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Kaboom! Magazine.com 18 Most Explosive Athletes of 2018

Kaboom! Magazine.com 18 Most Explosive Athletes of 2018

When it comes to being an explosive athlete, you’re not just talking about the leading scorers, fashionable game intros, or the best quarterbacks. An all-around great athlete offers the best of both worlds. Whether that’s being a league leader on offense and defense, or finishing first in the both the 100 and 1000-meter race, explosive athletes are certainly not one-trick ponies. Today, Kaboom! Magazine.com would like to showcases the 18 athletes that blew us away in this year with the 18 most explosive athletes of 2018. From a wrestling trailblazer to arguably one of the greatest soccer stars of all-time, here are the players who came to play all year long.

18. Becky Lynch (WWE Superstar):

2018 is the year of “The Man” No one in wrestling has had a bigger year than Becky Lynch. She kicked off her 2018 losing at the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, and Money In The Bank, which seemed par for the course for the Lass Kicker. However, her career then took a turn for the better after months and months of losing at PPVs. This led the very babyface Lynch to take on Charlotte and Carmella at Summerslam for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, and of course, Lynch didn’t win, but she did turn on Charlotte, becoming a heel in the process. Lynch truly realized her full potential in the following months, beating Charlotte for the Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell. Charlotte’s father’s, Ric Flair, motto was “To be the man, you have to beat the man.” After Lynch beat Charlotte, she took on the moniker of “The Man.” In the past few months, Lynch has dominated everything on Smackdown, leading up to Survivor Series, and cut some of the best promos of her career. She could not have been more over, but after her nose was accidentally broken while invading Raw, somehow, Lynch became easily the most talked about WWE superstar, even though she was not medically to participate at Survivor Series. This also lead to the massive Twitter-feud between her and Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey, which has really shown just how ahead of the curve Lynch is as a performer and a wrestler that completely embraces her character. There is no one in WWE right now more in-tune with sports entertainment as a whole than The Man.

17. Kyler Murray (Oklahoma):

Not only did Murray win the Heisman Trophy and lead Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff, he produced one of the best individual statistical seasons in recent college football history. Murray posted a QBR of 96.0, which is the highest rating of any FBS player since ESPN began tracking the statistic 14 years ago. Murray is also on pace to shatter Baker Mayfield’s FBS passing efficiency record. If the Sooners have any chance of upsetting Alabama, it will be because of Murray, yet another special quarterback to pass through Norman.

16. Chole Kim (USA Snowboarding):

In her first Olympics in Pyeongchang, Kim, at just 17, dropped the hammer out of the gate with a flawless 1080 on her second hit and an impressive 720 to finish it off. Those signature moves landed Kim a first-run score of 93.75 — enough to take the gold before she even attempted her two other runs. But it wasn’t enough for Kim, who famously tweeted right before her final run that she was “hangry.” In her last attempt before claiming gold, Kim became the first female snowboarder in Olympic history to land consecutive 1080-degree spins in the halfpipe with a near-perfect score of 98.25.

15. Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals):

Yes, he led the NHL in goals for the fifth time in six seasons. Yes, he was the Washington Capitals’ offensive engine in his 14th season in the league. Yes, he has the best-selling jersey on NHL.com. But 2018 was special for Ovechkin because 2018 was the year he finally won the Stanley Cup. Faced with doubts for years about playoff performance, Ovechkin finally clinched his first championship and eliminated longtime rival Sidney Crosby and the Penguins along the way. And the best part about dominating everyone in the NHL for a season? It’s getting to take the Stanley Cup on a nonstop, worldwide celebration for the ages.

14. Zion Williamson (Duke Basketball):

Coach K has already declared him “the best athlete that he had a chance to coach at Duke. When Zion leaps for a dunk, he explodes like a rocket and, for a moment, it’s like he’s headed for orbit. Williamson’s pulverizing dunks will lure you in, but the rest of his game will make you a believer in his superstar potential. Zion can do much more than jump, and he showed off the full repertoire in Duke’s 118-84 dismantling of no. 2 ranked Kentucky. Williamson moves so fluidly that it’s easy to forget he’s so heavy. He’s 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan—the height and length of a wing with more weight than any NBA player other than Boban Marjanovic, who’s 7-foot-3. He’s the complete package, and his rising stardom seems as gravity-defying as he is.

13. Aaron Donald (St. Louis Rams):

Aaron Donald is the NFL’s best pass-rusher, and the No. 2 defender isn’t even close. What’s more telling is the way in which Donald dominates is completely different than how the rest of the league’s best approach the job. the Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle leads the league in sacks, but sacks undersell Donald’s greatness. That statistic fails to capture the impact of an elite disruptor on a play-to-play basis. Though Donald is a tackle/end hybrid in the Rams’ scheme, we know he gets to quarterbacks differently than his peers. Los Angeles has an amazing offense, of course, but these numbers show why Donald is the most dominating player on its roster.

12. Simone Biles (USA Gymnast):

Biles unleashed a historic display of athleticism at the world championships, winning her record fourth all-around title by her largest margin yet, leading the U.S. team to gold, again by a record margin, and taking four other medals. That made her the first U.S. gymnast to medal at every event at a world championship — and doing all that with a kidney stone, after spending the night before qualifying in the hospital. Not that you needed more, but she also ran the table at this year’s U.S. Classic, after taking a two-year hiatus from her four-golds-and-a-bronze triumph in Rio. She is truly unstoppable.

11. James Harden (Houston Rockets):

Here was the Rockets’ game plan in 2017-18: Give the ball to Harden and get out of his way. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Harden became the fourth player to average at least 30.0 points — he led the league at 30.4 — on a team with at least 65 wins. The others? Stephen Curry, Michael Jordan (twice) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. To do so, Harden topped the NBA in average free throws made (8.7) and attempted (10.1), shot 37 percent on 10 3-pointers per game and dished 8.8 assists (third in the league) on one of the most efficient offenses in NBA history. And he still found time to groom that beard.

10. Ronda Rousey (WWE Superstar):

Ronda’s WWE success in such a short period of time is absolutely unprecedented. Rousey did not make her debut until midway through the evaluation period, teaming with Kurt Angle to defeat Stephanie McMahon and Triple H at WrestleMania 34. Rousey won the Raw Women’s title from Alexa Bliss at SummerSlam in August and has held it since. She has become one of the biggest stars in WWE, male or female, and is setting a new standard for excellence in the women’s division. When it comes to ranking criteria of championships won, quality of opposition, technical proficiency, won-loss record, and promotional ‘push,’ she is unmatched. Ronda was named number one in Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s newly expanded annual ranking of the top female wrestlers in the world. Despite having only wrestled 10 singles matches during the evaluation period, the former UFC champion was able to secure the top spot.

9. Novak Djokovic (Sebria Tennis Player):

This year saw a return to the top for Djokovic after injuries derailed him in 2017. He returned to dominance with wins at Wimbledon and the US Open, the third time he has swept the final two majors. He won 82 percent of his matches this year and went 13-3 against other ATP top-10 opponents. After falling out of the top 20 in May, as he went on a run to finish as the year-end No. 1. And he did it all while chasing history; with 14 career Grand Slams, Djokovic is now tied for third all time.

8. Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC Lightweight):

In truth Khabib Nurmagomedov has never had a bad year in MMA, given that he is undefeated in all 26 of his professional fights, however, 2018 stands out as the pick of all of them, given that this is the year where Khabib finally won a UFC title. At UFC 223, Khabib won the vacant Lightweight Championship with a unanimous decision victory over Al Iaquinta. Khabib would go on to clash with former Lightweight Champion and archrival Conor McGregor at UFC 229. After that dominating performance over McGregor, Khabib’s 2018 is one of the most successful years in any fighter’s history.

7. Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs):

There has simply never been a quarterback as prolific, this early in his career, as Mahomes. He is the only player in NFL history with more than 3,000 passing yards and 30 TDs in his first 12 games. Among the active crop of Canton-bound QBs — Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, even Eli Manning — none broke even 2,000 yards or amassed 20 TDs. (Each has at least 40,000 yards and 330 passing TDs now.) Mahomes’ 115.2 passer rating is 4.2 points above second-place Kurt Warner. He could become the second player to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 TDs in a season … and he’s only 23.

6. Lebron James (Cleveland Cavaliers/Los Angeles Lakers):

Consider James’ 2017-18 season. He played all 82 regular-season games for the first time in his career, leading the league in minutes. His team made the NBA Finals for an eighth straight year, and with his regular-season averages of 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists, he became the first player in NBA history to reach such high marks in an age-33 season. Oh, and then there’s this: Following his departure from Cleveland for L.A., the Cavaliers went from four-time NBA Finalists to … the worst record in the NBA (through Nov. 19). Sometimes dominance is most visible in its absence.

5. Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm):

Stewart, named Best Female Athlete at the 2016 ESPYS (over fellow Dominant 20’ers Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky), is somehow only 24, yet already ninth in WNBA career PER. WNBA all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi was 27 before she amassed three seasons of 620-plus points; Stewart has notched three already, more than Tina Thompson and Tamika Catchings, second and third place on the scoring list, combined. Should the 6-foot-4 virtuoso forward keep scoring at her current pace, she’ll become the second player to tally 8,000 points … and do so before turning 33.

4. Mookie Betts (Boston Red Sox):

How dominant was Mookie Betts in 2018? Playing for one of the best teams in baseball history, he led the major leagues in batting average (.346) and on-base percentage (.460), while tying for the top spot in runs scored (129). Impressive! Anything else? The Red Sox right fielder also became the third player in major league history to have a 30-homer, 30-steal season while hitting at least .340. He also won his first MVP, a second Silver Slugger and a third straight Gold Glove. Can you put that into perspective? According to Baseball Reference, he had the highest WAR (10.9) since Barry Bonds in 2002 (and that one needed an asterisk).

3. Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama Football):

With an undefeated record, 37 touchdowns and four interceptions, it’s no wonder the sophomore quarterback won the Maxwell and Walter Camp awards. All season long, he was flawless, making pinpoint passes look routine. If not for a so-so performance against Georgia in the SEC championship game and a remarkable season by Murray, he might have taken the Heisman Trophy too.

2. Daniel Cormier (UFC Heavyweight):

Daniel Cormier’s ascension to the top two spot on this list came when he knocked out Stipe Miocic to win the UFC heavyweight title. That win gave legend-beater Cormier both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles, making him the second “Champ Champ” in UFC history. Establishing himself as a “Fighting Champion,” DC finished the defending his newly won heavyweight title with a dominant performance against crowd favorite Derrick Lewis via 2nd Rd. submission. Both performances earned him the No. 3 spot on ESPN’s “Dominant 20” list. Don’t expect him to slow down in 2019 as he plans to defend his 265-pound title against the returning Brock Lesnar in first-quarter 2019.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus Soccer Player):

One of the biggest names in the sport’s history, Cristiano Ronaldo — a human highlight-reel — is still going strong, aged 33. The soccer veteran left Real Madrid in a shock summer transfer to join Serie A team Juventus FC in Italy. He struggled at the start of the season but has scored five goals and added one assist in his last five outings in the Italian division.

Which athlete do you think was the most explosive in 2018? Let your opinion be heard by leaving a comment below.