5 Most Meticulous NBA Stars in the Game Today
Despite the wonderful talents with which they are born, players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James must worked tirelessly at their craft to become the great players that they are. Kobe, LeBron and others must maintain ideal physical condition, polish their work on the court and otherwise prepare themselves to be the best they can be.
Becoming one of the best players requires intense training, and remaining at or near the top requires dedication to training and an intuitive search for ways to refine one's game. Once a player like Kobe passes through his prime, he must evolve his game further to remain great.
Following is a look at how some of the most meticulous star players, both offensive and defensive stars, who refine their games to place themselves among the sport's best.
No one in the NBA wants to win more than Kobe Bryant. He won't hesitate to tell people. Kobe said (h/t Sports Illustrated) in 2002, "There are only two real killers in this league," referring to himself and Michael Jordan.
That killer desire comes from a relentless work habit. Kobe crafts his moves with great delicacy. As the aforementioned Sports Illustrated article notes, he develops and tests a new move one day and carries it out the next day during a game.
Last year, Kobe underwent Orthokine treatment on his knees. Bryant told the Daily News that he was able to ease knee pain and regain explosiveness through the procedure. The procedure, which Bryant said made him feel "95 percent better," will help him remain a devastating player for a few more years.
Some may write LeBron James off as a superior player who isn't driven to win a championship. Of course, that was never true.
One reason why it wasn't is the way in which he's chiseled his remarkable frame. According to Sports Illustrated, LeBron does a focused weight-lifting workout for 20-30 minutes per day.
Also, he's altered his jump shot to put a softer touch on the shot.
Putting together the precise strength training and the refinement of his on-court action has helped keep LeBron on top of the basketball world.
Tony Allen grinds hard to keep the "grit and grind" of the Memphis Grizzlies defense going. Allen is rapacious in his pursuit of the ball on defense. He works tirelessly going after the ball.
Part of the reason why Allen keeps the Grizzlies' defense going at a high level is his commitment as a student of the game. A Wall Street Journal article noted how closely he breaks down opposing offensive playmakers on film. He even schools front office personnel on defensive concepts.
Offensive rebounding is an underrated part of Allen's defensive attack. When asked about having one of the highest offensive rebounding rates among guards, he told Sports Illustrated, "I decided to go ahead and be one of the best defensive players in the world, and make hustle plays. The offensive rebounds are part of that."
Allen grinds hard on defense, and he brings the energy in different areas.
Kevin Love isn't one of the best athletes on the court. Because he isn't, he must make up for it in other areas to be a great rebounder.
He told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about how he learned positioning from his father.
He taught me what he learned from playing against those guys—positioning and footwork—but more than anything, he taught me that there's a mindset to rebounding: it's about assuming every shot is going to miss and how Bill Russell used to say 80 percent of rebounds are below the rim and knowing I could have a lot of success doing it. ... The will to rebound—to get every single one there is—isn't something you can measure. It's something I feel you either have [it] or you don't.
Love has persisted in that manner, working all the time to position himself to grab rebounds, making up for what physical tools his 6'10" body lacks.
Steve Nash isn't just another player, although he might like to think of himself as just another gym rat.
Nash has a particular shooting practice method. A Sports Illustrated article described how he moves through shooting drills by feel, moving to a different area of the floor when he feels the time is right. During the drill mentioned in the article, he took 163 shots.
Granted, 163 shots is perfunctory to becoming as accurate a shooter, both from the field and from the line, as Nash is.
One reason why Nash keeps going at a high level into his late 30s is his nervous energy. He always moves. He twitches, jerks and jumps. He continues to play more than 30 minutes, despite his age. With his great restlessness, he stays on the court, running the floor, dribbling with energy and pushing the ball to the scorer.