Hustle: Nick Collison
Have you seen this guy in OKC’s run to the Finals? He was an integral part of the team as a bench player because he hustles like there is no tomorrow. He does things that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. He takes charges. He dives for lose balls. He sets rock hard picks. You just got to love watching this man contribute to the game of basketball.
Dunking: Russell Westbrook
Nobody has created more buzz dunking the ball than Blake Griffin has. He destroys people (search Blake Griffin Pau Gasol or Kendrick Perkins on Youtube). However, he’s 6’10”. Russell Westbrook is 6’3″. I enjoy smaller guys making 7 footers look like fools. Also, smaller guys just look better when they dunk. Maybe because smaller guys are usually more coordinated. Maybe because they look like they are much higher in the air. Now in his fourth year, Russell Westbrook is no stranger to the Top 10 Highlights. His dunks are powerful, gracious, and simply jaw-dropping.
Competitiveness: Kevin Durant
Kobe is the type that absolutely hates losing and shows it. For this reason, many people don’t like him. His competitiveness rubs off the wrong way. Durant is more of a smooth guy who is humble yet has the inner fire to be great. I would want my player to have this kind of competitive demeanor. His competitiveness is usually more subtle but conspicuous on the court when he demolishes his competition.
Defense: Lebron James
This man can guard every single position. He’s quick enough to chase the guards and big and strong enough to guard the bigs. He’s a great one on one defender, a great help defender, and a nightmare on fastbreaks for the opposing players (ask Wesley Johnson). Dwight Howard, the reigning 3 times Defensive Player of the Year is less versatile of a defender than Lebron. Moreover, Lebron’s defense is what separates him from Durant and Kobe as the best player in the league. Hate him all you want but Lebron is special on defense.
Clutch: Kobe Bryant
Carmelo statistically has one of the best percentages when it comes to late game shots. Ray Allen is deadly from three. Paul Pierce does the same step back jumper every time to burry other teams at the end of regulation. However, if I had to pick one player to take the last shot, I would pick Kobe. He has the swagger that even makes everyone around confident that he’ll make it. More importantly, he delivered on many, many occasions. If my player is as clutch as Kobe, everyone who is watching the game will know who the ball is going to with three seconds left on the shot clock.
photo credit: Kieth Allison