Yesterday, it was a look at the toughest players in the NBA. Now Charley Rosen looks at the other end of the spectrum and gives his softest players in the NBA.
If all softees are finesse players, not all finesse players are softees, e.g., Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett. But the following players generally avoid contact whenever possible and try to run circle-routes around the most notorious of the league’s tough guys.
ANDREA BARGNANI – Bump him and he’s got a boo-boo. When he trips over the foul line he winds up on the injured list.
CHRIS BOSH – Shuns contact as though his opponent has leprosy. A powerless power forward.
VINCE CARTER – Watch how many fadeaway junk-shots he takes when approaching a crowd of hostile big men.
SAMUEL DALEMBERT – Plays like his body is made of papier mache.
KEVIN DURANT – If he was tougher/stronger, he’d be one of the best basketball players in the history of Western Civilization.
MIKE DUNLEAVY – Will undertake long detours to avoid being banged, but has to play soft because he’s so physically weak.
CHANNING FRYE — Rarely ventures below the three-point line, and when he does his offense consists of a variety of fadeaway jumpers.
SPENCER HAWES – Season after season, he’s increasingly become a seven-footer who plays like a guard.
ROY HIBBERT – A leansome, elongated version of the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
DWIGHT HOWARD – Yeah, yeah, he’s got muscles on his muscles and sports a belligerent game face, but he’s not the banger he appears to be. When was the last time he bullied an opponent in the low post? How many of his rebounds are marginally contested and/or uncontested? If he ever used his strength to maximum advantage, Dwight Howard might some day win a championship.
SHANE LARKIN – Claims he’s a screen/roll guy, but will do anything to keep his distance from heavy traffic.
JEREMY LIN – When he drives the ball into the paint (especially going left), he will stop, fake and re-fake in the hopes that all the big men have stopped jumping. But he’ll never initiate contact.
KEVIN MARTIN – Would rather put up a flipper than try to dunk over or through a nasty big man.
NAZR MOHAMMED – Runs the break and shoots mostly pull-ups so that the big muscle-men can’t catch him.
STEVE NOVAK – His idea of being tough is to take a charge.
RICKY RUBIO – Don’t touch him and he won’t touch you
Why so few on this list? Simply because, when you come down to it, NBA action is all about body-to-body confrontations — and guys who are unable to fulfill the job requirements have to be extremely talented (or have some other kind of transcendent skill) to survive. Which a select few have indeed accomplished..
The NBA’s all-time Mister Softee Hall of Shame includes Keith Van Horn, Shawn Bradley, Ed Macauley and Reggie Miller.