It’s nice to be voted into the NBA All-Star Game by the fans and it’s important to respected by the media. It’s even better to be recognized by coaches, but there’s nothing like having the respect of your peers.
There is no shortage of NBA players with fantastic handles in today’s NBA, but there are a handful of players that really stand out. We have Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Jamal Crawford, Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade and John Wall but which player has the tightest handles and the best dribble moves?
Who is the NBA’s Best Ballhandlers?
We could jump into a basketball forum or listen to some talking heads, but what better way to know who the best dribblers are in the NBA than to ask the players themselves? If the players are the final word on the subject then the answer is Kyrie Irving (at least in this latest player survey). Here’s what a few players have to say about the NBA player with the best handles and why they chose Irving:
In a breakdown between Curry and Irving’s dribbling skills, Stack.com couldn’t make a determination. So here’s what Curry had to say about Irving:
“He is able to use both hands and he’s shifty and crafty,” Curry said. “He changes speeds to keep people off-balance. Perhaps the best way to put it into words, he has an uncanny kind of ability to go one way, stop on a dime, right to left, left to right, whichever, and still be on balance and get by you. It’s unpredictable.”
Thomas, another candidate says Irving’s crossover is “just better”:
Kyrie lives laterally. He goes side to side at such a high level it’s hard for defenders to keep up. He’s right in front of you, then he’s not, and it all starts with the crossover. It’s the same move every point guard has in his arsenal. His is just better.
Irving’s former teammate Jordan McCrae has this to say about his handles:
“He shoots off the dribble a lot,” McCrae said. “For him, he is putting a lot of different dribbles into a shot. Sometimes he is doing five or six moves into a shot in practice. You wouldn’t do that in a game. But it’s more for your reaction. He has so many moves that he works on all the time.”
Paul Millsap doesn’t think there’s any discussion; it’s Irving all day long.
“Hands down, Kyrie has the best ball-handling skills that we have in our league,” Millsap said. “The way he reads defenses, the way he reads your feet, it’s unbelievable … His biggest asset is his creativity. He is one of the most creative point guards we have.”
Eric Gordon says that “Kyrie has the best handle of all time.” Gordon says that Kyrie’s “very creative” and “different motions” makes him the best of all time.
To top it off, NBA.com listed out the NBA’s Top 10 Ballhandlers in 2015 and guess who was #1 on that list? Kyrie Irving. Here’s how they listed it out.
How Does Kyrie Irving Do It?
When fans of Irving’s ball handling ask him how’d he get so good pounding the rock, he’s happy to divulge, “Everybody always asks, ‘What did you do as a kid to get your handle like this?'” Irving said. “And I tell them, ‘I just practiced simple moves first—like crossovers, between the legs, behind the back—and then I would work on combinations in isolation situations by myself. Then I would have counters to every move, always being prepared for that—not only that second move, but that third, fourth, fifth move just in case.”
Easy for him to say (and do).
It truly is a joy to watch Irving do his thing. How he’s built in a series of counter moves off a combination of simple crossovers, hesitation, headfakes, and his dangerous jumpshot based on every scenario. A critical baller skill that’s been mastered for his era. Yes he’s Irving’s the best today, but someday someone will come along and build off his resume, the same way that Irving improved upon what his predecessors Allen Iverson, God Shammgod, Rafer Alston, Kenny Anderson, Tim Hardaway, Isiah Thomas, Nate Archibald and Bob Cousy did before him.