NBA / Apr 23, 2010 / 3:00 pm

New-Age Giants: The NBA’s 10 Most Skilled 7-footers

LaMarcus Aldridge (photo. Aaron Hewitt)

If NBA TV had a good reason for breaking up the studio duo of Chris Webber and Gary Payton, I still haven’t heard it. One of my favorite C-Webb/GP moments last year was when C-Webb lost his mind during a Lakers/Jazz highlight when Pau Gasol led a fast break, dribbled between his legs and flipped a no-look underhand pass.

That play is part of the reason Gasol has become known as maybe the most skilled 7-footer in basketball. Last night, during L.A.’s Game 3 loss at Oklahoma City, he pulled another one that wasn’t as spectacular, but that you would rarely see from somebody his size: In the third quarter, Gasol (17 pts, 15 rebs, 6 asts) had the ball with his back to the basket around the top of the key. Freezing Jeff Green with a ball-fake, Gasol wheeled around and got a step on his quicker, more athletic defender and hit a little teardrop that Tony Parker would have notarized.

Now, why the 7-footer’s instinct was to toss up a teardrop instead of wrecking shop at the rim is another question the Lakers can deal with later, but it added to the argument that Gasol has most diverse skill set — passing, handle, range, low-post, wheels, boards, defense — of any big man in the League. Is he really No. 1, though?

I stretched the definition of “7-footer” to include some guys who are listed at 6-11, but at least from what I’ve seen in person, are closer to a legit seven feet. And while some players might be among the best at one or two of the aforementioned skills, lacking in too many areas will cost them. With that, here are my 10 most skilled giants:

1. Kevin Garnett — Injuries and age can’t take away the fact that KG still brings more silverware to the table than any big man in the League. Along with Webber he helped define the prototype multi-faceted power forward, and other than losing some speed, hops and lateral movement along the way, he’s still got some sharpness to that Swiss Army blade.

2. Dirk Nowitzki — Shooting and range set Dirk apart from the rest, but he’s also an underrated rebounder and solid enough ball-handler. He just looks awkward doing it.

3. Pau Gasol — Among true low-post scorers, Gasol has the most diverse skill set.

4. Tim Duncan — Make an argument against it.

5. Andrea Bargnani — He’s not the Dirk Junior everybody wanted him to be when he got drafted No. 1 overall, but Bargnani is a dangerous three-point sniper and great passer who can play three positions. If Chris Bosh leaves Toronto this summer, Bargs gets his crack at being the Alpha.

Shaq (photo. Chenoa Maxwell)

6. Shaquille O’NealIf you still think Shaq only dominated on size and strength, you only watched the highlights. I’ll never forget a Lakers/Sonics game a few years back when Shaq faced up on Jerome James and gave him a crossover straight from the Allen Iverson Academy before dunking on him baseline. Yeah, it was Jerome James, but still…

7. Rasheed Wallace — Just because he doesn’t use the skills doesn’t mean he doesn’t have them. There’s no reason ‘Sheed couldn’t have been just as accomplished as Garnett in this League, he just didn’t care as much.

8. LaMarcus Aldridge — He can beat guards down the floor, shoot threes (or at least long twos) confidently, hit you with a series of quick moves in the post, and go end-to-end with the ball without embarrassing himself. He’d rank higher if he got after it on the glass.

9. Andrew Bogut — Ambidextrous in the post, with passing skills and he plays tough defense. Bogut has the skills, but he also never lost the mentality of a banger.

10. Austin Daye — For real. He’s at least on the better side of 6-11, yet he plays a small forward’s game. Daye (5.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 13 mpg) isn’t going to make the All-Rookie Team, but with some time in the weight room he could become Detroit’s next Tayshaun Prince.

Honorable mention: Kevin Love, Troy Murphy, Yi Jianlian, Spencer Hawes, Andray Blatche, Yao Ming

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  • srb

    Kendrick Perkins anyone?

  • Edward

    How do Dwight Howard and Anderson Varejao not make this list??? They are both 6’11/7’0 and have dynamic skills sets.

    Varejao: Passing, Defensive Specialist, Tipping Specialist, Rebound Specialist, Roller to the hoop and great around the rim off the pick and roll

    Dwight: Dunking, Blocking, Baby hook, Defensive Specialist, Rebounder…

  • rangerjohn

    duncan and KG go hand in hand at #1/2 back and forth.

    dirk has a shooters touch but he doesnt handle the ball that well and is slightly above averaqge for rebounding.

    pau? ahead of dirk but behind kg/duncan/duncan/kg.
    no way does he have more post moves then duncan.

  • Showtime

    Durant should be up there, actually way up there … and don’t tell me he’s listed at 6’9 cuz that’s bullsh*t

  • netstar

    brook lopez? seriously?

  • vince

    chris kaman people. ambidextrous, plays on both sides of the ball.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    How come a a guy can be considered 7 foot when he’s 6’9” or taller but a 5’9” or taller guy can’t consider himself 6 foot?

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    By the way since most of these guys aren’t truly 7 foot I would rename this article The NBA’s 10 Most Skilled Big Men in the Vicinity of 7 Feet.

  • vince

    also how far are lamar odom and austin daye apart in length?

  • K Dizzle

    Pau is definitely ahead of Dirk.
    Dirk’s only advantage is the deep jumper. I can’t remember the last time I saw Dirk go to the tin or even put the ball on the floor. He pretty much curls off a screen or pops out, gets a pass from JKidd and then, a jumper. Gasol rebounds better, defends better, posts up better, passes waaaaaay better and got solid handles for a 7 footer. This list looks more like a career achievement list cuz KG on one leg ain’t number 1 anymore.
    If Andray Blatche and Troy Murphy are 6’11 to 7 feet, they should be on this list. Blatche is a headcase but his skill level is pretty complete and if Bogut’s on this list, then Kaman definitely gets a vote…

  • LakeShow84

    ^^^^ i concur ^^^^^^

  • LakeShow84

    Except for Troy Murphy lol

    Come on KDizz.. thats a stretch lol

  • KWAME

    1. he already mentioned not all guys r seven feet so shutup 2. dwight howard isnt skilled in the sense of diverse offensive game

  • Ian

    timmeh is 1
    pau
    dirk
    kg
    thats the top 4
    shaq so high??? nah not for me

    let me guess sheed earned that spot based on “if he wanted to” right?? get him the f… outta the list.

  • control

    Durant needs to be on this list. Guy is 6’11 at least, maybe up to 7’1. You seen him walking next to guys who are 6’9 and towering over them?

    Edward

    Andy Valgina skilled? The guy is one of the least skilled players in the entire NBA…he can’t pass, he can’t dribble, he can’t shoot, he can’t do layups, he can’t really do ANYTHING with the ball. He can hustle without the ball, hustle for rebounds when he isn’t boxed out and hustle to open spots on the floor (because his offense is so horrible teams don’t bother defending him).

  • http://www.werner.com.ar andy w

    Where’s Channing Frye?

  • imungloloupaw

    kaman anyone? legit seven foot all star center who does in game behind the back passes. ambidextrous and refined post moves. how could you forget that?

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

    Apparently you don’t believe that defense and rebounding are skills. Because if you did, Bargnani would certainly not be on this list. And while he can play 3 positions on offense, it’s an entirely different thing on defense.

  • Tbest

    Brad Miller, though not mobile, has a great shooting touch and is one of the best passing big men in the league.

  • K Dizzle

    @ Lakeshow

    I’m just hopin Murph reads it and pictures his ass in purple and gold cuz that’s some skilled size off the bench with Lamar. 6’11 shotblocker who can rebound and shoot 3s.That’d be beautiful

  • McFurious1

    Andrea should be at No.1. Create more match-ups problems fools.

  • McFurious1

    @ Tim W.

    barg’s defense is good. only his rebounding sucks.

  • Little Ozzy

    Andrea is the best, The man will be a revolution once his potential is unleashed next year or I hope :'(

  • TIP

    lol @ Bargnani being a great passer…

  • sh!tfaced

    Lamar Odom! If 6’9″ is pretty much considered 7 feet, then he’s got the skills. Basically can play every position with ease – if it weren’t for defensive match ups.

    Sheed would easily be in the top 3, at least, if he wasn’t such a lazy bullheaded asshole.

    If Andray won’t realize that he’s a moronic dickhead soon, Blatche will be the new Sheed.

    Just because 6-11 Channing Frye plays like guard don’t mean he’s a skilled big man. The man just simply doesn’t possess big man skills.

  • BeEqual

    Austin Daye?? WTF?? lol… sounds like you just wanted to compile a list that could have involved him, and guess what… you snuck him in. Dude doesn’t belong on the list, way too many others that would go ahead.

  • http://sevendeu2u.wordpress.com/ Seven Duece

    Sorry, but Shaq is his own catagory.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mr.Brogden Mr. Brogden

    These 7-footers gotta be Top Ten something, I just can’t put my finger on it.

    Mcgee
    Hibbert
    Dalembert
    Fesenko
    Krstic
    Jermaine Oneal
    Dampier
    Tyson Chandler
    Memhut
    Ben Wallace

  • http://www.slcdunk.com AllthatJazz / Amar

    Fesenko is pretty good at fg%, Memo is a pretty good shooter.

  • down since the begining

    @ Mr. Brogden
    yea they the top 10 7footers that always disappear/get hurt/over paid

  • sh!tfaced

    @ Mr. Brogden

    Those big men (are) either:
    Got hurt (O’Neal, Krstic)
    Got old (Big Ben, O’Neal)
    Got lazy (Dampier, Dalembert)
    Got to play with a great PG (Chandler, Krstic)
    Still young & learning (McGee, Fesenko, Hibbert)
    Just too inconsistent/limited/or both (Okur, Dalembert, Big Ben)
    Just don’t have exceptional basketball IQ (prolly except for some of them like Big Ben, etc)
    Or maybe just really don’t have what it takes…?

  • K Dizzle

    1) Ben Wallace ain’t even close to 7 feet

    2) Love when someone shows they don’t watch hoops when they post “LOL at Bargnani being a great passer”
    Dude has slick handles and can drop dimes nicely on the regular. Don’t let ur hate cloud the reality

  • dagwaller

    @ K Dizzle – Speaking of “don’t let your hate cloud the reality”, practice what you preach homes. I know better than to accuse you of not watching the playoffs, and Dirk has been going to the rim. Now, whether or not it’s been working depends on which game you’re talking about.

    Def agree with your comment earlier about the “lifetime achievement” awards though – no way KG headlines this list today.

  • dvs

    @ BeEqual
    Daye is extremely skilled.
    He’s got solid handle and he’s can shoot from any range.
    His length makes him a really good shot blocker and on man defender.
    The guy is stupidly talented.
    When he gets stronger he’ll be a nightmare match up.
    The guys 6″11 and plays the 2, c’mon now

  • Promoman

    I’d take Dirk over KG in terms of skills. Garnett is the better overall because of his defense & athleticism, but Dirk has more skills.

  • K Dizzle

    @ Dagwaller

    c’mon, man. We not really gonna argue about whether Dirk’s offense involves goin to the rack. He’s gone to the hole like 4 times in 3 games and one was a missed layup. Don’t get me wrong. I understand he on the wrong side of 30 and can’t go like he used to and he’s adapted well, but the man’s game is 99.9% pull up j or spot up j

    I ain’t gonna lie tho. There’s been so much goin on playoff wise that I get flippin between games and maybe missed some stuff, but I’m goin on what he does most of the time

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @ K Diz
    !!!!

    Sad that I’m in watching this game on a Friday night BUT I was glad to see that you posted after I just saw Dirk hit a layup, 3:40 in the first quarter! Hahaha…

    Yea I wish that I knew where to find one of those shot charts for each player, but I swear, Dirk’s been taking it to the hole more than you’d think.

    To be fair, I did see KG hit one of his slow motion, high release jumpers from 15 ft out earlier.

  • JayChau

    Tell KG he is a 7-footer and he’ll quickly snap back at you saying he’s 6’11”.

  • http://dimemag Rainman

    ummm…Chris Bosh?

  • dmoney

    @dagwaller

    espn box scores have shot charts and anyone who thinks dirk doesn’t go to the rack is an absolute idiot, just ask manu’s nose

  • Jesus

    Andray Blatche may be the dumbest but he’s the definitely the most skilled among all of them.

  • pistonfan

    @DVS “The guy is stupidly talented.”

    The guy is stupid, period.
    He’s just a decent shooter with poor decision making and little to none defense with occasional blocks. The turnovers and fouls on his stats are understatements.
    No way is he near becoming the next Prince.

    As much as I love watching the Pistons (yes they suck right now), I hate seeing Daye step on the court.

    There are far more talented SEVEN footers that go on that list ahead of Daye, probably 300 more if you consider 6’10” as seven footers. Hell, I rather put Darko in.

    At least go with Jerebko, he’s WAY more talented.

  • Joe

    No ANTHONY “Magic” RANDOLPH?????????????

  • EN FUEGO

    Austin Daye is Channing Frye 2.0

  • Arno

    Duncan is certainely not a 7 footer. 6″10 would probably be more accurate.

  • Ernesto

    Top five in no order: Dirk Nowitzki. Pau Gasol. Tim Duncan. Andray Blatche. Andrew Bogut.

  • steps

    “I stretched the definition of “7-footer” to include some guys who are listed at 6-11, but at least from what I’ve seen in person, are closer to a legit seven feet”

    Ridiculous article, how tall are you Austin? 7ft? I mean do you walk past these guys and compare eye level? What are you basing this on?

    According to predraft measurements on draftexpress Shaq is the only guy 7ft or over (with dirk and gasol not listed)

    Do you apply the same reasoning in other facets of your life?

    *Austin Burton at the gas station, hands over $40 for $50 worth of fuel* …”yeah um.. i know i’ve just given you two twenties, but believe me they’re much closer to a legit fifty”

  • Joe Cooley High

    @steps — Wow, never seen somebody so worked up over one inch. Why don’t you have a Coke and a smile?

  • dvs

    PistonsFan you’re crazy.
    Daye is TALEANTED.
    They aren’t asking whose the best player, they are talking about skills and talent.
    JJ has played pro ball for the last 2 years and is older than Daye, so it’s not surprising he had a better season.
    Daye is far more skilled than JJ. We’re talking skill here, read. Daye in the long run will be a more complete player than JJ

  • pistonfan

    Can’t handle the ball, can’t pass, not aggressive, no defense, stupid fouls…

    We’ll see.

  • Marcus1992

    whoops didnt read this correctly david lee is not 7 feet but a talented player