NBA Power Rankings: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and the 50 Most Athletic Players
Athleticism doesn't necessarily ensure NBA success, but it surely does help.
While there have been plenty of incredible athletes that haven't made it to the NBA ranks, these 50 players embody what it means to capitalize on athleticism on the hardwood.
Now let the fun begin with these power rankings of the 50 most athletic players in the NBA.
50. Mark Hendrickson
Hendrickson was a marginal NBA player and he's not a terribly talented Major League Baseball pitcher, either.
But a guy who plays two sports professionally? He's gotta be one of the most athletic people on the planet.
49. Tyrus Thomas
Thomas is freakishly athletic, but he has never gotten the playing time to really showcase exactly what he's capable of doing.
He can swat almost any shot and he racks up considerable steals for a big man to boot.
48. Earl Boykins
Boykins is pound-for-pound the strongest player in the league.
And at 5'5", that's pretty darn impressive.
47. James White
James White on game night is quite an exciting scene.
Unfortunately, his athleticism is just about the only thing that's NBA-caliber; his game is not.
46. Baron Davis
Believe it or not, B-Diddy was once an explosive athlete.
Davis' athletic ability was on display with every promising drive to the rim, and despite the jokes that surround him now, he still makes the list with ease.
45. JR Smith
Just one look at some highlights from a Nuggets game and it's easy to see why Smith is so impressive.
He might be hotheaded at times, but boy can that kid fly.
44. Brent Barry
Any white guy who wins the Slam Dunk Contest deserves a spot on this list.
Despite his questionable talents as a television broadcaster, there was no doubting the caliber of his athleticism.
43. Moses Malone
Malone moved around the court with grace, style and flash not typical of his era.
This Moses may not have performed any miracles off of the hardwood, but he certainly was something special.
42. Jason Richardson
J-Rich hangs his head above the rim with regularity.
A rarity for a perimeter player like Richardson, he has no trouble exploding to the hole if the defense closes out on him too fast outside.
41. Larry Bird
Bird's athleticism was the most underrated part of his game.
Come on, you didn't think his sweet mullet-and-mustache combo was the only thing that propelled him to success, did you?
40. Lamar Odom
Odom is the definition of a point forward.
Standing 6'10", LO can explode to the hole with ease and crossover dribble like a traditional point guard.
The only thing that suppresses his incredible skill set is his maddening inconsistency.
39. Gerald Wallace
Wallace can just about jump out of the building, even if nobody else is in the house to take note.
One of the most underrated players currently in the league, Wallace would be a perennial All-Star if he could ever stay healthy for a full season.
38. Gerald Green
Green's athleticism got him drafted early.
A high-flyer with a lot of potential, GG just never quite got a feel for the NBA game.
His incredible leaping ability might have been enough to get him into the league, but at the highest level, that alone is not going to get it done.
37. Andre Iguodala
Iguodala can play point guard, shooting guard, small forward and even power forward.
He's got insane versatility and he is capable of out-jumping just about anyone else to ever play the game.
It's a good thing, too, because his jump shot isn't exactly a strong suit.
36. Steve Francis
Stevie Franchise garnered his nickname for a reason.
Once considered a player to build a perennial championship contender around, Francis used to throw it down like few could, despite his small stature.
35. Rudy Gay
Many were wondering why Rudy Gay was deserving of a max contract and his athletic ability is a big contributing factor.
Gay's ability to finish at the rim with finesse makes him nearly unguardable.
With those long arms, it's easy to hang on the rim.
34. Dennis Rodman
No matter what color Rodman's hair was on game day, he was a lock for big-time rebounding numbers.
He wasn't very impressive on the offensive end, but any guy who could get on the glass like he did at his size deserves serious props.
33. Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem the Dream is arguably the most graceful center of all-time.
With an arsenal of post moves unmatched by any other player, Olajuwon moved flawlessly up and down the court even though he was usually the biggest one out there.
32. Antonio McDyess
Make no mistake about it: McDyess is one of the more exciting power forwards the NBA has ever seen.
Regularly pouring in 20 and 10 in the prime of his career, the veteran really knew how to put on a show.
31. Shaquille O'Neal
No, this isn't a joke.
This guy is 7'1", well over 300 lbs, and he can still get out to lead the fastbreak.
He's 38 years old and still contributing despite the tread on his tires, and there's no arguing with his prolific production.
30. Calvin Murphy
Why doesn't Murphy get more love?
Standing at just 5'9", he's another shorty that makes the list with ease.
You don't have to be the greatest basketball player in the world to be considered among the most athletic, and Murphy proved that.
29. Muggsy Bogues
A better version of the aforementioned Boykins, Bogues could throw it down despite being only 5'3".
If anyone else out there 5'5" and under that can do it the way he did, let me know, because it's the rarest sight the NBA has ever seen.
28. Amar'e Stoudemire
STAT has really shown his athleticism since joining the Knicks, but it was obvious for a long time before that too.
Amar'e is capable of just about anything and since he's proven his knee troubles to be behind him, the rest of the league is taking notice of exactly that.
27. David Robinson
The Admiral was far, far more athletic than many gave him proper credit for.
The elder half of the feared Twin Towers combination is one of the best centers to ever play the game and one look at his highlight tape can tell anyone exactly that.
26. Monta Ellis
He might not be the brightest player in the league, but this isn't a list about who has the highest IQ.
Ellis' small stature has proved to be no trouble, as he's a lock to make the SportsCenter Top 10 at least once a week while basketball is in season.
25. Dwyane Wade
It wasn't too long ago that Wade was considered overrated and always injured.
Where did all the haters go?
24. Shannon Brown
Let Shannon dunk!
This high flyer is one of the most exciting players to ever play and his insane vertical leap makes him a spectacle to watch every time he's in the game.
23. Allen Iverson
Oh A.I., your fall from grace has been so disappointing.
Before you quit on every team that gave you a chance, you were breaking peoples ankles on the regular and you were so fun to watch play the game that we all love.
Now? Well, not so much.
22. Kevin Garnett
He's played more of a supporting role in the latter stages of his career, but any Timberwolves fan can tell you why Garnett is on this list.
You don't just achieve what he did on a nightly basis without being special.
21. Walt Frazier
Another throwback special for the list, Frazier made the opposition look silly with his arsenal of moves.
Despite his awesome Just for Men commercials, Frazier still doesn't get the attention that he surely deserves.
20. Vince Carter
Remember when he jumped over a seven-footer at the Olympics and threw it home for an and-one slam dunk?
So do I.
19. Shawn Kemp
Shawn Kemp was Blake Griffin before the rookie even hit middle school.
He might have had an unconventional jump shot, but his athleticism was absolutely off of the charts.
18. Josh Smith
J-Smoove can fill it up in just about every category.
With the ability to throw it down tomahawk style or even step out for a three, it's his freakish ability to swat shots away from the rim that ranks him so highly here.
17. Charles Barkley
He's the popular butt of jokes these days, but Sir Charles was no laughing matter during his playing time.
One of the most athletic players of his time, Barkley's big style of play, despite a smallish stature, spoke volumes about his talent.
16. Clyde Drexler
Drexler was one fun player to watch.
Even though he fell off noticeably toward the end of his playing career, it was hard to have a week go by without at least a handful of Drexler highlights that left you saying just one thing: Wow.
15. Nate Robinson
Come on, man.
This guy is 5'6" and has won the Slam Dunk Competition an unbelievable three times.
NaterTot can fly and he might be a nontraditional point guard, but it doesn't really matter.
He's just fun to watch.
14. Russell Westbrook
Some call Westbrook a point guard trapped in a shooting guard's body, but his length aids his game rather than hinders it.
His insane length gives him the ability to really maneuver around the court in any fashion he'd like, and although he's still very young, his stock is only on the rise.
13. Bill Russell
Russell could play in today's NBA and absolutely dominate.
Think I'm kidding? Just look at his game film. He would've made any All-Star team in any generation.
12. Spud Webb
Webb made it possible for short guys to pursue a basketball career, and boy did he do it with style.
He served as an inspiration to Muggsy Bogues, Nate Robinson and a whole lot of other guys who will never sniff this list.
11. Dominique Wilkins
It's too bad Wilkins doesn't get the love he should from the Atlanta community.
Wilkins' show-stoppping athleticism was truly astounding and left people's jaws on the floor after he elevated off the ground and well above the rim.
10. Blake Griffin
Yeah, he's that impressive.
Griffin makes the top 10 despite playing less than a full regular season of games.
If you haven't watched a Clippers game this season, now is a really good time to hop on the BG bandwagon.
9. Derrick Rose
Rose is as quick as a cheetah and he's improved with every year he's been in the league.
He can take it to the rack on anyone and explodes past any defender the opposition tries to stick on him.
With an improving jump shot and basketball IQ, Rose is going to be a very dangerous player for several years to come.
8. Wilt Chamberlain
One hundred points in a single game and the best mustache in basketball.
The ultimate ladies' man, Chamberlain scored with the females almost as often as he did on the opposition.
7. Julius Erving
Dr. J should be the NBA logo.
No disrespect to Jerry West intended, but Dr. J was a high-flyer before the term was even invented.
Slam dunks were a regular part of his attack and if you weren't willing to challenge him near the rim, it was best you stayed out of his way.
6. Oscar Robertson
He was the only guy in NBA history to ever average a triple-double.
It's as simple as that.
5. Dwight Howard
Dwight slapped a sticker atop the backboard in the dunk contest.
He's already 6'10" with the most massive shoulders and biceps in the game. And with that leaping ability?
It might not be long before he's considered one of the most dominant centers to ever play the game.
4. Kobe Bryant
Kobe used to fly around like he had springs in his shoes.
While he's not the young buck that he once was, Bryant's got plenty of explosion left in his legs and his impressive wingspan aids him greatly when he hangs in the air forever to finish near the cup.
3. Magic Johnson
A 6'9" point guard who also started a game at center?
There was a reason they called him Magic.
2. Michael Jordan
His Airness wasn't a royal nickname given to him by NBA lore.
It's his rightful title.
1. LeBron James
LeBron could dominate in any sport with that freakish, athletic frame, but thankfully for all of us, he chose basketball.
Everything about his game is impressive from a purely athletic standpoint, and one look at him in the open court is enough to validate his ranking as No. 1 on this list.