Shooting: Carmelo Anthony
His shooting stroke is gorgeous. He can shoot the three and and dominate inside. His mid-range game is one of the best in the league. His percentage behind the arc isn’t as great as, say, Steve Nash, but I just drool over his mid-range game. His jab step pull up, turnaround jumper, and one dribble step back pull up are things of beauty. It’s so good that Blake Griffin learns from Melo during Team USA practice (on a team with Kobe and Durant). I can watch Melo shoot all day. Bully ball all day.
Dribbling: Kyrie Irving
Th reigning Rookie of the Year has been impressive. I was a doubter when he was picked number one overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. I questioned his ability to get in the lane due to his non-elite athleticism. I was wrong. He gets into the lane at will with great dribbling skills. His spin move is low to the ground and lightning quick. He really reminds me of Chris Paul with more of a scoring mentality (Chris Paul is also a great dribbler but over-dribbles quite often). More recently in Team USA practice, Kyrie made many All-Stars look like bunch of 4th graders.
Passing: Ricky Rubio
I just love the flare in Rubio’s passes. They are incredibly accurate yet equally spectacular. He makes the game fun. He makes you anxiously wait for the replay because seeing the pass the first time wasn’t enough. Steve Nash is probably the better passer at this point. But maybe i’ve seen too many fantastic passes from Nash that it became mundane whenever Nash drops an amazing dime. It’s as if its expected. But with all the hype around Rubio and Rubio actually living up to that hype, I have to pick Rubio.
Athleticism: Lebron James
How can you argue against Lebron James. The “Chosen One” and self-proclaimed King is the most athletically talented player in the history of the league. Blake Griffen can jump out of the gym. Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose are miniature freaks of nature. John Wall is fast. But Lebron is like all of them combined: strong, quick, big, and explosive. I literally feel pain when I watch some fool try to take a charge against Lebron on a fastbreak. If Lebron is coming at you, get the eff out of the way.
Basketball IQ: Rajon Rondo
The mischievous point guard of the Boston Celtics is a coach on the court. For the past couple seasons he has been directing three future Hall of Famers (Garnett, Pierce, and Allen). Coach Doc Rivers lets Rondo lead the discussions during timeouts. Also, he often lets Rondo call the plays and control the tempo of the game. With his high basketball IQ, Rondo almost always notices the mismatches and takes advantage of it. I was close to picking Kobe but I believe he doesn’t take advantage of all the talent that is around him (for example, not utilizing the two All-Star big men on his team).
photo credit: my player mode