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 handling rookie hazing and how it doesn’t end even as he turns into one of the top players on the team.
Nothing really much has changed. Sometimes teammates joke with me a little, that I’m not a rookie any more, I’m too big-time for them now. Stuff like that. But nothing’s really changed. I’ve still got my rookie duties. Everybody still expects me to do what I do. Nothing has changed because the minutes have changed.
The guys have been consistent. I still have to get all the Gatorade and drinks for the bus. I still have to get the breadsticks. Those are the biggest responsibilities. Before every road trip I have to go to a place and get five or six boxes of breadsticks for the flight.
Another time, when we went to Toronto, I had to fill out everybody’s customs forms. Every single one for the team. That took about 25 or 30 minutes. And the rookies have to wait last in line to go through customs. I hate that.
Monta Ellis is probably the hardest on me among the veterans as far as the rookie treatment. He asks me to do a lot of stuff out of random when we’re on the road. It can be anything. It can be going out if he wants chicken wings. Or maybe he wants me to go to the corner store to get him Gatorade or something. Little stuff like that. He just does it to mess with me sometimes.
But I would never consider saying no to anything they expect me to do. It’s just something everybody has to go through. Everybody has to go through a little bit of rookie tormenting and what not. It’s a rite of passage.
It just depends on how you look at it. It can be grueling if you’re saying, “Aw, man. Here we go again. I have to do this.” Or you can just take it with a grain of salt and say you have to do it because it’s basically your responsibility.
But it definitely helps having another rookie, Joe Young, for some of this. It makes it a lot easier for sure. There was one week when he hasn’t been here, when he was in the D-League, so he’s been with us pretty much all year.
I figured all this would come up a lot more with my family and friends asking me about it, but it hasn’t really, surprisingly. They just ask me what it’s like guarding LeBron or Carmelo and stuff like that.
I know I’ll have my chance later in my career to be on the other side. I’ll probably go easy on the rookies my next couple of years. Down the road, I’ll probably ramp it up because of what I had to go through as a rookie. I don’t have any specific ideas yet. Not yet. I’m sure I’ll come up with some.
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.
You know, if the Mavericks decide in the future to give the ball to Monta Ellis instead of Dirk Nowitzki, that wouldn’t be such a terrible move, you think?
Look, this is still Dirk’s team, but Ellis proved once again Wednesday night that, in the clutch, he’s every bit as reliable as his future Hall of Fame teammate. With Dirk on the bench resting a creaky back, Ellis chopped down the Bucks and this is starting to become habit-forming. He’s proving to be quite the go-to guy this season and it could end up putting him in the All-Star Game for the first time in his career.
It was his sixth career game-winning basket in the final 5 seconds and the first since last December against the Blazers. But look at this recent closing streak by Ellis: 15 points in the fourth quarter against the Raptors … 14 in the fourth and OT against the Bulls … and against the Bucks, he scored the Mavs’ final eight points and 10 of their last 13. That’s dominance.
Keep in mind that the Horry Scale measures more than just the game-winning basket. Other factors are weighed that make the buzzer-beater truly epic, or merely run-of-the-mill. Although I think we can all agree that no buzzer-beater is routine. That said, let’s study the scale of Ellis’ latest clutch bucket.
Ellis went one-on-one against O.J.Mayo and it really wasn’t a contest. Ellis backed Mayo down, made a quick move and then from 17 feet launched his game-winning bucket on a fadeaway off one foot. From a cosmetic standpoint, it wasn’t the prettiest, but it was effective. Strangely enough, the Bucks didn’t send any help for Mayo, perhaps fearing a wide-open shot by Chandler Parsons. But given Ellis’ play of late, maybe you take that chance.
“They’ll be watching that shot for the next day and a half on SportsCenter,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.
Ellis wasn’t having the most accurate shooting night (11-for-26) but the Mavericks needed him. Dirk played 42 minutes of a double OT game the night before in Chicago. In the other uniform, Brandon Knight was willing to get into a fourth-quarter scoring exchange with Ellis and for a while was winning that contest. Knight hit a jumper over Tyson Chandler with 8.9 seconds left to tie the score after two Richard Jefferson free throws. The game was suddenly up for grabs, which means it was a situation suited for Ellis.
Well, any game the Mavericks win especially without Dirk, is important if only because they’re playing in the West. In a conference that once again is amazingly deep with quality, every loss counts. Oh, and Kevin Durant is back for OKC and you can expect the Thunder to rise in the standings. So there’s that as well. The Mavericks improved to 8-3 on the road, the mark of a team to be taken seriously.
Monta did a little strut as he sashayed off the floor, followed by his teammates, who dashed through the tunnel. It had to be especially sweet for Ellis because he played for the Bucks two seasons ago. Maybe he felt he wasn’t as appreciated in Milwaukee, but based on his performance, he is missed.
Ellis is clearly on a tear and there are nights when this is his team, even with Dirk on the floor. This was one of those nights. He rescued the Mavericks when they appeared to be reeling against a very improved and frisky Bucks’ team. Milwaukee wanted to use this game to make a statement about where the franchise is and where it’s headed. The Bucks are better than anyone thought, based on the first month of the season. But the statement instead was made by a player who’s one of the more underrated guards in the game, and perhaps the most talented player never to make the All-Star team. Give it four Horrys.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the great things about Dirk Nowitzki, maybe the best thing, is his apparent complete lack of self-awareness when asked to participate in goofy videos. He loves to sing and be silly, as we’ve seen again and again. And it don’t stop, because in this latest video from the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk teams up with Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons as some sort of new version of the seminal hip-hop group Run DMC, singing a remixed version of “Sucker M.C.’s.”
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last week we looked at the regular-season Horry Scale in full. Now, with the playoffs in full swing, it took just at a week to have our first postseason Horry Scale entry.
What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
One thing I’d like to clear up: The Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. So when I gave Randy Foye a 3 Horry rating, that wasn’t only a reflection of his shot, which was admittedly remarkable, as I wrote, but also the play, which was awful. Taj Gibson’s lefty layup wasn’t the toughest shot, but that inbounds play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.
Counting the regular season, this gives us a record-setting 18 Horry Scale entries this season. Let’s take a closer look at Vince Carter‘s game-winning three in Game 3 against San Antonio from earlier today…
The corner three-pointer is supposedly the “easiest” three-pointer. Which doesn’t mean it’s easy, obviously. But it is a shorter shot than a straight-away or wing three. But what if you’re shooting from the corner and you’re fading away? And what if you’re covered as tightly as a smedium shirt by Manu Ginobili, with inches to get the shot off?
And what if you have less than 2 seconds left to release the shot? Well, add all those factors together and you’ve got a nearly impossible shot. Thing is, nobody told Vince Carter.
PLAYOFFS! PLAYOFFS! The pressure doesn’t get any higher than in the postseason. As for the play itself, Dallas had the ball down two, after Ginobili scored on the other end to give San Antonio the lead. You’d think Dallas might go either Dirk or Monta, both of whom have made visits to the Horry Scale this season. You would, however, be wrong. Because, of course, the Mavs went to Vince Carter instead…
Monta Ellis says Rick Carlisle saw how Spurs were planning on defending the last play and told Vince Carter he would knock down the shot.
To get Vince open on the inbound play, the Mavs stacked up Vince, Dirk and Brandan Wright, then ran Monta Ellis off the triple screen. As Ellis popped free at the top, Vince ducked to the corner, caught, spun and drained the shot. Good defense from Manu, better shot by Vince. Catch, spin, shot, bottom. Win.
Probably the best all-around celebration of the season. This is partially a function of it happening in the playoffs, when the intensity is already ratcheted up high. When the shot went through, the American Airlines Center went crazy. The Mavs all surrounded Vince and celebrated with him. Two other things that we should note? Right in the center of the Mavs celebration was owner Mark Cuban…
Hey, if I owned an NBA team and we won a playoff game on a last-second shot, I’d be up in that celebration, too.
Also, as the Mavs celebrated, we got a quick glimpse at stoic Popovich…
This is when it all counts. Heckuva situation, heckuva shot. As far as a grade, this one really had it all. I was thinking somewhere between 4 and 5 Horrys. And you know what? We’re going with 5 Horrys for this one, our first five Horry shot of the season…
Now it’s your turn! How many Horrys would you give Vince Carter’s shot?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In this video from the Dallas Mavericks, why is Devin Harris playing Ferris Bueller? Why is Dirk Nowitzki in the role of Principal Rooney? And is that Monta Ellis as Cameron Frye? Really, more questions than answers here, but still, this is the latest in a long line of great videos from the Dallas Mavericks…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I can not tell a lie: It has been a season of highs and lows here at Horry Scale Central. We began the season with three Game-Winning Buzzer-Beaters within seven days, a flurry of activity to make even the most jaded NBA watcher’s head twirl. This required me to write three Horry Scale posts in succession, which turned out to be a controversial endeavor. Folks weren’t happy with my rating of the Jeff Green GWBB, which kept me up very late at night, triggering some difficult and genuine soul searching, at least as far as you know. Since then I have perhaps tried to overcorrect with some of my other ratings, a maneuver that has in no small part generated its own share of controversy, and which has caused something of an existential Horry Scale crisis.
But I digress. Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain: What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
With the rules in place, Today we turn our tired eyes to the lovely Pacific Northwest. Let’s check out last night’s game-winner from Monta Ellis…
Monta Ellis has made tougher shots in his career, probably even in this game. This was basically a catch-and-shoot on a curl coming around a screen, a shot Ellis has taken thousands of times in his life. And Ellis made a clean catch, swung around the screen, and had a wide open look at the basket. And yes, he drained the shot, so kudos to him. To me the most interesting thing on this play was that the Blazers did not switch defenders on the screen. In the NBA, for the most part defenders always switch on picks in the last few seconds of a game, and particularly on an inbounds play. This is not only easy for the players on the floor to remember, in a more general sense it means defenders are always running at the ball when there are only seconds to play. But as Ellis came around the series of screens, Portland’s Wesley Matthews tried to stay with him, with no real help waiting for him. (As my main man Ben Golliver reports on Blazers Edge, Portland had decided before the play to only switch guard-on-guard screens. Dallas’ other guard on the floor was Jose Calderon, who was inbounding the ball, so the Blazers all knew there would effectively be no switching.) By the time Ellis caught the pass, curled around the pick from DaJuan Blair and popped free at the top of the key, Portland’s best defensive option may have been LaMarcus Aldridge, who was flat-footed about six feet away from Ellis. Matthews made a last-second swipe at the ball from behind while trying to recover, but he couldn’t make a difference.
What you don’t see in the clip above is the clutch three-pointer Lillard made to tie the game with 1.9 seconds remaining. That play was set up by a Dallas turnover from, you guessed it, Monta Ellis. So in many ways this GWBB was about redemption for Monta. Still, once Dallas got the ball with the game tied, it seemed like it would probably be Dirk Nowitzki time, right? Even in the video above, as the Mavs line up for the play, you can hear Portland analyst Mike Rice note, “Watch [DaJuan] Blair set a pick for either Vince Carter or Dirk.” So Dallas coach Rick Carlisle using the situation to run a play for Ellis was not only in retrospect a wise choice, it was crafty, as well.
This was big on both sides. The Blazers had been riding a four-game winning streak, and had amassed eight straight wins at home. The crowd in Portland, which is always among the best in sports, was rowdy and sold out, twenty-thousand strong. The Mavs, meanwhile, after an offseason that was quieter than most expected, have been something of a mild surprise this season, bobbing along a couple of games above .500. Any road win in the NBA is a good thing, but a road win over the best team in the Conference is always a great thing.
The Mavs seemed really fired up by Ellis’ shot, surrounding him and grabbing him. Also, I’m pretty sure someone ran off the Dallas bench and hit Ellis with a large cushion at about the 19-second mark of the video. I particularly enjoyed this facet of the celebration: The cushion bash needs to become a regular part of post-shot celebrations.
I think we can all agree that the degree of difficulty wasn’t through the roof, at least just as a jump shot, in a bubble. But all the other parts of this play — Ellis’ earlier turnover, Lillard’s game-tying three moments earlier, Portland’s home win streak, Dallas’ execution on the final play — give added weight to the play. This is one of those situations where I wish we had half-Horrys to award, because I really feel like this is a 3.5 Horry Play. Should I round up or down? That’s another discussion for another day. In this case, I’m going with four Horrys, because for me the post-shot cushion bash lifts it from three to four…
That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give the Monta Ellis game-winner?
You’ve likely forgotten it, but back in 2010, Monta Ellis (then with the Warriors) made the viral video rounds with this over-the-head shot from the hallway at Oracle Arena.
Ellis’ teammate that season was none other than a precocious rookie named Steph Curry. While Curry would go on to be an All-Rookie First Team member and win three Rookie of the Month awards, perhaps Ellis’ ability to sink crazy shots from the tunnel rubbed off on him a little that season.
Check out this pretty amazing heave from Curry at practice the other day (although, admittedly, not as stellar as Ellis’ of three years ago), courtesy of Warriors.com:
Stemming from his days as the No. 1 scorer on the Golden State Warriors, Monta Ellis has a bit of a reputation as a chucker — particularly from 3-point range. That belief (in the Warriors-era Ellis, at least) is not unfounded, especially when you review his advanced stats from those seasons. For the record, Ellis spent his first 6 1/2 seasons in Oakland. In those seasons, here’s what percentage of his points came from 3-point attempts during his Warriors years: 2005-06 (25.8 percent), 2006-07 (14.2), 2007-08 (4.2), 2008-09 (6.0), 2009-10 (16.2), 2010-11 (23.5) and 2011-12 (19.3).
This season, his first full one in Milwaukee, Ellis’ percentage of points from 3-point attempts is at 20.1 and when Ellis gets on the road this season, that percentage bumps up to 23.4. So, overall, not much of a big change in his game, even with a change of scenery.
Good thing that Ellis is so 3-happy, though, because they needed his long-range touch last night to pull off a stunner at the Toyota Center over the Houston Rockets. The Rockets seemed in control of this one early, but by halftime everything was tied up and a second half of lead changes and ties ensued. James Harden knotted the score at 107 with 34.7 seconds left and the Bucks actually had a couple of non-dramatic chances to win this, but couldn’t come through until Ellis saved their bacon.
For those that are new around these parts, the Horry scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
How does Ellis’ game-winning shot Wednesday night stack up? Let’s dive in …
Do Jennings and Ellis have a running competition to see who can sink a game winner with the least amount of time left on the clock? When Jennings made his shot against the Cavs on Nov. 4, he did so with :00.7 remaining in the game. Last night, when Ellis made his shot, there was about :00.8 on the clock when the ball left his hands. That’s just the sort of thing that Milwaukee’s explosive-if-unpredictable backcourt can do from game to game.
Back to Ellis’ shot, though: could it have been tougher? First, he’s camped out left of the 3-point line waiting for a pass from Jennings that seemingly isn’t going to come. As Jennings tries to drive on Jeremy Lin (and is subsequently cut off), Jennings pitches it to Ellis with about a second left with Ellis facing the sideline as he catches it. In one quick motion, Ellis turns to the basket, fades on the 6-foot-9 Chandler Parsons and chucks it toward the rim. Keep in mind that Ellis is listed at 6-foot-3, but that might be stretching things.
Much like the baseline floater that J.R. Smith nailed to do in the Suns earlier this season, a scorer like Ellis always knows where the rim is, knows how much space he needs and knows the shot clock/game clock situation. Unlike Smith, Ellis wasn’t faced with a designed play for him to get the ball.
In terms of difficulty, it’s hard to find a tougher shot (that the Bucks chose to take) in this situation.
Score tied at 107 with, Bucks have the ball at midcourt. Had Ellis missed, this one is headed to OT and a chance for the Bucks and Rockets — the current No. 8 seeds in their respective conferences — to bolster their playoff bids with a victory.
If we are going by eras in Milwaukee, the Bucks were 26-27 in the first full season of the Jennings-Ellis pairing and were 1-1 in the two games since they acquired J.J. Redick from the Orlando Magic in a trade deadline-day deal. What’s more important than eras in Milwaukee (or Houston, for that matter) is staying in the playoff race. The Bucks have less to worry on that front as the Sixers, Raptors and Pistons have a far-off-at-best shot at the postseason. In the West, the Rockets have a much tougher bid for No. 8 with the disappointing Lakers trying to get back to .500 and climb into Houston’s spot.
Overall, in terms of the playoff chase, this one likely meant more to Houston’s cause than Milwaukee’s (although a first-round date with the Heat isn’t exactly something the Bucks are savoring).
Gotta love the mad dash for the locker room that Ellis makes after his shot. And as a confident-if-streaky shooter, Ellis told The Associated Press what we’d expect to hear from him after sinking that shot: “I just threw it up. The buzzer went off when it was rolling around the rim. Wasn’t any need for me to come back out [to see the review].” Basically, there’s no celebration here for the Bucks because Ellis just wants to get to the Houston airport and back to Milwaukee as soon as possible.
4 1/2 Horrys. Smith’s buzzer-beater against the Suns came off a clearly set play in a different situation. But to us, something about this Ellis shot has a lot in common with Smith’s in Arizona a few months ago. Call Ellis a 3-point chucker if you like (and as his shot charts show, he likes the 3-ball), but also call him Horry-like for coming through with a pretty tough shot.
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Portland Trail Blazers, who played three straight from Jan. 23-25.
Every time I see a fan base start to complain about bad luck, or how nothing ever works out for them, I think of Portland. That is not to say that I think Blazers fans whine all the time; on the contrary, I think of the incredible adversity and horrible luck with injuries that franchise has faced in the past few years and how despite that, they’ve still managed to make the playoffs and contend where I believe others would have folded up the tent and gone home.
When this season started with the announcement of another Greg Oden injury setback and then the retirement of Brandon Roy, I assumed Portland was done for. And though it hasn’t been easy, here they are again, keeping their heads above water and competing for the playoffs. If they have the fortitude for that, I’m sure the three-play will be a piece of cake. Let’s go to the scoreboard and find out:
Game 1: Blazers 101, Kings 89 – When you have three games in three nights, it’s great to have a guy like Jamal Crawford available, who on the right night can get hot and carry the team by himself. This was one of those nights, as Crawford sprung for a game-high 26 off the bench to lead the Blazers to an easy win. 2 points (1 for win, 1 for +10 margin)
Game 2: Blazers 97, Grizzlies 84 – So far so good, as Portland picks up another seemingly easy win, this time against the Grizzlies. Marcus Camby did his best Ben Wallace impression in this one, pulling down 22 caroms while scoring only three points. 4 points (3 for win, 1 for +10 margin)
Game 3: Warriors 101, Blazers 93 – Finally away from the friendly confines of the Rose Garden, the Blazers fell short to the Warriors in the final game to fall short of becoming the third team to sweep their three for all. Normally you’d like your chances against the Warriors when Monta Ellis scores only four points, but on this night he dished out 12 assists and Steph Curry picked up the slack with 32 to deny Portland perfection. 0 points
The Blazers finish with 6 total points, which in some ways doesn’t do them justice for their performance (with two +10 wins), but that’s why the third game is so important — it’s the hardest to win, home or away.
Up next: The Detroit Pistons play three straight Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 as they take on the three-play challenge entirely on the road: at Milwaukee, at New York, and at New Jersey.