Fast 25: The 25 Speediest Guys in the NBA

Peter Emerick@@peteremerickSenior Writer IIAugust 22, 2012

Fast 25: The 25 Speediest Guys in the NBA

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    The NBA is full of incredible players who are also elite athletes.

    Guys like LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose can do absolutely anything on the court, simply because their level of pure athleticism is so much higher than everyone else around them.

    At the core of their athletic abilities is agility and speed, which when combined with fundamental basketball skill is a ferociously dangerous combination.

    Ahead is a list of those players—the 25 speediest guys in the NBA. 

25. James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Don't let the beard fool you. James Harden is actually one of the most athletic players in the NBA.

    He is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands, mainly because he is so fast off the dribble. A man the size of Harden—6'5'' and 220 pounds—shouldn't be as fast as he is, but that's what makes him so special.

    At times, Harden makes point guards look slow. He is truly a point guard in a small forward's body, and his deceptive quickness is going to help him have a successful NBA career. 

24. Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat

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    While LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are getting all the attention in Miami, Mario Chalmers is hustling all over the court like there's no tomorrow.

    Chalmers is a scrappy player who earns his paycheck with his high motor and his next-level speed. He doesn't do anything exceptionally well, but his speed makes up for that. His speed isn't as elite as the other superstars on his team, but it helps Chalmers level the playing field a bit.

    If Chalmers wasn't speedy, he wouldn't be in the NBA. Fortunately for Super Mario, he's one of the 25 fastest guys in the league, and that means he'll have a job until his legs give out. 

23. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Call me crazy, but Serge Ibaka is one of the most athletic players in the NBA today. At 6'10'' and 235 pounds, Ibaka shouldn't be fast, but he is because he has maximized his long and athletic frame.

    On a fast break Ibaka looks like a gazelle, gliding up the court with an extremely high level of ease that most players can only dream of.

    When you're not the most fundamentally sound big man in the NBA you have to find something that will help set you apart, and becoming one of the fastest players in the league is what Ibaka did. If he could combine his elite-level speed with a level of polish on offense, Ibaka could be a perennial All-Star in the NBA. 

22. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers

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    Blake Griffin is an absolute monster. He's a freakish athlete with a motor that never seems to stop. If it wasn't for injuries, Griffin could be an even more explosive player, and even higher on the list.

    His athleticism isn't the only amazing thing about him. His speed is mesmerizing, especially when you consider the fact that he's a solid 6'10'' and 251 pounds. 

    Griffin doesn't have much of a post game or polish on the offensive side of the ball, but he has speed, and that goes to show just how important athleticism and agility is. Griffin can get up and down the court with the best of them, and that's what makes "Lob City" such an exciting place. 

21. Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers

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    A few years ago Steve Nash would have been much higher on this list, but at the spry age of 38, Nash isn't the same point guard he was a few years ago.

    Nash plays the game with such a high level of finesse that it probably at times make him look a bit faster than he actually is. With that being said, he's certainly still one of the fastest players in the NBA.

    Nash's speed is somewhat deceptive, and that's because he is such a smart player. He doesn't rely solely on his speed and athletic abilities. He instead combines it with his elite basketball I.Q, and that is what makes him one of the best point guards in the history of the NBA.

    Just don't fall into the trap of thinking that a 38-year old point guard doesn't have speed, because Nash will prove you wrong. 

20. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers

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    The Lake Show gets its second player on the list, and he just so happens to be another player who some thing is "past his prime."

    Until the Black Mamba hangs up his laces he'll always have a spot on this list because he's such an agile and athletic player. Kobe isn't necessarily the most physical player in the NBA, and he overcomes that by relying on his shockingly speedy moves.

    Kobe might not be the fastest player in a dead sprint, but off the dribble and out of the post he's a truly next-level player, and his speed is something very special. Kobe's competitive drive fuels his athleticism, and it's at the core of why he is such a speedy player. 

19. Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings

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    This is probably the only list where you'll find the Kings' Isaiah Thomas ahead of Kobe Bryant, but that just shows how fast Thomas is.

    If you've ever watched Thomas play in person, you'll know what I mean. He's an extremely small player, at just 5'9'' and 185 pounds, but he uses that small frame to his advantage because it's combined with next-level speed.

    Thomas is like the little engine that could, he just never seems to take the foot off the gas. He keeps going and going and going, and that helps him stand out on a somewhat lackluster Kings team.

    Thomas is a good example of a player who earned a spot on an NBA team largely based on his athletic abilities, and his speed is a major part of that. 

18. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Kevin Durant is a speedster by default. He has a lanky 6'9'' frame, and he weighs about 220 pounds soaking wet.

    Durant's lack of size is certainly a blessing when it comes to speed, but it's a curse when he has to go up against bigger, stronger players like LeBron James. Either way, Durant can get up and down the court with the best players in the league, and he has his smooth stride to thank for that.

    Like a few other players on this list, Durant is a deceptively fast player, especially when it comes to running in transition. When the Thunder are on the break Durant is an extremely dangerous player, and that's because his speed is very difficult to contain. 

17. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

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    Deron Williams isn't the most athletic point guard in the NBA, but that's only because there are so many other point guards, like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, who are athletic freaks.

    Williams can still hold his own against those players, and that's because of his speed. He has a second gear that a lot of players just don't have, and when he kicks it into that high gear, Williams is a hard player to keep up with.

    Having speed is critical to success at the point, but being able to control your speed and knowing when to kick it into that "next gear" is what makes players like Williams so special. 

16. Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets

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    For the majority of his career, Andre Iguodala has been known as a player who's never truly achieved his full potential. That's because he relies more on his athleticism than he does his basketball I.Q and fundamentals.

    For the point of this list, though, that actually works to Iguodala's benefit. Iguodala is without a doubt one of the fastest, most physical and most athletic players in the league, and the Philadelphia 76ers are certainly going to miss that next year.

    On the wing and in transition, there are few players who are faster than Iguodala, and when you mix Iggy's speed with his physical style of play, it's quite evident why he's one of the top players in the NBA today. His speed and agility on defense is also at the core of why he's had such a successful career so far. 

15. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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    The San Antonio Spurs are a perennial powerhouse in the Western Conference, and at the foundation of that success is the explosive play of their speedster point guard, Tony Parker.

    Off the pick-and-roll you'll be hard pressed to find a player faster than Parker. When you add the fact that he's an extremely cerebral player to the mix, it's clear to see why he's such a successful player.

    Like Deron Williams, Parker knows how to shift gears very quickly, and that makes him a difficult player to stop. You could argue that Parker is successful because of the players he has around him, but watching him lead France in the 2012 Olympics proved that he's a dominant player, because of his speed, no matter who is around him.

14. Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets

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    Jeremy Lin made it in the NBA with hard work and dedication. But he also earned a roster spot because NBA scouts recognized how explosive he is off the dribble.

    With the ball in his hands and the open court in front of him, Lin is one of the fastest players in the league. What makes him such a rare talent is that he understands how to control his speed by only using it when it's a necessity.

    Sure, Lin can be a reckless player, but as he continues to harness his speed and better understand how to maximize his quickness, he'll be a more efficient player. The sky is the limit for Lin, and as long as his speed is at the foundation of the way he plays the game, he'll be a star in the NBA. 

13. Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets

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    Before he injured his knee with the New Orleans Hornets, Eric Gordon was flying up and down the wing for the Clippers.

    It seemed like nothing could wear Gordon out, aside from playing defense. On the offensive side of the ball, though, Gordon was an absolute monster, and that's because he can get past his defender with ease because of his ridiculous speed.

    After returning from his injury last season, Gordon was just as explosive as he was before, and with another offseason under his belt there's no doubt that his speed will be right where it was pre-injury. If the Hornets form their rotations around Gordon's agility and speed, they'll be a competitive team in the West. 

12. Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Monta Ellis is without a doubt one of the most explosive guards in the NBA. He's quick, he's agile and, above all, he's extremely fast.

    Ellis is a streaky shooter, but he creates high-percentage shots for himself by breaking away from defenders with elusive quickness.

    If he brought the kind of speed and intensity to the defensive side of the ball that he does on offense, he could quickly become a perennial All-Star in the NBA. There aren't many players in the NBA who can keep up with Ellis, and that's what makes him such a special player.

11. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets

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    We all saw Ty Lawson's explosive quickness this past offseason when he helped the Nuggets almost pull off the first-round upset of the L.A. Lakers.

    At times, Lawson appeared to be on a whole other level than the rest of his teammates and opponents on the court. No one could slow him down on their own, and that's why he kept the Nuggets in that series.

    If Lawson can work on his perimeter jumper and improve his mid-range floater, he will be a top-tier point guard in the NBA, and he'll be one of the most impossible players to stop. 

10. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs

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    The Argentinian wonder, Manu Ginobili, cracks the top 10 because he is the most deceptively fast player in the entire NBA.

    Seeing Ginobili walk down the street you'd never think he would be an NBA star. He just doesn't have the build of an elite NBA guard. While that could be taken the wrong way, it's actually what makes him such a special player.

    Ginobili flies around the court with such ease and fluidity that it is often times mesmerizing to watch. Speed isn't an issue for Ginobili, that's for sure. 

9. Darren Collison, Dallas Mavericks

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    Darren Collison might not be on the same level as other elite players on this list, but he sure is fast.

    He can hold his own against most other NBA players when it comes to pure speed, and what is so special about him is that he has a motor that never seems to run out.

    Collison will never be on the level of other point guards like Derrick Rose, Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo, but he can hold his own against them in the pure speed category. The beauty of Collison is that he brings that intense agility and speed to both sides of the ball. 

8. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

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    Dwyane Wade is elite at so many facets of the game. His ability to slash into the paint, burn players in transition and be an absolute nightmare on the defensive side of the ball is what makes him the player he is today.

    At the foundation of that success for Wade is his ridiculous speed. He can get up and down the court in the blink of an eye, and his quickness isn't limited to one side of the ball.

    Playing alongside one of the fastest players in the game, in LeBron James, certainly helps Wade when it comes to ensuring that he is playing at the elite level we all know he can. When your former nickname was "Flash," you sure better be fast—and Wade sure is. 

7. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Kyrie Irving's upside is through the roof, and if he is able to develop more efficiency on the offensive side of the ball he will be at the foundation of the future in the NBA.

    Irving is a fundamentally sound player, but what makes him so special is his explosive speed off the dribble at the point. There aren't many players who can keep up with Irving, and as long as he can stay healthy he'll be an extremely successful point guard in the NBA.

    With the right talent around him, and allowing him to control the offense, Irving will develop into the elite of the elite at the point guard position—there's no doubt about that.  

6. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers

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    At first glance Chris Paul doesn't appear to be that fast. He's more of a fundamental point guard, focusing on calculated moves rather than pure athleticism.

    When his team needs him to turn on the jets, though, Paul certainly has the capacity to do that. The beauty of Paul is that he can turn his speed on and off, and control his energy, like few other players in the game. 

    When he is running on all cylinders, there aren't many players who can hang with Paul, and when you add that with his pure fundamental talent, it's clear to see why he's such a special player.

5. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

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    Rajon Rondo thinks he's the best point guard in the NBA. While that's not true, he's certainly one of the fastest players in the league. There is no doubting that.

    What keeps Rondo from being higher on this list is the fact that there are times when he doesn't play at 100 percent when his team needs him to. With his quickness, no player in the NBA should be able to stop him, but often times they do.

    If Rondo can continue to mature and work on his offensive efficiency, his speed won't be the only thing that is elite in the NBA. He has the potential to be a top-10 player in the NBA—that's how special his speed is. 

4. John Wall, Washington Wizards

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    John Wall's NBA career hasn't taken off the way that he wanted it to, but that doesn't mean he's not a very special talent.

    Wall's biggest strength is certainly his speed, and when he combines it with his aggressive approach to the game, he's an unstoppable force. If Wall had more talent around him, he could be even better. That is something that is scary to think about.

    What Wall lacks in polish he makes up for in pure athleticism, similar to quite a few other players on this list. Give Wall another year or two to develop and there's no doubt that he will be able to harness his speed in a way that more aptly complements his true talents on the court. When he does that, he will be a top-tier talent in the NBA. 

3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Russell Westbrook is an athletic freak. While he's not the most efficient player in the NBA, he's without a doubt one of the fastest.

    Watching Westbrook fly up and down the court is impressive, but what is even more impressive is the way that he explodes with the ball off the dribble.

    There are certainly times when Westbrook uses his speed at inappropriate times, leading to low-percentage shots or turnovers. But most of the time, Westbrook is on the court flying past defenders or chasing down opponents with a scary level of speed.

    While you can question his maturity, there's no questioning the fact that there are few players faster than Westbrook in the NBA today. 

2. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

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    Before tearing his ACL, Derrick Rose was without a doubt one of the two fastest players in the NBA. While it could take time for him to get back up to game speed, there's no doubt that Rose will be able to regain his remarkable speed.

    Much like Russell Westbrook, Rose isn't limited to straight-line speed. He has a level of explosive agility that helps him stand out, and it's also what makes him such a special and elite player.

    What elevates Rose over a player like Westbrook is the efficiency that he also brings to the court. Rose understands how to utilize his speed appropriately, and that's what separates him from a number of other players who also have elite quickness.

    Rose also never seems to get tired, which is a testament to his conditioning and commitment of the game. It's also a testament to the fact that he knows how to control his elite speed, and that's truly special. 

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    LeBron James is without a doubt the fastest player in the NBA. Often times we talk about players with a second or third gear, but that's not the kind of player LeBron is.

    He doesn't have a second or third gear, because he plays at full speed 100 percent of the time. LeBron's speed is the definition of elite. The fact that he is 6'8'' and 250 pounds makes the fact that he's such a speedster that much more impressive.

    LeBron doesn't have to worry about turning his speed on or off because the one speed he plays the game at is on a whole other level than every other player in the NBA. Running in transition for the Heat, he makes Dwyane Wade look slow, and that shows just how fast LeBron truly is.

    His speed is only one facet of why he is such an incredible player, but it's something that NBA fans should appreciate, because it could be something that we never see again. 


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