NBA Rooks: Diaries

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Aaron Craft

Aaron Craft (Jack Arent/NBAE)

Aaron Craft (Jack Arent/NBAE)

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

NBA Rooks: An NBA dream begins

By Tyler Ennis, for NBA.com


VIDEO: New Suns guard Tyler Ennis talks about his Draft experience

Hi Everyone!

The last time I checked in I was getting ready for the Draft, working out and visiting teams all around the country. I am so excited to be writing this next entry as an NBA player for the Phoenix Suns. My lifelong dream has come true, and it has been non-stop ever since.

Right after I was drafted, I was told the general manager of the team would be calling, but by that point I only had about 3 percent battery left on my phone. Luckily my media escort had a portable charger in his pocket so I could plug in and charge before Ryan McDonough called. It was great to hear from him so soon, about how excited the team was to get me and meet me the following day.

The morning after the Draft I was on a plane to Phoenix with my family. There was an introductory press conference with some of the other guys that were drafted and a lot of local media. We had a few days to check out the city, and the last day we met all the team employees and some season ticket holders.

I had never been to Phoenix before so it was really nice to get to check out my new home, and I really liked it. The downtown area is really nice and there was a good amount of people around. I’m excited to learn everything about the city. Of course it was really hot, but I’m sure I won’t be complaining about that when winter comes around. It certainly will be really different than Syracuse winter!

I also had a chance to meet some of the guys that are on the team from last year. They stay at the gym and work out over the summer so I actually had a chance to play against a couple of them. Some will be at summer league to watch us play. It’s good to know the players want to be here and are always working on their game. We’re a young team so that is really important.

Now I am in Las Vegas at Summer League. We had a mini-camp that started last Tuesday so we had two-a-days for the last few days. It was a lot of learning the system and getting used to each other, but now we’re in to game play and it’s really fun.

I am really looking forward to getting comfortable on the court and with my teammates. It will be fun to see some of the other guys from the Draft and have a chance to play against them on their new teams. Last year the Suns made it to the championships at Summer League but lost, so I really hope I can start my career off right by helping to claim the trophy this year!

Check me out on Twitter @tdot_ennis and Instagram @tdot11.

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Noah Vonleh


VIDEO: Prospect Profile: Noah Vonleh

By Noah Vonleh, for NBA.com

A week from today, I will actually be an NBA player. Wow. This is a lifelong dream of mine and it’s almost impossible to describe what it feels like now that it is about to come true.

The draft preparation process has been exciting, exhausting, interesting, challenging and inspiring.  My favorite part has been the different team workouts and having a chance to compete against some of the guys I played against in college.  Luckily, there have not been any surprises along the way.  I have been watching the NBA Draft Combine for years and I talked to some guys that have gone through this before, so I have pretty much known what to expect.

Now, I just have to finish up a few more workouts and head back to Boston for a few days where I hit another major milestone – getting my license!  Then I’ll be back in New York, getting ready for NBA Draft week.  I have a lot of family coming in, I think there will be over 30 people!  I have been talking to my family members almost every single day through the process, and I am really excited for them to be here to see my dream come true.  My cousin Jeremy was the one who got me started playing basketball, so it will be really special to have him there too.

At the top of my to-do list for the next week is perfecting my draft suit.  I do not want to be the guy everyone is talking about for the next few years because my style was off when I shook the commissioner’s hand. There is a lot of pressure here, but I have a great stylist and few ideas so I’m confident I won’t end up on the worst dressed list.

It’s hard to think about life after I get off that stage at Barclay’s Center, when I officially belong to an NBA team and can start working towards earning my spot on a roster.  I’ll probably take a quick trip home to see my friends for a little bit, but I am really looking forward to meeting with my new team and getting ready for Summer League.

I am excited, a little nervous, and don’t know what to expect, but for now I am just trying to soak everything in and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Follow me as I get ready for the NBA Draft at Draftdreams.com and @draftdreams and on Twitter @noahvonleh and Instagram @Nvonleh.

Noah Vonleh is a 6-foot-10 forward from Indiana. Follow him and other rookies all season long on NBA Rooks: Diaries …

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Tyler Ennis

By Tyler Ennis, for NBA.com

What a whirlwind the last few months have been for me.  I hardly had time to reflect on my freshman season at Syracuse before I was already making one of the biggest decisions of my life — whether or not to declare for the NBA Draft.  I spent a lot of time with my family talking about the pros and cons of my different options, and we decided together the time was right for me to test my skills at the professional level.

It was really tough to leave Syracuse.  I fell in love with the school and had a great bond with the coaches and players.  I am so grateful I was able to play with and contribute to such a talented team, I had so much fun this past year.  Not being there through summer and next year will be tough, but I think everyone has the same dream going into college.  When you get the opportunity to see it through, you have to go for it.

As much as I loved school, I was really looking forward to being to focus on just basketball and nothing else as part of the draft process.  I am training out in Long Island, away from everything, and all I have to worry about in the next month are workouts and getting in shape for the draft.  Every single day I am working towards one goal.

My favorite thing so far has been having the chance to get to know guys I have been playing against my whole life.  There are four others out in Long Island with me – Melvin Ejim, LaQuinton Ross, Khem Birch and Noah Vonleh – and we spend a lot of time together on and off the court.  It’s really nice to have guys around that are going through the same thing as you.

As you can imagine, it does get pretty tiring at times.  We have time to rest, but between travel, NBA team workouts and then three-a-days in Long Island, it is easy to get fatigued.  I really try to balance my body and allow it to get the rest it needs so I can be at my peak performance when it counts.

So now the draft is about three weeks away and my excitement builds exponentially every day.  I’ll be finishing up a couple of more team workouts, then coming back to New York to continue training right up until June 26.  Draft prep doesn’t just happen on the court, though, and I’ll be working with a stylist on my suit for that night.  I have to make sure I’m looking my best when I walk across the stage to shake the NBA Commissioner’s hand!

Keep up with everything I’m doing leading up to the Draft and beyond at Draftdreams.com and @draftdreams and on my Twitter @tdot_ennis and Instagram @tdot11

Tyler Ennis, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Syracuse, was born in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. He is projected to be picked in the lottery in the NBA Draft on June 26.

Look for more “NBA Rooks: Diaries …” all season long on the All Ball blog.


VIDEO: Prospect Profile: Tyler Ennis

 

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Reggie Bullock

Reggie Bullock was the 25th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft.

Reggie Bullock was the 25th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. (Shem Roose/NBAE)

By Reggie Bullock, Los Angeles Clippers, for NBA.com

Playing in the NBA has been my dream since I first picked up a basketball. I have always worked so hard with that goal in mind, and the past four and a half months have been a whirlwind as my dream became a reality.

I’ll never forget the feeling of hearing my name called at the NBA Draft.  All of the hard work was worth it and it felt like I had finally made it.  I could not wait to start my professional basketball career.

My summer flew by.  I moved to Los Angeles, which is so different from North Carolina — everything moves a lot faster here!  After that, I was focused on training and preparing for preseason.  I wanted to make a good impression on my teammates and coaches, so I worked out daily.  I was very focused on my conditioning and played a lot of pick-up basketball against some really great competition. At the end of the summer, I felt strong and confident and ready to officially start my first NBA season.

I was so excited to have the opportunity to wear a Clippers jersey and represent this organization. Going in to training camp felt like I was a freshman again!  I was nervous and knew this time it was way bigger than college preseason. I didn’t really know what to expect beyond that. Lucky for me, I am with a great organization and had a very positive experience.

Our team has some of the best veterans and coaches who really helped make it a smooth transition for some of us newer guys.  Antawn Jamison also played at UNC so we had that in common from the start, and I’ve been watching CP since I was a kid.  I actually played for his first AAU team.  Both guys, and really the whole team, have been helpful with advice on the court and off, and remind me to stay confident and to always be ready to go when my name is called.

I am looking forward to picking up more minutes and trying to do my best to fill in for Matt Barnes while he is injured.  Stepping into his role is going to be challenging, he is such a great defensive player, but I need to just stay confident while shooting and listen to coach so I can contribute to the team. Our goal is to win the championship, but we are taking it game by game, realizing that playoffs and finals are a long way away.  Personally, I am focused on staying confident in my game, gaining minutes, and doing whatever I can do to help my teammates play better and raise a Clippers banner in the Staples Center.  It would also be really cool to play in the rookie/sophomore game at All-Star!

Rookie Diary: McCollum Goes One On One With NBA Executive Rod Thorn

Rod Thorn

NBA executive Rod Thorn was recently interviewed by Blazers rookie C.J. McCollum.

By C.J. McCollum, for NBA.com

Following his interview with incoming NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, getting the nod for his fashionable mix of checks and plaid, Blazers rookie guard C.J. McCollum sits down with newly appointed NBA President of Basketball Operations, Rod Thorn. In a behind-the-scenes look at NBA league headquarters, McCollum gets to the bottom of the new Finals format, talks about the early-in-the-career injury he shares with Michael Jordan, and gets advice for his future — always maintain the best conditioning, learn as much as you can about the game, and don’t forget about what goes on off the court.

C.J. McCollum: What is your day-to-day schedule like now, being in such a position in terms of controlling the fines?

Portland's C.J. McCollum has some lofty goals for his life after his NBA playing days are done.

Portland’s C.J. McCollum has some lofty goals for his life after his NBA playing days are done.

Rod Thorn: I get here anywhere from 8 to 8:30 (a.m.), and we have people that work here who have a series of reports that I go through when

I get in. Did we have any flagrant fouls last night? Did we have any technical fouls? Did we have any altercations, fights, anything of that nature? I’ll have a report on all of that. We want to make sure that we’re on top of everything so that’s the first thing I do when I come in. If there is an altercation anywhere, I will always get a phone call, no matter what time it is. If there is an altercation, you interview the players to see what they felt about it and you end up making whatever decision you end up making.

Normally we have anywhere from three to five meetings a day on a range of subjects. We’re also involved in international here, we have 18 people that I’m responsible for that work internationally so we get reports from them, talk to them, and see what’s going on in their lives.

I’m also in charge of the referees so we’ll have meetings regarding what’s going on with the referees, what are the trends, are the games getting too rough, are there certain calls we’re not doing a good job with. If there are any problems that we’re having along those lines, we’ll try to address them. So that’s a big part of this department, overseeing and running the referee operations.

Days go by pretty fast here, there’s basically something going on all the time.

CM: You’re putting in some serious hours there. You’ve been a player, coach, general manager, and at the league office. What are the differences you see working for a team versus working for the league?

RT: If you work for the league, you’re thinking about what’s best for the league and how you can grow the business. You’re thinking about a lot of things that may not be just happening today.  You don’t care who wins or loses, but you’re thinking about the good of the league. When you work for a team, I would compare it to being in a silo. You’re more concerned with what’s in the best interest of your team and your players, and you tend to live and die with every victory and every loss. You have more instant gratification, or sometimes it’s not gratifying, if you’re with a team that’s not winning, in that there’s feedback every day. Players are getting better, players aren’t getting better; we’re winning, we’re losing. It’s more short-term as far as that goes. The league is more long-term and you don’t care who wins and losses, with a team it’s a little more short-term, and you live and die with wins and losses.

CM: NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver is taking over soon, what do you think will change, and what has it been like transitioning in to this season? I see you guys are changing the format of The Finals, that’s a huge change.

RT: [Commisoner] David [Stern] has been the commissioner for 30 years, he has a style, he has a personality. Adam has been here 21 years, so he has worked very closely with David for the last 10 to 15 years. I’m sure a lot of things will be very similar, but Adam has a different personality than David, so I am sure there are a few things Adam will do differently. We have a lot of new owners in the league now, and the old line owners, there aren’t very many of them left. There are a lot of new, young guys, so it’s a different group to deal with. I’m sure there will be some differences, but I think it will be a very smooth transition, because Adam has been a big, big part of what has transpired here over the years because he’s worked so closely with David.

As you pointed out, we do have a difference in The Finals, in the schedule from a 2-3-2 to a 2-2-1-1-1 format. When that was put in place in 1984, we didn’t have charter flights, you flew commercial. It was harder to get the media from one place to another. The feeling was, we’ll get more stories if you get the media in a place for three games, and it will reduce the travel. Now those aren’t as big issues. The competition committee felt there was a competitive disadvantage in it in that three of the first five games will be on the court of a team with the lesser record. Usually in a seven game series, if the series is tied 2-2, 86 percent of the time the team that wins Game 5 goes on to win the series. Also, the committee felt the team that had to go on the road for three games would be gone for seven or eight days so there would be a competitive disadvantage for them. There were a lot of things that went in to it and the reasons we did it originally are not nearly as important as they were at the time.

CM: Rumor has it that you played a role in drafting Michael Jordan. When you saw him playing at North Carolina, did you think he was going to become one of the best players of all time? What did you think his ceiling or basement was, and did he exceed your expectations for him?

RT: You know something, when we drafted Michael, my feeling was that we had a need for a lot of different things, but we definitely needed a wing player. I thought Michael would be a very good player. I wish I were prescient enough to even consider that he might turn out to be what he was, but the reality is, I had no idea he was going to turn out to be what he turned out to be. I was very hopeful that he’d be a very good player, and be an All-Star type of player one day. To be arguably the greatest player ever, certainly one of the greatest players ever, I had no idea of that.

CM: I had to ask that. He broke his foot his second year, I broke my foot in the first year, no one remembers that!


VIDEO:
C.J. McCollum on his foot injury

RT: He certainly did. At the time it was widely reported that when he was about ready to come back toward the end of the year, the Bulls were very skeptical about bringing him back.  Michael’s retort was ‘I want to play now, I feel good, and I never want to play on a team that doesn’t make the playoffs.’ So he came back, and the Bulls made the playoffs and that’s when he scored 60-some points in one of the games. He had the same injury you had, and hopefully it will work out for you the same way.

CM: Going back to the NBA, how do you think the league has changed since you played and since you have been involved with the NBA up until now?

RT: Dramatically. When I came in the league as a 2nd pick, I got a one-year contract, and I had to make the team, it wasn’t guaranteed. There was no other league to play in, nobody played overseas. Our meal money was $8 a day on the road and we traveled commercial, in coach.  It was an entirely different league — not nearly as popular, not nearly what it is today. The athletes are so much better today than they were back when I came in the league. It’s much more international, we have 92 international players this year, that’s almost a quarter of the league. There were none in the league at that time I played.  Now we’re watched all over the world by 215 countries, we’re popular everywhere. We weren’t even popular in the States at that time. I can recall even when Magic Johnson played, The Finals were tape delayed.  They weren’t on live, and that wasn’t that long ago. This league has come an incredibly long way. With the great athletes in this league and how many good young players such as yourself we have coming into the league, I think the future is even greater.

CM: I had no idea. [Blazers player development director] Hersey Hawkins was saying how you always had to take the earliest flight the next day.

RT: If you played on a Friday and Saturday, you took the first flight out the next day. If it was 6 a.m., you had to take that flight. In my first year at the league, we played five games in five days. Now, you probably have 20 back-to-backs over the course of the season. We stayed in motels the majority of the time, not the first class hotels you stay in today.

CM: We’ve got it good! What type of success do you think Jason Kidd will have? A lot of people have said he was a great leader and motivator as a player, so what do you think about him and the Brooklyn Nets this year?

RT:  I think Jason is as smart as any player I’ve ever been around as far as understanding the game and as far as understanding what you need to do to win. That’s a plus. I think Jason gets instant respect because of who he is and he’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He also has good players on his team, and he’s got veteran players. He is going to be a terrific coach, they are going to have a really good team. You are going to go through times that are difficult and things aren’t going that well. Everybody has to learn how to do that, particularly if you’re a first time coach, but I see nothing but really good things for him. He’s a terrific guy, knows the game, and he’s going to do great.

CM: I agree. I think he is going to do tremendous things for that team.

RT: When we got him in New Jersey, we had won 26 games. The year we got him, it went up to 52, and we won the Eastern Conference and played in The Finals. We were a bad defensive team, we were a bad rebounding team, we had bad chemistry, and he helped us in all those areas. His ability to pass and do team type things – he was just unbelievable. A great player.


VIDEO:
C.J. McCollum talks about his expectations for his rookie season

CM: I’ve done a lot of research on your career and have a tremendous amount of respect for you and what you have accomplished. What would be your advice for me for my basketball career and transitioning into the working world? I am interested in journalism and sports broadcasting, but I would also like to be a general manager. Any advice on the court and off?

RT: I think as you’re coming into the league, your first order of business is to become the best player you can be. Always maintain the best conditioning as you can, learn as much as you can about the game. Secondly, don’t forget about what goes on off the court. You’ll be in a position to make great contacts, you’ll be in a position to have a tremendous reputation not only as a player but also as a human being. If you work at your playing, if you work at making all the contacts you can, doing all you can when you’re not playing, there are so many other things you can do. You’re in a position to make a difference with kids, with other people, and in the business world. Learn all you can about it, don’t waste time. Do all you can with the many advantages you are going to have for as long as you play in this league. If you do, then you are going to have a heck of a playing career and you are going to be in a position to do things after your career is over, whether in the business world, the NBA, or wherever it is. Don’t let this opportunity go by. Too many live for only the moment and don’t try to branch out or think about what is going to happen to them. Hopefully your career will be a long, long one, but it will come to an end someday, so make sure that when it does, you’re ready for whatever comes after that.

CM: Thank you I appreciate that and it’s great advice. I look forward to maximizing and taking advantage of this opportunity. Thank you again for the opportunity to do this interview.

RT: I really appreciate it C.J. I was still in Philly when you came through and did a workout for us. You made a good impression not only with your basketball ability, but also with how you conducted yourself during the interview and workout. Everyone was very impressed with you and I’m sure you are going to have a heck of a career and good luck.

The All-Ball Rookie Photoshoot Video Wrap-Up

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Over the last eight days, we’ve been rolling out videos that we filmed a few weeks back at the Rookie Photo Shoot up in Tarrytown, New York. We asked the Rookies a bunch of fun questions, and as you can see in the videos, they played along, some more than other. It seemed that the sense of humor had an direct relationship to height, as guys like Steven Adams, Kelly Olynyk and Anthony Bennett were among the funniest people there. Then again, one of the smaller guys, Shane Larkin, was also a blast to chat with.

I’ll post all the videos below. But first, we ended up asking all the guys eight questions. I’ll post all eight questions here, with my answers in the comments at the bottom. Feel free to drop your answers in the comments at the bottom as well!

1. If they made a signature fragrance just for you, what would it smell like?

2. If you could pick your theme music during introductions, what would it be?

3. What TV show do you have set for a season pass on your DVR?

4. If you were on Iron Chef, what could you cook to win the competition?

5. What is the first concert you ever attended?

6. Who is the most famous person you’ve ever asked for an autograph?

7. What video game could you compete for a world championship in?

8. If they made the movie of your life, who would play you?

AND NOW, ALL THE VIDEOS… (more…)

NBA Rookies: Movie Casting

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few weeks ago, the NBA gathered all of this season’s incoming rookies here in the New York area for a few days of seminars as part of the Rookie Transition Program. The goal of the classes is to educate and inform, as the young players learn about how to handle various situations they may encounter.

But before the classes started, we began by having a little fun. At the Rookie Photo Shoot at the Knicks’ practice facility in Tarrytown, New York, we corralled as many rookies as we could and asked them some unconventional questions in order to find out the inside stuff.

We’ve been rolling out videos the last few days. Today’s final question: Who would play you in the movie of your life?
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NBA Rookies: Video Games

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few weeks ago, the NBA gathered all of this season’s incoming rookies here in the New York area for a few days of seminars as part of the Rookie Transition Program. The goal of the classes is to educate and inform, as the young players learn about how to handle various situations they may encounter.

But before the classes started, we began by having a little fun. At the Rookie Photo Shoot at the Knicks’ practice facility in Tarrytown, New York, we corralled as many rookies as we could and asked them some unconventional questions in order to find out the inside stuff.

We’ve been rolling out videos the last few days. Today’s question: What video game could you compete for the world championship in?
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NBA Rookies: Autograph Hunters

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few weeks ago, the NBA gathered all of this season’s incoming rookies here in the New York area for a few days of seminars as part of the Rookie Transition Program. The goal of the classes is to educate and inform, as the young players learn about how to handle various situations they may encounter.

But before the classes started, we began by having a little fun. At the Rookie Photo Shoot at the Knicks’ practice facility in Tarrytown, New York, we corralled as many rookies as we could and asked them some unconventional questions in order to find out the inside stuff.

We’ll roll out videos the next few days. Today’s question: Who is the most famous person you’ve ever asked for an autograph?
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