Every coach preaches to players to be the star in their role. Getting the 7th or 8th guy on the roster to work as hard as the starters and bring the right attitude every day. In that category, Boban Marjanović is the real MVP.
One night he's following Kristaps Porzingis into the tunnel to calm him down and give words of advice after his ejection, the other he's 6-8 against the Clippers with 13 points and 9 rebounds in 11 minutes. Whatever the team needs, Boban will do it - more importantly, he will do it with the right attitude. Not because an agent told him that's what he has to do to get a new contract, but because that's what he believes is the right thing to do.
“I try to stay ready, do my job. Do the little things, help the guys win the game. We have KP and Maxi who have bigger roles, but if I go on the court, I try to help my teammates because this is a team sport. We need everybody to win this game.”
Boban Marjanović, NBA on TNT
Most coaches set up a few plays for the big guy on offense, so they don't lose interest in doing all the hard work under the basket. Boban's journey to the NBA was full of ups and downs, and it taught him a valuable lesson - not to take any of it for granted. Marjanović knows his height is a blessing in terms of basketball (mainly because his parents are 5'4'' and 5'3''), but it wouldn't amount to anything without hard work. A lot of guys talk about doing whatever it takes, Boban actually means it.
“I learned to enjoy every moment. If I play, I'll be on the court and enjoy this game. If I don't play, I'll be on the bench and enjoy helping my teammates. If I'm not active, I'll be there to help them in the locker room. I try to enjoy every moment and have a smile on my face.”
Boban Marjanović, NBA on TNT
Boban's interview inspired Barkley to address an issue in the NBA. While everyone understands you can't win without a superstar, prioritizing talent, and potential over everything else is a mistake. Even with a top 5 player, you need hard work and cohesion to win. That's why Barkley is so impressed with Boban.
“He's a perfect example of someone out there working hard. One thing that sucks about sports, we get so enamored with the guy who got talent. Kenny and Shaq know, I played with 25 guys who probably could've been All-Star or better, but were dumber than rocks or didn't work hard. Doug Collins always talks about energy. Work ethic and energy are two of the most underrated [qualities in the NBA].”
Charles Barkley, NBA on TNT
That's what championship organizations understand and implement from the top down. Hard work, positive energy, and attitude are as important as talent and are particularly meaningful when selecting your bench guys. If you are a coach or a GM, finding those guys requires the same qualities you are looking for. Hard work, humility, and positive energy.