The NBA is full of competitive freak-athletes that everyone wants on their team. Most of these players are superstars, but not all contain the one ingredient needed to intimidate their opponent and completely rattle them before the tip off even occurs. This special quality is called killer-mentality.
Killer-mentality can completely throw off an opponent, causing them to change their game, and have the sense of nervousness, leading to simple mistakes and anger. Many past players have used this mentality and shaped it almost like they’ve shaped their game, putting in time, effort, and finding their opponents biggest flaw, whether it’s personal or having to do with their skill set.
I have picked a certain list of players from the NBA that I think fit this description. The player does not have to be a star, or even a starter. Rather, they can be anyone on the roster, from the star to the last bench player.
1. PG Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder
One of the most athletic players in the league doesn’t need to show why he should be on this list. Westbrook uses his athletic ability to get through any defense he wants, and when he’s coming through, you better get out of the way. He shows no love to the rim, putting every single bit of anger into his dunks. Not only does his skill help him score, but his mentality of “no one is stopping me” is evident.
The athletic 6’3″ guard doesn’t only use his athletic ability, but his appearance too. Westbrook has the eyes of an absolute killer, having his sights on one thing and one thing only, the hoop. He also lets you know who he is. Kevin Durant, his former long time teammate, has gotten his share of ear fulls from Westbrook since he’s left. It doesn’t matter your relationship with Russell Westbrook. If you’re not wearing the same uniform as him, you best believe he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about you.
2. SG Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers
Now you may think, what about Jimmy Butler or Paul George, shooting guards that are well known for their scoring and defense? Victor Oladipo’s mentality is like a train on the tracks, meaning you need get out of his way. Oladipo is one of the most athletic guards in the league, proving it with his emphatic dunks. He can slash through defenses with his quick crossovers, completely leaving his defender in the dust.
The former Magic and Thunder guard found his home in Indiana, continuing his career in the state where it all began at Indiana University. He came back with a lot to prove after many wrote him off as possibly a bust due to the lack of impact he had on his former teams.
Oladipo doesn’t show his killer-mentality through talking, but he instead shows it through his game. Many big men have faced the consequences off trying to meet him at the rim, never testing those limits twice. When it comes to tip off, Oladipo gets in a zone that many can’t get into, and that’s wanting to prove why he should be in the discussion of elite shooting guards.
3. SF LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
People might say he’s “soft” or a “bitch”, but look at what LeBron has done for years. Every fan knows when it comes to playoff time, he’s coming to win, no matter where his team is ranked in the standings. LeBron has crushed the hearts of so many teams and fans for his entire career. The one thing LeBron hates to do is lose. Before the game even begins, all you have to do is look at him during warm-ups, and you know you’re in trouble.
LeBron doesn’t show this mentality through trash talking or fighting, but rather, he shows it through trying to be the best ever. He is physically unmatched, using all of his strength to get through defenders. Yes he flops, cries, and acts, but there’s no doubt that LeBron should be at the top of this discussion.
4. PF Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
This is an obvious choice. Green is one of the biggest trash talkers in the league, getting under the skin of some of it’s best players. Green wants his presence to be known, whether it’s being physical or getting in your face with trash talk. He wants everyone to know that he should be feared.
The former Spartan can sometimes play dirty, using his chippy side to his advantage. He has had run-ins with many players, such as Rajon Rondo, who is another candidate for this list. Draymond does not care how good the other player is, who they are, or who is on their team. He will get up in their face and make sure they know he’s there, and they’re not going to get rid of that.
His killer-mentality has helped him to win three NBA Finals, a Defensive Player of The Year award, and the All-Defensive Team four times. If he can’t get it going on offense, he’ll use different ways to affect the game’s outcome.
5. C DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors
Boogie has been an absolute beast ever since he entered the league. He is one of the scariest players in the league, willing to fight at any time. It’s very obvious that he is a huge hot head, and at any moment can be set off. Standing at 6’11”, weighing around 270 pounds, why would you test him?
Cousins has shown his anger in many ways, whether its yelling at the refs, the fans, or taking it out on tables, walls, and even picture frames, he is not one to be messed with. It’s hard to stop Cousins when he’s on his game. He will use every bit of the 270 pounds that he posses and use it on his opponent. Good luck trying to stop Boogie because his anger is his motor.
1. PG Rajon Rondo, Los Angeles Lakers
You want a killer on your team? Well Rondo is your man. Rondo’s “I don’t care” attitude is why he is the way he is. If you’re on his team, he’s got your back, and if you try to talk trash about his close teammates, you better believe he’s going to confront you about it. Rondo will defend any of his teammates backs, and basically any of the ’08 Celtics (except maybe Ray Allen). Rondo has been relevant for years, and that’s because he makes sure of it. Although he’s not the best scoring option, he will get as many assists as possible.
Although very quiet, if a player wants to talk smack, he’s not afraid to play along. He is a “get in your face” type player. If you want smoke, Rondo will bring the fire. Rondo is one of the biggest ride-or-die players in the league, defending his teammates and not letting anyone talk down to him.
2. SG Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
Smart’s gritty defense gets him on the list, and rightfully so. We have all seen Smart’s killer side come out, like his altercation with the fan during his days at Oklahoma State, or scrapping with NBA tough guys. He will not back down to ANYONE. Smart’s mentality 24/7 is, “learn the name, and don’t forget it.” He wants to be known in the league, and he wants others to fear what he brings to the court each game.
Smart is one of the most physical guards in the league, using each and every ounce of energy to impact the game. Any player in the NBA that is known as a tough guy will be contested. Smart will show them why he’s tougher than the next guy. He would have fit perfect in Jordan’s era, an era of fighters.
3. SF Marcus Morris, Boston Celtics
Marcus Morris is an ABSOLUTE killer. He loves being known as one of the biggest tough guys in the league, putting every bit of his reputation to use. He wants to be feared, he wants to be on other’s minds, and he wants you to know what he’s about. Morris puts the fear of God into his opponents, using this to his advantage. When people talk about feared, Marcus Morris (along with his twin brother Markeiff) is consistently brought up.
Morris will scrap with anyone in the league. Not only does he use his physical appearance, but he will get in his opponent’s face and let them know the deal. Morris’ goal is to break down his opponent physically and mentally, and he’ll to anyone to throw them off their game.
4. PF Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
A big man that can score at will, and can do it in many different ways. Anthony Davis will not let anyone stop him without a fight. He puts every inch of his body to use to score and be a defensive presence. He may not talk a whole lot of smack or scrap, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t belong on this list. When a player is able to take Davis out of his game, he can be taken off the list because he is not a player that is easily phased. He sticks to his goals; score, defend, and win.
Davis has been one of the best forwards in the league for a good time now, and shows no signs of slowing down. He knows that he is one of the best, which is why he is so good. He confident swagger makes his killer-mentality top notch.
5. C Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Joel loves to be involved in trash talk, taking advantage of any chance he gets to get under someone’s skin. When he’s not talking trash on the court, he takes to social media to call others out. The best to way to throw an opponent off is to get in their head, and that’s one thing Embiid has learned. He uses all off his massive body to get through anyone, making it nearly impossible to stop him when he’s on his game. It’s hard to try and defend a guy when he knows he can go through almost anyone on the court.
He models his game after Dikembe Mutombo, who was a terrific big man and one of the best ever. He learned a lot from Dikembe, skill, technicalties, and the attitude of “not in my house.” It takes a lot to get under Embiid’s skin, as he is only focused on wanting to be dominate and put fear into his opponents.
PG Patrick Beverley, Los Angeles Clippers
Talking trash and getting under someone’s skin is a skill that Beverley possesses. He’s not an offensive threat, but he plays great defense and gets in everyone’s head. I love watching Beverley play because of the stare he gives and the sense he has. He has the look of an animal in his eyes, and can easily smell blood in the water. Other players will work on skill, but Beverley works on the different ways he can phase a player. Beverley is the type of player any team wants, but hates to play against. He’s gritty, has thick skin, and knows something about you that you may not even know.
This list is made up of players that have the “I can’t be stopped” mentality. They will score when they please, and when it comes down to defense, they will make sure their presence is known. Some of the players listed are not big trash talkers, but they can take over a game and leave the word “lose” out of their vocabulary. They will their killer-mentality turn any strength you have into a weakness and go right through you.
Photo: The Tattler