Russell Westbrook – The Ultimate Competitor
The reigning MVP Russell Westbrook has always been known for his energizing, 100 mph level of play.
This last Wednesday, Westbrook put up 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists against former teammate Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors in a 108-91 victory. Throughout the contest, he talked trash and even shared a headbutt with Durant as the two refused to put aside their bickering.
“I’ma go out there and compete every night, I’m coming at your neck every single night and I just let [Durant] know that,” Westbrook said after the game about their altercation.
Even in his final game, Kobe competed with a similar mindset, scoring 60 points in a 101-96 win against the Utah Jazz.
Isaiah Thomas – Mental Toughness and Confidence
Last season, Isaiah Thomas averaged 28.9 PPG and 5.9 APG as the Boston Celtics won the first seed in the Eastern Conference. He helped them do this by leading the league in fourth quarter scoring at 10.1 PPG.
Despite losing his sister in a tragic accident prior to the postseason and later suffering a hip injury, Thomas played through the pain and led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Thomas was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason, but his confidence seems to have not been affected in the slightest.
“I will average at least 25 [points], I could do that in my sleep. I’m a professional scorer, I do that in my sleep,” Thomas said in September about his recovery from his hip injury.
Kyrie Irving – Insane Clutch
Like Kobe Bryant, Kyrie Irving needed to overcome the shadow of a superstar teammate and be ‘the man’ on his team to be truly recognized for his greatness. Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers this last off-season to fulfill his potential.
Despite missing All-stars Gordon Hayward and Al Horford for a small stretch, Irving led the Celtics to a 16 game winning streak. As the primary ball handler, Irving showcased his insane handles and clutch shot making ability. Not to mention Irving’s recent monster 47 point performance against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, which would have made Kobe proud.
Devin Booker- Unparalleled Work Ethic
Devin Booker is the youngest guard on this list, but he has the largest career high in points. On March 24, 2017 Booker scored 70 points in a loss to the Celtics when he was just 20 years of age.
Booker’s offensive game is perfect. He can attack the basket with ease or utilize his beautiful jump shot, both of which he perfected in hours of training and practice
“You hear stories about Kobe throughout the NBA, about LeBron, on the mindset they take to the floor and the extra work that they put in. If I want to be great, you have to follow those footsteps,” Booker said about improving his work ethic at the NBA level.
By: Adam Tayabali