The Hardest Working NBA Players
The NBA is adored around the world, with stars of past and present considered household names in even the farthest corners of the globe. Now that the 2022 regular season has ended, which players actually earned the acclaim and put in a serious shift for their team over the course of the year? We decided to find out who the hardest-working NBA players of the season were.
Looking at court coverage data acquired from the NBA for the 2021-2022 regular season, we’ve been able to determine distance covered during games and total calories burned throughout the season to reveal the hardest-working NBA players. We’ve also looked at court coverage data across entire teams to determine whether there’s a correlation between hard-working players and those franchises expected to compete for the NBA Finals in June.
The Top-5 Hardest-Working NBA Players
There’s no doubt that all NBA players put in tremendous effort to stay at the top of their game. The following players took their effort to the next level this season to help their teams succeed on the court.
1. Mikal Bridges
Claiming the crown as the hardest-working NBA star during the 2021-2022 season, we have the Phoenix Suns’ Mikal Bridges. The wing covered 212.5 miles during his 2,854 total minutes on the court, burning an incredible 38,055 calories.
2. Miles Bridges
Next up, Miles Bridges of the Charlotte Hornets burned more calories than any other player last season (40,578) during his 2,840 minutes on court. In terms of distance covered, the forward recorded a monstrous 210.7 miles.
3. Tyrese Haliburton
Tyrese Haliburton ranks third, with over 206.7 miles covered in 2,695 minutes last season. Haliburton put in significant minutes for both the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers after an in-season trade. Despite placing among the hardest-working stars, Haliburton’s calorie output was exceedingly efficient. He averaged just 10.92 calories burned per minute – compared to Mikal and Miles Bridges’ 13.34 and 14.29, respectively.
T-4. Tyrese Maxey and Scottie Barnes
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey and Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes round out the top-five, with each player clocking over 2,600 minutes on court and covering more than 200 miles apiece last season. Maxey slightly outperformed Barnes for total calories burned: 37,762 vs. 32,784.
Legends of the court and among the greatest to ever play the game — the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (134 miles), Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry (163), and Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (156 miles) — are far from the hardest workers in this regular season based on court coverage. These stars were hampered by injuries throughout the regular season, which surely hindered their output.
The Hardest-Working NBA Teams
As far as the hardest-working teams go, no NBA franchise put in more effort during the 2021-2022 season than the Toronto Raptors. The Canadian team covered a combined 1,548.7 miles last season, with three players placing among the 20 hardest-working stars (Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet).
Following closely, the Charlotte Hornets rank second with a total of 1,546.8 miles between the team’s players. This includes three players in the top-20: Miles Bridges, LaMelo Ball, and Terry Rozier.
Placing third, Sacramento Kings players ran a total of 1,539.5 miles, ahead of both the Phoenix Suns (1,522.4 miles) and Miami Heat (1,505.9 miles), which complete the five hardest-working NBA franchises.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Brooklyn Nets — one of the favorites pre-season to win the title — was one of the laziest during the regular season, with players covering a combined distance of just 1,353.6 miles.
The jury is still out on whether or not there is a correlation between the hardest-working teams and the likelihood of success. Of the hardest-working squads, only the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns made the playoffs from the top-five list. The Charlotte Hornets came close with a play-in tournament defeat to the Atlanta Hawks. The Nets, despite their lack of combined distance, also made the playoffs. It’s probably fair to say that it takes more than hard work alone to win a championship.
The NBA’s Hardest-Working Positions
We know who the NBA’s hardest-working players are, but do some positions put in more effort than others?
It’s probably not surprising to see that point guards cover the most distance during games. The position averaged 75.6 miles during the 2021-2022 regular season. In fact, seven of the top-20 ranking stars play this position.
Next up, centers moved on average 75.8 miles throughout the 2021-2022 regular season. This was followed by shooting guards (71.8) and small forwards (71.1). Power forwards were the most sedentary players on their teams, averaging 68.8 miles last season.
Every NBA player and team works hard, but there’s no denying the data that some just work a little harder than others.
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