- Chris Palmer, ESPN the Magazine
Athletic big men have been at a premium since the letters N, B and A were strung together 62 years ago. Giants with the ability to run and jump have long been the pursuit of general managers. Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin are two of the NBA's most athletic big men in recent memory. Their remarkable athleticism is the staple of their games and the success of their respective teams is bound to it. Both were drafted No. 1 overall. Both have slam dunk titles on their resumes. Both will be All-Star fixtures for years to come.
But which one is the better athlete? Rated on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best, here's how I rated this clash of two titans.
Big men often have the reputation of not being great leapers. No such problem for either Howard or Griffin, as both possess some of the most usable hops in the game. Like most bigs, both players jump almost exclusively off two legs.
Howard is an exceptionally quick leaper who explodes off the ground effortlessly. His third and fourth leaps toward the rim are as effective as most players' first leap. Despite his long limbs Howard's body needs very little recoil to project upward, which often means he's in the air before most defenders can react.
3dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann