The highest flyer
Empirically-speaking and not counting factors such as form, the Milwaukee Bucks’ flash in the pan, D.J. Stephens, was briefly the NBA’s best leaper when he signed onto the team for a 10-day contract approximately one month ago. According to Yahoo Sports, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard holds the record for the highest standing vertical leap measured by the NBA (40 inches), as well as the league’s record for running vertical leap (46 inches). The only way to get up that high is to put the time in to improve your vertical leap.
The most muscular man
It may not come as a surprise, by the title of strongest NBA player, at least pound for pound, rests with LeBron James. LeBron weighed in at 250 pounds at the start of this season and stands at 6-foot-8. Unlike other strong men whose size and weight translate into bulldozing tactics that don’t necessarily put the ball in the basket (please don’t hurt us, Nikola Pekovic), James’ athleticism translates into a profound mastery of the game. There’s a good reason he’s arguing that he’s on the Mount Rushmore of basketball.
The healthiest eater
Not all diets are created equal, and there’s no one perfect diet for all basketball players. That said, Grant Hill’s mindfulness, consistency and performance make his dietary habits one of a kind. His modified paleo diet—partially based on former teammate Steve Nash’s philosophy—mainly tends to avoid sugars, which are frankly not useful to most high-performance athletes. Now just over the hill at 41-years-old, Hill looks young and spry as ever co-hosting NBA Inside Stuff. Eat your veggies, kids (just like Hill’s father, former NFL running back Calvin Hill).
The hardest worker
Alternately, Blake Griffin could also be named the most-improved player, physically speaking, and more than once. Coming off a broken kneecap in 2009, the 6-foot-10, 251-pound Griffin helped lead the Clippers reach playoffs twice for the first time in 30 years. Then, after spraining his ankle, he had a revelation: train harder during the off-season to prevent injury. Since, he’s been at the top of his game, according to Stack. According to the LA Times, he also has a body fat percentage of around five per cent.
The most impressive recovery
There have been some awful injuries in the NBA—Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul are recent casualties that spring to mind—but none have recovered (physically, anyway) as well as Dwight Howard. Although ACL tears are the most cringe-inducing, Howard’s 2012 back injury was no laughing matter. However, following extensive rehab, he was averaging 15 points per game and 17 rebounds playing for the Rockets, which is certainly at least on par with his performance with his previous team, the Lakers, in 2012 (17.1 points average and 12.4 rebounds). This regular season (prior to his ankle sprain), he’s improved even more, throwing down 18.3 points average with 12.9 rebounds.