NEW YORK CITY – The 2012 NBA Draft is tomorrow but some of the top college players projected to be drafted early in the first round were on hand in Times Square to talk about their NBA journey and the culmination of years of hard work coming to fruition at tomorrow night’s big event.
Anthony Davis, Harrison Barnes, Meyers Leonard, John Henson, Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, Austin Rivers, Bradley Beal, Thomas Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tyler Zeller, and Dion Waiters were on hand, eager to field many questions from the throngs of media present.
Here is what a few of the NBA-bound players had to say at today’s media session.
On talks that he is financially set because of his father, Celtics’ Doc Rivers: “People get caught up on, ‘Oh he’s already financially set.’ I am not financially set, my dad is, and my family is. I am not. I have zero dollars in my bank account.”
On why he is making the leap to the NBA: “My whole point to going to the NBA is because I want to compete at this level. I love the game of basketball. This is what I’ve been doing since I was six years old. So my goal was to play at the highest level, compete at the highest level and when I had that opportunity ahead of me, I just couldn’t say no. I talked to my mom, my dad, Coach K (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski) and they all felt I was ready. And if I didn’t feel I was ready, I wouldn’t have came out. It’s not about anything else — fame, money or anything else. I just want to play in the NBA against these guys.”
On who he is excited to play against in the NBA: “I mean all of them. Just the guys I’ve grown up watching on T.V. Getting to go against players like Derrick Rose, and Deron Williams, or Russell Westbrook, and Dwayne Wade, Tony Parker, all these guys I’ve grown up idolizing, patten my game after. It’s going to be so fun to get to go against them and learn and try to beat them. Those guys are the greatest, the (Rajon) Rondo’s, I’m just going to work to try to get to that level.”
On what it will be like playing against the Celtics and his father: “It’ll be fun when I go against him. It’s going to be competitive. When I beat him, I’m going to talk a lot of trash to him and tell him it’s my time now. It’s my house now. It’s going to be tough, the Celtics are so good. I know my dad is going to do something to mess with me. That will be interesting because we’re both so competitive.”
On what is the right system for him: “The right system for me is really just a system that likes to attack on offense and defense. My diverse game can fit into a lot of systems to tell you the truth.
“Preferably, I’d like to play for somewhere where I can run up and down, get the ball moving and attack and create for other players and myself.
“All the teams that I’ve worked out for like, New Orleans, and Portland and Toronto and Washington as teams I can fit into as well as Phoenix, Cleveland, Milwaukee, just all those teams I can fit in.”
On what he can bring to the NBA and the team that selects him: “I know my niche is just going to be to come into practice every single day and get better, learn. Bring energy, be a positive influence, a positive attitude. From there, just learn the game. Start to use my athleticism, my versatility, my ability to step out and shoot a little bit. Be a factor in the paint on both ends and then, of course, start to get into different things. But for me I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work. My offensive game can be a lot better, as well as my defense. So I’m just going to come in every single day and work as hard as possible.”
On who he would compare himself to in the NBA: “I kind of look at NBA guys and think about who I see myself playing like. I love how (Bulls’) Joakim Noah bring energy to the court, (Knicks’) Tyson Chandler’s ability to effect the paint on both ends, catching lobs, blocking shots. A lot of people say I am like one of the Lopez guys (Brooks, and Robin) so I mean he’s pretty good.”
On which teams he worked out with prior to the NBA Draft: “I worked out with Portland, Sacramento, Golden State and Toronto twice.”
On what he wants to add to his game once in the NBA: “I want to get a little stronger, be a better defender, and I want to develop a better in-between game.”
On how high in the draft he thinks he can go: “From what I been hearing, I think I can go as high as five just based on what the team’s need.”
On which big man in the NBA he is looking to face: “I don’t really know. I don’t know if there’s one. I think it’s just pretty incredible to play against any of them. I’ve watched them all for the past few years.”
On what he sees in today’s NBA big man: “Just how big and explosive they are. It will be interesting to play against them at the next level.”