10 Players NBA Fans Love Having in the League
Whether they're on the highlight reel every week or not, whether they have the best stats or not, there are some NBA players who prove to be fan favorites year after year. They make the league interesting, and they consistently provide entertainment for their supporters.
From JaVale McGee and his classic what-not-to-do moments to Blake Griffin and his flashy slam dunks, here are 10 players that NBA fans love to watch.
Brian Cardinal, Dallas Mavericks
Brian Cardinal, also known as The Custodian, is one of those guys who remains a fan favorite regardless of how many minutes he actually spends on the floor. His positive attitude and veteran leadership bring teammates together and engage the fans.
While playing for Purdue, Cardinal earned the nickname "Citizen Pain" for his collection of knee pads and floor burns. At that point, the forward didn't even have pro ball on his mind. Instead, he attended a few job workshops and interviewed with two pharmaceutical companies.
Cardinal then earned some 11th-hour notice at a couple pre-draft camps and wound up going to Detroit with the No. 44 overall pick in the 2000 draft.
Cardinal wouldn't exactly be called "successful" as far as stats go, but he's able to find a niche on whatever squad he plays for. During the Mavs' route to the championship in 2011, Cardinal made his few minutes on the court matter; he creates an energy on defense from the minute he steps onto the floor.
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota fans have been watching Ricky Rubio since the Wolves drafted the young guard from Spain in 2009.
While Rubio certainly acquired several critics prior to making his transition to the States, he quieted most of them during his first season in Minny. The 21-year-old point guard creates plays and delivers no-look passes with a quickness and ease that any fan will love to watch.
Even his soft-spoken, child-like demeanor on camera makes him likeable to even the most skeptical of fans.
Rubio's devastating ACL tear last spring put a stop to his on-court performance, and we can all expect to see fans cheering him as he comes back this season.
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
I realize I'm speaking from personal experiences here, but I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say, "I'm a Dwyane Wade fan, I'm just not a Heat fan."
For those NBA lovers that don't support LeBron and the Heat, it seems difficult to find someone who doesn't enjoy watching Wade.
The 30-year-old veteran is a versatile player, and he's able to get it done night after night. Even when LeBron's performance sometimes falls through in the fourth quarter, Wade steps up in those clutch situations. He brings a quickness and energy to the game, and he knows how to keep the crowd engaged.
Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers
Love him or hate him, Lakers fan or not, almost every NBA supporter will tell you the league wouldn't be the same without Kobe Bryant.
No one can deny the sheer talent Kobe brings to the table. His numbers top the charts year after year, and he will always find a way in which to dominate a ball game.
He's arguably one of the best athletes ever to play the game, and Bryant's presence has to be not only acknowledged but appreciated by any true fan.
Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets
Last year around this time, I could not have been creating this slide. That's because the reason Jeremy Lin is such a fan favorite is due to his story of overnight success.
Lin moved from team to team, essentially a bench-warming "nobody" before he broke out last season with the New York Knicks. In a time period unbelievably brief, Lin began scoring points and making headlines.
The 24-year-old went from barely surviving in the league to holding a starting role, averaging 14 points and more than six assists per game.
Everyone loves a Cinderella story, and Lin has one we won't soon forget. Fans can only hope his success continues with Houston in 2012-2013.
Blake Griffin, LA Clippers
I may be willing to debate that Blake Griffin is not the best power forward in the league, but he does have some of the best moves.
An Oklahoma alum, Griffin dominates beneath the basket and finds ways almost every game to awe the crowd...whether home or away.
And of course, we can't forget the 23-year-old's performance in the 2012 NBA Slam Dunk contest in which he pulled the alley-oop over a car before finishing the dunk. It's debatable whether or not the dunk itself was the best, but one thing's for sure—when it comes to presentation, Griffin takes the cake.
Steve Nash, LA Lakers
Steve Nash is arguably most fun player in the league to watch. He dishes out assists at an impressive rate, and fans can feel confident that he knows exactly what's happening at every point on the floor, no matter where he's looking.
Nash has delivered huge games for Phoenix and Dallas over his 16-year career. At 38 years old, however, Nash might provide the most intriguing season for fans yet as the point guard joins the All-Star Lakers cast.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Who doesn't appreciate the Durantula's presence in the game of basketball? Kevin Durant seems like an all-around class guy, and he carries a huge fan following.
Rather than constantly seeking the spotlight, large-market city or team with the best chance of taking home a trophy, Durant has been content to quietly lead Oklahoma City to be the successful franchise it is now.
Durant averages 39 percent from behind the three-point line, and any game he plays in will certainly be far from boring.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose is a specimen of an athlete.
At only 23 years old, he averages 21.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and dishes out an impressive 7.9 assists per game. In his time with the Bulls, Rose has carried his squad to just within reach of the NBA Finals.
Last season's ACL injury was a devastating blow to all of Chicago, but there are also fans across the nation rooting for the All-Star's quick recovery.
JaVale McGee, Denver Nuggets
This one's a no-brainer.
On one hand, JaVale McGee is a decent ballplayer, averaging 11.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
On the other hand, the guy seems like he makes more mistakes than anyone that's ever played basketball. Whereas Blake Griffin consistently logs top-10 plays, McGee joins the running week after week for top dumb plays.
Talent and pure entertainment...what more could fans want in the game of basketball?