Most of the legendary NBA players were all extremely capable scorers and through the years, they have made putty out of highly capable defenders. The incredible athletes that now make up the stars of today's NBA, present their share of match up problems to their opposition. Many of these players happen to be point guards, as the new wave of athletic point guards have become the new face of the league. Many of these players not only lead their teams in assists, but also find ways to use their ball-handling skills and athleticism to find more creative ways to score.
Dirk Nowitski has long been one of the league's toughest players to match up against, but it has become time for him to pass the torch to Kevin Durant, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili can still break down defenders with the dribble, but their explosiveness no longer rivals Chris Paul's and their strength doesn't measure up to that of James Harden. Tim Duncan had a nice run as the NBA's elite power forward, but now Anthony Davis is the new face of the big man on the block with his raw athleticism and explosive vertical leap. Kobe Bryant may still be one of the best scorers of all time, but age has made it harder for him to keep up with the likes of Russell Westbrook. These newcomers are the new face of the NBA, scorers with athleticism that makes them impossible to defend.
The following 20 players comprise the current crop of the NBA's hardest players to defend. Some of them might be incredibly athletic, while others might have a repertoire of hard to defend shots. In either case, defenders are well aware of these prolific scorers and their offensive threats. They are just unable to stop them.
20 Rudy Gay, F - Sacramento Kings
19 Jeff Teague, G - Atlanta Hawks
18 Eric Bledsoe, G - Phoenix Suns
17 Gordon Hayward, F - Utah Jazz
16 Kobe Bryant, G/F - Los Angeles Lakers
15 Pau Gasol, F/C - Chicago Bulls
14 John Wall, G - Washington Wizards
13 Damian Lillard, G - Portland Trailblazers
12 Anthony Davis, F/C - New Orleans Pelicans
11 Chris Paul, G - Los Angeles Clippers
10 LaMarcus Aldridge, F - Portland Trailblazers
9 DeMarcus Cousins, C - Sacramento Kings
8 Derrick Rose, G - Chicago Bulls
7 Carmelo Anthony, F - New York Knicks
6 Kevin Durant, F - Oklahoma City Thunder
5 Stephen Curry, G - Golden State Warriors
4 Kyrie Irving, G - Cleveland Cavaliers
3 James Harden, G - Houston Rockets
2 Russell Westbrook, G - Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook is easily one of the best pure athletes in the NBA. He drives to the basket with reckless abandon and always seems to establish more in control as the basket draws near. Westbrook is virtually unstoppable when he gets a full head of steam and yet he still manages to find his teammates enough to average 8.7 assists per game. This season, Westbrook is pulling out all the stops, averaging 27.5 points per game to get his share of MVP attention. He can blow by any defender in the open court with his incredibly athletic 6-foot-3, 200 pound frame and has no problem initiating contact with bigger men.
1 LeBron James, F - Cleveland Cavaliers
"The King" is still the hardest player to stop. A player of his size is not supposed to dribble and pass the way he does. James has superb body control and can move the ball around with great ease while flying through the air. He is averaging 25.9 points, 7.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game, playing alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. He has terrific size, 6-foot-8 and 250 or more pounds, and the ability to really move when he resorts to his dribble. James is also a career 49.6% field goal shooter and has managed to make 34.2% of his 3-point attempts.
What makes LeBron special and impossible to stop, is his ability to carry a team by scoring himself or by finding the hot hand when his shot isn't falling. Add to that his chiseled body that would make him a perfect NFL tight end, and stopping him can be a scary proposition.
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