Julius Randle embraced Tom Thibodeau's work-first mentality and became the NBA's Most Improved Player in their first season together. 

"When I first got hired I asked him to come in so we could spend some time, just to get to know each other," Thibodeau told ESPN. "And when he came in, you never know the type of shape someone's in, I had an impression of him from coaching against him. I knew he was talented and all those things, but you don't know who the person is. And when I saw -- he was in incredible shape. So I was working him out myself and I saw his work capacity."

During their workouts, Thibodeau saw that they shared basketball values.

"You could see how highly motivated he was," Thibodeau said. "And then when we had our short bubble, just his willingness to come in and work and lead and I could see how hungry he was. I felt like this was the guy that could help set the tone for us. And then he improved in every facet of the game. It's his passing -- we always knew he had the ability to drive the ball, to post-up -- but then adding the 3.

"And the willingness to work and sacrifice for the team -- he's the first guy in, he'll stay late, he comes in every night, all those things. So everything that you would want from a leader and your best player -- he's done that. He's got an unbelievable work ethic, he's a team-first guy, he wants to win, so he's earned everything that he's gotten."