In the NBA, dominant scorers usually lead teams and strong defenses lead to success in the playoffs. Yet, normal scoring and defense do not usually draw much excitement out of crowds.
When most people think of the most exciting players in NBA history, they think of athletes like Dominique Wilkins, Julius Erving, James Worthy and Michael Jordan. While they had high-flying acts, it was their quickness and ability to finish around the basket that drew many “ooos” and “ahs.”
The most creative players are not only exciting to watch, but they are usually highly effective in helping their teams. They have the ability to turn an offensive possession into the right direction where others may think they are running into a wall.
Sometimes that might mean making a basket when no shots seem available or making a jaw-dropping pass that leads to an easy score.
This article pays tribute to the most creative finishers from each team in the NBA today.
Feel free to let me know if I got the picks right. Was there someone deserving that I didn’t select?
Josh Smith is known for his defensive prowess and high leaping ability. With those hops come additional air time where he can display creativity.
Similar to Darryl Dawkins or Dominique Wilkins, Smith can combine a sense of artistry with the ball backed by power.
Rajon Rondo is the engine that makes the Boston Celtics go. As one of the best passers in the game, he uses his speed and wits to make up for his lack of size.
It is truly amazing how often Rondo can penetrate the defenses and score an easy layup. Along with his patented fake behind-the-back pass and convert into a finger roll, Rondo is one of the best at getting in quality shots over the outstretched arms of NBA bigs.
In just his third season in the NBA, D.J. Augustin is turning quite a few heads. Known for his premier outside shooting, his speed and creativity make him effective at getting to the basket on dribble drives and finishing.
If he was in a bigger market like New York or LA, many more folks would know about him. Augustin is truly one of the brighter upcoming stars in the league.
In just his third season, Derrick Rose is probably on his way to earning his first career MVP award. Although he is sporting a new and improved outside jumper, Rose is most effective in breaking down defenses with his quickness.
Simply put, Rose is one of the best of all time at scoring off of layups, seeming to always make the impossible become possible. Finally, after a decade since the days of Michael Jordan, Chicago fans have an exciting star player to root for.
An underrated scorer, Ramon Sessions combines an impressive passing game with quickness and athleticism. He has been known to have breakout games, such as the 44 points he tallied against the Detroit Pistons in 2009.
Much of his success comes from his creativity in making shots and developing plays for others. The Cleveland Cavaliers may have Baron Davis running the point guard position, but Sessions represents a decent blend of youth, athleticism and basketball intelligence.
It’s going to be a sad day when Dirk Nowitzki retires from the NBA. While he is not the quickest player, he is among the most skilled at making impossible shots, such as one-footed off-balance jumpers.
With his seven-foot stature, his creative scoring ability allows him to shoot over just about anyone. The best shooting big man in NBA history is also one of the best finishers.
Since Chauncey Billups was traded to the New York Knicks, Ty Lawson has had even more playing time to shine. He tends to make the game look easy with his quickness and ability to get easy shots close to the rim.
With teammate Raymond Felton, Lawson has another effective weapon he can use by drawing defenses in and then kicking the ball out for open jumpers. Either way, he’s likely to finish the play.
At 6’5”, Rodney Stuckey is one of the taller point guards in the league. Using his size to his advantage, Stuckey has become one of the better players at muscling his way through defenses to get quality shots up.
While the Detroit Pistons were dealt a blow when fan-favorite Chauncey Billups left town, Stuckey has provided many highlight reel plays for Motor City fans.
When people think of the best shooting guards in the NBA, few people think of Monta Ellis. All he does is continually rank among the league’s leaders in points and steals.
While there are many prolific scorers in the NBA, few are better at making difficult shots. If he can ever play for a big-market team, Ellis may become one of the marquee stars in the NBA.
Luis Scola may not be the biggest, strongest or quickest player in the NBA. However, he is one of the smartest, using tricks he learned in the international game to find ways to put the ball through the basket.
Scola is among the best at taking advantage of shooting angles and making seemingly impossible shots. While he might be considered an unlikely star, Luis Scola’s play shines brightly in Southeastern Texas.
Josh McRoberts is still mostly an unknown player by many NBA fans. But those that are familiar with his game know how he is one of the most athletic big men in the game.
With his stellar vertical leap, McRoberts has wowed Pacers fans with highlight plays and his creative acrobatics. As his playing time increases, more NBA fans will get a chance to appreciate his talents.
Eric Gordon may be known as the “other shooting guard” in Los Angeles after Kobe Bryant, but he is one of the better young talents in the NBA. Providing a nice one-two punch with Rookie of the Year candidate Blake Griffin, Gordon combines a potent outside shot with creative moves around the basket.
While he doesn’t have the most athletic gifts, Gordon has a plethora of moves to outwit his opponents.
With perhaps the highest vertical leap in the NBA, Shannon Brown is a human highlight reel waiting to happen. With his big mitten-like hands, Brown is able to cradle the ball reminiscent of Michael Jordan.
With an improved outside shot, Brown can more easily speed past defenders. Close to the basket, the question usually is not whether he will finish, but rather how he will finish.
OJ Mayo has seen a career that has kind of digressed since his rookie year. Nevertheless, he remains the most exciting player on the Memphis Grizzlies.
Mayo has had some personal issues that have limited his playing time this year, but he still has the physical abilities and basketball knowledge to finish plays successfully.
Miami’s Dwyane Wade seems to be a near-perfect combination of basketball skills and abilities. With his strength and leaping ability, Wade may be the best in the NBA at driving to the basket and finishing.
It doesn’t seem to matter how many defenders with raised hands seem to block his path. Somehow, one just knows the ball is going to make it in the basket when Wade is working his magic.
Brandon Jennings is known for his scoring after his 55-point outburst his rookie year. Yet, all great scorers have to know how to put the ball in the hoop.
Despite being small in the NBA, Jennings uses his wits and speed to get around defenders. Once he decides what moves he is going to do, there is a good chance that he’s going to impress a lot of fans.
Michael Beasley is having the best season of his young NBA career. One reason why his scoring is up is because Beasley is being more aggressive this year, sporting a more consistent jumper while finishing more at the rim.
Combined with the NBA’s premier rebounding machine in Kevin Love, Beasley is part of a formidable duo that may point to a bright future in Minnesota.
Every since Deron Williams was traded to New Jersey, he has struggled with his shooting. Yet, he still is a premier player in having hit several key shots for the Nets.
Whether in the open court or a half-court offensive scheme, Williams uses his speed and strength to be one of the most reliable players in finishing the play at the basket. That’s just one of the many reasons that makes him one of the best point guards in the game.
Chris Paul is another top point guard in the NBA but uses his quickness and savvy moves to finish around the basket. As a true point guard, Paul is one of the best at setting up others for scoring plays.
However, when Paul wants to score, he can be one of the most difficult players to stop.
When he is not shooting his accurate jumpers, Carmelo Anthony is often making his presence felt around the basket. With a quick first step, Anthony is quite adept at getting to the rim on dribble drives, and his strength helps him finish.
An exciting player to watch, Anthony has developed an array of offensive moves to deter his shots getting blocked. His creativity and effectiveness will be enjoyed for years to come by fans in the Big Apple.
On a team with the NBA’s leading scorer, it is Russell Westbrook that may be the most exciting player. Whereas Kevin Durant is known for his silky smooth jump shot, Westbrook is one of the premier slashers in the NBA.
Like many players on this list, Westbrook seems to make the most difficult-looking shots near the basket. That ability, combined with his quickness, make him one of the best finishers in the game.
Jameer Nelson has become one of the most reliable players for the Orlando Magic. While Dwight Howard dominates down low, Nelson thrives as the primary ball handler and playmaker.
Along the way, he has complemented his outside shooting with incredible interior drives around the basket. Where Howard is all muscle, Nelson is more creative and full of finesse. When his game is on, the Magic are one of the most difficult teams to stop.
In his second season, Jrue Holiday has started to emerge as one of the better point guards in the Eastern Conference. The best part of his scoring game is his quick moves towards the basket.
With his athletic abilities, Holiday regularly puts up crowd-dazzling moves as he has become a more effective scorer. He will be fun to watch as his game improves over the next few years.
Steve Nash may be one of the oldest players in the NBA, but like a fine wine, he seems to get better with age. With his awkward jumper off of one foot to his patented reverse layup, Nash is often effective around the rim due to his premier passing ability.
Being that he usually shoots greater than 50 percent from the field, Nash is also one of the most accurate scorers. His creativity and accuracy make him one of the best at his craft.
With Brandon Roy out for much of this season with injuries, Wesley Matthews has had a terrific sophomore campaign. He has emerged as one of the best players on the Portland roster, as he has combined an effective shooting stroke with quick and strong moves around the basket.
While he is not the most athletic player in the league, Matthews uses sound basketball skills to avoid defenses and get his shots to fall. One can only imagine how much better he will be in a few short years.
Tyreke Evans is a classic combo guard, possessing speed, size and an impressive jumping ability. He uses these athletic gifts to help finish off plays near the basket.
As rumors of the Kings franchise moving may become a reality, Evans may have a new fanbase soon that will enjoy his many talents.
Despite how Manu Ginobili is getting older, he may be having his best season this year. Like a few others on this list, his ability to make difficult shots is among the best in the league, making it extremely difficult to guard him.
Ginobili is deceptively quick, and his creativity around the basket makes his shots nearly impossible to block. His crafty and effective play is one of the biggest factors behind the Spurs’ success this season.
DeMar DeRozan represents young NBA talent at its finest in terms of raw athleticism. Dishing up high-flying acrobatic shots, DeRozan gives Toronto basketball fans plenty to cheer about.
His play is reminiscent of a young Kobe Bryant or Tracy McGrady with his creativity around the rim. If he can continue to improve his game, he could be an All-Star in the near future.
Devin Harris may be playing in a new city with the Jazz, but he quickly letting Utah’s fans forget about Deron Williams. Harris has always been one of the speediest players in the NBA, and he remains one of the best point guards at finishing near the basket.
Harris is a master at using his speed to his advantage, beating opponents off the dribble. With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson as teammates, he now has two talented bigs to finish plays as well.
John Wall may lose out on the Rookie of the Year award, but he is still one of the most talented young players in the NBA. His athletic ability and gifted playmaking skills enhance his driving moves.
Out in the full court, Wall uses his speed to effectively lead and finish fast breaks. It will be fun to watch him improve and give us plenty more highlight plays throughout the coming years.