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The 20 Most Explosive Players in Sports

Ethan NorofCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2017

The 20 Most Explosive Players in Sports

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    To be among the most explosive players in professional sports takes more than just speed.

    Athletes have to be able to execute highlight plays with ease, make extraordinary tasks look mundane and bring the crowd to its feet with one single play.

    And even some of those guys didn't make the list.

    Let's find out which of your favorite stars did.

20. Reggie Bush, Running Back

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Although Bush has faced some stern criticism in his NFL career, the running back was considered one of the most electric players on the field prior to his being drafted.

    He doesn't have the skill set of a traditional runner, but that's not what makes him so valuable. He's got a hefty price tag next season, so it's possible that he might not be back with the Saints.

    If he does find himself in a new zip code, hopefully he'll be able to rediscover the lightning he enjoyed during his collegiate career.

19. Jared Allen, Defensive End

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    One of the only defensive ends in the NFL that calls for an instant double-team on a weekly basis, Allen is one of the more explosive players to ever jolt off the defensive line.

    Armed with terrific fundamentals and an arsenal of moves that allow him to get past the slow-footed members of the offensive line, Allen hasn't disappointed the fans in Minnesota one iota.

    Starting all 48 games over the last three years and racking up an impressive 40 sacks, it's easy to see the type of effect that this enigmatic athlete has on the game.

18. Devin Hester, Wide Receiver

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    Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

    The legend of Devin Hester has somewhat cooled since his transition to full-time wide receiver, but make no mistake about it: His skill set is among the most unique in the league.

    It's not just because he's fast. Hester is able to see the hole and explode through it with relative ease. Whether it's catching a pass from his newly engaged quarterback or returning punts, his value to the team is constantly on display.

    After averaging a career-high 17.1 yards per game on punt returns last season, his best days may still be ahead of him.  

17. Sidney Crosby, Center

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Although the legend of Sid the Kid isn't quite what it has been in past seasons, there's no doubt that Crosby is a key ingredient to the lifeblood of the NHL.

    He shows off his impressive skating speed on a nightly basis while impressively handling the puck in the process, and it's no surprise that he's already registered a 50/50 season in his young career.

    After managing to appear in just 41 games this season (concussion), he's going to have to prove he still belongs on this list at the beginning of next season. 

    That shouldn't be a problem. 

16. Jamaal Charles, Running Back

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    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    This kid is the best running back in the NFL that nobody talks about.

    Just think of how productive Charles was last season: He averaged an insane 6.4 yards per carry! As if that's not impressive enough, the young runner also established career highs in several statistical categories.

    Charles would be even higher on this list if he could find a nose for the end zone, but there's still plenty of time left for the 24-year-old breakout star.

15. Patrick Willis, Linebacker

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    When one considers explosive athletes, hard-nosed defenders might not immediately come to mind.

    But there's a reason Patrick Willis was one of only six players to receive a perfect "99" rating in last season's version of Madden. This linebacker is about to become the face of linebackers in the NFL.

    After compiling a career-high six sacks in 2010-11, the former No. 11 overall pick is well on his way to easily outperforming his draft slot.

14. Kevin Durant, Small Forward

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    When discussing the league's most prominent players, people often mention Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, among others.

    But why isn't Kevin Durant an instant top-three response? Please, someone explain it to me. As if leading his team in the postseason isn't electric enough, the Durantula is the league's best scorer. Hands down. It's not even a conversation.

    He became the youngest player to ever lead the league in scoring at just 21 years old in 2009-10 and repeated the feat once again in 2010-11. 

    The sky is the limit for the biggest thing in OKC. 

13. Rajon Rondo, Point Guard

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    After watching Rajon Rondo in his inaugural season with the Boston Celtics, the team would've never predicted that it would be blessed with such a tremendous talent.

    He's improved his assist output with every passing year that he's in the league, and it's likely that it'll never dip back down into single digits. He's a walking threat to post a triple-double on a nightly basis, and his true electricity is often lost in the fact that he's not a prolific scorer.

    It takes just one game watching Rondo weave through the lane and dice up the defense to understand his true impact on the game.

12. Alexander Ovechkin, Left Wing

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Alexander Ovechkin provides an element of excitement to the game of hockey that the league sorely needed.

    After the lockout of 2004-05, the league made some provisions to make the game more exciting. The draft was altered to give perennially bad teams a better chance at top-tier talent, and the Washington franchise was reborn.

    The team drafted Ovie with the first pick in 2005, and the left winger has not disappointed in the slightest. With two campaigns of 50-plus goals and another one with an incredible 65, the pride of Russia will go down as one of the most prolific players to ever sharpen the skates.

11. Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Bryant has drawn quite a bit of criticism in his early career for off-field shenanigans, but there's no doubting the electricity he provides on the gridiron.

    Similar to Percy Harvin, character traits caused Dez to fall right into the lap of the Cowboys, and Jerry Jones wasn't about to make the same mistake twice (he passed on Randy Moss). 

    He instantly became Dallas' No. 2 receiving option behind Miles Austin and provided more in the return game than Dallas has had in quite some time.

10. Ndamukong Suh, Defensive Tackle

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When the Detroit Lions made Suh the second overall pick in 2010, it may have been the best No. 2 pick in league history.

    Okay, so perhaps that is a bit hyperbolic, but the defensive tackle's impact has been obvious to anyone watching. In his first season on a losing team, Suh made the Pro Bowl, won Defensive Rookie of the Year and accrued an amazing 10 sacks.

    Ndamukong even made his first trip into the end zone in his rookie campaign, and I'm guessing that it won't be his last. He rips through members of the offensive line like very few before him.

9. DeSean Jackson, Wide Receiver

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    DeSean Jackson is another member of the wide receiving prospects that slipped in the draft due to character concerns, but the Eagles clearly make their own talent evaluations.

    Although he can seemingly be a bit thick-headed at times (like when he threw the ball away in Dallas prior to entering the end zone), Jackson's burst and quickness make him a human highlight reel on the deep ball.

    He might be somewhat of a boom-or-bust contributor on a weekly basis, but his ability to explode off the line and get deep into the secondary with ease make him a natural fit in the top 10.

8. LeBron James, Small Forward

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    LeBron James' combination of skill and athleticism transformed the NBA.

    LBJ's natural inclination to slice and dice defenders as he makes his way to the hole makes him a highlight waiting to happen, and his explosive slam dunks are simply icing on the already iced-out cake.

    Although he might not get the attention in Miami that he had been used to receiving as the biggest entity in Cleveland, his ability to light up the basketball court from any distance makes him a lifetime member of this club.

7. Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Remember when Dwyane Wade was labeled injury prone? Remember how people said he'd never be able sustain his superstardom?

    I guess he used all of the criticism as fuel.

    Come on, we're talking about "Flash." What kind of player gets that nickname without being explosive? His ability to penetrate to the hole with relative ease makes him one of the most unguardable players in the game.

    Now that he's toned up his balance and jumper, he's a threat from just about anywhere on the hardwood. So although he's had to share the spotlight in South Beach, No. 3 has no plans to turn this team over.

6. Michael Vick, Quarterback

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    When Michael Vick returned for his first season with the Eagles after spending time in prison, many thought that it was a wasted signing given how little he was used.

    Now? It looks like he was a bargain.

    One of the two finalists for the Madden cover this season, Vick's ascension back to prominence in the sporting culture has been one of the most historic in recent time.

    He makes the quarterback scramble look easy, a 60-yard bomb look effortless and appears to be a video game version of himself playing against a field of human beings.

5. Chris Johnson, Running Back

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    If Chris Johnson was on a team with a capable quarterback, he could be one of the most prolific runners that the NFL has ever seen.

    As it stands, he's still pretty darn good.

    A dual threat out of the backfield, CJ2K has some of the most impressive sideline-to-sideline speed seen in quite some time. Not only is he able to burn past the opposition, but he can run through, over and around them as well, as the picture illustrates.

    It should be interesting to see if he can rebound after a subpar season and a late start this season with the lockout still in full effect.

4. Derrick Rose, Point Guard

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    At just 22 years old, Derrick Rose is injecting new life into the NBA postseason.

    Whether it's his arsenal of flashy moves to get to the basket or his ability to simply take over a contest, it looks like there is no defender quick enough to keep up with the newly minted MVP.

    Now that he's developed a reliable jumper to complement his inside game, there might not be any chance of slowing him down as he continues to blossom into one of the elite point guards in the game.

3. Jose Reyes, Shortstop

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The most unique player in all of baseball, Reyes' ability to impact the game is unlike any other major leaguer.

    Often called the most exciting player in the sport, when the shortstop is on base, opposing pitchers sweat bullets. The catcher waits anxiously to see what No. 7 is going to do, and Reyes dances off the base like a merengue dancer before he takes the stage.

    Sometimes the intangible assets that an athlete possesses make him more valuable than his statistics show, and that's exactly the case with Professor Reyes.

2. Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    If someone has the nickname "Megatron," he better be one exciting athlete. Fortunately for Johnson and the Lions, that's exactly how to describe this wide receiver.

    With the Lions swinging and missing on the likes of Charles Rogers and Mike Williams in previous drafts, Johnson has all but made those colossal failures a very distant memory.

    Although he's been somewhat inconsistent in his production during the early tenure of his career, much of that can be blamed on his team's deficiencies at the quarterback position.

    But if Matthew Stafford can stay healthy this season, there's going to be something special coming out of the Motor City. 

1. Blake Griffin, Power Forward

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    Well, that certainly didn't take very long, did it?

    Blake Griffin might have made us wait for his highly anticipated debut in the NBA, but it was well worth the delay. In fact, it was so good that he's the only player to receive a video montage in the slideshow.

    After throwing down a ridiculous 214 slam dunks this season, all of which came in highlight fashion, Griffin has reached the level of stardom for which so many strive at the tender age of 22.

    While all of the college graduates are fitting on their caps and gowns this weekend, Griffin, at a similar age, has celebrated his accomplishments in a very different manner.

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