If you’re going to make it in this league, you’ve got to be smart. You need how to properly read defenses, move between screens, set picks, drive, cut and always be where you’re supposed to be.
Being a good off-ball player is a must, especially nowadays, considering how much pace and space we see in modern offenses. Nonetheless, just a handful of players are able to consistently dominate this area of the game.
Great off-ball players often have the highest basketball IQs, and they’re an overall impact in the game goes beyond stats. Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 off-ball players in NBA history.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Korver
Exception: Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal makes it to our list as an exception, because he was also an incredibly good off-ball player, using his superhuman strength to perfectly positioning himself in the paint regardless of who and how many players were guarding him. Shaq, being as dominant as he was, was completely unstoppable in the pick and roll. Once he had the ball near the rim, it was the easiest bucket.
10. Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade has always been one of the most active players in the hardwood, constantly moving to find space and score off the pass, either if it’s from cuts, driving, coming off the screen or even in pick and roll sets. Besides being strong, fast and having a quick release, his basketball IQ made him a master of positioning.
9. JJ Redick
JJ Redick has made a living out of making defenders run around in circles trying to stop him from having an open shot, something that’s almost never the case. Redick is as sneaky as they come, and he doesn’t need time or space to either catch and shoot or pull up from beyond the arc. As a matter of fact, he scores 0.37 points per touch.
8. Larry Bird
Larry Bird, even though wasn’t really fast, was really smart and properly knew how to move between screens and constantly be wide open, either for midrange jumpers or to hit a long distance shot. Bird was a great cutter, also, constantly drifting from side to side of the baseline to score an easy layup off a sneaky pass.
7. Rip Hamilton
Most young fans won’t remember him, but Rip Hamilton was a master of playing off-ball, and he pretty much had the entire offense based on him running through screens. He was so good, he even recorded himself trying to teach young ballers how to be constantly open, shaking off defenders as if he was playing some kind of scrimmage on a nightly basis.
6. Reggie Miller
Reggie Miller was the first guy to consistently rely on the three-point shot as an offensive weapon, that, mostly; thanks to his ability to play off the ball. Miller was a master at drawing a separation between him and his defenders, had a very quick first step and was able to shake them off with ease while going behind the screen to hit a wide open three.
5. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant copied pretty much every single move from Michael Jordan’s book, and that also made him an elite off-ball player. Obviously, his haters may argue that he was never playing off-ball, but in order to make the triangle work, all players need to be constantly moving. Bryant, sneaky, smart and quick as he was, was great at cutting and quickly pulling up from the elbows.
4. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan had the quickest first step in the history of the game, and even though most of his inbound plays may be called for charges nowadays, he was an incredible off-ball player in terms of how far he got from his defender in the blink of an eye. Also, he was a god when we talk about baseline cuts and pick and roll scoring.
3. Ray Allen
Long before Stephen Curry, Ray Allen was considered to be the greatest three-point shooter in the history of the game. Yes, Allen could score while heavily guarded, but one of the reasons why he was able to thrive so much is because he was mostly shooting wide open jumpers. How can this happen? Because of his great footwork and ability to go between screens, let alone his quick trigger.
2. Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson may be the best pure shooter ever. Moreover, he’s the best catch and shoot player I’ve ever seen, scoring over 4 field goals in catch and shoot situations per game. He’s always where he’s supposed to be, and this is a guy that actually needed just 11 dribbles to score 60 points once, and he averages 0.41 points per touch right now. That’s just sick.
1. Stephen Curry
And the greatest off-ball player ever has to be Stephen Curry. Curry is never going to be denied of a wide open shot, even though he’s double and triple teamed at times. He’s a master of cuts and baseline drives, has the quickest release ever, and can give you the whole package. His offensive impact goes way beyond three-pointers, as he can sneak into the lane and finish with an acrobatic layup, a floater, or even a mid-range jump shot.
One more video about Stephen Curry and off ball movement.