10 fastest players in the NBA right now

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings
Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings

Speed is one of the most indispensable assets of a basketball player. Whether it's attacking the rim in transition, getting past a defender or defending an opponent, speed plays a crucial role in the success of a player at the highest level.

Accordingly, the game of basketball has changed a great deal in the last 20 years or so, with players putting their emphasis on developing their physical skills even more as they strive to become faster and stronger. The game has also seen a shift of powers from the big men who dominated the game in the 80s and 90s to teams employing quicker small-ball lineups in the contemporary scenario. As a result, the pace of the game has increased to a significant degree.

Quite evidently, some of the best athletes in the world play in the NBA, most of whom possess transcendental speed and leaping ability. The players on this list are the fastest of the lot. These 'speed demons' have set a benchmark with the athleticism and the raw speed they possess often dominating their opponents with their speed alone. So, let us look at the ten fastest NBA players right now:


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Honorable mention: Kyrie Irving

Let us start this list with the flashiest player in the league.

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No one in the NBA uses the change of speed and direction quite like Kyrie Irving. Employed with an arsenal of quick moves, Irving can turn on the afterburners at will. Combine this with the best ball handling skills in the game, Irving is virtually unstoppable one on one.

However, the 27-year-old guard prefers to beat his defenders with shifty moves and deceiving quickness. Additionally, thanks to his ability to switch hands and adjust mid-air with impeccable timing, Irving is one of the best finishers at the rim. Irving misses the cut because of the hefty competition on this list.


#10 Ish Smith

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Ish Smith has made a career out of clowning the defenders, using his raw quickness and straight-line speed. One of the quickest guards in the league, the Pistons guard makes use of a wide range of moves to get past his defenders.

The six-feet-tall point guard comes off the bench for the Detroit Pistons and is known for his instant production on offense. He's also good at setting up his teammates for easy buckets, thanks to his court vision.

An undrafted player out of Wake Forest University, Smith has never had a stable NBA career despite showing that he belongs in the league. Due to this, he has bounced around the league quite often. Now in his tenth year in the league, Smith seems to have finally found a role in Detroit where he plays as the backup point guard to Reggie Jackson.


#9 Dennis Schroder

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Thanks to his slender frame and light weight, Dennis Schroder has one of the quickest first steps in the NBA which allows him to blow past his defenders at will. Standing at 6'1, the German native also possesses excellent ball-handling skills which he uses to create shots for himself and his teammates.

Schroder is also known to be a master of the pick and roll, often connecting with the team's big men for easy points. Additionally, Schroder is adept at penetrating the defenses at a blazing speed which allows him to give an outlet pass resulting in an open shot. Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, Schroder played under coach Mike Budenholzer and starting point guard Jeff Teague.

After Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap left the Hawks via either trade or free agency, Schroder assumed the role of the starting point guard. He subsequently went on to average career-high numbers across the board in the 2017-18 NBA season. Last season he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder where he assumed the role of a sixth man.

#8 Derrick Rose

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Ranking Derrick Rose at number 7 feels like doing a disservice to his legacy. Rose undoubtedly would have been in the top 3 if this was 2011. However, after years of setbacks due to injuries, he remains a shell of himself today. It's unfortunate to see the 30-year-old go through the numbers of injuries he has suffered throughout his career.

Thankfully, the former league MVP resurrected his career last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves where he averaged 18 points and 4.3 assists per game coming off the bench. One of the main reasons was his changed style of play for he has incorporated more floaters and jumpers in his game lately.

Rose has suitably cut down on penetrating and finishing at the rim although his burst of speed is still visible from time to time. Rose had the potential to become one of the greatest point guards of all time. Sadly, we will never witness how good he could’ve been. Rose will be a free agent come July 1st and it will be interesting to see where he heads to, the next season.


#7 Giannis Antetokounmpo

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This one is a no-brainer. Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most dominant players in the NBA and one of the fastest in the open court too. He gets to the basket at will, has an extremely lethal transition game and can handle the ball like a guard.

One of the hardest players to guard in the entire league, Giannis scores a bulk of his points in the paint using nifty layups, powerful dunks, and putbacks off missed shots. The only weakness perceived in his game is his lack of shooting touch and imperfect mechanics.

Blessed with long legs and a physique that is up there with the "Monstars" from the movie Space Jam, the 'Greek Freak' is a human cheat code. Now approaching the seventh year in the league, he is a consensus top 5 NBA player and one of two favorites to win the 2018-19 regular season MVP award along with Houston Rockets' James Harden.

#6 LeBron James

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All hail the king. When it's all said and done, LeBron James will possibly go down as the greatest athlete to ever grace the basketball court. Standing at 6'8 and weighing in at an astounding 250 pounds, James is a nightmare in transition.

A physical specimen, James is a "freight train" on the open floor capable of running in excess of 20 miles per hour according to ESPN's Sport Science. Age hasn't seemed to slow him down as his production has been constant throughout the years.

James has been highly durable for a player of his size who often puts pressure on defenses by driving in whenever there's an opportunity. The four-time NBA MVP has revolutionized the concept of positionless basketball by often playing the role of a point forward for his team. Approaching his 17th year in the league, James will look to contend for a championship now that he has a running mate in superstar Anthony Davis.


#5 Kemba Walker

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Kemba Walker is deceptively fast. The focal point of the Hornets' offense, Walker is responsible for setting up his teammates as well as scoring a bulk of his team's points. One of the shiftiest points guards in the league, Kemba utilizes a wide variety of moves to create space from where he can get his shot off.

The 6'1 guard is also known all around the league for his lethal step back followed by a silky smooth jump shot. Moreover, the 29-year-old is equally adept at going both left and right, something very few players in the league are capable of doing. After spending the first 8 years of his career with the Charlotte Hornets, the All-Star guard is now a highly sought after free agent.

#4 Zach LaVine

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Watching Zach LaVine sprint reminds you of a gazelle running in the vast savannas of Africa. Gifted with long legs and a slender frame, LaVine's athleticism is off the charts. Additionally, LaVine is adept at attacking the rim at will, something that very few players in the league are capable of doing. It's sometimes ridiculous how easily LaVine drives and dunks.

LaVine spent one season at UCLA before getting drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2015 NBA Draft. After spending his developmental years in Minnesota, LaVine was traded to the Chicago Bulls where he thrived as the main scorer for his team. Last season, he had his break out season as he averaged 23.7 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game (all career highs).


#3 John Wall

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When he turns on the jets, only a few players in the league can catch up. One of the most electrifying guards in the league, John Wall is a pass-first point guard in a combo guard's body. At 6'4 with a jaw-dropping wingspan of 6'9, the 28-year-old is one of the best two-way guards in the league, often locking down the opposition's best scorer.

With a career average of 9.2 assists per game, Wall trails only Chris Paul (9.7 assists per game) in the active NBA players list. He's also a skilled scorer, often relying on his quickness to initiate transition opportunities for his team while also being able to drive to the rim himself. Despite being ball-dominant as the team's primary ball handler, Wall has a solid assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.3. Hence, for these reasons, we have placed John Wall in the third position.

#2 Russell Westbrook

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For the better part of the last decade, the OKC Thunder has had one of the best transition offenses in the entire league. Russell Westbrook is a huge reason for this trend. Arguably the most athletic point guard of all time, the former league MVP always seems to go at 100 miles per hour to the point that sometimes he seems to play with reckless abandon.

The mercurial point guard averages 4 turnovers per game, one of the highest in league history. Further, his speed renders him indecisive at times as he takes ill-advised shots which affects his team negatively.

Despite some of these drawbacks, Westbrook is one of the best all-round players in the league, known for his intensity and ferociousness. Further, he is the only player in league history to average a triple-double for an entire season three years running. The 30-year-old had the least efficient year of his career despite averaging a triple-double for the third straight season in 2018-19. The Thunder subsequently bounced out in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year.

#1 De'Aaron Fox

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This youngster gets the nod over Russell Westbrook as he is still relatively young and has a lot of potential. De'Aaron Fox is indisputably the fastest player in the league right now. At just 21 years, the Kentucky alumnus is a nightmare on the open floor, driving to the rim and dishing out the ball if in the presence of a shot blocker.

Fox's elite speed combined with his fearless attitude make him dangerous in fast break situations as he doesn't shy away from contact. His dynamic quickness combined with his shiftiness make him the spearhead of the Sacramento Kings offense who had the fifth highest pace in the NBA last season.

Selected with the 5th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fox had a breakout year last season (his sophomore year) where he averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Fox is a pass-first point guard who prefers to play in transition over half-court sets, one of the reasons why the Kings excel in the up-tempo offense.

Early in his career at the University of Kentucky, Fox shot poorly from the floor which led many analysts to believe that he would be a non-shooting guard of the likes of Rajon Rondo and Elfrid Payton. However, Fox shot 46% on field goals and 37% on three-point field goals in 2018-19, an impressive feat for a second-year player.


If you disagree with the list or have a suggestion, feel free to drop your suggestions in the comments below

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Edited by Raunak J
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