Skip to main content

Nick Van Exel: One of the most underrated ball handlers of all time

bryant van exel (1) (2)

In a 13-year NBA career, Van Exel played for the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Lakers.

Van Exel's career began when he was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round as the 37th overall pick of the 1993 NBA draft. Van Exel and Eddie Jones were the centerpieces of the Lakers' rebuilding plan after the end of their successful Showtime era in the early '90s. Led by Van Exel's flashy play, the two guards helped the team to the playoffs in 1995 after the Lakers had missed the postseason for the first time in years in 1994. Van Exel was known for his shooting streaks, buzzer-beating shots, and speed, earning him the nickname "Nick the Quick".

During his career with the Lakers, Van Exel averaged 14.9 points per game as well as 7.3 assists per game, finishing in the top 10 in the NBA in that category twice. On June 24, 1998, after five seasons as the starting point guard, Van Exel was traded to the Denver Nuggets for Tony Battie and the draft rights to Tyronn Lue. Playing on a Nuggets team which was one of the worst in the league, Van Exel achieved several career highs. Over four seasons he put up averages of 17.7 ppg and 8.4 apg, averaging 21.4 ppg through 45 games of the 2001–02 season.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Due to knee and elbow injuries, he only played in 65 games during the 2005–06 season with the San Antonio Spurs. He averaged career lows in almost every statistical category, including points (5.5 ppg) and minutes (15 mpg). In the playoffs, San Antonio was eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in a series that lasted seven games. Two days later, on May 24, 2006, ESPN's Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon reported on their show Pardon the Interruption that Van Exel would soon announce his retirement.

Van Exel was famous throughout his playing career for his peculiar free-throw routine, in which he took his free throw attempts while standing well over a foot behind the free-throw line. Also, he is known as one of the most popular left-handed players in history.

Today Van Exel is working as an assistant coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings goes off on the state of the NBA - “It’s only a couple of guys in the NBA that love the game”

Jennings' opinions are certainly divisive, but it's clear that without change the NBA would get stale, and that's why it's necessary to continue exploring ways to evolve the game

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan’s secret tattoo and the meaning behind it revealed

It's barely visible and not something MJ liked to talk about.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

Zach Snyder on directing Michael Jordan in "Playground" — “He’s a natural.”

One went on to make Space Jam, the other 300, Justice League, Army of the Dead, Man of Steel, Watchmen, and Dawn of the Dead. Two great movie careers, starting in 1990.

Miami Heat forward LeBron James and team president Pat Riley

The moment Pat Riley should've known LeBron James would one day leave Miami

Upon his arrival to Miami, LeBron made a request that should've let Riley know a new era was coming.

Dennis Rodman

How Dennis Rodman's gay bar double-date led to the Chicago Bulls winning the 1996 NBA Championship

Remember Jack Haley? It turns out he was crucial for the Bulls winning in 1996 because he was “the only person who speaks fluent Rodman,” and knew how to convince Dennis not to quit the team before Game 6 of the Finals.

Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer and guard Isiah Thomas

“I don't need to take that s**t!” — when Isiah Thomas broke his hand after punching Bill Laimbeer

Isiah Thomas punched Bill Laimbeer so hard he broke his hand during one of Detroit Pistons' practices.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

“I don’t know if I could’ve survived in this Twitter (era)” — Michael Jordan on social media and cancel culture

There's no hand-checking and hard fouls in 2022. But there's Twitter, political correctness and almost no privacy whatsoever.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Remember when KCP played with an ankle monitor?

In terms of serving time, continuing to play games while in prison is not that bad.