2016 NBA Ultimate Name Rankings


Toss basketball skill out the window. For the rest of this post, ignore salary, stature, experience, basically anything you might use to actually judge a basketball player. All that matters for the next few minutes is the quality of your name. We’re going to figure out who has the best name in the NBA.

Here are the rules:

  • 32 Total Players
  • One player per team
  • Two wildcard players
  • Player must have played at least one minute for a team to be considered eligible.
  • Players can be eligible for multiple teams but not represent multiple teams.
  • All judgements are entirely subjective and determined by me.

Let’s get started:

  1. Meyers Leonard: Ah, the classic first name-last name switcheroo.
  1. Shayne Whittington: The winner of this year’s Matthew Dellavedova Memorial “Most Likely to Destroy the Community Center to Get his Country Club Expanded” Award.
  1. Gorgui Dieng: How many Georges do you know that go by George-y? Like none. It ends at around age-2. Dieng gives us a really unique opportunity to get some use out of that name.
  1. Willie Cauley-Stein: Sounds like there are three of him. “I’m going over to Willie’s house to hang out with Cauley and Stein.”
  1. Zaza Pachulia: If he were American I’d have a lot of fun figuring out what Zaza was short for. Zazachary?
  1. Montrezl Harrell: The winner of the single most unnecessary letter in the entire NBA.
  1. Markel Brown: I’m almost positive a markel was a unit of money 17th century Ireland.
  1. Matthew Dellavedova: The house of mirrors of names. I spent most of last summer calling Elena Delle Donne Elena Dellavedonne. It just never ends, and all of the sounds are the same. So many D’s and L’s and V’s and vowels.
  1. Pablo Prigioni: Somehow reminds me of both a pizza delivery boy and Backyard Baseball, so there’s that.
  1. Tibor Pleiss: The hottest Mongolian grill in Williamsburg right now.
  1. Metta World Peace: There will always be room on this list for the classics.
  1. Coty Clarke: It takes guts to misspell both your first AND last name.
  1. Thabo Sefolosha: I’ve started going non-conformist and pronouncing the “TH” in “Thabo.” It sounds like the classiest name you’d ever mess up with your lisp.
  1. Enes Kanter: Not many names can so readily accept a “P” and turn, essentially, into “Penis Kanter.”
  1. Festus Ezeli: It sort of sounds like a disease the media would blow out of proportions. Like one dude came back from the Festus Islands with a rare case of the Ezeli virus and everyone would panic.
  1. Boban Marjonovic: I can’t say anything about Boban that the internet hasn’t already said.
  1. Bismack Biyombo: If I had to guess, I’d say this is an anagram for the location of William Henry Harrison’s secret gold.
  1. Spencer Dinwiddie: This name should only exist in movie trailers. “Spencer Dinwiddie was an average teenaged boy, until one day…”
  1. Quincy Pondexter: Insert poindexter joke here.
  1. Jon Leuer: All told, we’re close to a decade into the Jon Leuer experience and I still can’t explain why his name needs five letters. Couldn’t it be “Luer?” Or just “Lur,” but with those two German dots on top?
  1. Joffrey Lauvergne: I like to imagine him as the result of a Game of Thrones-Laverne and Shirley crossover where King Joffrey drinks a lot of white wine and complains about his subjects.
  1. E’Twaun Moore: This one had to be a misunderstanding. Someone said “Antwan,” but he must have had a cold or something.
  1. Channing Frye: I imagine, somewhere in the depths of Arkansas, this name was born as a DIY alternative to deep frying.
  1. Kemba Walker: I will never stop calling Kemba the Lion King. It sounds like both Simba and Kimba (this is where you look up Kimba the White Lion and light a torch to your faith in Disney).
  1. Justise Winslow: Easily the name on this list most likely to be a superhero’s secret identity. “Mild mannered circuit court judge Justise Winslow won’t tolerate crime in his courtroom, and neither will his alter ego, Justice Man, on the streets.”
  1. Carmelo Anthony: It would’ve been really easy for me to make a “love taps Porzingis” joke, or to just throw in the black sheep Antetokuonmpo brother, but let’s remember for a moment that we’ve spent over a decade in the NBA with a star player named “Carmelo.” We’ve just stopped questioning it. I can’t remember the last time someone made a caramel jello joke.
  1. CleAnthony Early: Anthony Early is a perfectly acceptable name. Did his parents just think it needed a bit more pizazz?
  1. Beno Udrih: Beno sounds like what you’d call a dumb Benjamin.
  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo: A random thought, why do international names tend to be longer? I understand why they’d be different, but why don’t other countries have the equivalent of “John Smith?”
  1. Markieff Morris: What has always bothered me about this name is that he has a twin brother named Marcus. They share a name root. Why does one get a normal name ending and the other get the sound you make when sneeze on a window?
  1. Nerlens Noel: I can’t find a normal name anywhere in here. Like I can at least somewhat understand something like “CleAnthony,” it’s derived from an actual name, but Nerlens? Where does that even come from?
  1. Kentavious Caldwell Pope: This isn’t a name, it’s a sentence. “Did you hear? Kentavious Caldwelled the Pope!”

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