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

Max Minsker@@MaxMinskerCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2010

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

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Head coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a pregame news conference before taking on the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    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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    BOSTON - MAY 28:  Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic looks on against the Boston Celtics in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on May 28, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowl
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    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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    PHOENIX - JANUARY 06:  Shane Battier #31 of the Houston Rockets during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 6, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Rockets 118-110.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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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    LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24:  Tayshaun Prince #22 of the Detroit Pistons drives to the basket for a layup against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on February 24, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expres
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    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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    HOUSTON - MAY 08:  Forward Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers takes a shot against Yao Ming #11 of the Houston Rockets in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 8, 2009 in Houston, Texas.
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    SALT LAKE CITY - APRIL 30:  Chauncey Billups #1 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the basket during their game against the Utah Jazz in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena on April 30, 2010 in S
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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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    PHOENIX - MAY 29:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns encourages his team against the Los Angeles Lakers in the third quarter of Game Six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on May 29, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizon
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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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    SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 25:  Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 25, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees t
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    SAN ANTONIO - MAY 09:  Forward Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 9, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics moves the ball while taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 21:  Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant laughs with the championship trophy while riding in the victory parade for the the NBA basketball champion team on June 21, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers beat the Boston Celtic
    Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

    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.