NBA Power Rankings: Kobe Bryant and Players with the Best Footwork From Each Team

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: Kobe Bryant and Players with the Best Footwork From Each Team

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    Good footwork is an essential part of every great basketball player's game.

    Hands do the dribbling, passing and shooting, but you could argue that feet are just as important in this sport.

    Sliding on defense, knowing how to pivot on either foot, using feet in fakes and jab steps, stepping back or jump stopping forward, and of course running and jumping are integral skills.

    Here are the players with the best footwork from each NBA team...

30. Sacramento Kings, Marcus Thornton

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    He's only been with the Kings for 18 games, but Marcus Thornton may be the best player Sacramento's seen all year.

    As a King, he's averaging around 22 points, five rebounds and three assists a game.  Plus, he's shooting over 40 percent from three-point range.

    In combination with his quickness, solid footwork has helped Thornton be extremely effective.

29. Toronto Raptors, Jose Calderon

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    Jose Calderon is one of the most underrated point guards in the NBA.  

    He's just barely under 10 points and nine assists a game, and that's on a team with almost no scoring options after Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan.

    If he were on a team with better players to pass to, he could easily average double figures in assists.

    His solid footwork helps him get into the lane, stop on a dime and find the open man.

28. Cleveland Cavaliers, Baron Davis

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    Tough to decide who to go with for this one.  Great footwork is only partly natural.  A lot of it has to be acquired through work and experience.

    Davis certainly has the experience part.  He's been in the league for 12 years now, and he uses a lot of veteran tricks that require good feet.

27. Detroit Pistons, Richard Hamilton

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    Like a lot of the other guys on this list, Hamilton's experience has certainly helped him hone his footwork.

    He uses this skill whether he has the ball or not.  He may have been in coach John Kuester's dog house for much of the year, but when he's on the court, he's a master of using off-ball screens.

26. Washington Wizards, Nick Young

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    Playing for the Wizards, Nick Young's numbers are pretty hollow (even I could drop 10 points a game on that roster).

    But he does have a lot of talent and potential.  He is great at getting to the spots he wants and creating shots with his footwork.

    Plus, as a young player, that fundamental skill is going to get a lot better for him.

25. Philadelphia 76ers, Elton Brand

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    Elton Brand employs a lot of "old school" techniques when he has the ball, and those kind of techniques require great footwork.

    At this point in his career, he has to be get things done with fundamentals over athleticism.

24. Memphis Grizzlies, Zach Randolph

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    Zach Randolph has to be one of the most underrated players in the league right now.  Averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds a game, he's the biggest reason the Grizzlies are in the playoff picture right now.

    His footwork helps him score in the post, and grab scores of rebounds on both ends of the floor.

23. Denver Nuggets, Arron Afflalo

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    This was a tough one to pick.  There are several players on Denver's deep roster who share similar skill sets.

    But taking everything into consideration (including defense), I though Afflalo had the best overall footwork.

22. Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love

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    There's no doubt about this one.  Kevin Love averages 15.4 rebounds a game.  That insane number is due mostly to desire, but his great footwork is essential.

    He knows right where to be on each miss, and how to get there.  He knows how to control that space once he gets there too.

    Plus, he can score too.  He's averaging over 20 points a game and he has a few solid post moves.

21. Utah Jazz, Al Jefferson

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    Al Jefferson is an adept low post scorer with a decent amount of moves in his repertoire.

    He also shows his great footwork in the rebounding department.

20. Orlando Magic, Jameer Nelson

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    Jameer Nelson is listed at 6'0" tall, but I have a hard time believing that (we all know plenty of basketball player's heights are exaggerated).  

    When you're that small, you need to have a little bag of tricks to help you get open.  

    Nelson's quickness and footwork help him to get into the lane and weave through defenders as well as about any point guard in the NBA.

19. Los Angeles Clippers, Eric Gordon

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    If Blake Griffin can add great footwork to his insane natural gifts, he'll be one of the most dominant players in the league.  Right now, he's pretty raw.

    His teammate Eric Gordon has done a lot to polish his game this year.  His scoring average has surged to 23.2 points a game (up from 16.9 last year).  And his assists have jumped from 3 to 4.4 a game.

    Improvements in footwork have had a lot to do with his jump in production.

18. Charlotte Bobcats, Stephen Jackson

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    In many ways, Stephen Jackson fits the expression "crafty old vet".

    He has a slow release on his shot, and is losing athleticism with each passing year, but he still finds ways to create space and get shots on the rim.

    Solid footwork helps him create those openings.

17. Milwaukee Bucks, Andrew Bogut

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    Andrew Bogut is about as fundamentally sound as big men in the NBA get.  He can score off a variety of post moves, pass, rebound and defend.

    His great footwork helps him to be in the right position for all those things.  It's particularly impressive when you consider he's a seven footer.

    Footwork is harder to master when you're that big.

16. Indiana Pacers, Danny Granger

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    I wanted to go with my sentimental favorite player Tyler Hansbrough, but this one has be Danny Granger's.

    He can set himself up for a jumpshot from all over the court.  He can score in the post, from mid-range and from outside.  His feet help him create the space he needs on his shots.

15. Miami Heat, Chris Bosh

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    LeBron James gets away with travelling more than anyone in the league (with the possible exception of Denver's Nene).  So, he doesn't belong on here.

    That leaves two options: Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  Wade accomplishes a lot of what he does with his great athleticism, while Bosh is all about footwork and fundamentals.

    He has plenty of moves in the low post and can create space for perimeter jump shots as well.

14. Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry

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    In just his second year in the league, Stephen Curry has become one of the most exciting point guards in the NBA.

    He can score in so many different ways, and he's already left plenty of defenders looking foolish with his great footwork.

    He's easily the best second-year player in the NBA and could be an All-Star in a few years.

13. Atlanta Hawks, Joe Johnson

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    Joe Johnson has the kind of game that will help him be creative well into his 30s (considering his massive new contract, Hawks fans are certainly hoping that's true).

    He has a very methodical, calculated style.  He's fairly similar to Paul Pierce in that way.

    He uses his footwork to create space for shots and get past defenders.

12. Houston Rockets, Kevin Martin

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    Kevin Martin is one of the most natural and gifted scorers in the NBA.  He's averaged over 20 points a game in each of the last five seasons (but never more than 16 shots a game).

    His footwork helps him create space for jump shots, get past defenders and draw fouls (his real secret weapon).

11. Portland Trailblazers, LaMarcus Aldridge

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    LaMarcus Aldridge is the complete package on offense.  He can score with ease out to 19 feet, and he has a bevy of old-school post moves inside.

    His footwork is fantastic for a 6'11" player, and he displays it with or without the ball in his hands.  

    One of the best examples of this skill is how he rolls off defenders to get open for alley-oops (he leads the league in oop conversions). 

10. Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki

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    Dirk's footwork defies explanation.

    He's seven feet tall, and at times looks fairly clunky on the court, but his feet always carry him to the exact spot on the floor that he wants.

    With his back to the basket, he's as difficult to stop as anyone in the league.

9. New York Knicks, Amare Stoudemire

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    This one is a bit of a toss up between Amare and Carmelo Anthony.  I went with Amare because he's bigger than Melo and great footwork is tougher to come by for 6'10" players.

    He's shown nimble feet around the basket for years, but a few years ago he started to figure things out as far as 19-20 feet from the rim.

8. Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose

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    Derrick Rose has to be one of the most difficult defensive assignments in the league.

    He's extremely fast and athletic, but his great footwork helps him stay under control (a lot of players with similar athleticism can't).

    He'll likely win the NBA MVP this year, and his feet did a lot to carry him to this point.

7. New Jersey Nets, Deron Williams

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    It takes more than a great handle to be able to weave through defenders and get to the rim the way Deron Williams does.  His feet are a big part of his ability to navigate tough situations.

    Plus, he's got one of the nastiest step back jumpers in the game.  He often sets up his shots with a nasty crossover that requires great footwork as well.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Durant

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    Kevin Durant's game is years (maybe even a decade) ahead of where most 22 year olds are.

    His footwork is way too good for his age (with great attitude and work ethic, he has earned it though).

    Nobody in the league is a more natural scorer than Durant, and his footwork has a lot to do with that.

5. New Orleans Hornets, Chris Paul

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    Statistically, he's having his worst season since 2007, but Chris Paul's footwork is still fantastic.

    One of his greatest skills is his uncanny ability to change speeds in an instant.  He lulls defenders to sleep and then blows by them with his very quick feet.

    His great footwork have also helped him lead the league in steals for three out of his six years in the NBA.

4. Phoenix Suns, Steve Nash

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    Even at the ripe old age of 37, Steve Nash's nimble feet continue to help him baffle defenders.

    No one breaks down a defense, gets to the lane and weaves through opponents as well as Nash does.

    Plus, his great footwork also contributes to what is perhaps the best pull-up jumper in the NBA.

3. San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan

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    Tim Duncan's having the worst year of his career (at least according to numbers), but his recent absence is evidence of how important he is.  The Spurs have really struggled without him.

    He may be the most fundamentally sound player in the NBA today, and great footwork is certainly related to that.

2. Boston Celtics, Paul Pierce

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    Paul Pierce is among the very best in the league when it comes to footwork.

    He gets right to the spot he wants on the floor and then knows how to pivot either way, get his defender off the ground, and raise up for his shot at the perfect moment.

1. Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant

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    Kobe Bryant is one of the most committed athletes in the world.  He does everything in his power to win and be the best he can.

    He's applied that commitment to the development of the fundamentals of the game, which is why his footwork is so good.

    He's a master of jab steps, step backs, jump stops, catch-and-shoot and has great feet on defense.