Blue Collar Special: 10 NBA Players With a Great Work Ethic

Max MinskerCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2010

Blue Collar Special: 10 NBA Players With a Great Work Ethic

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    NBA players are some of the most naturally gifted people in the world, but not everyone has it easy. I think it's important to recognize the players that put in the most work in order to be the best version of themselves.

    This slide show is dedicated to the hard workers in the NBA, the first to arrive and the last to leave, day in, day out. 

    Feel free to leave a comment about a player you think may have been left out, as there are more than just 10 players that deserve credit.

10. Dwight Howard

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    Dwight Howard as always been known as a one-dimentional player. He is great defensively, and he can rebound. He has made his money by simply overpowering people in the past. Opposing teams have labeled him as limited on offense, and it's true.

    Dwight Howard can score from inside, but he doesn't have much range on his jumper and his moves aren't exactly polished. 

    This off-season, Howard apparently put in the work. He has always worked hard to emphasize his strengths, but now he is more of a complete player. He is so athletic and so gifted that he could do anything if he really tried. The sky is the limit for Howard, and he has shown he is willing to work hard. 

9. Shane Battier

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    Shane Battier has always been known as the guy who does the little things that don't show up on the stat sheet. He made a name for himself at Duke, but people weren't sure about him in the NBA. He has proven over the length of his career that he is willing to do what it takes in order to get minutes.

    Battier is the perfect example of hard work. He has always been a good defensive player and has really refined his skills over the years. Battier is a perfect teammate, he is the kind of guy you want to fill your roster with.

    Battier may not fill up the stat sheet, but he affects the game in a variety of different ways, and he accomplished it through a great work ethic.

8. Tayshaun Prince

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    Prince has always been successful and he passed yet another milestone when he played on the gold medal winning olympic team back in 2008. He may not have been the most talented player on the floor, but he has a great work ethic and he is a great piece for a team. 

    He has made a name for himself on the defensive end of the floor being named to multiple All-NBA Defensive teams over the past few seasons. Prince has never been the best, but he will always have a place in the game, because he works hard and he gets the dirty work done.

7. Yao Ming

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    Yao Ming was drafted by the Houston Rockets with high expectations in 2002, and Yao hasn't disappointed, for the most part. Ming has had to overcome quite a bit of adversity over the years, and he has dealt with it very well. He has carried Chinese basketball on his shoulders, and he has handled it well. 

    He has had to work around his bad foot for the past couple years, but he has still found a way to be effective. I realize he missed last season, but he has been working hard to come back and he is expected to play in the season opener.

    Ming came into the league in need of an extra layer of polish, and he has since put that on. Ming has done an excellent job in his career of overcoming adversity, and you have to give him credit.

6. Chauncey Billups

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    Chauncey Billups is a guy people listen to in the locker room. He has a great success story, and young players can learn from him. He always showed flashes of potential, but he never really put it all together until he arrived in Detroit in 2002 where he led the team to a ring.

    He was traded to Denver last season, and he has a great deal of influence on that locker room already. Not only does he have a great work ethic, but he is also a great mentor and leader. Whether you like Billups or not, you have to respect him for what he brings to the table.

5. Steve Nash

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    Steve Nash has never been, and will never be the most athletic player on the floor. He makes his money off hard work and his high basketball IQ. 

    He wasn't heavily recruited out of high school, as he went to Santa Clara. He was drafted in the middle of the first round by the Phoenix Suns. He had two big spikes in production in his career. First, in his fifth year he really started scoring a lot better and his assists went up as well. 

    Then he really put it all together to make the next step in his career in his return to Phoenix in 2004. His scoring remained the same, but his assist production really picked up. Things haven't always come easy for Nash. He has developed a great work ethic over the years, and that's how he lands so high on this list.

4. Jason Kidd

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    Jason Kidd has put in the time. He is one of the NBA's most versatile players and he is good at literally everything. 

    Kidd was drafted with high expectations at second overall, and he lived up to the hype. Not only is he one of the premier passers of the NBA today, he can also score and rebound, and he (still) also plays excellent defense.

    Jason Kidd is 37 years old, the fact that he can still play at a high level when he is 37 speaks to his great work ethic. He has also worked well with his teammates in the past, and he is definitely a good influence on young players. 

3. Tim Duncan

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    Tim Duncan has been a very good player, for a very long time. He was drafted with the first overall pick and has played his entire career with the San Antonio Spurs.

    Duncan dominated the NBA in his first season, and he never looked back. He has always been a good influence and he works hard. Out of all the players on this list, Tim Duncan probably had the easiest road, but don't confuse that with laziness. 

    Tim Duncan is a beast down low, and he has a great selection of moves near the basket. Like many of the players on this list, Duncan is on the downside of his career, and he will be remembered for his dominance down low and his impressive work ethic.

2. Kevin Garnett

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    KG was drafted with the fifth overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves right out of high school. Kevin Garnett had been trouble in high school, and people weren't sure about how he would react to the rigors of the NBA. 

    He has responded well. Kevin Garnett is the guy that yells at his teammates if they don't go full speed in drills, or always run through their sprints. Personally I never would have expected Garnett to be that guy, but either way, he has great work ethic.

    He is known for his intensity and his passion for the game, and I love that about Garnett.

1. Kobe Bryant

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    Kobe Bryant is the best player in the game today. He is also the most intense player in the NBA. He always plays at 100% and everybody knows it.

    Kobe is the best player in the game for a reason, and that reason is that he simply outworks, and outplays everybody else.

    If you watch Kobe, you would know that nobody can actually shoot like that from raw ability. He has developed his skills over time to become one of the best ever.