Basketball is a beautiful game. At its aesthetic peak, the game is a product of exceptionally fluid ball movement.
As it stands there are a number of NBA players with elite passing skills but only a select few are capable of making passes that we, as fans, have never seen before.
But who is the best? To figure it out, seven members of our NBA.com Global Staff submitted a list of who they felt were the top five passers in the NBA, thus providing a metric to guide our (not so) definitive rankings.
Here's how it played out…
5. Luka Doncic
Although he was ranked as high as third on a few lists, Doncic only appeared on the lists of four of our seven voters.
Regardless, the soon-to-be-22-year-old makes a number of passes on a nightly basis that many would describe as being magical. Whether it's a flashy behind-the-back pass or an alley to one of the lob threats he runs with, Doncic gets it done with his passing.
But Doncic's most impressive passes are almost always the cross-court lasers which seem to be right on the mark every single time.
What a laser 😳⚡#MFFL | @luka7doncic @doefinney_10 pic.twitter.com/OQKQvEfq6s- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 8, 2021
Very few players can do that.
4. Chris Paul
There aren't too many that have been doing it as long as Paul. So much so, that he recently surpassed Oscar Robertson as the league's sixth all-time leader in assists.
You don't get that high on the list without being an exceptional passer.
Like so many other elements of his game, there is no wasted motion when Paul sets the table with his passing. In Year 16, Paul's passes are just as crisp as they were when he first joined the league in 2005. Sometimes they seem so simple but they're so so effective.
CP3 threading the needle 🧵 pic.twitter.com/lY57ExoxT6- NBA TV (@NBATV) January 1, 2021
If it wasn't clear enough by now, the four-time assists champ isn't just one of the best passers in today's game… he's one of the best the game has ever seen.
3. James Harden
Speaking of assists champs, Harden is on his way to winning the second assists title of his career now that his three-year run as the league's leading scorer will come to an end. But that's a different discussion for a different story.
Assuming full-time point guard duties as the floor general for the Brooklyn Nets, Harden has set his teammates in just about any way possible. Pocket passes, lobs, full-court passes, you name it… Harden does it and each time, he seems to put it right on the money.
ASSIST of the Night: February 2nd- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) February 3, 2021
👉 James Harden of the @BrooklynNets pic.twitter.com/aZgzJuks2Y
It's why he was one of only two players to appear on the list of all seven voters. And why he's on track to be the only player to average over 10 assists per game this season.
2. LeBron James
For 18 seasons, we've been wowed by LeBron and his ability to make plays for himself and others.
The crazy thing about LeBron's passing is that he makes extremely difficult passes look relatively pedestrian.
What an OUTRAGEOUS pass by LeBron to find KCP in the corner. Embiid couldn't have defended any better here. pic.twitter.com/33dXCwxV43- Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) January 28, 2021
It's really insane.
While LeBron didn't appear on one of the seven lists, he did earn first-place votes from four different writers, a testament to just how special the reigning assists champ is.
1. Nikola Jokic
It might not seem normal that a centre falls at No. 1 on this list… but is it really a surprise?
At this point, we've come to know Jokic for doing things that are far from the norm, anyway.
Save for a few of the half-court pocket passes as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, we've seen Jokic make passes that each of the above players make… and then some.
Like this no-look, cross-court laser.
Have watched this pass like 15 times and it doesn't make any sense. As far as I can tell, this is a blind pass to the corner. Nikola Jokic never once looked in the direction he was going to pass it. pic.twitter.com/WulDj4Qxsg- Mike Singer (@msinger) January 4, 2021
Or maybe threading the needle in transition…
What a pass by Jokic 😯 pic.twitter.com/GtENu1yOAv- NBA TV (@NBATV) January 6, 2021
How about the touch passes that have become something like a signature?
Another look at Jokic's heads up touch pass off his own miss!@nuggets lead 52-40 on TNT pic.twitter.com/sHLlUHMarT- NBA (@NBA) February 5, 2021
Jokic was voted either first or second on each list and based on the above highlights… rightly so.
Draymond Green - Falling right outside of the top five, Green is the facilitator that keeps the Golden State Warriors offence running.
Ben Simmons - Simmons also earned votes but didn't quite qualify. Still, Philly's 6-foot-10 guard is dishing out nearly eight dimes a game for the fourth straight season.
LaMelo Ball - OK, so the 19-year-old didn't get any votes but he leads all rookies in assists per game and will surely find his name on this list sooner rather than later.
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