NBA Rooks: Diaries

Rookie Diary, Volume 4: Kristaps Porzingis

VIDEO: Prozingis wins the Kia Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for January

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Porzingis discusses preparing for his first All-Star weekend, to play for the World team against the United States roster in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge with the best rookies and second-year players on Friday night in Toronto.

I wasn’t too surprised when I was told I had been picked. But it was a goal. I wanted to be in the rookie game. I was already talking about it last season, when I was still in Spain. During this same time, I was talking with my agent and my family that “Hopefully next year or whenever. I want to be there.” So it was a good feeling to make it. It was nice to find out that I was in the game, and I’ll have my parents and two of my older brothers with me.

I would rather play in the game than have the time off during All-Star break. During the season the only thing I focus on is basketball. If you can have a few days off, that’s fine. If not, you keep working. Playing at All-Star weekend was something that I wanted to do and if that’s how it is then I’m not going to get any days off.

I’ve been talking to a few of my teammates and the people who work with the team about what to expect, asking how it’s going to be. Actually you’ve got to do a lot of extra stuff, a lot of media. They’re preparing me for everything that’s coming. They’re mostly telling me that it’s not just one game and that’s it. There’s a lot of stuff going on before. Everybody’s giving me advice.

I’m looking forward to going out there with all the rookies and kind of reuniting with all of them from the rookie transition program before the season. It will be fun. I met all those guys and I stayed in touch with a lot of those guys, so it will be fun to play against them again and have fun out there.

I’m not really trying to meet somebody in particular apart from the game. But it will be nice to see all those famous people out there. Probably not for our game, but more for the big All-Star game. Maybe I’ll get to meet some rappers maybe or other people. I’m not sure yet if I’ll even go to the other events. I might. We’ll see if I stay that long in Toronto.

I’m sure I will be thinking when I’m there about playing in the All-Star game one day. That’s one of my goals, that I want to be there. I want to be an All-Star. Right now I’m really focusing on what’s going on now and not looking two, three, four or five years in front of me. But in the long term, I obviously want to be there. I want to be part of the big event.

That’s motivation for me, how hard you’ve got to work to be there and to make it. That’s one of the rewards you get. To be one of those 24 guys that are in the All-Star game, I think that’s a dream for everybody. But I don’t want to get away from the things that are happening now. I really want to focus on what’s going on now. That opportunity might come, but I’ve just really got to focus on the day-to-day and getting better.

Every event like this is something that stays in your memory. It’s something that you achieved in your first year in the NBA. You’re able to play in the rookie game. That’s a nice thing to remember going forward and looking back 20 years from now and remembering all those good times – my first year, how I got adjusted, how I got picked for the rookie game. Those are good memories. Nothing will be able to replace that.

Rookie Diary, Volume 4: Myles Turner

VIDEO: Myles Turner shows off a nice move during his first career start.

Myles Turner of the Pacers and Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Turner discusses getting his first career start as Indiana played the Hawks on Thursday night.

Coach Vogel had called me the night before the game and told me he was going to give me an opportunity to start. I was ready for it. I was just over-the-moon excited about it and wanted to go out there and have a good showing.

It still had to be business as usual, though. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it. I was really excited about the opportunity but I couldn’t get overexcited. I just wanted to show everyone why I deserved it.

My parents were actually here at the time, so I told them. They were ready for it as much as I was. Actually, they were probably more excited than I was. My dad especially. ‘Man, don’t screw this up.’ He was excited for me. He was ready to see me get it going.

This was definitely earned, not given. That’s the way I look at it. I think I just showed the coaches how confident I was out there and how I care about stuff on the court so that I was ready for this opportunity. I think that was probably the biggest thing. I think it’s really just the fact I’m going out there and carrying myself in a way that the coaches are used to. That confidence was giving me the opportunity to go out there and play well.

The biggest part was when the starting lineups were announced. That’s when it became most surreal. But I was ready for the opportunity, I was excited and I was ready to go.

It felt a little different at the start of the game. Instead of bringing energy off the bench, I had to bring the energy right off the bat. It’s not something I would say I wasn’t used to doing, but it was a different sensation for sure. It’s the first time I’ve really started in a long time. I didn’t really start the games in college at Texas, so it was a different sensation I haven’t felt since really high school. It was a huge difference. It was a nice little preview of what is hopefully more to come.

I wouldn’t say there was extra pressure to produce since I was starting. There probably was a little more added pressure, but that was only the pressure I put on myself. That was the main thing. Other than that, it was fun.

I’ve worked really hard to get to this position. To know that it’s working out for the best, that’s the biggest thing for me right there. Anybody can say anything on any given night, but I know I’m out there doing what I’m capable of doing. I’m just excited for the opportunity and for what’s to come.

Rookie Diary, Volume 3: Kristaps Porzingis


VIDEO: Kristaps Porzingis nominee for January’s Rookie of the Month

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Porzingis discusses being in contention for Rookie of the Year and what the award would mean to fans in New York and his native Latvia. 

Rookie of the Year is secondary for me. It’s nice to have that recognition and that people recognize what I’m doing for the team. But the best reward is making the playoffs and the team having success there. If that happens then I’ll be able to feel better about the season.

I follow other rookies because I’ve gotten to know some of the guys and we stay in touch. Obviously I’m following the NBA, anything about it, so part of that is I’m paying attention to how the rookies did every game. It’s fun to follow those guys. Hopefully I can play a lot of years with all those guys I’ve met.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor, they’re playing at a fantastic level right now. They’re good for their teams and their making a lot of plays for their teams. Those two are the best rookies I’ve seen. It’s between us three. Those guys are playing really good basketball and I’m trying to do the same thing. I don’t know how you evaluate who’s been the best. Is it team success? Is it only individual success? But they’re good for their teams.

Winning the award will just show a lot of people who thought I wasn’t ready that I was actually ready my first season. That’s nice to get an award. But it all starts with team success. If the team wins, that’s when all those kind of awards come. That’s the main focus. But obviously it would be very nice to receive awards like that.

I think winning Rookie of the Year would mean a lot to people in New York. We could give them some hope that we’re heading in the right direction and I can be a part of that. That would not only be nice for us, the team, but especially for the city and the fans. They’ve been waiting for that.

And I think people in Latvia would be extremely proud of me. It’s not every day we have a player in the NBA and especially one that is able to play in the first season. They would be really proud of me. That’s one of the things I’m trying to do, make them proud.

I don’t know exactly how big it would be there. I think a lot of people know who I am, but I don’t know if they know much about what the rookie award is. They would all be

really happy about it and for me. I don’t think it would be like a championship celebration, but I think they would definitely be happy for me.

Rookie Diary, Volume 3: Myles Turner


VIDEO: Myles Turner swats away James Harden

Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Turner discusses the transition from college to the NBA compared to the jump just before from high school to college.

It’s a little weird to think I was in high school two seasons ago. I was actually just discussing that with one of my friends. It’s quite odd. Time flies. It feels like a month ago you were at the prom and what not, and now I’m here.

Going from college to the pros is definitely a bigger jump than high school to college. In high school, I had the chance to play with USA Basketball. That really got me ready for the whole college ball thing, as far as the speed of the game and what not. But going from college to the pros, the strength of the game is so much different. It’s crazy.

I check in with friends from high school and see how they’re doing, but everybody’s pretty much doing their own thing. It’s general conversation for the most part — how are things going? Just keeping everything real.

But I’ll get a lot of questions about the NBA. “How’s the money treating you?” “How are the girls?” “How is LeBron James?” “How’s Kevin Durant?” Little stuff like that. General questions that they don’t get to ask every day. Sometimes I have to decide between what to tell them and what not to tell them. But for the most part I’m pretty straight up with it.

Going from college to the NBA is hard socially as well. It’s hard. After classes at Texas, after practice, we’d all go hang out with each other. Now it’s like everybody has to go home to their families. It’s definitely a huge adjustment in that aspect. Everybody is not friends. You’re cool with everybody. You’re brothers. But at the end of the day everybody has their life away from the court as well.

One of my friends lives with me. He’s one of my best friends ever since elementary school. He goes to college up here. He runs track at Butler. Having him here definitely helps. Not having him here would hurt. For sure.

Sometimes I miss the social aspect of college, a little bit of the structure, just knowing what I’m going to be doing every day, just being able to hang out and stuff. But I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. I was tired of school. I once told my parents that once I’m done with school I’m done with school. But it’s a little different now. I want to go back for my degree because I’ve had good times.

I’d probably like to get my degree in counseling psychology. I’ve just always liked helping people. Helping people through a tough situation, a hard problem, I kind of get a kick out of that. I could see taking classes when I’m still playing, when it’s easier to do at some point after I get past my rookie season. Probably not this summer but next summer I’ll try and get ready for it.

Campus life was different. It’s your first time on your own, you have friends and everybody gets to hang out with each other. You’re on your own for the first time. It was fun. I loved the city of Austin. I would go back anytime I get an opportunity. The city itself is an amazing city. I love it there. The scenery, there’s always something to do. It’s a weird town — weird in a good way. It has a different vibe to it. I just love the city. All the different types of food and everything. That too.

It’s a lot slower here, but people are nice. They’re cool. It’s the Midwest. It’s not hard to adjust to because not a lot goes on here. I’m able to keep my head on straight.

It was a little rough at first because you don’t always have the same constant connection with teammates like you did in college, but I got used to it in the summertime. Having my friend here has been good. If he wasn’t here it’d definitely be harder. It’d be boring. You’d be sitting here talking to yourself at times.

Guys like Monta Ellis have their kids. It’s kind of odd. It’s almost like they’re old enough to be my dad in some aspects. It’s kind of funny. Sometimes my teammates try to make fun of me and call me “15,” like “15 years old” and stuff like that. I really don’t care about all that. They’re just kidding. It’s all in fun.

Rookie Diary, Volume 2: Kristaps Porzingis


VIDEO: Knicks’ rookie Kristaps Porzingis is all the rage in New York

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Porzingis discusses winning over the fans who were skeptical before the draft, especially the young Knicks supporter who was captured crying when New York selected Porzingis but was photographed a couple weeks ago wearing a Porzingis jersey.

Somebody, I think my brother, told me the kid had my jersey a while before the picture came out. I actually saw the kid when we were warming up one day before the picture came out. He was on the sideline and he was giving me high fives all the time, but I didn’t realize it was that kid. His dad was there too, to take a picture, me with him. That would have been real fun to take that picture. We didn’t because I didn’t realize it was that kid and I was warming up. We’ve got to make it happen now. I told my brother whenever he sees that kid he’s got to bring him to the sideline so we can take a picture.

I will joke around with him a little bit, but not too hard. He’s still a kid. What would I say to him? I would ask if it was him who was crying at the draft and why was he crying. To hear the explanation from the kid, that would be funny.

I remember the reaction from fans on Draft Night. It still sits inside of me a little bit. But I wasn’t bothered by it then and now I’m bothered even less. They’re cheering for me now obviously and that’s good. I was able to turn those boos into cheers. But it was more because they didn’t know me, they didn’t know my game, they didn’t know I really loved New York and that was the place I wanted to be. For me to turn them around was not so hard. I just played my game, had a few good games and I think for the most part they kind of fell in love with me a little bit.

I didn’t know how fast it was going to happen until I won them over. But that’s the New York crowd. One moment they’re booing you and you’re not playing well, the next you’re playing well and they love you. That’s how they are. Now they’re cheering for me and they’re happy, but in a month if I’m playing bad or whatever is happening they might boo me again. It’s day-by-day with some fans. It’s day-by-day.

Part of winning them over is my personality and the fact that I know English. But at the end of the day, if I didn’t play well and I wasn’t playing at this level, they wouldn’t respect me the way they do now. They realize that I can play a little bit. That’s what really made them believe.

I’m just being myself basically. I’m not trying too hard. I’m just being myself and if they love it, good, and if they don’t love it, well I’m just going to be myself and the way I am. I’m not going to change or be fake to win over the fans.

There are a lot of Knicks fans in every city. Everywhere we go. I think a lot of people are recognizing me even when I’m on the road. I was the guy everybody was talking about before the draft that nobody knew. I think a lot of people know me because of that, because of the draft. And now that I’m playing well, they kind of got to know me a little more. I can feel it a little bit on the road, that they recognize me a little bit.

But there’s no better place to become a great player and become a great team than New York.

Rookie Diary, Volume 2: Myles Turner

VIDEO: Myles Turner readies for his first NBA season

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off it. This week: Turner discusses being off the court due to injury, and his unique charity work.

I went to the doctor around 8 a.m., right before shootaround before the game against the Atlanta Hawks (Turner missed 21 games with a fractured left thumb). They told me the X-rays looked good and I was cleared to go. I didn’t play that night, but I was definitely excited. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to play so quickly, but our starting center, Ian Mahinmi, was out and our backup center, Jordan Hill, had tooth surgery when we had a back-to-back against Chicago and Milwaukee so I got a lot of minutes (Twenty-two and 17, respectively).

I had heard rumors that they might send me down to the D-League for a couple games to get my timing back and get acclimated to things. But with the injuries, they just threw me right back out there. I was more than happy to be out there and be producing.

I was ready to go. Conditioning-wise, I felt great and I had so much adrenaline that I really wasn’t tired. I was happy to be back out there. It felt fresh, it felt new. It was my first time out there in a long time. I was really excited, to say the least, and especially when I was at home Thursday against the Bucks. I got a big ovation.

That response meant a lot. The city and the team have a lot of confidence in me and they’re expecting big things from me for the future. To have a franchise and a fan base behind me like that, it just motivates me to get better and work harder.

My timing was a little off, with some of the plays we were running. But other than that it wasn’t that bad. Missing all that time wasn’t necessarily too much of a disadvantage. I actually felt pretty fresh out there. A lot of the guys, or most of the guys, in the league are probably tired at this point. They’ve been going for about six or eight weeks now. A lot of guys’ bodies are tired and I’m a little more fresh.

I’ve been involved in the community during my time away. There’s a campaign I have called WARM. It stands for We All Really Matter. It’s something my mom did when she was younger. She always kept little stuff in the back of her car, whether it was jackets, mittens or water, some little supplies that she could hand out to people in need. She did that when I was younger and just passed it on to me. Now that I have some of the funds to back it, I want to grow it more.

I’ve been putting together little care packages that include Kleenexes, water, a little bit of change, assortments of food, hand warmers, mittens, socks. Stuff like that. Anytime I see a homeless person standing out there on the block, I just go hand it to them. I’m trying to keep WARM going.

Anytime I’m driving and I see somebody and I’m not really late to practice or something, I’ll hand them out. I guess I do it 15 times a week. Some of the guys are really thankful, like, “Man, thank you so much. It means a lot.” I feel like it would be different if I had a camera crew following me around or something. I wouldn’t want people getting the wrong idea about what I was doing. The fact that it’s really genuine, I think they really appreciate and respect that.

Some of them will see my height and ask if I play basketball at all. I’ll just tell them, “Yeah, I play basketball in my spare time,” stuff like that. I won’t try to be anybody relevant or anything like that. But if they know who I am then I’ll say, “What’s up,” and just kind of keep it going. It’s something that I’d like to continue during the winter. Me and my parents are trying to figure out something to do when it’s hotter outside.

It means a lot to me. It means that someone like myself is kind of looking out for people. I know if I was in that position I wouldn’t want people looking down upon me or looking at me because of maybe a couple decisions I made that were wrong in life. I like to keep a positive outlook on it.

Rookie Diary, Volume 1: Kristaps Porzingis

VIDEO: Knicks’ rookie Kristaps Porzingis is all the rage in New York

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off it. This week: Porzingis discusses the transition to living in the United States.

I had an idea about America from the movies and New York is in every movie and everywhere on TV. You’ve already seen it, but you maybe don’t see the way people are and little things like that — the culture. But basically, this is what I was kind of waiting for. It’s been nothing unexpected for me.

I’m loving New York so far. The people are great. Everything has been good. The traffic is kind of crazy. And the people. All that chaos is kind of crazy for me. It’s something new, but I think I’m getting used to it. At first I was kind of stressing about it. When I was driving to the game and it didn’t go smoothly and I didn’t get the exit I wanted to. But now when I got used to it I know what’s going to happen and I’m kind of ready for it.

I’m going to need a lot of time to discover everything. But so far, most of the time I’ve been outside the city where I live and just going to the practice facility, working out and coming home and getting some rest. I haven’t really gotten to enjoyed the city that much. I’ll do that when I have more time.

My mom, dad and both my brothers have come with me. My family’s support is everything and my family’s everything. It’s great having them around. Mom’s been cooking, dad’s been watching basketball. We talk basketball all the time. And both my brothers are always there to support me.

Having my family around always helps. You feel good at home, you’re comfortable and you can focus on what you really need to do on the court. They will make everything else as easy as possible on me so I can just do my job. That’s what they’re here for. They’re really making it much easier for me.

And the cold doesn’t bother me. I’m from Northern Europe and I actually like the cold. I love the snow. I always like to have some snow during Christmas time. The cold weather is a part of New York and it’s a part of me too.

I can’t say anything bad about any of the cities I’ve been to. Toronto was really beautiful. I really liked Washington. Miami. The weather and everything was really good. Orlando was nice. I liked Orlando. I haven’t been to L.A. yet, but so far it’s been a lot of beautiful cities. I just haven’t been out much. I’ll probably have more time to do that as my career goes on.

I would like to do some sightseeing, but a lot of times you’re busy or you’re tired and you just want to stay in the hotel and order room service. But whenever I feel like doing that, I try to do that to educate myself as much as possible about the cities. I’m looking forward to going to L.A. The weather is always nice there and my teammate Sasha Vujacic (who played for the Lakers and Clippers) told me he’s going to take me to some nice restaurants. I’m looking forward to that. My family will come with me. Hopefully we’ll have some time and we can spend it together there.

Rookie Diary: Pacers’ Turner on injury, teammates and … bread sticks

Myles Turner

Indiana Pacers rookie big man Myles Turner

By Myles Turner, for NBA.com

Myles Turner of the Pacers and Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off.

This week: Turner discusses having to watch much of the start of his pro career because of a fractured left thumb suffered Nov. 11, the support from teammates and coaches, planning to return in early-January … and getting rookie hazing anyway.

When I first heard how long I was going to be out, I immediately wanted to break down a little bit, but I knew I had to remain strong in the situation. These things happen. Injuries are part of the game. I just had to stay up even though I was really frustrated. I realized it’s time for me to reflect and get a little bit stronger in my lower body.

I never would have expected this as the start to my career. Nobody wants to face an injury. I was just starting to get some rhythm going. I just started playing a substantial amount of minutes, about 15, 20 minutes in the rotation. I was doing my role and doing pretty well and building my trust with coach, and it just happened out of nowhere. Of course I was a little frustrated. But once I get back I know I’ll come back stronger.


VIDEO: Myles Turner suffers an injury vs. the Celtics

Everybody has really rallied around me. Paul George, missing almost all of last year, he has gone through more than anybody. He had to miss out on almost a whole year and sit back and reflect. He told me, “Be patient with it, these things happen.” George Hill, he missed a lot of last year too. He told me that he had the same surgery and that it’s something you can come back from very easily. And the coaching staff has been with me too. The whole Pacers organization has been great.

That means a lot. It means that my teammates have rallied around me. I just know that they’re really invested in me and what I can give to this program. Them having my back like that, it definitely means a lot.

I’m there every day anyway. I get to the arena about three or four hours before the games. I still shoot every day. Even though it’s casted up, I can still shoot. I’ve been shooting for the past three weeks now.

I’m hoping to be back right around New Year’s. I’ll probably miss the rest of this month and then get back out there in early January. I know it’s going to be tough after missing so much time, but I’m working on my conditioning right now. The biggest thing is getting back in running shape, moving around the floor. You can do all the treadmill stuff you want, but there’s nothing that can replace being on the floor. I’m getting my wind and my legs back under me. That’s probably the biggest thing, getting my conditioning back up.

I don’t get any sympathy from the veterans because of the injury. I still have to get some bread sticks and donuts for the plane ride. I’ve still got to make sure I get this guy’s soda or do whatever I need to do. They definitely haven’t taken it easy on me.

Yeah, bread sticks. They like the bread sticks. Everybody. I’ve got to get like 30 of them, these special stuffed bread sticks, before the plane rides, plus these special donuts. It’s rough.

I wasn’t expecting any handouts or anybody to feel sorry for me. At the same time, it’s a little tough carrying everybody’s stuff with one hand. Usually Joe Young, the other rookie helps, but he’s in the D-League right now. He’s supposed to come back next week. Hopefully I’ll get some help for the next road trip.

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Gary Harris


VIDEO: Arena Link: Gary Harris

By Gary Harris, for NBA.com

Hey everyone! Trying out my first blog for NBA.com. I feel like I started off the season well in my NBA debut about a month ago. My first minutes came against my hometown team, the Indiana Pacers. I always play well against teams from Indiana, so I knew I had to really step up in front of all my family and friends. I couldn’t believe how many people came to the game! I saw friends I hadn’t seen in years who bought tickets and came to support me, even though they were Pacers fans. I felt really proud seeing so many people in Indiana wearing Denver Nuggets colors and cheering for me, so I knew I had to have a big game as my way of saying thank you.

Getting my first minutes in an NBA game in my hometown meant a lot to me. I have been preparing for my first NBA game since I was a little kid, so playing in front of my family and friends came as a small reward for all of the hard work I’ve put in since childhood. I dreamed about playing in front of the most important people in my life in my home town for years. Seeing my dreams come true definitely was a humbling experience that made me appreciate all of the ups and downs throughout my career.

During our win against the Pacers, I had probably my most exciting play of the year. I drove by my defender and dunked on two defenders in traffic, which made Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Day. All of the Nuggets fans cheered pretty loud except for my mom. She wasn’t paying attention during the play and missed the whole thing, but they showed her face on TV when she realized she missed a big play. I will never let her live this one down…

We started off the season a little slow as a team, but we’ve picked up the pace considerably the last few weeks. It takes a lot of time to fully gel as a team and get on the same page with everything we do. I think teams will see a completely different Nuggets squad by the end of the season because we have so much room to grow. We have shown that we can compete with anyone in the league. Now it’s time to start building on the teaching points throughout the year so we can see some concrete evidence of progress from the beginning of the season.

Adjusting to the NBA lifestyle definitely takes some time to get used to, but I think I’ve handled it pretty well so far. We travel way more than I ever did in college, so that is also an adjustment. I’ve got a good group of teammates to learn from, so they make the transition a lot smoother for me. Having another rookie (Erick Green) to go through the process with also helps ease the stress a little bit. Knowing I’m going through the same issues with another person makes my issues more manageable because we can figure out solutions together. All in all, the transition is going well, and I’m really lucky to be in this position.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read my diary. For updates on everything about our journey this season, be sure to follow me on twitter @thats_G_ and tune in for our games throughout the year. I know we have a lot of great basketball ahead, and I’m very excited to see where this season takes us!

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Elfrid Payton


VIDEO: Elfrid Payton gets the steal and slam against the Sixers

By Elfrid Payton, for NBA.com

Hey, everyone! This is my first blog for NBA.com since getting drafted in June. I think I’ve been adjusting to the new NBA lifestyle pretty well. All of the older guys on my team have been giving me little bits and pieces of advice on how to stay fresh and survive the long season. Taking care of your body becomes even more important when you’re in the NBA. Stretching, icing, eating right and getting enough sleep all make a difference.

The main difference between college life and the NBA life is figuring out the best way to manage my time. I don’t go to class or write papers anymore, so I have way more free time than I’ve ever had before. Staying in a routine becomes very important to accomplish everything during the day. Otherwise, I’ll let the day slip away from me.

The speed of the game in the NBA is way faster than in college. You get away with certain things in college because you’re usually more skilled or athletic than the guy guarding you, but your tendencies get exposed in the NBA. I already started to work on fixing some of my bad habits over the past few months that I can’t get away with at this level. I’ve learned so much over the past few weeks, so hopefully I can continue to learn throughout the course of the year.

Having another rookie with me helps make things easier along the way. Aaron Gordon is a great teammate and friend, so we go through the process together and have become very close. Going through struggles with somebody makes you closer, so it’s been nice to learn with Aaron so far this year. We push each other every day to stay focused and learn as much as we can. As rookies, you can’t let anyone outwork you, so we try to make sure we aren’t getting outworked. We want to be a part of something special in Orlando, and I think our team has a lot of really good pieces and can win a lot of games.

[Editor’s note: Gordon suffered a broken foot last Saturday and is now out indefinitely.]

First Game

My first NBA game came against the Pelicans back in my home town of New Orleans. I decided not to go back to my house and spend a whole lot of time running around my hometown. I wanted to stay focused on why I was there — to win! Everyone asked me how nervous I was to be playing my first game back home. I really was not more nervous during my first game than any other I’ve played. I just wanted to win and start the season off the right way.

Once the ball went up to start the game, all nerves were gone. I definitely enjoyed playing in front of my family and friends, but I wish we came away with the win. I’ll remember the experience of playing my first game in my hometown for the rest of my life. The NBA has the best talent in the world, so being able to compete against these guys every night is a real blessing.

Thanks for reading my first diary. In the meantime, follow me on twitter to get updates throughout the season @elfrid.