National Basketball Association players are some of the truly elite athletes in all of professional sports capable of achieving amazing feats on the court. They can seemingly leap out of arenas en route to slamming the basketball through the hoop with authority, they are able to complete full-length court runs in seconds, and many are wizards as it pertains to handling the ball while facing opponents in one-on-one situations. Once the postseason arrives, the best of the best in the NBA are often tasked with playing at least 40 minutes on multiple nights until their teams are eliminated or complete the journey all the way to the Finals. Perhaps most astonishing about this is that NBA players are becoming even better athletes as training methods continue to evolve.
The top-tier players in the NBA who are currently competing for the Most Valuable Player award, other personal honors and for playoff seeds and potentially a title look like physical freaks who were cut from granite and blessed with amazing genetics even before birth. While every individual currently on an NBA deal is admittedly a tremendous athlete and a better basketball player than just about everybody reading this sentence, some, humorously, do seem like they could work at Target rather than be Superstars recognized walking through an airport or asked to sign autographs by pockets of adoring fans. It takes all kinds, so the old saying goes, and even an NBA player who you believe should be handing you receipts on Black Friday is still probably very rich.
15 Kevin Durant: Freak
We begin with 2017 NBA Finals MVP and Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, an athlete who may, in fact, be an alien from a different planet sent to dominate mere mortals attempting to make livings playing the sport they love.
Durant possesses the size required to play underneath the rim, he has the shooting touch of an elite guard, and his basketball IQ allows him to serve in the role of an on-the-court quarterback who can run an offense against any opposition. When Durant is at his best and is fully healthy, he is essentially unstoppable regardless of who is against him. All things considered, Durant may be the most complete player in the NBA today, and it seems almost a given that he will retain his NBA Finals MVP crown for another year come June.
14 Dion Waiters: Target
We won’t be hearing many comments about Dion Waiters Island in the first half of 2018. It was widely suggested during the holiday season that the Miami Heat guard was out of shape and had gained some extra weight, a claim that he denied. His body did manage to betray him in a different way, however, as surgery to repair his injured ankle ended his season in January.
There have been times when Waiters has answered the call and met high expectations had for him, and he’s also capable of entertaining fans with his words away from the court. When pictures of him make it seem that he’s potentially eaten one too many Christmas cookies during the start of winter, he does look like he could be offering you phone service at your local Target.
13 Joel Embiid: Freak
We cannot imagine there is anybody out there who still doesn’t "Trust the Process" as of January 2018. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid looks every bit the part of a franchise cornerstone who can lead the Sixers back to the playoffs, and beyond, so long as he is able to remain healthy for the majority of NBA seasons.
The big man can out-muscle just about anybody in the paint, and he’s also proven that he can drain three-point shots when the occasion calls for him to step back beyond the arc. Embiid’s size combined with his agility and other traits make him a physical freak compared to just about every player on his team, including a young man who, unfortunately, is struggling to make his way back to the court this winter.
12 Markelle Fultz: Target
As harsh as it may be to say, pessimistic Philadelphia 76ers fans may believe that 19-year-old guard Markelle Fultz is closer to working at Target than he is to featuring for an NBA All-Star team at any point in the future upon seeing him practice his jumper ahead of games.
Fultz is working to return from a shoulder injury that has cost him the majority of the campaign, but video evidence of his current shot is leaving some to wonder if he somehow forgot how to shoot a basketball and if this aspect of his game can be fixed. The good news is that there is, theoretically, plenty of time for the club and Fultz to find an answer before things get too out of hand.
11 Karl-Anthony Towns: Freak
Maybe the scariest part about Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns is that he is only 22-years-old and not yet all that close to entering his physical prime so long as he avoids any serious injuries in the foreseeable future.
Towns, who is seven-foot tall, improves with every season, and he is averaging a double-double for his career two and half years into his stint in Minnesota. Towns has the goods to be a bully while fighting for rebounds or making strides toward the hoop, and he can also drain at least four out of every ten three-point shots he takes. Watching Towns evolve as an athlete and as a player will be a lot of fun; except for fans who root against him because of franchise allegiances.
10 Kyle Singler: Target
We can actually hear some of you saying or typing “who?” upon seeing the name of this Oklahoma City Thunder forward. Kyle Singler is every part of the “just a guy” nickname bestowed upon so many athletes, as he is currently averaging less than 2.5 points per game (2.3). We also cannot help but notice that Singler does resemble some of the dudes we saw working at Target in November and December.
Fans of the Thunder may want the club to try to trade Singler before the 2018 deadline, but that seems unlikely because it would involve a different team taking him and his contract on. His future with OKC past this spring is uncertain, at best, as the franchise may part ways with him ahead of the final guaranteed year on his deal.
9 Anthony Davis: Freak
Yes, we are willing to admit that the eyebrows on the mug of New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis do make him look like he may belong at your local Target rather than on an NBA All-Star team. That facial hair doesn’t take away from the rest of his attributes that make him appear to be a physical freak when lined-up with teammates and opponents.
Davis is an offensive powerhouse able to score over 40 points in consecutive games, and he's a player who can easily average double-doubles when he is in-form. It’s almost easy to forget that Davis will turn only 25-years-old in March and that he is still growing as a player and as a defensive weapon. The future is undeniably bright for this freak.
8 Matthew Dellavedova: Target
Current Milwaukee Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova will forever be a hero among Cleveland Cavaliers fans for his contributions in ending that city’s 52-year long championship drought. Cleveland supporters still rock “Delly” jerseys to this day, and they will never forget all that he gave to the Cavs before signing for the Bucks and finally receiving the money he earned.
Let’s not pretend, however, that Dellavedova doesn’t look like more of a Target check-out guy than one of the best athletes on the continent. Critics would say that Dellavedova belongs at a Target and not on the court because of his supposed dirty antics during games. The famous adage tells us that if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying. Perhaps Dellavedova has taken that to heart over the years.
7 Russell Westbrook: Freak
There are times when Oklahoma City Thunder guard and current regular-season NBA MVP Russell Westbrook just doesn’t make sense. Westbrook stands at 6-3 on a good day, but he often performs well beyond his size on the way to accumulating triple-doubles the way some of us gain pounds if we stop working out for even a couple of days.
There’s no question that the 29-year-old is headed to the Hall of Fame even if he never wins a championship, and his ability to avoid injuries over the past couple of seasons while playing at such a high level makes us believe he is, in fact, a physical freak. Here’s to hoping Westbrook gets at least the opportunity to hoist the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy while he is still in his prime.
6 Austin Rivers: Target
In a way, we don’t want to pick on Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers, who has been considered to be the product of nepotism because his current head coach also happens to be his father, Doc Rivers. While that isn’t completely fair due to his proven track record during games, Rivers earned more than a little criticism from fans and analysts when he allegedly instigated members of the Houston Rockets during a January showdown that nearly resulted in a locker-room brawl after the fact.
Most ridiculous of all about that is that Rivers was on the bench during that contest because of injury. He may want to wish he was at a Target rather than on the court the next time he and the Clippers travel to Houston.
5 Kristaps Porzingis: Freak
You can call him the unicorn, the lizard or even Lordzingis. New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is unlike just about any other player in the NBA today. This physical freak who stands at 7'3 is capable of dribbling through and around defenders, he has posterized a plethora of opponents during his short time in the league, and he has no problem shooting from distance whenever he is left open outside of the arc.
It doesn’t feel like it was all that long ago when fans of the Knicks actually booed the team drafting Porzingis. That’s something the 22-year-old hasn’t forgotten even if he is currently enjoying his role as the face of the Knicks and the man who fans believe will bring a title to Madison Square Garden.
4 Derrick Rose: Target
At this rate, we’re not completely sure if Cleveland Cavaliers guard Derrick Rose is closer to being part of a team that could contend for a championship or a cashier at Target. Rose once had the goods to win multiple MVP awards, but his body failed him before what should have been his physical prime.
As of the typing of this sentence, there are serious questions about if he will feature for the Cavs or any other team again before he is forced to retire because no side will be willing to pay him millions of dollars. Don’t believe, for a second, that you’ll actually see Rose working at a Target, as he made millions of dollars before this sad period of his playing days. It’s a shame, however, that we never got to see Rose become an all-time great.
3 Giannis Antetokounmpo: Freak
We obviously couldn’t finish this list without giving at least a shoutout to Milwaukee Bucks center, forward, guard or anything he wants to be Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is affectionately known by fans as the “Greek Freak.” Antetokounmpo (easier typed than said) is 6'11, and he can handle the rock like a point guard and then plow through several defenders with drives that would make even the toughest opponent consider conceding the bucket and living to fight another day.
We cannot even fathom what it would be like to see Antetokounmpo coming toward us with momentum on his side. At this rate, it will be only a matter of time before Antetokounmpo is hoisting MVP trophies and winning multiple playoff series. He may be even better than Durant five or so years from now.
2 Isaiah Thomas: Target
During the holiday season, multiple members of the Cleveland Cavaliers surprised shoppers at a local grocery store by paying for their items. Included was guard Isaiah Thomas, who hadn’t yet debuted for his new club due to lingering hip problems. While fans were understandably excited to see Thomas and other members of the organization, some couldn’t help but joke that Thomas looked more like a worker than an NBA star due to his size.
The diminutive guard is listed at 5-9, which is probably a bit generous. To his credit, Thomas makes up for his lack of height with a heart and determination that is often unmatched by anybody facing him. Sometimes, the fight in the dog really does outweigh the size of the dog in the fight.
1 LeBron James: Freak
No disrespect meant to the Greek Freak, but we had to finish off the list with the greatest player of his generation and the three-time NBA champion who is somehow aging like a fine wine.
Cleveland Cavaliers Superstar LeBron James turned 33 years old in late December, but he has, at times, looked as good as ever during the 2017-18 NBA season. Jokes about his hairline aside, James is a physical force unlike any other in the game today, and one may assume that he is still in his prime when watching him at his best. The Cavs have gone through a much-publicized swoon that began on Christmas Day 2017, but James merely being on the roster keeps Cleveland a favorite to return to the Finals once again.