Who comes to mind? In particular, I'm thinking of guys who had unusual skillsets or the ability to fill several different roles (different roles meaning you rarely see them embodied in the same player, for whatever reason) at a high level. Here are the first ten guys that came to mind:
I've left out the point forwards we've seen since they're the most cited, but they're obviously worthy of mention so feel free to bring them up.
allen iverson- shooting guard in a point guards body, best crossover until they banned it, crossed mj twice in his prime, played every game like his last, over 20 injuries and still played, best player to led a horrible team to nba finals, theres too much to say about this guy, he talked about tha actually game not practice, 6'0 but played like 6'6, one of tha true 50 greatest players
That's as rare/unique a player you will ever see. Nobody that height and size has any business having that kind of footwork. Look up what the legendary Pete Newell had to say about his abilities. He said that people think of his size but he suggested for anybody to watch Shaq play 3 games and just watch his feet and you will be blown away that those feet could be moving on a body that size. Unreal. Pete was the #1 authority on all NBA big men and taught plenty of nba stars. I don't think there will ever be anything like Shaq again.
Not that I don't like any thread that leads to an actual discussion of players' abilities (instead of vague concepts like clutchness or will to win), but if you describe any player thoroughly enough, you'll find he's unique.
I think you can say we'll see an X type of player before another Y type of player (i.e. a Carmelo before another Lebron), but, in general, every great player is pretty unique. That's what makes them great.
I always struggle choosing between Barkley, Bird, and Magic. Those guys were all ridiculously unique. How many players can dominate on such little athleticism? How many bigs can pass better than 99% of guards? How many SG sized players can grab 30 boards and shoot so damn well from the field?
It makes very little sense listing all the great players and telling us obvious things like unique speed or unique passing ability. Actually, these are not unique. There are people who were better than others, that's it.
A Few Unique Things Though
the skyhook, the dirk-like fadeaway
earl boykins, spud webb, muggsy bogues and the like
being luke waltonian -- not much of a baller but still making the nba on iq alone
rodman at the time (now it's overplayed, at the time it was unique)
phil jackson's approach to coaching (same as rodman, at the time)
If you like the list, I can think about it some more. If you think these things are not unique, no amount of thinking on my part will be of any help.