Sure, he’s a flawed basketball player. But, let’s give Rajon Rondo this—he’s the greatest Connect 4 player of all-time. Supposedly he’s only lost once (to Charlie Villanueva, go figure). As in Connect 4, the three-time league assist leader sees the play before it happens and consistently drops highlight-worthy dimes.
2 of 12Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Draymond Green, Warriors
Picture this: Steph Curry has the ball at half-court. Draymond Green comes to set a screen. Both defenders double Steph because, well, he’s Steph. Green receives a pass from his point guard and finds himself at the foul line with a four-on-three opportunity. Green’s court-vision and instincts kick in, and he finds the open teammate. It’s too easy.
3 of 12Jeff Haynes/Getty Images
Manu Ginobili, Spurs
Manu Ginobili is the vodka in the Spurs’ lemonade. While Tim Duncan executed the offense with cautious precision, Ginobili’s high-risk, high-reward creativity has provided a spark off the Spurs bench for 14 years.
4 of 12Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images
Boris Diaw, Jazz
Although a perfect marriage between Diaw and the Spurs ended this summer, the snail-paced Utah Jazz will make good use of Diaw’s playmaking ability in half-court sets. Defenders usually give Diaw, an average shooter, a bit of space. Big mistake. All the Frenchman needs is enough room to get a pass off and—wham—the ball’s already in the hoop. It must be the coffee.
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Chris Paul, Clippers
The best floor general in the NBA, still. Paul has finished in the top-5 for assists-per-game in each of the last five years. He runs the show better than anyone, and might only rival LeBron for the the title of most intelligent player in the league.
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Stephen Curry, Warriors
His reputation as a Splash Brother might overshadow just how good a passer he is. The things Curry can do while dribbling make him extremely dangerous at all places on the floor. The behind-the-back and no-look passes are just as pretty as the three-pointers.
7 of 12Icon Sportswire/GEtty Images
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies
His brother might have something to say about this, but the younger Gasol could be the best passing big man in the NBA. He won’t throw lobs or dish behind-the-back dimes, but Gasol will make the easy, smart passes that other bigs don’t see.
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John Wall, Wizards
Wall quietly averaged 10.3 assists last year, which was third in the league behind Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. He’s one of the fastest point guards in the league, and his speed allows him to push the ball up the court and find teammates with ease.
9 of 12Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images
Ben Simmons, 76ers
Simmons has never played an NBA game. He’s never even played a preseason game! And he won’t see the court anytime soon. But hear us out. Those Summer League passes were downright hypnotic—probably hypnotic enough on their own to charm Sixers fans into Trusting The Process for another year.
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D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
A silky-smooth athlete with a slingshot of a left arm, Russell dishes out passes that are as slick as they are effective. He has a distinct ability to zip them past defenders even when it looks like offensive possessions have ground to standstills.
11 of 12David Sherman/Getty Images
Ricky Rubio, Timberwolves
Ever since the Spaniard’s dazzling display as a 17-year-old at the 2008 Olympics, the oscillating levels of Rubio intrigue have revolved around a single trait: He’s a sorcerer with the ball in his hands. He’s able to work his magic because he sees passing lanes before they open up, and he moves defenders with his eyes to make those lanes even wider.
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LeBron James, Cavaleirs
The best player in the world doesn’t just have a physique and athleticism that scoffs at physics. He has a brain that comprehends basketball in a way mere muggles cannot. His awareness of movements of the other nine players on the court at times seems clairvoyant. James has a once-in-a-generation basketball mind.
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