NBA Power Rankings: Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo and the Top 10 Wizards With the Ball

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo and the Top 10 Wizards With the Ball

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    BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 10:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics passes the ball in the second half against the Houston Rockets on January 10, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Rockets defeated the Celtics 108-102. NOTE TO USER: User expr
    Elsa/Getty Images

    With the ball in his hands, Rajon Rondo has been one of the most exciting players in the NBA this season.

    His ball-handling and passing skills are perhaps the best in the league.  However, with Rondo, it's more than that.

    His great ball fakes have defenders guessing the entire time they're trying to guard him.  Another thing Rondo has going for him are his odd-angled shots, runners and layups.

    When you combine all of those things, Rondo may be more of a wizard with the ball than anyone.

    Let's take a look at Rajon and nine other players whose wizardry with the rock makes them a ball to watch.

10: Pau Gasol

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 17:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass around Nick Collison #4 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Staples Center on January 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)   NOTE TO US
    Harry How/Getty Images

    He possesses a lot of the same Euro-fundamentals that Luis Scola has, but with a slightly better handle of the ball (and not quite as good a set of pump fakes).

    Pau has great vision from the post and knows how to find open guys spotting up or cutting within the triangle offense.

    Fake, Spin and Reverse

    Fake One Way, Finish High Over Fesenko

9: Kobe Bryant

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30:  Kobe Bryant #24  of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Boston Celtics in the first half at Staples Center on January 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Celtics defeated the Lakers 109-96.  (Photo by Jeff Gross
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Is he the same player he used to be? No. Is he still the best player in the league? Probably not.  Even so, Kobe Bryant can still routinely make defenders look terrible.

    His post moves and pump fakes make him as good a low-post guard as any in the league, but that's not the only place where he's a wizard.

    His deep repertoire of moves makes him one of the toughest one-on-one matchups of all time.

    Textbook Up and Under

    Making Grant Hill Fall

8: Stephen Curry

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    OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 19:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in action against the New York Knicks at Oracle Arena on November 19, 2010 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The rising wizard of this bunch is Stephen Curry.  He's only in his second season in the NBA, but he's already making defenders look ridiculous.

    His handle is great, his ball fakes are sweet and although the jump shot doesn't factor heavily into this slideshow, you can never talk about Curry without mentioning that J.

    Dicing Up The Nuggets

    Beautiful, Half-Court and Underhanded Scoop Pass

7: Luis Scola

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    BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 10:  Luis Scola #4 of the Houston Rockets heads for the basket as Glen Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics defends on January 10, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Rockets defeated the Celtics 108-102. NOTE TO USER: Use
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Luis Scola's post moves look like wizardry in today's NBA.  Once upon a time, Scola-esque fakes, hooks and scoops were commonplace.

    It makes me wonder how the low-post threats of the 50s and 60s would fare in today's game. 

    They may not be as athletic as guys like Dwight Howard or Blake Griffin, but Scola has proven that the old school game can still get a defender to prematurely leave his feet.

    Crossover, Shakes and Hook

    Plenty of Moves on Display

6: Manu Ginobili

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    OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 24:  Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs in action against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on January 24, 2011 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    If I wanted to factor flopping into this equation, Manu would likely be No. 1 on the list.  However, even without that included, he's still a wizard on the floor.

    He has a great handle for a 6'6" player.  He also uses great pump fakes, can throw a solid behind-the-back pass and manages to finish some outrageous layups.

    Quick, Unorthodox Cross

    Splits Andrew Bynum and Shannon Brown With the Spin

5: Derrick Rose

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 28: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot over J.J. Redick #7 of the Orlando Magic at the United Center on January 28, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Magic 99-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowle
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Derrick Rose is quick, athletic and strong.  Now in his third year, he's starting to add some real craftiness (and a jump shot) to those great physical gifts.

    Right now, his trademark piece of wizardry is his almost unguardable reverse lay-in.

    Don't be surprised if Derrick Rose soon brings the Bulls back to their spot on the top. 

    Destroying Andre Miller With the Crossover

    Losing Amar'e and Finishing With His Trademark Reverse

4: Deron Williams

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29:  Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz controls the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on December 29, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.   The Jazz won 103-85.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Considering he plays for the Jazz, Deron Williams' game may be more musical than magical.

    His best known move is his crossover.  Even though most defenders know it's coming, he still manages to victimize his foes with the cross on a regular basis.

    He has great ball fakes and passing ability as well.

    Loses Toney Douglas With the Trademark Cross

    Behind the Back on Fisher and Finish With the Flip

3: Rajon Rondo

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    BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 07:  Linas Kleiza #11 of the Toronto Raptors tries to block Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics on January 7, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Raptors 122-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Rajon Rondo does everything a great ball wizard should be able to do, and he does it all very well. 

    He uses great ball fakes, has a tight handle and makes some amazing passes.

    When this Celtics team first came together, it was all about the "Big Three".  Now, you can easily argue that Rondo is the team's most important player.

    His Trademark Move at the Rim

    Amazing Behind the Head Pass

2: Chris Paul

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    OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 26:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets passes the ball during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on January 26, 2011 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Chris Paul's numbers are way down this year, but he still does fantastic things with the ball.

    His moves are very compact and quick, and there may not be a single player in the league that can contain them for an extended period.

    His team is performing far better than most expected them to at the start of the year, and Paul's wizardry is a big reason why.

    Weaving and Dishing

    Threw JET's Legs

1: Steve Nash

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    PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 28:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball guarded by Shaquille O'Neal #36 of the Boston Celtics during the NBA game at US Airways Center on January 28, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Celtics 88-71. NOT
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Steve Nash is less than a week away from his 37th birthday, and he's still making players all over the league look foolish.

    In the last year, Nash has lost his two best options to pass to, and yet he continues to dazzle with his incredible assist numbers.

    He's currently second in the NBA in assists per game, but his numbers are on the rise while Rajon Rondo's are heading down.

    He's as good as anyone at juking, dribbling, faking, scooping and passing.

    Unbelievable Wraparound Pass

    Poor Anderson Varejao

Honorable Mention

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 08:  John Wall #1 of the Washington Wizards drives to the basket against the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 8, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    John Wall

    Raymond Felton

    Jose Calderon

    Russell Westbrook

    Andre Miller

    Tony Parker

    Jameer Nelson

    Monta Ellis

    LeBron James

    Ty Lawson

    Dwyane Wade

    Tyreke Evans

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