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Pure Basketball Talent/Skill


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#1 Silky Silks

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 09:51 AM

Some friends and I were having a discussion about what defines "pure basketball skill" and I was wondering what the people on these forums had to say about it. Should "pure basketball skill" be measured without considering athleticism? So for instance should shooting ability, basketball IQ, passing ability, reading defenses, ball handling skills, etc. be considered as "pure basketball skill" where things like dunking and finishing ability, fast breaking speed/quickness, rebounding, shot blocking, put backs, ability to create space/back down defenders in/out of post (depending on position) etc. be considered more as athletic skill?Or are all of these skills interlocked and since they all require some athleticism they should all be considered as "pure basketball skills." Is there no such thing as pure basketball skill considering basketball is so focused on athletic ability. But then where would that put players like Dirk, Bird, Nash, etc. who really don't have exceptional athletic ability? In other words, how do you compare two players' by "pure basketball skill?" Would a player like Kobe be considered more purely skilled than a player like Lebron because so much of Lebron's game is based off of athleticism, or are they really incomparable or similarly skilled despite their differences as players?

And just for fun who would you say is the most purely skilled player currently, and of all time?
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#2 Bismack'd-youR-MOM

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 05:15 PM

Im not a kobe fantatic or anything ... but after having him on my fantasy team 2 years ago i started to follow him to see when he would start to be on the decline... I think if your talking about pure skill then kobe is the best atm... he can hit any kind of shot and has mastered the fade away.... he has the heart of a true champion... Kobe for overall most skillful player ATM

Lebron is a beast but like you said hes mostly physically gifted and is like a train coming at a duckling on the tracks.... ive seen his shot has increased this season but until we can see him maintain it for the upcoming years i dont think we can say hes more "skilled" than kobe... hes just a beast who gets high quality shots b/c of his athleticism. Also i dont like the idea of him resting when he already has much less work to do playing with wade/bosh...

Durant is the one who i think will pass both lebron/kobe.... Unlike lebron he is just long and skinny with long reach.... in games the defense of the player is not what makes him miss but just that durant himself just missed the shot... He is pure skill and he does not rest.... hits most of his shots... is deadon from the line... hits 3s with ease and can do all the other things... if he wanted to be a passer he could but just chooses to put the burden of his team on his shoulders...

sadly my favorite player iverson is no longer in the league so i guess i gotta settle on these 3.

Edited by Bismack'd-youR-MOM, 06 April 2013 - 05:16 PM.

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#3 misterj

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 07:42 PM

I'd throw Chris Paul into the mix for current best pure talent. Despite not being super athletic, he's arguably one of the best passers in the league, has insane court vision, shoots sparkling %, and is a perennial threat to lead the league in steals.

I'd also say that Curry makes an interesting case as well.
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#4 misterj

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 07:54 PM

The more I think about it the more I'm realizing it's almost impossible to say who's the most purely skilled basketball player. You look at guys like Kobe/Paul/Durant/Lebron/Curry and really who can say one is more "skilled" than the other. They're all pretty unique talents.

I will say though, in regards to Lebron simply being "mostly physically gifted" I don't think that's anywhere near true. His freakish athletic ability gives him a definite advantage over defenders, but it's complemented with a great deal of skill which I think manifests itself in his passing ability and soft touch on layups and whatnot. Also, the fact that he's capable of playing any position is as much a testament to his physical ability as it is his basketball skill in my opinion. If you want to talk about a guy who gets by on mostly freak athleticism I'd be quicker to look at Blake Griffin than Lebron James.
8-team/8-CAT Keeper (Keep 3):

PG: Curry, Conley, Walker, Teague
SG: Butler, Oladipo
SF: Batum, Harris, W. Chandler
PF: A. Davis, T. Young, Hawes
C: P. Gasol, Sanders, Drummond

#5 rocko

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 07:59 PM

Personally I think it's pretty impossible to separate athleticism or physical traits from "pure skills" But If I had to pick someone I would have to go with old a** Tim Duncan.

#6 misterj

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 08:02 PM

It does seem rather impossible to separate athleticism or physical traits from "pure skills" but the guys that are elite players despite not appearing to be insane physical specimens kind of suggest that the separation can be made :\ Interesting topic to think about anyway
8-team/8-CAT Keeper (Keep 3):

PG: Curry, Conley, Walker, Teague
SG: Butler, Oladipo
SF: Batum, Harris, W. Chandler
PF: A. Davis, T. Young, Hawes
C: P. Gasol, Sanders, Drummond

#7 rocko

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 08:08 PM

But most of those elite players are ridiculously athletic. Just because they don't all have Blake griffin hops or Dwight Howard's muscle build doesn't mean they aren't elite athletically. Kobe was/is a freak athlete too, just Bc he's 2 inches shorter and 40lbs lighter than lebron doesn't make him a "pure skill" player.

#8 rocko

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 08:21 PM

Basically my point is that athleticism and skill are not mutually exclusive. Someone can be the most athletic and the most skilled (lebron), or really athletic and really skilled (Durant, cp3, Kobe). It's really hard to separate someone's athleticism and their physical build from the skills required to use those things.

Sure, there are obviously guys with a lot of athleticism that aren't very skilled like deandre Jordan or Javale McGee, or people that are skilled but not really athletic like zach Randolph. But I think that line becomes really hazy when you get to the elite players. just my opinion anyway.

Edited by rocko, 06 April 2013 - 08:31 PM.


#9 brockpapersizer

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 08:34 PM

In other words, how do you compare two players' by "pure basketball skill?" Would a player like Kobe be considered more purely skilled than a player like Lebron because so much of Lebron's game is based off of athleticism, or are they really incomparable or similarly skilled despite their differences as players?


Kobe's a better shooter than Lebron, no doubt... but that's about it. Lebron plays much smarter. I won't even start a Kobe vs Lebron debate, because the compassion of Kobe to Michael Jordan is always a better comparison simply because (unlike Lebron) these two play very similarly To me the difference was Jordan had that extra gene to make HUGE passes in big games. He fed Pennington, Paxson, and Kerr in HUGE moments in a series for a game winner. I've never seen Kobe making an amazing pass in a clutch moment in a game. Kobe's most famous pass was the Shaq oop (thats it), and that was a nail in the coffin... not with like 5 seconds left. Still a great pass, but not on the level and moment in the game like the three Jordan ones. I have seen Kobe miss quite a few game winners that ended up in someone elses hand and still managed to win the game (Horry, Gasol, and Artest)

It's not about having the balls to take a shot, it's about having the balls and presence of mind to make the best play at every time. Jordan could shoot lights out in the clutch, but his decision making was clutch too.


And while its absolutely true if Lebron wasn't an athletic beast, he wouldn't be the best player in the league.... you could say that about a lot of players. There's about 2 inches of height that made Kobe Kobe and not OJ Mayo. Kobe is RIDICULOUSLY athletic, it just takes arguably most athletic player in NBA History (Lebron) to make Kobe not seem it.

Give them both their props regardless. Plenty of ridiculously athletic players in the NBA absolutely stunk.


If you want to play the pure skill card.... Stockton, Nash, and Kidd are probably up there as the best "purest" ever because they all dominated despite having a huge size and athletic discrepancy.
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