Top 10 Easiest Players to Root for in the NBA

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Top 10 Easiest to Root for NBA Players

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

You remember that kid in gym class? The one that got picked first for everything and was a total jerk? Yes you do. And when that kid finally got hit with a dodge ball, you celebrated on the inside. I know you did. Guess what?

Some things never change.

There are currently athletes you just can’t stand to see succeed. In fact, there are probably whole teams of them. Every time “player x” makes a shot you cringe. In fact, this is something so widespread it turns some people off from sports altogether. While these individuals are few and far between, it can make it hard to enjoy the NBA. Thankfully, not everyone to touch a basketball is a nasty person that you secretly hope Roy Hibbert dunks on. In fact, there are plenty of players in the league that are incredibly easy to root for. Regardless of your favorite, there are just some guys in the league you can’t help but enjoy succeed.

They serve as a reminder that being a pro athlete doesn’t make you a jerk. In fact, some of these guys are pretty proactive about being pleasant individuals. Still others possess an intangible air of likableness rarely found in NBA players, much less normal people. It’s hard to really formulate this down to a perfect list because “root-ability” isn’t really a stat. Think one of these guys is a clown? Did I miss anyone important? Have you bought a jersey just because you thought the player was a cool dude? Let me know in the comments.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, the 10 most easy to root for guys in professional basketball.

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10. Jeff Green

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Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green personifies the idea that in sports, everyone likes a comeback. Green was dealt a career-threatening heart condition and was poised to have a long road ahead of him, one that could possibly end in retirement during his prime. He went on to make a full recovery and is now set to be the future of the Celtics franchise for years to come. His most memorable moment came after hitting a game-winning shot, then going court-side to embrace the doctor that performed the operation to bring him back to playing capacity. Expect even bigger things from Green this season as he attempts to keep the Celtics afloat during their transition period. Whether you love or hate the Celtics, it’s hard to hope Green isn’t successful.

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9. Steve Nash

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From one coast to another, we arrive at Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash. Was there really any question in anyone’s mind to whether or not Nash would be on the list? Since entering the league in 1996, Nash has never been anything short of a class act. From starting the Nash Foundation in 2001 to hosting and playing in charity soccer games throughout his career, Nash has endeared himself to fans in every city he’s played for.

Even after spurning his former team, the Phoenix Suns in free agency to head for LA, Nash was welcomed back to Arizona with a thunderous ovation from former fans. On top of that, Nash just doesn’t look like a basketball player. When he entered the league, he was short and scrawny. 17 years later, Nash is short, scrawny, and now old. And he’s still tearing it up. He offers hope to those of us less athletically gifted than other competitors. It's also hard to root against the guy who, according to, told his mother he would become an NBA star when he was in the eighth grade. I mean, come on.

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8. Jeremy Lin

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Perhaps the only controversial figure on the list, Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin is clearly far from easy to support. Just ask the entirety of New York City two seasons ago when he led a Carmelo-less New York Knicks squad to success. Since then, the accusations of being overrated have come pouring in, but overrated-ness may be the only stain on a player's image they have no control over. I suppose that’s part of Lin’s appeal.

Despite what little unwarranted hate Lin gets, he never fights back. I’ve yet to see him trash talk anyone or anyone’s team, and he has maintained a humble and polite disposition during his rise to prominence, trip to Houston, and subsequent “flash-in-the-pan” labeling. Even though he has his detractors, I’m yet to hear a single good reason for disliking Jeremy Lin. Finally, everyone loves the underdog. After stints with different teams and being cut again and again, Lin’s sudden rise in relevance has been nothing if not fun to watch. The best part? You never know if and when he’ll turn “Linsanity” on again.

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7. Marcus and Markieff Morris

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Alright, Alright, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris are two people. But still. As a rule of thumb, the NBA can be a pretty vicious and unforgiving place. Relationships rarely mean anything, and basketball is first and foremost a business. So the fact twin power forwards get to play on the Phoenix Suns? That’s pretty cool. Admittedly, there isn’t anything particularly special about either of these guys’ games, nor are they especially outstanding citizens.

But how can you do anything but support brothers on a team together? There have been relatives in the league before, but from the same immediate family on the same team? C’mon.

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6. JaVale McGee

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There are two kinds of players in the league. Those who are the Denver NuggetsJaVale McGee, and those who are not. The often uncoordinated center has a reputation for being a bit of an odd duck and has highlighted NBA on TNT’s “Shaqtin’ a Fool” on a number of occasions. Still it’s hard to do anything but root for a guy who got a mustache tattooed on the inside of his finger in order to embrace his alter ego, “Pierre.”

McGee is also known for the time he left a sleeping homeless man a hundred dollars and most recently, his ability to replicate the sound effects featured in popular video game “Mario Kart.” For all the players in the league that compare the game to battle or call themselves the “chosen one”, it’s nice to see not everyone that takes the floor takes themselves too seriously. Most of all, how can you help but root for a guy who attempted to give away free noodles and burritos to the good folks of Denver? Don’t ever change, JaVale.

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5. Kevin Durant

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I don’t care what Nike says, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant is a really nice guy. After devastating tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma, Durant stepped up and donated a million dollars to relief efforts. Aside from being one of the best players on the face of the earth, Durant is known for his excellent relationship with his mother and for humbly apologizing for the time his grandmother told him to stop cursing during games via text message.

Durant has also started the Kevin Durant Family Foundation in hopes of helping families in times of financial difficulty. What really makes Durant so easy to support is how great of a guy he is off of the court but how ruthless he can be when on it. You don’t win a scoring title three times in a row by being jolly for 48 minutes a night.

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4. Kyrie Irving

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Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is pretty easy to root for if you like basketball. He is a friendly enough guy, has an electrifying game, and once dressed up as an old man and schooled some local ballers, all to sell low-calorie Pepsi.

However, he represents a bright future for the struggling Cavaliers and is next in line to lead them greatness after their former star left town, enraging fans who then had to look for a new star. Irving fits the bill. At only 21 years old, Irving has plenty of time to lead his city back into greatness. An underdog player in an underdog city. What’s not to like?

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3. Ricky Rubio

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It’s hard to dislike someone who likes their job as much as Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio likes his job. With the deadpan face of Tim Duncan and the scowl of Kevin Garnett, it can sometimes look like NBA players don’t even like basketball. Watch any Timberwolves game under most any circumstance, and you can’t deny Rubio sticks out like a sore thumb. The giddy smile on his face is priceless. He is easily the happiest looking guy in sports and once completed what has been dubbed as the happiest layup ever.

His advice to teammate Alexy Shved during a game against the Lakers stands as the prime example of why you can’t help but love Rubio: “Alexy! Change this face! Be happy! Enjoy it!”

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2. Marc Gasol

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Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol doesn’t look like an NBA player. Period. He kind of looks more like an actual grizzly bear. He has no tattoos, no signature shoe, and doesn’t call people out on twitter. All in all, he’s a pretty quiet guy. However, he’s far from the only one in the league without flash.

The real reason to root for Gasol in his transformation. A picture of Gasol in high school made me a fan. He went from that to one of the most intimidating players in the league and a much deserved Defensive Player of the Year winner. Behold, hope for all us that look out of place amongst athletes.

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1. Tim Duncan

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If you don’t like San Antonio Spurs center and NBA legend Tim Duncan, you do not like basketball. Period. One of the, if not the best power forward in the history of the NBA, Duncan has been doing the same thing since he got in the league and has four rings and perennial playoff appearances to show for it.

They don’t call Duncan the Big Fundamental because he jumped over a Kia. For all the flash and big shots, dunks, and contracts in the league, it’s hard not to root for an old school guy like Duncan. He’s been doing it for years and doesn’t show many signs of slowing down. Loyalty, hard work, and professionalism got Duncan to where he is now. There’s a lot of smarmy, arrogant people in sports. Tim Duncan just isn’t one of them.