The NBA is all about your reputation. If players feel like you can be pushed around, nobody's going to want to play with you, regardless of how talented you are. That's why all coaches crave tough players and hardnosed competitors on their squads.
Toughness is a two-way street, though, as sometimes, tough and harsh players tend to push their teammates and coaches away because of their relentless desire to win at all costs. We've seen it happen over and over, and that's never going to change.
But, who are the toughest players in the league right now? And we don't mean just physically tough but also mentally hard to beat or get inside their heads. Not many players can brag about that, and today, we're going to break it down for you:
10. Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo has made a name for himself for being one of the toughest players the league has seen in decades. He was one of the peskiest and most physical defenders in the league in his prime and he's well known for his trash-talking and desire to get in his rival's face.
Rondo's toughness has made him a lot of detractors throughout his career in the NBA, though, including some of his former coaches. But that same mental toughness has always helped him thrive in the playoffs and in clutch game situations.
9. Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka is an easy-going guy but he won't hesitate to get physical and throw some hands if you rub him the wrong way. He's one of the strongest big men in the league and not exactly the kind of guy you want to mess with, believe me.
Ibaka's reputation as a rim-protector and top-notch defender has taken a bit of a hit over the past couple of years as he's taken his game more towards the perimeter. But he's still a cement wall that'll make you think twice before trying to go over him.
8. Steven Adams
Steven Adams could be Jason Momoa's stunt double but perhaps Momoa would have to work out even harder. This guy looks like he came out of a Vikings' movie and make no mistake, he's as strong as he looks like. He had to be like that growing up.
Adams is the younger of 23 brothers, (most of them athletes) so you know he had to fight for every single thing he had earlier on his life. He's a top-notch defender and screen-setter that you need to really hurt if you want to move him or miss a single minute of game action.
7. Chris Paul
Chris Paul isn't the tallest guy in the league but he's by far one of the toughest. He doesn't have any friends when he's on the court and won't hesitate to get dirty, physical, and go the extra mile to win. He's the ultimate competitor and doesn't care about anything at all.
Paul's mental toughness and defensive instincts made him one of the greatest two-way point guards ever. It also helped him beat the odds and lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a playoff berth this season despite the lack of a solid supporting cast.
6. Montrezl Harrell
Montrezl Harrell is the ultimate hustler. What he lacks in size and wingspan he makes up for with a fire that never seems to go off. He's never going to give up on any loose ball and will put his body on the line on every single possession without any kind of hesitation.
Harrell's instincts and timing have made him a dominant presence in both sides of the glass. He's not going to get pushed around in the post and if you rub him the wrong way, he'll give you the hands in the blink of an eye, so beware.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been through it all. He overcame poverty and had to share one pair of sneakers with all his brothers just to be able to hoop. That's why he never takes anything for granted and continues to work as hard as the first day.
Giannis has improved every aspect of his game every year he's been in the league. He's the reigning MVP and a top candidate to win the Defensive Player of the Year award as well, and the way he's transformed his body shows you how much work and determination he's put in the gym as well.
4. Draymond Green
Draymond Green is tough as nails. He's strong, physical, and a guy that will do about anything to help his team win, even if that means getting dirty from time to time. That's why he's been a bit of a polarizing figure in the league for the past five years or so.
Also, nobody beats Draymond Green when it comes to trash-talking. He's going to get in your face, call you out, and infuriate you up to the point where you have no choice but to fight back. He'll get plenty of technical fouls in the meantime, though.
3. Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook always plays with a chip on his shoulder. He's determined to prove that he's better, faster, stronger, and more athletic than everybody else in the league and that's what drives him night in and night out regardless of the opposition.
Westbrook is a fierce competitor. He's never going to be outworked and he takes pride in it. If you dare to cross him, he's going to make you pay for it. Notably, that has often cost him some games because he tends to get tunnel vision from time to time.
2. Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart is one of the toughest human beings that's ever lived. He fought every day of his life with his bigger brothers and that molded him into the kind of NBA player that's never going to back down from a challenge. He wants to guard the best player on the rival side.
Smart is arguably the only player in the NBA that can effectively guard one through five and play lockdown defense regardless of who he's facing. He will put his body on the line, move between screens, get scratches, bruises, whatever it takes to win.
1. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler had to be tough growing up. He was literally homeless at some point in his life, so he's the kind of person that works out harder than everybody else because he knows playing in the NBA is a blessing just a handful of people can brag about.
Butler is an alpha dog. He'll give 110% and will accept nothing less than that from his peers. That has made him some enemies throughout his NBA career but he just doesn't care. He wants to lead but most importantly, he wants to win. At all costs.