The definitive guide to ranking the NBA’s most FUN! players

WPPROD

MVP, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player … you name it, there is some sort of award to recognize just about every facet of excellence in professional basketball …

… EXCEPT – most fun!

Now, we’ve all read a “League Pass Rankings” somewhere – a definitive list of the most fun teams in the NBA to watch. But what about individual players?

It’s time to settle this right now.

The criteria to determine the league’s most “fun” player will be judged as follows on a scale from 1-10:

1) Shock value: How regularly does this player make you want to run around your living room waving a white towel around your head in a helicopter motion? How much does this player do unique, original stuff? How often does he make you want to pull out your phone and Vine the video highlight with a reggaeton horn dubbed over the footage?

2) Swagger: If the player makes an opponent fall on his face or posterizes him into oblivion – would he taunt the victim or let him off easy? Does this player have a go-to celebration and is it cool?

3) Nickname: Does this player have a dope nickname? If you’re going to be the coolest player in the best basketball league in the world, you’ve got to have a stage name. It’s a rule.

4) Likability: Does this player have mainstream appeal?

5) Twitter presence: Are you able to live vicariously through the player off the court and keep up with his antics when his team isn’t playing? Or is he just an advertising-plugging, product-pushing dud?

6) Irrational confidence meter: If this player is 0-for-10 from the field and the game is on the line, where on the scale of “I should probably pass” to “That means I’m due, GIMMIE THE ROCK!” does this player fall?

7) Finishing move: Game on the line, does this player have a patented go-to finishing move and how cool is it?

Let’s begin – here are the nominees, ranked:

19. Jake Layman, F, Portland Trail Blazers

 

Shock value: 10

Swagger: 9

Nickname (Laybach Music — Disclaimer: I just made that up): 0

Likability: 10

Twitter: 0

Irrational confidence: 6

Finishing move (Hair swoosh): 4

TOTAL SCORE: 39

You’re probably asking yourself: “Who the hell is Jake Layman?” I’m glad you asked; he is only the best player in NBA history at this current moment.

He’s only received limited playing time thus far, but, for real – he does not miss.

And oh, by the way, he does things like this:

If Brooks Brothers and Mitchell & Ness hooked up and had a baby together, Jake Layman is what it would look like.

18. Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte Hornets

Shock value: 4

Swagger: 2

Nickname (Cardiac Kemba): 10

Likability: 10

Twitter: 0

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (crossover stepback): 4

TOTAL SCORE: 40

High marks for nickname and likability – there aren’t many names in sports more fun to yell at your television at the top of your lungs than “CARDIAC KEMBA!” (h/t Sean McDonough); it just rolls off the tongue at any decibel level. Also, unless you are the Pittsburgh center whom Walker crossed up during the Big East championship – everyone loves Kemba. He’s been proving doubters wrong about his size ever since his days at Rice High School in the Bronx. He plays every second like it’s his last and is the type of teammate who would fall on a grenade for you if one landed in your war trench.

17. Boban Marjanovic, C, Detroit Pistons

Shock value: 10

Swagger: 0

Nickname (BOBAN, all caps): 10

Likability: 10

Twitter: 0

Irrational confidence: 0

Finishing move (BOBAN SMASH!!! — i.e. dunk without jumping): 10

TOTAL SCORE: 40

“Actually, Warriors, the Spurs defeated you opening night …”

“Good for the SpurOHMYGOD.”

16. Dion Waiters, SG, Miami Heat

Shock value: 10

Swagger: 10

Nickname (Waiters Gonna Wait): 2

Likability: 9

Twitter: 0

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing Move (contested step-back airball): 0

TOTAL SCORE: 41

Waiters’ likability is a 9 and not a 10 because fans of the team he plays for don’t find his antics so funny. Waiters never saw a contested jump shot he didn’t like, and he will go out of his way to make sure he is the one who shoots the game-on-the-line shot. The joy of him playing every game with the mindset of “I am the best player to ever walk the Earth” is a flag all walks of life on this planet can unite under.

15. Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz

Shock value: 10

Swagger: 0

Nickname (The Stifle Tower): 10

Likability: 8

Twitter: 8

Irrational confidence: 0

Finishing move (tip slam): 5

TOTAL SCORE: 41

This man’s wingspan, 7 feet, 8.5 inches wide, seemingly stretches the length of the paint. He has a standing reach of 9 feet, 7 inches. Imagine if Inspector Gadget were 7 feet tall and had the stamina of a gazelle running away from a pack of lions. Other than having one of the best nicknames in all of basketball, Gobert is a walking mixtape highlight: consistently swatting opponents’ shots into the upper deck and tip slamming on puny mortals like he’s paid on commission.

14. Michael Beasley, F, Milwaukee Bucks

Shock value: 3

Swagger (cryptic hand gestures): 10

Nickname (Super Cool Beas): 10

Likability: 10

Twitter: 0

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (getting shots off the ums): 0

TOTAL SCORE: 43

This is a man who, when asked what his role on the team was, responded “To get shots off the ums.” Watch for yourself:

Michael Beasley never has NOT been open, and Michael Beasley will be the first to tell you that.

13. Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers

Shock value: 10

Swagger (the Blake face): 4

Nickname (BG32): 0

Likability: 4

Twitter: 10

Irrational confidence: 6

Finishing move (Mozgov’d): 10

TOTAL SCORE: 44

His popularity has taken a bit of a hit since the Clippers acquired the reputation of being the NBA’s whiny, bratty, villainous, complaining, self-entitled snitches – but don’t let that distract you from the fact that Griffin is unfathomably good at basketball and is a walking highlight reel. He hasn’t “Mozgov’d” anyone in quite some time, but the potential for him to do so, as he attempts to rip the rim off the backboard and wear it around the court as a hat, never has been greater.

12. Kristaps Porzingis, PF, New York Knicks

Shock value: 10

Swagger (taking pics that look like rap album covers): 1

Nickname (Porzingod, Lordzingis, Goatzingis, Mountzingis, Dirkstaps Nowitzki, Unicorn, any word in the dictionary and then “zingis”): 10

Likability: 10

Twitter: 2

Irrational confidence: 3

Finishing move (tip slam): 10

TOTAL SCORE: 46

Imagine if Dirk Nowitzki were a turtle before it drank hazardous green slime in a sewer. Now imagine if Dirk Nowitzki drank the green slime and became a teenage mutant ninja turtle. Ladies and gentlemen: Kristaps Porzingis.


11. JaVale McGee, C, Golden State Warriors

Shock value: 3

Swagger: 10

Nickname (Pierre): 2

Likability: 10

Twitter: 10

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (stupify): 1

TOTAL SCORE: 46

For years, we’ve argued about who is the best player of all time. Michael Jordan? LeBron James? Bill Russell? For years, we’ve argued about politics. For years, we’ve argued just how much chicken in your Chipotle burrito is a sufficient amount of chicken. However, when it comes to garbage time entertainment – there is no alternative. McGee is, has been, and always will be the NBA’s most fun 30-point blowout player. His cluelessness is nothing short of adorable, and what makes it so great is that he tries so hard and is actually quite talented. Every time he throws down a massive poster dunk or volleyball spikes an opponent’s shot, we are reminded (quite violently, actually) of the man’s potential – but let’s be honest, this is all that matters:


10. LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers

Shock value: 10

Swagger (decompression, heart pound): 10

Nickname (The King): 10

Likability: 5

Twitter: 2

Irrational confidence: 2

Finishing move (Chase down block): 10

TOTAL SCORE: 49

Listen, he’s the best player in the world – but the reason he’s not No. 1 in these rankings is because there are millions … AND MILLIONS … of loyal “Kobe Bryant and/or Michael Jordan was better” cult worshipers who will take their anti-Lebronitism to their graves. These folks + the “LEBRON IS SUCH A LITTLE BABY!” crowd = a nation divided, as if LeBron won the electoral college but not the popular vote. As for his game, you can spew venom at him all you want – no one makes the crowd “ooh” and “ahh” quite like LeBron when he activates the Death Star and unloads a galactic beam of death on your Alderaan. You may not like him, but he doesn’t care – and that’s why he is fun.


9. Zach LaVine, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves

Shock value: 10

Swagger (death stare): 7

Nickname (The Tramplavine, Bounce Brothers): 6

Likability: 10

Twitter: 1

Irrational confidence: 6

Finishing move (launch pad dunk): 10

TOTAL SCORE: 50

Speaking of “ooh” and “ahh”, LaVine finds himself at the top of the list of NBA players you postpone a bathroom trip for, no matter how uncomfortable it is, when he’s on the floor. Zach LaVine wasn’t made for YouTube, YouTube was made for Zach LaVine.


8. Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers

Shock value: 10

Swagger (Lillard Time watch point): 10

Nickname (Thrillard, Dame of Thrones): 10

Likability: 10

Twitter: 6

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (lightning fast pull-up J): 4

TOTAL SCORE: 60

Now we’re cooking with gas. Lillard has been disrespected since the day he stepped foot onto an NBA court — being passed up for award after award, all-star team after all-star team, the Team USA Olympics roster, you name it. Lillard always has been the plus-one whose name didn’t make the list after being promised it would by that sketchy club promoter you met in Vegas. We love him for it – he has unintentionally intentionally become the mainstream NBA audience’s “People’s Champ.” The only people who don’t like Damian Lillard are those who don’t like pizza rolls. And everyone loves pizza rolls.

Of all the players in the league who can incinerate in a matter of seconds, Lillard might have the quickest spark. When Dame gets going, he can make even Steph Curry’s heat checks look like a scene out of “Hoosiers”. Also, he raps, and it’s only a matter of time until he calls out an opponent in a diss track and puts them on blast via his always volatile Twitter account.


7. Nick Young, SG, Los Angeles Lakers

Shock value: 7

Swagger (Three Goggles, Airplane, Celebrating threes before they go in): 10

Nickname (Swaggy P, Uncle P): 10

Likability: 8

Twitter: 10

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (heat check 3): 6

TOTAL SCORE: 61

When it comes to heat checks, Young might be the MVP. After a dream 2014-15 campaign in which he was somehow the most relevant irrelevant basketball player in recent NBA history — hitting game-winning, contested 35-footers regularly, delivering postgame quotes that many people didn’t even know the English language could be manipulated into, and being everyone’s favorite “AW LOOK AT THAT HE ACTUALLY THINKS HE’S GOOD NOW!!!!” player — Swaggy P’s popularity has plummeted like “Speed 2: Cruise Control” box office sales after everyone realized “Hey, we’ll only believe a giant method of public transportation can fly through the air and clear a 50-foot gap if Keanu Reeves is driving it, OK?”

The whole cheating on his fiancée (Iggy Azalea) thing was rock bottom for our beloved Swaggy P, but since then he’s righted the ship, did not give stitches to the snitch who ratted him out on Snapchat, and has become a … dare I say, Veteran Leader Role Model on a team filled with first- and second-year players. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the 32-foot contested three-pointers.


6. Giannis Antetokounmpo, G/F, Milwaukee Bucks

Shock value: 10

Swagger (mean mug): 5

Nickname (The Greek Freak): 10

Likability: 10

Twitter: 10

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (Euro step of death): 7

TOTAL SCORE: 62

How do you put what this kid does on a basketball court into words? You don’t, you just acknowledge that he single-handedly is spearheading a “put your best athlete at point guard and go” revolution, and then watch this highlight reel:


5. DeMarcus Cousins , C , Sacramento Kings

Shock value: 10

Swagger (intimidation): 10

Nickname (Boogie): 10

Likability: 8

Twitter: 10

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (rack attack): 5

TOTAL SCORE: 63

Describing everything that encompasses DeMarcus Cousins is not an easy task, so let me illustrate a fictional story of his NBA journey to date: He is a straight-A’s honor roll high school student who produces the grades his parents demand. However, there’s always been a dark side to him that everyone kind of knows about but never really acknowledges as long as he keeps doing well in his studies.

Today, DeMarcus is tempted to shoot off the roman candle his out-of-state cousin left at the house during Thanksgiving. Mom says “If you do, you’re grounded.” DeMarcus is a good guy at heart and wants to respect his parents’ demands, but he can’t resist the unlawful urge. When Mom goes to the grocery store to grab some milk, DeMarcus grabs the lighter out of the kitchen drawer and runs to the back yard. He ignites the candle and it’s glorious. His lust for temptation is fulfilled.

But then the porch door opens and it’s Mom. She forgot her credit card. DeMarcus turns violently in shock, not knowing that there is still a flame ball remaining in the holster, and unintentionally launches it at his mother, into the house, and it connects with the gas stove. Now the house is on fire. DeMarcus is filled with regret, but it’s too late. Everything is burning and no one knows if you can be trusted even when placed in the most ideal situation possible.

DeMarcus Cousins: the beautifully-rambunctious superstar.


4. Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers

Shock value: 10

Swagger: 4

Nickname (The Process): 10

Likability: 10

Twitter: 10

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (Dream Shake): 10

TOTAL SCORE: 64

This walking, breathing internet meme is everything we’ve ever wanted in a basketball player. Not only does he look like he has the skill set to be the second coming of Hakeem Olajuwon (no, not exaggerating), but Embiid also is the leader in the clubhouse to win Rookie of the Year, as long as he stays healthy. More important: He is the social media MVP. If there’s something on his mind that is of interest to him, expect Embiid to interject the only way he knows how – with reckless abandon.

Embiid’s nickname is The Process – he is the culmination of Sam Hinkie’s life work spent in a dungeon brewing potions of talent-draining liquid, fed to his players for nearly five straight years, with the ultimate goal of breeding high-effort incompetence, stacking top draft picks, trading away anyone over the age of 25 who showed a glimmer of promise and turning himself into a franchise-saving martyr. Embiid’s journey to stardom is essentially Noah’s Ark: All of this hype about saving the world and we board the ship hoping everything that was told to us wasn’t a farce. Now that it’s finally built, we want to see if it actually works and is able to preserve basketball life in Philadelphia despite the worst storm of despair the city has ever seen.


3. Steph Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors

Shock value: 10

Swagger (runaway before shot is halfway to basket, shimmy): 10

Nickname (Chef Curry): 10

Likability: 10

Twitter: 5

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (Behind the back Shammgod pull-up jumper): 10

TOTAL SCORE: 65

Before you start typing tomato emojis at me so fast you accidentally include an eggplant in the middle of your anger message, hear me out. Steph’s likability is a 10, not because he is a “man of the people” or can win a popularity contest versus any other NBA player, it's a 10 because you either love Steph Curry or love to hate Steph Curry. There is no in between. He is the center of attention at all times, and apathy simply isn’t an option when determining who the most “fun” player in the league is.

Curry has set more individual NBA records in the past three seasons than I can count; he has spearheaded the small ball revolution, and you can create a minute-long mixtape of his highlight plays after every single game. Love him or hate him, the man does things in real life that aren’t even possible in video games. He may have recently adopted a villainous personality along with his fellow teammates, but don’t let that take away from the greatness this man displays every time he steps on the floor. You can whine about his cockiness all you want, but you know you’re clearing your schedule whenever the Warriors are on.


2. J.R. Smith, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers

Shock value: 10

Swagger (air guitar): 10

Nickname (Pipe, Swish): 10

Likability: 10

Twitter: 10

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (Dribble dribble dribble dribble, launch 30-footer, SWISH): 9

TOTAL SCORE: 69

You just got out of a six-year relationship.

You get convinced to join your friends at the bar.

They encourage you to introduce yourself to some new people with the intention of helping you get over your ex.

You notice an attractive counterpart at the end of the bar, you say hello and offer to buy that person a drink.

No luck.

0/1.

But you can’t go back, it’s not in your nature. Bartender: a shot of whiskey please.

30 minutes until last call.

Hello there – what’s your name?

After some worthless conversation that solicits a couple fake laughs, the prospect retreats to a group of friends.

0/2.

Doubt sets in. You now miss your ex more than ever.

15 minutes until last call.

Whiskey shot hits the bloodstream.

Just got your second wind.

Bartender: Can you send a vodka/soda to that person down there wearing the white shirt?

After a thankful gesture, the recipient walks away from the bar and heads into the dance floor abyss.

0/3.

The group has dissipated. Two o’clock scramble, everyone for themselves.

You throw back the final ounces of the drink and walk outside to meet Jimmy and Uber of Shame home.

As you hop in the car and shut the door, your progress is stopped by a stranger – not just any stranger, it’s that person in the white shirt you bought the drink for.

“Hey, I went to the bathroom, came back – and you were gone … where you going?”

“Home, I guess …?”

“Nonsense, I’m throwing a late night with some friends down the street – want to come?”

1/4.

All you needed was to see the first one go in; now you think you can’t miss.

You quickly realize life is too short to worry about anything else – and your new purpose on this planet is to get buckets or die trying.

Welcome to a day in the life of J.R. Smith.


1. Russell Westbrook, G/F/C/Coach/GM/Owner/Mayor, Oklahoma City Thunder

Shock value: 10

Swagger (guns to holsters): 10

Nickname (Muscle Damn Flexbrook, The Brodie, Bestbrook): 10

Likability: 10

Twitter: 10

Irrational confidence: 10

Finishing move (world annihilation): 10

TOTAL SCORE: 70