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. 20: DERRICK ROSE

2011 Season (19/20), Career (7/10), Drama (5/10), Go-to Move (7/10), Highlight Play (9/10), Comedic Potential (4/10), Nickname (4/10), Quote (6/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (3/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (2/5)

Total Score: 66

Our reigning league MVP may still be a young’n—he won’t even turn 23 until October—but he’s already accomplished more than 99% of ballers will in their entire career, with an award-winning season last year as he posted a 24 and 7 and led the Bulls to the East’s best regular season record and the franchise’s first Conference Finals appearance in the 21st century. The personality has been a little slower-coming, but an increasingly comedic presence in decent shoe and video game commercials shows that Rose may have star potential off the court as well. (AU)

*****

No. 19: RON ARTEST METTA WORLD PEACE

2011 Season (8/20), Legacy/Career (7/10), Drama/Controversy (10/10), Go-To Move (5/10), Highlight Play (6/10), Comedic Potential (9/10), Nicknames (5/10), Quote (9/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (4/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (4/5)

Total Score: 67

An all-star and defensive player of the year who risked being forever defined by the events that transpired at the Palace at Auburn Hills on November 19th, 2004, a move to Los Angeles and a championship ring have helped Ron Artest Metta World Peace eclipse his reputation as a bad seed and branded him as more of just a lovable celebrity goofball. He still gets a 10 in drama for the Palace Malice, but now he also gets a nine in comedy for his talk-show appearances, name/number changes and post-game quotes (“Say Queensbridge!”), and even gets a 4/5 in Poignant NBA Relationship for his oddly touching big brother/little brother relationship with Laker teammate Kobe Bryant. (AU)

*****

No. 18: SHAWN MARION

2011 Season (14/20), Legacy/Career (9/10), Drama/Controversy (2/10), Go-To Move (7/10), Highlight Play (8/10), Comedic Potential (7/10), Nicknames (10/10), Quote (7/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (2/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (1/5)

Total Score: 67

I don’t know where to begin with Shawn Marion, so let’s just run through the list. His 2011 season: A defensive ace, and timely offensive spark, when it mattered most. His legacy: A possible Hall-of-Famer, based on the numbers. Drama: Little Johnny Bananas. His go-to move: That ugly lil’ Pop-a-Shot runner. His 2011 highlight: Blocking Durantula to force OT in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Comedic potential: Solid — especially in those jeans. And that “Matrix” nickname: One of the best ever. As for the rest? Whatever. I’m just surprised Shawn never made an “Entourage” cameo. (JE)

*****

No. 17: KEVIN DURANT

2011 Season (18/20), Legacy/Career (7/10), Drama/Controversy (4/10), Go-To Move (6/10), Highlight Play (9/10), Comedic Potential (4/10), Nicknames (10/10), Quote (3/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (4/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (2/5)

Total Score: 67

Fun debates going on this summer regarding whether or not Kevin Durant could some day be classified as one of the best ever. Well, I’ve got another point of discussion which has a much more concrete answer: Can basketball fans ever hate KD? Can he be the bad guy? The answer, most definitely, is “No.” We’re only four years into this love affair and I can’t see it going sour. Long live Durantula! (TM)

*****

No. 16: CHRIS PAUL

2011 Season (14/20), Legacy/Career (8/10), Drama/Controversy (5/10), Go-To Move (7/10), Highlight Play (10/10), Comedic Potential (2/10), Nicknames (6/10), Quote (8/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (4/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (4/5)

Total Score: 68

I wouldn’t have guessed it when we decided to tackle this monster, but Chris Paul’s TBJ 40 score is similar to Carmelo Anthony’s. Like ‘Melo, CP3 scores high in the go-to move category (an unstoppable jumper and/or floater set-up with the crossover) and highlight play (honestly, take your pick from any of these 2010-11 gems), but he gets dinged in some of the more personality-driven categories, where Chris comes off pretty reserved. At least he’s got bowling to fall back on if this whole basketball thing doesn’t work out. (JE)

*****

No. 15: GILBERT ARENAS

2011 Season (1/20), Legacy/Career (6/10), Drama/Controversy (10/10), Go-To Move (8/10), Highlight Play (8/10), Comedic Potential (9/10), Nicknames (10/10), Quote (10/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (4/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (2/5)

Total Score: 68

You won’t see Gilbert Arenas ranked ahead of Chris Paul and Kevin Durant on too many hoops lists these days, but though Gil easily had the worst 2011 season of anyone on our list, his career achievements on and (mostly) off the court still merit his inclusion, and high, on our list. His blogging/tweeting ventures, walk-away buzzer-beaters, his pitch-perfect nicknames (ah, for the days of Agent Zero), his phenomenal swag, and yes, his incredibly poor attempts at gun-related locker room comedy—they all add up to Arenas being one of the quintessential TBJ ballers of the 21st century. He’ll likely be on this list from now until he retires. (AU)

*****

No. 14: JAVALE McGEE

2011 Season (11/20), Legacy/Career (2/10), Drama/Controversy (10/10), Go-To Move (3/10), Highlight Play (9/10), Comedic Potential (10/10), Nicknames (10/10), Quote (6/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (4/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (4/5)

Total Score: 69

I am not even sure that I like JaVale McGee as a basketball player. He’s barely one-dimensional on offense, while trying to be all of the dimensions. He can block shots, but he also loses focus a lot defensively. Not so sure about him, basketball-wise. But otherwise? Totally on board. Whether it’s nicknaming himself Pierre, trying to dunk from the free throw line or taking a Segway through a McDonald’s drive-thru, it’s obvious that he is enjoying being young and rich. You would too. (TK)

*****

No. 13: TONY ALLEN

2011 Season (14/20), Career/Legacy (5/10), Drama/Controversy (8/10), Go-To Move (7/10), Highlight Play (6/10), Comedic Potential (10/10), Nicknames (7/10), Quote (9/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (1/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (3/5)

Total Score: 70

A league afterthought just two years ago, since he signed with the Grizzlies last off-season, Tony Allen has turned into not just a legitimate NBA starter but a veritable basketball folk hero in the city of Memphis. His career resumé may still be a bit spotty, but he’s won hoops-heads over with “Grit, grind” mentality on the court and proven himself one of the funniest, most quotable and most likely to get into a transatlantic gambling-related fistfight players in the league off of it. (AU)

*****

No. 12: STEPHEN JACKSON

2011 Season (12/20), Legacy/Career (5/10), Drama/Controversy (10/10), Go-To Move (4/10), Highlight Play (7/10), Comedic Potential (9/10), Nicknames (10/10), Quote (10/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (2/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (2/5)

Total Score: 71

This guy has so many entertaining aspects going on that it’s easy to forget his often team crippling, “I’m-shooting-quite-indefensible-shots” on-court persona. Always good for one or two game winning runs a year, his real value on The Jones comes from so many other areas: claiming he was underpaid while making $8 million a year in Charlotte, the gun/prayer tattoo, and simply his swagger in general. This man is going to make Scott Skiles’ brain explode in Milwaukee. Jackson’s biggest negative? He doesn’t play with Ron Artest anymore. That was something. (TM)

*****

No. 11: TIM DUNCAN

2011 Season (13/20), Career/Legacy (10/10), Drama/Controversy (3/10), Go-To Move (6/10), Highlight Play (8/10), Comedic Potential (8/10), Nicknames (10/10), Quote (6/10), Non-Hoops Ventures (4/5), Poignant NBA Relationship (4/5)

Total Score: 72

When I walked in to Media Day at the 2010 All-Star game and approached Timmy, I wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary to come out of his mouth — I know, typical media ignorance — but that’s when he blew me away with his dry wit and imaginative sense of humor. Just like on the court, he didn’t sound/look remarkable doing it, but he got the job done just as well as anyone could. I know, helluva cheesy line, but I just wanted to tell you something about TD you may not have known. You probably already know about his Hall-of-Fame resume. (TM)