The Basketball Jones 40: What does that mean exactly? Well, it’s a little hard to define. It’s certainly not a list of the 40 best players in the league right now — in fact, a couple players on the TBJ 40 would be ones that teams would gladly pay just to go away (and some have). And it’s not a list of our 40 favorite players, either — the combined man-hours that some of us have spent rooting against a couple of these guys would certainly disqualify that as well. It’s not even the 40 funniest or most interesting players, as a couple players are dull as dishwater off the court, but do enough on the hardwood to make their inclusion undeniable.

No, the best way we can define the Basketball Jones 40 is as the 40 players that are most important to our site right now. The players we write about the most, the players we follow the closest, the players that TBJ could least afford to be without. And what goes into that is an entire series of factors, ranging from their on-court success to their off-court headline making to their general likability as athletes, celebrities and human beings.

So check in with us as we count down from 40-1 …

No. 30: MANU GINOBILI

2011 Season (16/20), Legacy/Career (8/10), Drama/Controversy (3/10), Go-To Move (8/10), Highlight Play (9/10), Comedic Potential (3/10), Nicknames (2/10), Quote (2/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (4/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (2/5)

Total Score: 57

He’s come off the bench for a good chunk of his career, he has only two all-star games to his name, and he’s never been regarded as the best player on his team. But Manu Ginobili is one of the most unique/capable/skilled players of the current era. Gregg Popovich limiting his minutes since he was a rook in ’02 has hurt his reputation among fans and media types alike, but we — and bats — need to take “MANUUUUUUUUU” very seriously. (TM)

*****

No. 29: J.R. SMITH

2011 Season (11/20), Legacy/Career (3/10), Drama/Controversy (8/10), Go-To Move (4/10), Highlight Play (10/10), Comedic Potential (10/10), Nicknames (7/10), Quote (1/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (2/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (2/5)

Total Score: 58

To be completely honest, all I have to mention is this and this for you guys to understand why J.R. Smith makes The Basketball Jones 40. Those two things are enough. More than enough. However, J.R. Smith is so much more. He’s the kind of guy who wears every pad possible — all in the same color — and a player who might be the one guy in the NBA who is most likely to make the world’s best and worst plays on back-to-back possessions. (TK)

*****

No. 28: RAJON RONDO

2011 Season (14/20), Legacy/Career (6/10), Drama/Controversy (5/10), Go-To Move (8/10), Highlight Play (8/10), Comedic Potential (5/10), Nicknames (1/10), Quote (5/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (3/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (4/5)

Total Score: 59

Despite the fact that he seems to be almost entirely devoid of personality, Rajon Rondo is usually good for a laugh here and there. Whether it’s refusing to shoot open layups, confirming that Kendrick Perkins is still alive or just looking like his arms were attached as if he were an action figure, he makes the most out of his limited charisma. Plus, he’s pretty good at basketball. (TK)

*****

No. 27: BLAKE GRIFFIN

2011 Season (17/20), Legacy/Career (2/10), Drama/Controversy (2/10), Go-To Move (9/10), Highlight Play (10/10), Comedic Potential (9/10), Nicknames (7/10), Quote (2/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (2/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (2/5)

Total Score: 62

I really just wanted to type “dunk” 214 times to summarize why we love Blake Griffin so damn much, but I don’t wanna “Vince Carter-ize” Griffin this early in his career. He is more than a dunker that wins slam dunk championships — he’s a hilarious kid, who knows how to use a Shake Weight, and also has the unique ability to morph in to a SAVAGE DUNKING ALIEN ROBOT. (TM)

*****

No. 26: JOAKIM NOAH

2011 Season (11/20), Legacy/Career (6/10), Drama/Controversy (9/10), Go-To Move (7/10), Highlight Play (5/10), Comedic Potential (10/10), Nicknames (1/10), Quote (10/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (2/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (3/5)

Total Score: 64

Young Frenchmen Kevin Seraphin is right: “You cannot teach what [Joakim Noah] does.” How he rebounds. How he hustles. How he shoots. How he dresses. Dude’s an original cat, no doubt. Joakim scores high in drama (unfortunately, thanks to that homophobic slur in the playoffs), comedic potential (Cleveland, most definitely, does not rock) and definitive quote (“You gotta give Miami credit. They’re Hollywood as hell, but they’re a very good team.”), but scores bad in the nickname department, which, now that I think about, is just wrong. Can we start calling him “Le Coq?” (JE)

*****

No. 25: JASON TERRY

2011 Season (15/20), Legacy/Career (4/10), Drama/Controversy (5/10), Go-To Move (3/10), Highlight Play (8/10), Comedic Potential (7/10), Nicknames (10/10), Quote (9/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (2/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (3/5)

Total Score: 65

Before the start of last season, Jason Terry got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien Trophy on his arm as inspiration for a championship, then he somehow kept that a secret until the Dallas Mavericks were making their run to the NBA title, then he actually won the title while needling LeBron James about not being able to guard him. Then he kept on dissing LBJ after winning the title, because that’s just what Jason Terry does. Consider this No. 25 spot well-earned. (TK)

*****

No. 24: CARMELO ANTHONY

2011 Season (12/20), Career/Legacy (8/10), Drama/Controversy (8/10), Go-To Move (8/10), Highlight Play (8/10), Comedic Potential (4/10), Nicknames (7/10), Quote (5/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (3/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (2/5)

Total Score: 65

One of the league’s elite scoring talents since he came into the league with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade eight years ago, a lack of playoff success and occasional claims of selfishness have kept ‘Melo a tier below those two superstars. ‘Melo scores high in the go-to move (an unstoppable isolation on the wing), highlight play (his season-opening posterization of Paul Millsap in ’09) and drama (“Melodrama” — ’nuff said), but gets hurt in some of the more personality-driven categories, where Anthony has proven generally affable but occasionally sulky and arrogant. (AU)

*****

No. 23: TONY PARKER

2011 Season (15/20), Legacy/Career (7/10), Drama/Controversy (10/10), Go-To Move (9/10), Highlight Play (6/10), Comedic Potential (5/10), Nicknames (3/10), Quote (6/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (3/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (2/5)

Total Score: 66

Another Spur that has been often overlooked because of his “Possibly The Best Power Forward Ever” teammate, his place on a “New England Patriots”-like team, and maybe even his former (Desperate) housewife, I still feel as though Tony Parker’s incredible skill set is underrated. As for his rap game? Overrated, if that’s possible. (TM)

*****

No. 22: LAMAR ODOM

2011 Season (14/20), Legacy/Career (7/10), Drama/Controversy (8/10), Go-To Move (5/10), Highlight Play (5/10), Comedic Potential (7/10), Nicknames (5/10), Quote (7/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (5/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (3/5)

Total Score: 66

Think about Lamar Odom’s life for a second. He was born in Queens, New York, to a heroin addict father and a mother who died of colon cancer when he was 12. He played college ball for Atlantic 10 “powerhouse” Rhode Island. He was drafted by the Clippers, showed a little bit of promise, and then got busted for smoking weed. From there, he signed with Miami, only to be traded to the Lakers for Shaq. In 2006, his 6-month-old infant son died from SIDS. In 2009, he marries Khloe Kardashian, gets his own reality TV show, and wins an NBA title. And oh, he’s also won an Olympic gold medal and Sixth Man of the Year hardware, has his own fragrance, and eats candy like a fat kid. Hey, Dos Equis guy, fuck off. (JE)

*****

No. 21: JOSH SMITH

2011 Season (12/20), Legacy/Career (3/10), Drama/Controversy (6/10), Go-To Move (6/10), Highlight Play (10/10), Comedic Potential (8/10), Nicknames (8/10), Quote (8/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (3/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (2/5)

Total Score: 66

Maybe I am just a hater, but Josh Smith is one of the least interesting exciting players in the NBA to me. It is probably because he is an Atlanta Hawk and I just cannot get in to them at all, but whatever. But even I, anti-Josh Smithionite that I am, can understand that Smoove’s combination of incredible highlights and hilarious reporter taunting make him worthy of the TBJ 40. For that, I will give him another shot to win my cold, dark heart. (TK)

Comments (8)

  1. How can Manu ‘the poo god’ Ginobili only score 2 out of 10 for nickname? I call shenanigans!

  2. How the hell does ‘Melo score 8/10 on legacy?
    What legacy?
    A scoring title and a couple of second-round exits?

    Also, how does Odom get 5/10 on nickname? I didn’t even know he had one?

    On a lighter note, a French commentator wanted to nickname Noah “Raging Bull” because of his intensity… Maybe you should meet half-way and call him “Raging Coq” ;)

  3. Isn’t Odom the Candy Man?

    And I don’t even know if Melo got his team past the first round most years. I think the Nuggets made it to the WCF once and otherwise they got bounced in the first round pretty often.

    Lastly, what a face on JR Smith’s card. That’s great stuff.

  4. “one guy in the NBA who is most likely to make the world’s best and worst plays on back-to-back possessions.”

    is JaVale McGee not eligible for this award? Or do you have something else in mind for Pierre’s particular strain of goofballery?

  5. @Breyzh
    Candyman is pretty sweet for Lamar. Or cow humper works too.

  6. @Tobi
    I see what you did there.

  7. Just watched that Josh Smith “in yo face!” clip for the first time.

    That was awesome.

  8. Actually, in France, Noah’s nickname is “Jooks”. Which sounds good, but doesn’t make much sense, I give you that.

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