Basketball is a game of deception. Pump fakes deceptively bait a defender into the air when your intention is not really to shoot. Up and under’s deceptively make defenders play over you instead of under you. Jab steps deceptively make defenders think that you are going one way, but then you retreat back. Crossovers deceptively make defenders go off balance with a quick change of direction. The point is, basketball is a game of deception, this includes flopping.
For years the NBA had no rules pertaining to flopping. As a result, players did whatever they could to gain an advantage over their opponents in a legal way. This not only pertained to defenders flopping on the floor like they got hit by a linebacker, but this also includes players on offense who flail their arms any time a defender gets near them. Basketball is a game of deception, and the more acting and histrionics are involved, the more likely a referee is going to call something in your favor.
However, with slow motion, it is easy to see that many referees get duped time and time again, and to no fault of their own. Plays happen too quickly to see with the naked eye. This is the reason why it has been so challenging for the NBA to crack down on flopping during games, however, just a few years ago, the NBA started implementing fines for flopping. Therefore, even if they got away with a blatant flop during the game that a referee was not able to see, they were fined after the game concluded under league review and careful scrutiny.
The fines for flopping are as follows during the regular season.
- Violation 1: Warning
- Violation 2: $5,000
- Violation 3: $10,000
- Violation 4: $15,000
- Violation 5: $30,000
- Violation 1: $5,000
- Violation 2: $10,000
- Violation 3: $15,000
- Violation 4: $30,000
- Violation 5: $30,000 fine + possible suspension
Many argue that these fines are like a drop in the bucket for a lot of players. The honest truth is that some players would gladly fork over $5,000 if it meant winning a game or a championship. Five thousand dollars is like pocket change for every player in the league. It’s a tap on the wrist, not even a slap. Therefore, the league may have to raise its fines, if it truly wants to get rid of flopping altogether.
Or they just need to wait until the floppers retire, such as the likes of Derek Fisher and Shane Battier. Unfortunately, there is a good possibility that flopping will always be en vogue. So, now that Fisher and Battier are gone, who are some of the best floppers in the NBA today?
10 Kevin Martin
Let’s be honest, Kevin Martin is a deadly shooter, one of the deadliest shooters in the league for that matter, but in no way, shape, or form is he a good defender. When a player struggles on defense, he has to do whatever it takes to compensate for his defensive deficiencies. So, when Martin is taken to the post because of his skinny frame, he has no choice but to flop as much as possible. It is the best way of drawing a foul and preventing other bigger guards from exposing his weakness.
9 Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin really gets a bad rep for being soft. There are only a handful of players that get hacked as much as Griffin does night in and night out. Griffin has the tendency to embarrass people, so if there is any opportunity to get embarrassed, defenders hack him pretty hard. However, to be fair, Griffin does his own share of defensive antics as well. He is one of the best floppers in the league. Griffin isn’t a great defender either, so when he loses post-position, he has no choice but to flop against longer power forwards that are stronger than him.
8 LeBron James
LeBron is a complete player with no weaknesses, and that includes flopping. As a student of the game, LeBron will do whatever it takes to gain a competitive edge against his opponents. LeBron won’t get away with flopping as much as smaller players since he is too big and strong. When you are 6’9” and 260 pounds, it is hard to imagine how any point guard penetrating the paint can run him down. So, LeBron has to be selective, and it usually happens when he is playing power forward and going up against other power forwards that are his size or even bigger.
7 Anderson Varejao
Anderson Varejao is truly one of the masters at flopping. Maybe it is his hair and how it flies all over the place, but Varejao is one of the best actors in the NBA. He has a way of flinging his arms and legs as good as anyone in the NBA. Even at 7 feet tall, Varejao can draw charges against smaller players like he is made of straw. Some people might see this as a cheap way of playing, but if Varejao was on your team, you probably wouldn’t be complaining. He is the guy you hate to play against, but love having on your team.
6 James Harden
James Harden is one of those few players that is as good at flopping on defense as he is on offense. Harden is increasingly getting a bad reputation for his defensive liabilities, so he will continue to utilize flopping as a part of his repertoire. However, where Harden really excels is his ability to get to the free throw line every time he attacks the paint. Harden has the speed and dexterity to turn a love tap into the hardest foul you have ever seen. So, it is no coincidence that he is able to get to the free throw line as much as he does.
5 J.J. Barea
J.J. Barea is a fighter. There is no way that a player his size could get to this level of basketball unless he was a fighter. Barea is 5’9” but he is like lightning in a bottle. Players like to pick on Barea because of his size, however, Barea is one of the most tenacious players that you will see on the court. His legs are short, his wingspan is small, and his vertical leap is like a middle school player’s, but Barea makes up for it with his ability to flop with the best of them. And because Barea is so little, it is hard for referees not to bite the bait on the smaller Barea flopping all over the place.
4 Dwyane Wade
At this point in Wade’s career, Wade is slowing down on offense and defense. At one point in his career, Wade was phenomenal in both categories. But at this point, Wade is almost becoming a liability. He has never had a real jump shot, and now that his speed is gone, he is not the type of threat that he used to be scoring 20 points per game. And with his lateral quickness slowing down, he cannot play the type of defense that he used to either. So, Wade has refined his flopping skills over the past few years, and he is nearly perfected it.
3 Manu Ginobili
A 2011 survey ranked Manu as the best flopper in the NBA. I’m not sure where a 2014 survey would rank Manu, but I would imagine that he is still in the top-five. When Manu had long hair, his histrionics were top notch on the court. It almost looked like he was getting run over by a Mack truck every time someone made contact with Manu. But Manu is older now. His hairline has receded more and every time he hits the floor intentionally, it hurts. Still, the king of flopping ranks in the top-five.
2 Chris Paul
Chris Paul is feisty. He plays downright nasty. He has a great ball handling skills and a powerful lower center of gravity, which makes you even afraid to touch him. Paul hates being touched. So, the moment you lay your hands on him, Paul swings his shoulders back and flails his arms like he is in the midst of a swarm of bees. It really is a skillset and a joy to watch. And because his ball handling is so good, Paul never loses control over his dribble, which makes it even more frustrating. Because if he flops and the referee does not call something, he distracts you enough with his flop to make another move off the dribble that keeps you paranoid as a player.
1 Patty Mills
Patty Mills put his flopping skills on full display during the playoffs and Championship last year. Mills lost some weight last season and is even faster than he was before. Mills, like many of the other point guards on this list, is not a great defender. Therefore, he utilizes flopping with the best of them. When Patty Mills flops, he has mastered the art of falling and flying. Mills has the ability to fall backward 10 feet without it looking unnatural or getting hurt, which is really important, if you are going to do it every single game.