Ranking the Worst Floppers in the NBA Since 2000

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2021

Ranking the Worst Floppers in the NBA Since 2000

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Playing in the NBA requires more than just being an elite athlete. The ability to navigate the court, evade defenders and frustrate scorers is truly an art.

    But sometimes, it's performance art.

    In a physical game, players can occasionally get away with faking a foul. Whether it's on offense or defense, they pretend to draw extra contact, feign taking a charge or attempt some other ploy to attract the referee's attention.

    Everyone flops. That's been a part of the NBA for many decades. But in the last 20 years, several players have become known for their penchant to, shall we say, put their imagination into action.

    Our ranking of the NBA's most notable floppers is subjective, but it considers the reputation of players and number of memorable flops.

(Dis)Honorable Mentions

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    • Shane Battier
    • Joel Embiid
    • Derek Fisher
    • Robert Horry
    • Reggie Miller
    • Kyle Lowry
    • Lance Stephenson
    • Anderson Varejao

8. Marcus Smart

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    Marcus Smart rides an interesting line between a tremendous, intense pest and a comical embellisher.

    While he's received two first-team NBA All-Defensive nods, Smart also has a reputation for flopping. Two of the best (and funniest) examples happened during the playoffs.

    During the 2016 postseason, Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver bumped Smart. He responded with flailing arms and legs, which the officials did not buy.

    In the 2020 playoff bubble, Smart actually drew an offensive foul while trailing a 1-on-0 fast break. Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam initially picked up the foul, though a successful challenge reversed the flop-robbery by Smart.

7. Vlade Divac

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    From a full-career perspective, Vlade Divac would be considerably higher on this list. The 7'1", 243-pound center hit the floor unusually often for a player of his stature.

    However, the "since 2000" cutoff means we can only consider the last five-plus seasons of Divac's 16-year NBA career. Still, that window includes the battles with then-Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal, whom Divac pointed to as the reason for his embellishment.

    "Obviously my flopping came because of Shaq," Divac said in 2015. "There's no secret about it. That's the only way I could try to draw attention to referees what's going on."

6. Tony Allen

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    Poor Tony Allen always seemed to get popped in the face.

    In reality, the stingy defender took advantage of his reputation and used a little sleight of face to draw fouls. Along with the accompanying video in which he stole a call on Gordon Hayward, Allen might run into a screen and pretend he took an elbow.

    Perhaps most memorably, Allen drew a sneaky flagrant foul on San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili in Game 2 of the 2013 Western Conference Finals.

    Allen's flopping added an infuriating trick to a resume that included six NBA All-Defensive honors.

5. Draymond Green

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    Draymond Green does a little bit of everything: passing, rebounding, scoring, kicking, screaming and flopping.

    You know, complete player!

    Respected for his on-court versatility and divisive for his emotional range, Green rose to flopping prominence as the Golden State Warriors built their dynasty. Green's positive contributions far outweighed his negative, but the latter made regular appearances.

    Green said in 2019 that he reduced his number of flops after realizing his son would flop while playing basketball in the house. He's certainly toned it down, but he had a long run of acting excellence.

4. LeBron James

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    "I don't need to flop," LeBron James said in 2013. "I play an aggressive game. I don't flop. I've never been one of those guys."

    Insert the "Why You Always Lying" meme.

    LeBron is unquestionably one of the greatest players in NBA history. If he's not No. 1, he's No. 2. 

    He doesn't need to flop to be successful, but he has used acting to his advantage. While on the Miami Heat, for example, LeBron had a penchant for ridiculous flops in the playoffs against the Indiana Pacers.

    LeBron is a legend. But so are his flops.

3. Chris Paul

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    Like several of his counterparts featured throughout here, Chris Paul has played legitimately great defense throughout his career. During the 10-season stretch from 2007-08 through the 2016-17 campaign, he earned nine All-Defensive nods.

    CP3 also happily breaks out his acting skills from time to time.

    That can be seen on defense in classic waysrunning into a screen, taking a phantom elbow or pretending DeMarcus Cousins did, well, anything. Offensively, it's running into a screen or absorbing the slightest bump while dribbling.

    The future Hall of Famer has a spot in the Flopping Hall of Fame, too.

2. James Harden

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    Flopping is often recognized as something that a defender does, but James Harden has carried those theatrics to the offensive end.

    When driving to the basket, his arms will flail at soft contact. He might hook a defender while dribbling or embellish contact around a screen. And, most frustratingly for opponents, he'll intentionally land closer to their space on a jumper.

    Similar to everyone else on the list, Harden is excellent without the acting. The regular-season MVP in 2017-18, he's averaged more than 25 points throughout his 12-year NBA career.

    Throw in the flopping, though, and he's become one of the most efficientand aggravatingscorers in the league.

1. Manu Ginobili

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    During his wildly successful NBA career, Manu Ginobili built a reputation as one of the league's craftiest players. That is both a compliment to his artistic offensive skills and a nod to his flopping.

    Ginobili saw passing lanes that few players could ever locate due to his incredible spatial awareness. That also translated to finding ways to exaggerate contact on shots, create soft collisions as a ball-handler and draw charges on defense.

    Prior to retiring in 2017, Ginobili said he believed he didn't flop that much, especially later in his career. "Maybe in the beginning I was a little more exuberant," he said.

    Either way, Ginobili and his craftiness are headed to the Hall of Fame as early as the 2022 class.

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