NBA / Nov 22, 2013 / 2:30 pm

The NBA’s 15 Smoothest Players

Jrue Holiday

Jrue Holiday (photo. adidas)

In a league full of show-stopping athletes who can practically 360 dunk at will, it’s refreshing to sit back and appreciate the players who excel with such tranquility in their game. The way they dribble, shoot and pass – it’s just so calm and smooth.

Being smooth is an all-around characteristic and goes beyond just having a buttery jumper. These players rarely play out of their pace, never look fazed and are unflappable in clutch moments. There’s a graceful flow and elasticity that makes everything they do on the court seem natural.

That’s not to say those who don’t fit that description and aren’t included on this list are inferior because production comes in very different styles. LeBron is the NBA’s best player but he’s more brute strength than elegance. Westbrook and Rose are phenomenal athletes but they’re not necessarily graceful in the traditional sense.

Here are 15 of the smoothest current NBA players right now.

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Though it felt like his accomplishments went unnoticed, Holiday was an All-Star last year for a reason. The NBA is filled with high-flying athletic guards but the former UCLA athlete is a controlled floor general whose quickness is matched with poise and an understanding of the game. Holiday won’t blow by defenders with his acceleration but he doesn’t really want to either. He excels in contact and has exceptional body control, whether finishing over a defender at the rim or converting a contested elbow jumper. His plethora of finesse moves – all of which look like he’s controlling them with a string – are so good but he’s never in a rush and thanks to his 6-4 frame, a few steps feels like its gliding to the basket when attacking.

Duncan is the greatest power forward that’s ever lived. He’s not the most athletic or physically imposing. But his extreme intelligence and mastery of the fundamentals have allowed him to produce significantly even at age 37. His game is simple and effective: He analyzes the defense, looks for discrepancies in their scheme and uses his trademark jab step and bank shot combo (among other scoring moves in his repertoire) to convert. On defense, he’s rarely out of position and uses impeccable timing to cause havoc on the defensive side. Duncan knows he can outsmart a defender so when it’s time to execute, it looks graceful because it is graceful.

As far as efficient scorers go, Martin has the resume to show his underappreciated worth. He’s a crafty scorer with a penchant for creating open shooting lanes to get his oft-kilter jumper off. Because his shot is so unorthodox, his pump fake is absolutely lethal, causing defenders to react from a simple flinch and making his drive to the basket that much easier. Explosiveness isn’t really his game but he’s speedy in transition and is an excellent finisher.

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  • SweetdickWilly

    I’m surprised Kevin Martin made this list. People label him as awkard, even other NBA players but he’s a guy who doesn’t waste steps. He can score 20+ any given game and doesn’t have to dominate the ball to do it. Injuries and defense are the only things that detract.

  • QGNarcisse

    Appreciate the comment, man. And yeah, K-Mart 2.0 was one of my sleeper picks on this list but he’s so fluid with his moves that he was impossible to omit. I feel like people tend to focus on shooting motion as the only barometer for gracefulness instead of the complete package of a player.

  • SweetdickWilly

    You can’t foul him because he’s up there with guys like Jose Calderon when it comes to FT shooting as well being one of the better shooters in the league. It’s not uncommon for him to have 20-30 and sometimes 35+ point games with just 10-15 shot attempts that he’ll find ways to get if not dunk on you if you get caught slipping.