Skip to content

Rick Carlisle says Monta Ellis is fastest player in NBA. That seems high.

Aug 22, 2013, 4:22 PM EDT

Monta Ellis AP

Who is the fastest player dribbling the ball end to end in the NBA?

These are the guys who are one-man fast breaks and can get your team points in transition, plus are quick in the half court

But who is the fastest? There is no easy metric for this; it’s a bit of an eyeball test. (There are a few numbers out of the draft combine, but it is incomplete and marks the guys at one time early in their career).

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Monta Ellis is the fastest, speaking with the Dallas Morning News.

Rick Carlisle has called newcomer Monta Ellis the fastest player in basketball, and Mark Cuban echoed that sentiment. “I never thought I’d see somebody make J.J. [Barea] look slow,” Cuban said. “Monta’s a blur. Monta truly is a one-man fast-break.”

Ellis is fast, but he’s not the fastest. This would be my Top 5 (a list that assumes everyone is healthy):

1. John Wall
2. Russell Westbrook
3. Derrick Rose
4. Ty Lawson
5. Monta Ellis

Honorable mention: Jrue Holiday, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Jennings, Tony Parker (very quick in the half court, not usually a one-man break), Jeff Teague, Nate Robinson.

I think a healthy Wall is flat out the fastest, but Westbrook wouldn’t be that far behind. To me they are the fastest, then it gets interesting (and I could be leaving guys off this list). Is Ellis faster than former backcourt mate Jennings? How fast is Bledsoe? I think we’ll see more of him having to be a one-man break this year than he was with the Clippers.

But that’s my list. Sorry Carlisle, we can agree to disagree on this. (Thanks to D.J. Foster for helping come up with that list.)

  1. boondocksaint224 - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Wall is absolutely the fastest, but he lacks control at top speed. Westbrook and Rose are 1 and 1A for me as far as functional speed goes.

    • llfreedman - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:47 PM

      “Oh… It… We… have no response. That was perfect”- old school.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Aug 22, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      You said it, brother. Russell Westbrook absolutely tears it up on fast breaks. He may look out of control at times but when you consider the speed at which he’s making his moves… he’s a terror.

      • bougin89 - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:24 AM

        It’s incredible to watch Westbrook in transition. Just amazing athleticism.

  2. spursareold - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Tony Parker says hello. It’s actually been measured by that new arena camera system.


  3. norcalkingsfan - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    The list above may be full of people who are “quicker” than LBJ, but from one end of the court to the other, I don’t know anyone faster than Lebron.

    • spursareold - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      T^here was also a qualification of “with the ball”. LeBron tends to look at it when he dribbles.

      • johnheisman - Aug 22, 2013 at 6:34 PM

        Lebron also travels without be called more than anyone.

    • eventhorizon04 - Aug 22, 2013 at 6:28 PM

      Disagreed. LeBron is not the fastest player in the NBA.
      However, LeBron is – by far – the fastest NBA player weighing around 260 lbs.

      Westbrook and Rose (each at 190 lbs) would beat him in a race…but he’d be competitive in that race despite weighing 70 lbs more than them and being almost half a foot taller.

      • norcalkingsfan - Aug 22, 2013 at 8:21 PM

        What distance are we talking here. Outside the first couple steps, I doubt little legged russell or rose beat LBJ in a foot race.

  4. spursareold - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    • fredagsedb - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:45 PM

      Good to see some facts brought to this debate when the guy who getting payed to write the articles can’t be bothered to do the research

    • trudybeekman - Aug 22, 2013 at 7:35 PM

      For the lazy, Parker (by far), then Rubio.

      I hate these “fastest” debates. It can be measured yet people judge based on deception and moves rather than actual speed.

    • domblaze - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:43 AM

      Also for the lazy, it points out in this link that John Wall is not included in the report. So basically imo null in void.

      • spursareold - Aug 23, 2013 at 10:23 AM

        Doesn’t automatically make him faster.

  5. acdc363 - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:00 PM


    • steelcurtainwereonpedstoo - Aug 23, 2013 at 7:12 AM

      Balls… on your chin

  6. supremekingz - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    You guys are crazy. This has already been settled. Derrick Rose blew past John Wall on a fast break during Wall’s rookie year. John Wall was ahead of Rose when Rose blew by him so fast that Wall stopped running. Dwyane Wade has even stated that Derrick Rose is the fastest player in the NBA.

    Who knows now that he blew out a knee, but its him and Westbrook followed by everybody else. There’s nobody faster… Yet

    • vi3tguy415 - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      i’m faster in bed. and???

    • spursareold - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:25 PM


  7. sire2334 - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    It’s definitely Wall, but he can’t control it as well as Rose could. We’ll see what Rose looks like this year though…Hopefully.

  8. fredagsedb - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    There is quite an easy metric for it Mr. Helin. The 10 teams or so who have installed the GPS system or whatever in their arenas. Some site got a hold of the numbers and did a review a year ago or so. I’m positive that Rondo was the guy who ran the farthest in a game. And I’m fairly certain Tony Parker had the highest measured speed and that it was at 20 miles pr. hour

    • fredagsedb - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:43 PM

      and my man spursareold linked to the article.

    • Kurt Helin - Aug 22, 2013 at 7:28 PM

      You are right that metric exists, but “quite easy” is not exactly an accurate way to define getting them. I do not have access to those numbers, teams don’t exactly share, but I do remember Parker doing well in those (Zach Lowe has the contacts there).

      • fredagsedb - Aug 23, 2013 at 5:34 AM

        Yeah… “quite easy” was an overstatement on my part. There was some hard evidence that Zach Lowe had put out there, but yeah, I can imagine teams are not falling over themselves to share.
        Thanks for the answer.

      • fredagsedb - Aug 23, 2013 at 7:38 AM

        The metric though, is easy to define, just not accessible. :)

  9. thomaskouns - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Given his 40% FG%, maybe he meant ‘fastest to shoot.’

  10. paparovic - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    who cares? it really does not matter if you cant get the rebound and have a quick and accurate first pass. if those things are not there, then no matter who is in the team, the team is slow

  11. dunkindan - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    I’ve been a Warriors fan since 94 when I was 9 years old. I had to deal with Mookie Blaylock, Vonteego Cummings, Nick Van Exel, BJ Armstrong, Chris Mills, The OLD version of John Starks, Mario Bellinelli, Pietrus, Larry Hughes, Mike Dunleavy and
    Acie Law.

    Jason Richardson was exciting but couldn’t dribble a ball worth anything. When Monta and Baron Davis paired up that was the most exciting Warriors team up until now of course.

    The Warriors went quiet again after the 2007 playoffs (even though they won more games the following season). But Carlisle isn’t to far off. Monta is extremely quick and he leaves defenders flat footed on the floor very frequently. For a while he was shooting 60% but that has since tapered off.

    Westbrook is overrated in my book. I think he makes bad decisions and seems at times to frustrate his teammates. Monta is very, very quick. Maybe not pure fast break but definitely in the half court. And he finishes as the rim as opposed to those floating momentum jumpers westbrook takes.

  12. boscoesworld - Aug 22, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Ellis is fastest to alienate a fan base. It’s not even close.

  13. johnheisman - Aug 22, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    There is no way that Rondo isn’t in the top 5 and if you count dribbling the ball he would be the fastest.

  14. onlyavoice - Aug 22, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Present Players Please.
    There They Go Adding Rose To The List,
    Like Nothing Ever Happened To His Back, Knee Or Mind.

  15. detroitmike0 - Aug 22, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    big baby davis…. But seriously I would say Ty Lawson

  16. phillyphil005 - Aug 22, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    Not saying Durant is the fastest, but he can go from one end to the other in about three dribbles…

  17. cameltoehoe - Aug 22, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    When he says “fast”, does he mean on a moped?

  18. doughlow805 - Aug 22, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    As a die hard Bucks fan and big NBA fan who lives in DC (so I watch Wall a lot), I think Wall might edge Monta, but nobody else. Monta is a blur.

  19. adamsjohn714 - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    Rick Carlisle might as well say that Ellis has the best haircut in the league. Neither have much to do with basketball.

    • bougin89 - Aug 23, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      Having blazing speed/quickness that allows you to finish at the rim isn’t a stat on so that’s probably why you don’t think it matters.

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 23, 2013 at 9:36 PM

        There isn’t any proof that having blazing speed/quickness makes you a good player. There are plenty of good players that are slow, there are plenty of bad players that are fast (Ellis, for example). There is no correlation between being fast and productive. There is a correlation between other stats and winning, so that’s why they matter. It’s rather like RBIs in baseball. Something flashy that isn’t nearly as important as other stuff.

    • bougin89 - Aug 24, 2013 at 7:26 AM

      Correct, you still have to have basketball skill, but being very fast and/or quick determines whether you end up making it in the league in most cases for perimeter players.

      What other reason would a player like Seth Curry not be in demand? Perimeter players have to be able to get their own shot off, and for that you need some sort of athleticism.

      It’s the reason why Lebron is so good in transition. 260ish lbs moving that fast is like a freight train.

      But yes, thank you for dignifying my comment by saying “There isn’t any proof that having blazing speed/quickness makes you a good player.” Their isn’t a stat that proves it, but ask any coach and most players and they would say speed definitely matters.

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 24, 2013 at 11:57 AM

        Actually, when it comes to PGs, coaches and GMs do a much better job at recognizing and playing talent than they do with other positions. Jason Kidd wasn’t very fast and he had a pretty good year. Jose Calderon has never been fast and he is a great PG. Ellis is really fast and trash. But, most coaches would say it’s important is a solid argument. Almost every coach in the league makes many idiotic decisions and many good ones. George Karl played Corey Brewer all the time because he was fast and ran around a lot, instead of a big man who was a lot better. All things being equal, yes, I’d take the guy who was faster, but I would never draft someone because they were fast, or because they had a great wingspan, or anything silly like that.

      • bougin89 - Aug 25, 2013 at 1:24 AM

        “All things being equal, yes, I’d take the guy who was faster, but I would never draft someone because they were fast, or because they had a great wingspan, or anything silly like that.”

        Oh, really……….? You take the guys with skill that are faster/quicker higher than the less athletic ones. Welcome to scouting.

  20. thebigtebowski - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Your mom is fast

  21. felisberto - Aug 23, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    Where’s Jeremy Lin on your list?

  22. skinsfanwill - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Fast and Quick are two different things. Rose, Westbrook, and Monta are quick as hell. Wall and Lebron are fast. they cover more ground faster than anyone in the league. And Wade used to be fast and quick.

  23. pistolpete0903 - Aug 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    I bet he is the fastest to a tats parlor.

  24. sellahh - Aug 26, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    3 years ago Tony Parker was considered the fastest player in the league. I don’t think Mr. have-it-all have surpassed him tbh.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2982)
  2. K. Irving (2327)
  3. A. Davis (1979)
  4. L. James (1772)
  5. K. Bryant (1743)
  1. T. Thompson (1462)
  2. K. Durant (1455)
  3. B. Jennings (1332)
  4. J. Clarkson (1284)
  5. M. Leonard (1184)