By Aaron Craft, for NBA.com
I was really excited heading in to summer league, just to have a chance to play some 5-v-5 again. You are always a little bit nervous going in to new situations, but practicing really helped me calm my nerves and gave all of us a chance to get to know each other. After that, it was just getting back to playing basketball, trusting in the work and the practice and just enjoying the game.
I was lucky enough to be able to play with two different teams – the Philadelphia 76ers in Orlando and the Golden State Warriors in Las Vegas. I didn’t have specific goals going in to summer league, just to get back to playing and let my competitive natures take over. I wanted to win.
Playing in Orlando definitely helped prepare for Vegas, which is much more of an event, with spectators and announcers, even a hype man to get the crowd going. Orlando was similar to an open gym type atmosphere where as Vegas was more like a college game. There was a lot of energy in the arena which is always helpful in giving you a little extra oompf or adrenaline when you’re playing. There was one game in particular, when we played the Lakers, where the fans were crazy — cheering during free throws and everything.
The most challenging part is the free time. Basketball is so natural and practice was great, but at 3 pm you’re on your way back to the hotel with nowhere to be until 10:30 the following morning. Of course it’s Vegas, so there is plenty to do, but there is a big difference between what you can do and what you should do! I mostly went to dinner with some friends – lots of good places to eat in Vegas.
My experience at summer league was a little different from some of the guys who were draft picks. Playing with two different teams meant two different coaching styles and two different systems to learn. The other guys know what team they’re playing for and have an added level of comfort in that sense. I was fortunate enough to get on two great teams with a lot of young players who were unselfish, energetic and really committed to making the team the best, so that made it really enjoyable.
Overall I am very proud of how I played. I am learning that there is a whole lot more than just basketball that goes in to how NBA teams assemble their rosters, but that is the only part I can control and I know I made the most of the opportunity. I am hopeful that it transforms into something bigger, but right now even more excited to see my fiancée and my brother who is home on leave from the army. Every once in a while it’s good to put the ball down, but never for too long!
Aaron Craft is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Ohio State. Look for more “NBA Rooks: Diaries …” all season long on the All Ball blog.
VIDEO: Prospect Profile: Ohio State’s Aaron Craft