Basketball coaches are always on the lookout for the next big thing, but developing a young talent is not a perfect science. There are many different skills that a top NBA star can bring to the game, and while few players can combine excellence in every department, the goal of coaches and talent spotters is to find players who tick as many boxes as possible. Young hopefuls who want to develop their ability in several areas can learn much by studying the careers of the greats and the particular attributes that they embodied.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: scoring
If there is one quality that the perfect player needs, it is the ability to score heavily, and who better to illustrate this than the NBA’s leading scorer? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored more than 38,000 points in a 20-year career, and even in his final season, with the LA Lakers, at the age of 41, he was averaging ten points and five boards per game.
He wasn’t a prolific jump-shooter, but no other player in the game was as productive, thanks mainly to a skyhook that was practically impossible to stop. There are many ways to score, but the perfect player finds a method that works and executes it game after game.
LeBron James: athleticism
Is there a more awe-inspiring site than LeBron James powering to the basket? Whenever the Cavs are playing, LeBron’s name features the most heavily when online sports betting sites offer live odds. That is the sign of a great and influential player. He is a prolific scorer with a high-class technique, but his primary quality is athleticism.
At 6 foot 8 and around 275 pounds, LeBron is arguably one of the greatest athletes in US sport, with the ability to guard the one through four spots equally well. Too strong for small forwards to stop and too quick for guards to catch, he is the ultimate basketball athlete.
Dennis Rodman: defensive rebounding
Few NBA players have had such a distinctive presence on the court. Probably the most dominant defensive rebounder of all time, he led the NBA for rebounds for seven consecutive seasons. Rodman was often outgunned in terms of height and power, but his judgement of bounce and the timing of his jumps were immaculate, and above all, he was fearless and determined, fighting for every ball. His specialized skills won him two Defensive Player of the Year awards along with five NBA Championships.
John Stockton: passing
There have been flashier passers than John Stockton, but none have been more effective. He holds the all-time NBA record with over 15,000 passes, nearly 4,000 more than the nearest challenger. His partnership with Karl Malone at Utah attained legendary status, and for nine seasons in a row, he led the league in assists. The key to his success? A never-ending quest for perfection. His assist to turnover ratio was almost 4:1 throughout his NBA career, and his utter commitment to honing and refining his passing skills was exemplary.
Scottie Pippen: perimeter defense
The top perimeter defenders can make a huge contribution to any NBA team, and Scottie Pippen was perhaps the greatest of all time. Perimeter defense is incredibly demanding and requires strength, speed, and lateral agility to fend off skillful, nimble guards and powerful small forwards. Pippen had all those qualities. He was too strong, too powerful, and too athletic to be bypassed or blown through, and he was a major factor in the Chicago Bulls’ tight defense.
Michael Jordan: clutch play
The NBA’s greatest player could have featured in more than one of these categories, but his career was defined by his ability to thrive in high-pressure situations. Yes, he had all the talent, but he also brought supreme leadership to the court, leading by example and stepping up in the big moments when others might wilt. If his side needed a last-minute basket, it was usually Jordan making the play. His ability to shine under pressure, as much as his talent, was instrumental to the Chicago Bulls’ six championships.
Has there ever been a player who embodied all of these qualities? Maybe not. Perhaps the perfect basketball star is yet to be born. However, there is no doubt that coaches attempting to mold the ultimate player have plenty of role models to point to. Among the many great players to grace the NBA, these are just a few who perfected one or more facets of the game and added to the sport’s rich legacy of excellence.