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.

Flying the Green skies


VIDEO: Jeff Green’s dunks

As NBA legend Tommy Heinsohn called the Celtics-Suns game last night, one could argue that he might have caught a slight glimpse of Celtics past. Now, in no way are we comparing this current Celtics group to that of Heinsohn’s championship heyday. But, as was prevalent during those winning days of the 60s, the Boston fast break (23 points on the night) was in full effect.

And Jeff Green was the man with the finishing plan.

His fast break dunk package had it all: soaring grace, a two-handed slam off a sweet Rajon Rondo feed and a DIY facial on Marcus Morris.

Although Phoenix picked up the 118-114 win, the sky had quite a Green tint to it.

 

Paul Pierce and Otto Porter taste baby food

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Here’s an ingenious video where two Wizards at different stages in life try and identify baby food flavors. Otto Porter is a second-year player and still a bachelor, while Paul Pierce is in his late-30s and, according to Wikipedia, is a married father of three. So clearly, Pierce has an advantage here. Respect to Porter, though, for casting a wide net with his final answer: “Vegetables.” I mean, technically he’s right.


VIDEO: Pierce v Porter

(via SB Nation)

Don’t call Justin Timberlake a bandwagon Grizzlies fan (UPDATE)

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — He may not be as ever-present as Spike Lee is with the Knicks or Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles, but Justin Timberlake has long been a fan of the Memphis Grizzlies. It makes sense, as Timberlake is a Memphis native, and he’s publicly been an NBA fan for years now. I mean, Who can forget when he served up Kenny “The Jet” Smith at the All-Star Game years ago?


VIDEO: JT vs Kenny

And in 2012, Timberlake actually became a part-owner of the Grizzlies. So last night, it wasn’t much of a surprise when JT tweeted his support for the 10-1 Grizz.

But that didn’t sit well with at least one of his twitter followers, who accused Timberlake of being a bandwagon Grizzlies fan. And Timberlake fired right back. It’s clear who’s the owner here.

UPDATE: Just in case you didn’t believe him, the Grizz tweeted this pic of JT repping the Grizz way back in the day…

Shabazz Napier puts the Nets in a blender

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We have yet to break out the Crossover Contest this season, but Miami Heat rookie point guard Shabazz Napier made a case for himself last night. While waiting for Chris Bosh to flash to the basket in the halfcourt offense, and momentarily faced with a Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams double-team, Napier did something remarkable.

There are actually two things to watch on this play…

First, just watch Napier, as he does what is essentially a triple crossover — right to left behind his legs, left to right behind his legs, and then right to left in front of his body, all in the course of about two seconds. Terrific dribbling by Napier.

Second, watch KG and D-Will perform a strange ballet as they negotiate with each other to stay with their defensive assignments. D-Will actually does a full 360, on purpose, because it’s probably the fastest way to get situated back in front of Napier.

And then the Heat turn the ball over. But whatever, it was a great moment. You can see the full video here, or be mesmerized by the Vine below…

OKC Thunder players inhale helium, sell cars

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The players on the Oklahoma City Thunder are not only very good at basketball, they’re apparently great at selling cars. Last year we saw several of them doing their best to get you in a new vehicle, and this year’s version of the ad has a new wrinkle: Helium.

Now, officially, I strongly discourage you from sucking helium from a balloon, because it’s probably a bad idea or something, but it’s pretty funny to hear these guys talking like Smurfs…


VIDEO: Thunder helium

Dallas fan drains halfcourt shot, wins TV

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last season we had what felt like an epidemic of fans hitting halfcourt shots, especially in Oklahoma City. This season is still young, but maybe there’s something about the midwest, because a fan in Dallas drained a shot from halfcourt. His prize? A 70-inch television. Hope he has the HD cable package.


VIDEO: Mavs Fan

Knicks, Nuggets display airball proficiency

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Yesterday’s Nuggets at Knicks game was 109-93 win for the Knicks, a result they desperately needed. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for us, neither team really put their best foot (or shot) forward.

Let’s start with Shaq’s favorite forward, Denver’s JaVale McGee, who is back from injury and yet to make an appearance on “Shaqtin’ A Fool” this season. That is likely to be changing soon, however, after this free throw attempt from McGee yesterday. Nice form, bad distance.

Javaleft

But that wasn’t even the worst airball of the day. Later in the game, Knicks forward Travis Wear grabbed a rebound and whiffed from literally right next to the rim. Somebody get Shaq on the phone…

TravisWearAirballPutback

(via Dime)

Nobody flops like Lance Stephenson

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — As we’ve chronicled in this space, Lance Stephenson has done some impressive work on the court the last two seasons, particularly when it comes to flopping. (See here and here, for example.) But his latest maneuver may be his best one yet.

In a game against the Warriors this weekend, Lance ran into a screen set by Harrison Barnes. And in what appears to be an attempt to draw a foul, but in actuality is a play for the ages, Lance Stephenson slapped himself in the face…

(via FTW)

OKC hosts block party for Houston


VIDEO: OKC get three rejections in one possession against the Rockets

There was a brick fair of enormous magnitude in Oklahoma City on Sunday and it was all in Chesapeake Energy Arena. James Harden missed 12 of 17. Dwight Howard missed 10 of 14 — 19 of 27 if you count free throws. Houston’s stars weren’t the only culprits. In fact, nobody shot 50 percent from the field. Nobody.

The Rockets shot 28.7 percent from the field, undoubtedly helped to that figure by the ridiculous rim protection from the trio of Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Fourteen blocks combined, they threw six offerings from Howard. Credit the Rockets for continuing to challenge the Thunder, but their intrepidity in the paint was likely necessitated by their abysmal launching from deep (7-for-35 out there).

Despite Houston’s shooting woes, it got the 69-65 win (read that score again slowly) because OKC wasn’t much better (29.4 percent). It was a physical affair, replete with four technical fouls, a Pat Beverley sighting and more trash talk than a little bit. Win or no win, the Thunder, particularly young big man Adams, gave the Rockets a rim party to remember.


VIDEO: OKC swats 15 shots in Sunday’s narrow loss to the Rockets