A few weeks ago, Michael Jordan was asked who he would like to play against in a game of 1-on-1 in his prime. He listed several of the NBA’s top players and then said, “I don’t think I’d lose. Other than Kobe Bryant because he steals all my moves.” Leave it to His Royal Airness to not only declare himself as the best 1-on-1 competitor but also to take a shot at Kobe.
Although I agree with Jordan, it brings up a good point. Who would win in a competition of 1-on-1 with today’s top players? Who is that one player who can get a bucket against any defender in the game? Here is the list of the best 1-on-1 players in the league.
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10. JAMAL CRAWFORD
When you first glanced at Jamal Crawford’s name, you probably thought there is no way he should be on this list. But glance again. Crawford has some of the sickest handles in the NBA. He’ll cross you over and get to the basket or pull up and hit a three in your face. The man can shoot and is not afraid of anyone putting their hand in his face. Crawford is the king of 4-point plays.
Crawford has the perfect attitude for 1-on-1. He is not afraid to shoot at any moment and his incredible ball control can shake almost anyone. He is the definition of what Bill Simmons calls an “irrational confidence guy.” The reason he makes it on this list over players like Russell Westbrook is simply the shooting. They both can rise above their defender to make a jumper. The only difference is Westbrook is more of a midrange shooter and Crawford can do it from anywhere on the court.
9. STEPHEN CURRY
Curry could become a guy you would forget to put on this list but he torched so many defenses from deep last season that he has to be on here. As the best shooting point guard in the NBA, Curry has the ability to carry a team on just his shooting. His 54-point game at the Garden last season is up there with Jordan, Kobe and LeBron’s performance at MSG.
At a ridiculous 45 percent from deep, Curry will drop a three in the defender’s grill again and again. He stretched out defenses with his tricky sharpshooting and when they overplayed him he would drive and drop in a floater over a big man in the paint. With all the focus on his shooting, many can forget his great ball control. I’ve seen him crossover so many players that he was a definite for the list. As long as he doesn’t twist his ankles again, he is lethal.