Despite the NBA's efforts to deter dives, flopping is as prevalent as ever in the NBA. (Getty Images)
With the playoffs fast approaching, The Point Forward is taking a look back at the best and worst of the 2013-14 season.
Previously: Fines and suspensions | Dunks | More dunks. Next up: Flops.
Welcome to the second rendition of The Floppies, SI.com's annual tradition of recognizing the very best in foul simulations. In case you missed it, last year's inaugural version can be found here.
The NBA's anti-flopping program, unveiled in October 2012, was brought back in the same form for the 2013-14 season. All players are allowed one free warning before the fines, which start at $5,000, and go up from there.
Although Rod Thorn took over from Stu Jackson as the head of the NBA discipline this season, not much has changed when it comes to the flopping program. Here's how the numbers compare from year-to-year:
2012-13 season: 24 flopping violations by 19 players on 13 teams; 5 fines totaling $25,000
2013-14 season: 33 flopping violations by 27 players on 19 teams; 6 fines totaling $30,000
The comparison reveals that flop warnings are up, somewhat, why the flop fines are just about level.
While the flop warnings spiked slightly, the fines still amount to absolute peanuts by NBA standards. Consider that Knicks guard J.R. Smith was fined $50,000 for attempting to untie an opponent's shoelaces (after being warned not to), which is nearly double the amount that every NBA player combined has been fined for flopping this season.
What's even more frustrating about the program is that we're now two seasons in and zero players have accumulated three flops in the same season, thereby triggering a $10,000 fine. Consider this: Rockets guard James Harden received two flop violations in Houston's first seven games. Since then? He has somehow managed to play more than 2,000 minutes and shoot nearly 600 free throws over 63 games without doing anything that violates the league's anti-flopping policy. That seems... unlikely.
As noted earlier this month, The Point Forward believes it's time that new commissioner Adam Silver either gets serious about the anti-flopping program, or ditches it.
Enough ranting. Let's get on with The Floppies, our flopping-centric year-end awards and a countdown the top 10 flops of the season.
Floppers of the Year (team): Timberwolves
Minnesota had one player fined for two violations (Corey Brewer) and two others warned (Kevin Love and Kevin Martin). Yes, I'm as shocked as you are that J.J. Barea made it through an entire season without a single flop violation. In any case, the Timberwolves' total of four flops ties them with the Pacers (two for Lance Stephenson, one each for Ian Mahinmi and C.J. Watson) for the league lead. The tiebreaker? Minnesota actually had three total violations last year, placing them high on the 2012-13 leaderboard, too. These rebels simply have no desire to conform.
Flopper of the Year (individual): P.J. Tucker, Suns
As noted, six players have been warned twice this season: Harden, Tucker, Brewer, Stephenson, Mario Chalmers (Heat) and Brandon Jennings (Pistons). None of those players succeeded in placing two different flops on this year's top 10 list, in large part because there was such a deep crop of flops from which to choose from. Tucker came the closest, though. His first violation came as he veered out of control and crashed to the ground after light contact from LeBron James. On the second, shown below, Tucker threw himself into the basket stanchion, which is really going above and beyond. The kicker here? The two flops occurred within a week of each other.
Enjoy his work of art below...
Without further ado, here are The Point Forward’s top 10 flops of 2013-14. Only officially designated flops were eligible for consideration. The absurdity of each play was the chief criterion in developing these rankings, with bonus points given to arm and head flailing, spinning, overreacting to zero contact, and uniqueness.
Let's tip things off with perhaps this season's longest belly-flop. Mario Chalmers took minor contact from Shelvin Mack on the left block, began flailing his arms immediately, wiped out just outside the paint on the right side, and skidded to a stop all the way in the right corner. Boxing out for rebounding position against a point guard should never result in floor burns covering 75 percent of your body.
Maybe the single funniest ball denial defense in league history. Chandler Parsons switches out on to Eric Gordon in hopes of keeping the rock out of his hands, and Gordon gives him a little nudge in hopes of creating a little breathing room. Parsons decides to give him an entire breathing mansion as he flails and spins so hard that he completely leaves the television screen.
Taj Gibson was minding his own business, going on a light jog in the park, when Dion Waiters stepped out from behind a tree and nudged him. Next thing you know, Gibson is doing a full 360-degree rotation with both hands in the air, as if he has just been mugged and is trying to flag down the nearest cop. The scene worked, as Gibson drew a foul.
This play really brings out the "all arms and legs" nature of Corey Brewer's unique physique. Realizing that he will have no chance of contesting a Carmelo Anthony pull-up jumper after going under a Tyson Chandler screen, Brewer decides to take his chances drawing a foul by running full steam into Chandler's path. Contact is made, sure, but Brewer's reaction is comical: his legs scissor kick up to Chandler's waist as he crashes arms first to the court. This was a flop and also an absolutely atrocious attempt at karate.
How many times have you heard someone scream "He didn't touch him!!!!" while disputing a call? That was actually the case in a game between the Bucks and Lakers, when Giannis Antetokounmpo prepared to drive left by swinging the ball through with elbows up. Jodie Meeks initially seemed to be leaning back to avoid taking a shot to the face. Once he was back there, though, Meeks decided to just keep going, allowing his crazy whiplash neck action to pull his entire upper body towards the court, where he landed face-down. Again: Meeks' fall was caused entirely by the draft off of Antetokounmpo's elbows, and zero actual contact.
Give NBA players credit: they really took selling contact to new heights this year. As he waited for an offensive rebound, P.J. Tucker felt a hand from Kenneth Faried on his back and he proceeded to do the only sensible thing: lurching forward with both arms up as he slammed himself into the padded basket stanchion. The Wrestlemania stunt -- complete with a crumple to the ground -- succeeded in drawing a whistle.
Getting a hip check while applying full-court pressure defense is a guard's worst nightmare, and Jerryd Bayless clearly took exception to a moving screen from Dwight Howard. As it turned out, "took exception" meant staggering, spinning, flailing and looking back at a referee for help before he crashed to the court. Pro-tip: if you're trying to sell a foul by flopping, go straight to the ground rather than remaining vertical long enough to make eye-contact with an official.
3. Lance Stephenson on Kyle Lowry
Halfway through a fight with Kyle Lowry for possession of a loose ball along the baseline, Lance Stephenson decided to freeze his entire body in dry ice. That decision caused him to lose control, stumble forward and eventually plow over a ballboy. Repeat: he destroyed an innocent ball boy while flopping. There's probably a Soulja Boy "Superman" reference to be made here too, given Stephenson's wacky arm action.
This flop is much like Jodie Meeks' above, only better in every way. It starts with an elbow swing from Gerald Henderson, who is trying to clear a rebound in traffic. The elbows go way high, setting the stage for Iman Shumpert to dig into his bag of thespian tricks. Even though there is absolutely no contact, Shumpert reacts as if he's been punched in the face and shoved in the back simultaneously. That's right, his head flies backwards as his body arcs forward, like a parentheses, before he takes two or three stagger steps and lands on his rear end. I hear Broadway isn't too far from Madison Square Garden.
1. D.J. Augustin on Brandon Jennings
Drum roll, please.... the top flop of the 2013-14 season goes to: D.J. Augustin! Pushing the ball forward in transition, Augustin takes a light bump from Brandon Jennings. He then takes two steps -- not one -- and dribbles before flinging up an off-balance, step-back shot at full speed that would make even Allen Iverson or Monta Ellis cringe. This one is only beginning to get good. He then decides to hurl his body at roughly a 45-degree angle away from the hoop and towards the baseline, where he bounces hard on immediate impact before crashing neck-first into the row of photographers. As for his shot attempt? It flies harmlessly off the backboard, drawing no iron. That hardly matters, though, because Augustin succeeded in earning a whistle, even though the contact from Jennings' was more or less a soft caress.
Was it ridiculous? Yes. Was it funny? Yes. Was it totally inconsistent with the game of basketball? Yes. Was it completely unnecessary? Oh yes. Was there a potential for injury? Yes. Was there flailing? Yes, if you count his entire body. Did he do all of this because he realized that he was simply driving too fast and that he wouldn't be able to slow down for a real shot? Yes, most likely. And, most importantly, was the flop successful in drawing a dubious call? Yes. There you have it: all boxes checked. This is, undoubtedly, the Flop of the Year.