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Most SKILLED Players in the NBA

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Skill. One of the most important facets of the game as it moves further and further into the three point era. It’s difficult to quantify skill. It’s difficult to say what takes skill and what doesn’t. For the purpose of this top 5 article, skill is boiled down to a few things. It only includes abilities that require finesse, precision, and hand-eye coordination. The SKILLS that fill all of these are: shooting, in-traffic passing, and dribbling. Shooting is here because putting a 9.55″ diameter basketball through a 18″ diameter hoop from almost any range takes tons of accuracy, hand eye coordination, and muscle memory. In-traffic passing is defined as passing the ball while driving to the lane and being off balance or at an awkward angle from the receiver. This takes a lot of precision and hand eye coordination, and even some finesse if the passer is crafty. Dribbling is obviously a top skill. It takes an incredible amount of hand eye coordination, muscle memory, precision, practice, and finesse to become as gifted as NBA players are. Given these skill sets, we’re ready to dissect the five most skilled players in the NBA. You can probably already guess who comes in at top of this list.

  1. Steph Curry

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When it comes to skill, Chef Curry just might be the greatest of all time. From his sniper range to his crazy handles, Curry has mastered skill. He has turned basketball into an art form. He is the greatest shooter of all time, from basically all ranges, and also a legendary free throw shooter. Curry disproves physics and makes the hoop seem 10x as wide as it actually is. Shooting alone with this level of success puts him in the category of most skilled. When you add both passing and dribbling to the equation, I think we know who is number one. Curry is a great passer in traffic and is notorious for slippery behind-the-back passes, and cross-court heaves after a drive. Also, his handles are second to none. There just might be a bottomless pit of archived Curry dribble move Vines making defenders look silly. Combine all of these into the same complete player, and you have landed the most skilled player in the NBA.

2. Kyrie Irving

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Most of this list features point guards. Uncle Drew is one such point guard. He is the closest thing to Curry we have in the rest of the NBA (although no one comes quite close in levels of skill). Kyrie has arguably the next best dribbling arsenal, featuring lightning quickness that could put any defender on skates. He shakes and bakes sometimes for 8 seconds until he notices an open gap and punishes anyone who gives it to him with a drive or a J. Kyrie is also a very gifted shooter. His 3 pt skill is great, and he can shoot off the dribble as well as just about anyone. What separates Irving from the competition is his ability to finish at the rim. This takes immense skill for a 6’1″ point guard who is trying to score on seven footers. Somehow, he has the skill to apply the right height, spin, and placement on the ball to get it to fall in, leaving everyone in the vicinity speechless. Irving isn’t the best passer in the league but he can make good passes from the paint out to shooters or to another big man. Taking all of these amazing skills puts him in the highest caliber of skill.

3. Chris Paul

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The point GOD CP3 is another highlight name in the pool of very skilled players. Chris Paul is the premiere passer of the entire NBA. No one gets the ball to the open man quite the same as Paul. He uses ridiculous precision and finesse to thread the needle perfectly on each pass, finding teammates like DeAndre Jordan for endless alley oops, or getting JJ Redick open for a nice jumpshot. It’s easy to have faith in every pass he makes that it will be the best one possible. However, I don’t mean to take away from his shooting or dribbling skill either. CP has a fantastic shot and makes a living off threes and isolation shots from the elbow. Both of these go down at a high rate, making him a very skilled shooter. Chris Paul is another gifted dribbler as well, except he makes smart moves rather than flashy ones due to his diminishing quickness. It’s as easy as a hesitation dribble to fake a defender, a slice through the lane, then either a beautiful pass, or a well finessed finish. Either way, you’re getting nothing but skill out of Mr. Paul.

4. James Harden

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Our first non-point guard to make the list. James Harden is in many ways the definition of skill. Brutally fast dribble moves, a pure stroke from any range, and a knack for getting open three point shooters the basketball. James Harden lives for making moves to the paint. This style requires a blend of all the mentioned skills above to make a dangerous superstar. He starts on the perimeter. If he’s not taking shots, he’s using his incredible dribbling ability to get past his defender. At this point, three things are going to happen. Either he gets fouled (count that as two points since he’s the most skilled free throw shooter in the league), he makes the shot (sometimes accompanied by a foul, and again, basically another point), or he kicks out to the legion of shooters around him. In any of these cases, Harden is utilizing extreme skill to make the play happen. He can shoot, dribble, and pass like the best, making him a top entry on the leaderboard of skill.

5. Damian Lillard

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After moving past the easy top 4 candidates, picking a fifth was hard. Going with Dame Lillard is not a bad failsafe. He is yet another point guard with an awesome mix of skills. Lillard is without a question a great shooter. He can pick up the ball and fire away from basically any range, and do it with accuracy. He’s also at times shown dirty handles and gets to the rim often after juking out his defender. It’s hard to question both of those elite skills, but what kept him from being any higher was his lack of high-tier smart and accurate passing. This isn’t to say that he isn’t talented, but he needs to improve before being considered upper echelon. Dame has a very high level of accuracy, hand eye coordination, and finesse, and these all place him just inside the top 5 most skilled players in the NBA.

Did I miss someone? A player was ranked too high? Let me know in the comments!

About Aaron Davis

Aaron is a staff writer and the Co-Founder of NBALEAD. He has been following the NBA for over 15 years. Graduated from Purdue University.

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