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.]
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.