages of 15.1 points and 7.6 assists to the team, Harris should certainly help the team in their fight to earn a playoff spot.

    But whether or not he will bring enough to the table to make Utah fans forget about Williams is another story, as the one-time All-Star is older with lower career numbers than the team's previous point.

Washington Wizards: John Wall

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    In his rookie season with the Washington Wizards, No. 1 overall pick John Wall has certainly proven his worth as a playmaker.

    Using his superb athleticism and a crafty ability to handle and distribute the ball, Wall has been able to a maintain averages of 15.4 point and 9.0 assists per contest.

    And the 20 year old will only go up from here, as both he and his team will look to drastically improve in the coming years.