NBA players who can thrive in the isolation are some of the most feared in the entire sport. While the threat of an efficient team that can tactically move the ball must be curbed, few things get a defender's heart pumping more than when an offensive player waves his teammates off.
It's for that reason that some of the NBA players on today's list are among the most popular in the entire league. Although it takes a team to achieve the goal of an NBA title, isolation players rarely shy away from big-time moments.
Without futher ado, let's take a look at the top five NBA players with the best 1-on-1 skills.
Top five current NBA players with the best 1-on-1 skills
#5: Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers)
Last year served as a breakout year of sorts for Tyrese Haliburton as he took his game to the next level with the Indiana Pacers. Since returning to action this year, Haliburton has proven that he's without question one of the best NBA players in the league.
In addition to his impressive box score averages, Haliburton's 1.28 points averaged per isolation percentage are the most of any player on this list. Despite that, his emergence as a star hasn't seen him show off his one-on-one skills for as long as some of the other big names on our list.
#4: Kevin Durant (Phoenix Suns)
A player who needs no introduction, Kevin Durant's play this season has landed him in the top 10 for all-time leading scorers. A large part of that success comes from Durant's one-on-one abilities. Now in year 17, Kevin Durant has shown little signs of slowing down.
With a rare combination of length and grace, Durant can wave off teammates and hypnotize defenders on the perimeter before deciding whether to pull up or drive to the hoop. Regardless of where Durant chooses to take the ball, he's shown that, one-on-one, not many NBA players can keep up.
#3: Kyrie Irving (Dallas Mavericks)
Kyrie Irving may boast some of the most impressive one-on-one skills of any NBA player in league history. Back when he was on the USA Select team helping the US Men's Team prepare for the Olympics, Irving famously challenged Kobe Bryant to a game of one-on-one.
Although the showdown never ended up taking place, it marked the beginning of Irving being known for his elite one-on-one play. Since then, his bag has only gotten deeper, and his touch has only gotten better. With some of the best handles in the league, and IQ well beyond his years, Irving thrives in isolation.
#2: Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
Luka Doncic may not be the biggest player on the court, or the strongest, or even the fastest, but what he does have is some of the best on-court IQ in recent memory. From the time the Slovenian star made it into the league, he showed that he had the poise of a veteran.
Whether he's blowing by a defender after a hesitation, or sealing a switch after coming off a screen, Doncic's one-on-one play is a nightmare for any defender. Despite already displaying brilliance throughout his career, Doncic has also shown that he has yet to reach his ceiling.
#1: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC Thunder)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the best one-on-one players in the entire NBA for more than one reason. When looking at the list of top five one-on-one NBA players in the league, Gilgeous-Alexander embodies the best qualities of several players on the list.
Despite being a guard, he has the length of Kevin Durant, which allows him to pull up over smaller defenders if need be. At the same time, with the patience and handles of Luka Doncic, he can lull defenders into a daze before exploding for an easy blow-by bucket.
While the old saying that it takes a team to win a championship is certainly true, it takes an elite one-on-one player to help fuel that team success. Although we have seen in the past that teams who share the ball are able to thrive, a reliable bucket getter is an absolute must.