With Summer League in the books, the NBA rookies suited up for their first official photo shoot and HL was there to bring you guys the action! ZO, Jordan Bell and more newcomers talked pre-game style, what they will bring to the floor and more!
Every year the young rookies from each NBA team meet together, after the draft, to shoot their first professional portraits in their uniforms. In the beginning of August, the newcomers were photographed for their first NBA trading card, in partnership with Panini America, where they stood proud to represent their respected teams.”It’s a very long day,” as Sacramento’s DeAaron Fox, shared with us. And, he wasn’t joking. But, it’s a day the extraordinary talent, who eventually hope to become the face of their franchise, will remember for the rest of their lives.
Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Tyler Dorsey, Jayson Tatum, John Collins, Jordan Bell, Markelle Fultz, and Fox, all rocked their full Nike threads for the very first time and HL exclusively chatted with the guys about the entire experience. And, we also got into a slew of hot topics they only let us in on! Hear what they had to say about their teams, their individual game, what they bought as soon as they received that first fat paycheck, and so much more!
First, we met with point guard, Tyler Dorsey, who was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks. Hailing from the Oregon Ducks, where Dorsey had a blockbuster 2016 season and put on an even better show in the post season, he now knows that he’s still got more to prove. Although some have compared his shooting abilities to a young Steph Curry, 29, in the making, Dorsey said he’s always got a chip on his shoulder, and that’s what keeps him motivated. “I’m never going to forget. I’m still the second round pick,” he admitted. “I’ve got to come in and work for everything. But, this is a great moment, and I’ve been dreaming about it. I’m definitely not satisfied for where I’m at. I’ve got things I want to be and other goals I want to accomplish. So you just keep getting back in the gym and working on your game, everyday,” he said.
Dorsey came off an incredible post season, where he was a shooting machine before the Ducks suffered a tough loss to the Tar Heels in the Final Four, 77-76. And, after arguably his best post season in his college career, Dorsey said he knew it was the right time to enter the draft. “We [Oregon] had a great season, and I didn’t think me going back was what I wanted to do,” he said. “I followed my heart and made the decision.” And, if you were worried about Dorsey’s short-lived summer league stint due to an ankle sprain, he said he will be “fresh and ready” for the season. Check out more from Dorsey and the rest of the guys below!
How do you separate yourself from other guards? — “I think my ability to shoot the ball. And, I think my shooting ability is pretty deadly. In this league you can keep a job for a long time if you’re able to do that.”
What kind of impact do you want to have in Atlanta? — “Just coming in and finding my role; coming in and defending. You’ve got to get on the floor and defend your position. Coming in, I just want to be the best two-way player I can be in my rookie year.”
Who are you looking forward to playing against the most? “I’d probably say, Steph, because I’m a shooter like that and I feel like going against him, and seeing how he plays, I’d love to play against him.”
Pre-game playlist and style? “Some Drake, G-Eazy, 2 Chains… I do like fashion a lot, so I’m probably going to take that serious and step my game up with that. Probably a different style each game, I got my own little swag.”
Markelle Fultz — Philadelphia 76ers
We spoke to you before the draft. But, how is life now, after the draft, as you head into the official season? — “It feels the same, there’s just a little more money in my pocket. But, I feel the same. I’m happy. I’m glad it’s over now [the draft] because it’s less stressful not knowing where I’m going.”
How do you stay so grounded like that? — “Really for me, it’s a game in which I love to do and I feel like I’m a normal person just like everyone else is. You’ll never hear me talking about myself, or how much money I got, and so that’s the way my mom raised me. I feel comfortable walking around like that [humble].”
You said you’ve got more money in your pocket, so what do you want your first big purchase to be? — “I’m trying to get a Chick-Fil-A. I want to own a Chick-Fil-A. I hope I can get that with my money, but everything else is going to my mom. I bought her a house and that’s pretty much it.”
It was a short-lived summer league for you. How’s the ankle? — “Yeah the ankle’s a lot better. I’m almost 100 percent. I’m like 98 percent. I’m back to working out; I’m jumping. Everything’s been good, but I’m still undergoing treatment for it.”
What’re you most excited about for your first official NBA game? — “I actually found out that it’s back home in D.C., so that’s going to be exciting. My biggest thing is, don’t play too bad in front of my home crowd. I’m definitely excited for that.”
How would you describe your game? — “My game is unpredictable, really herky jerky; score from all three levels; block shots. I can pretty much do it all; that’s how I look at my game. I’ve still got a lot to improve on, but that’s how I’d describe it.”
How’s your chemistry with the Sixers? Where do you fit in with Simmons and Embiid? — “Our chemistry is great. We hang out and text all of the time; they’re great guys with great personalities. Being around those guys, I mean, it’s not that hard to fit in because they’re so welcoming. They’ve given me killer advice about the workouts and we’re just trying to get through them to see how great we can be together. We want to make it back to the playoffs and just being as good as we can.”
Lonzo Ball — Los Angeles Lakers
What’re you wearing today? — “ZO’s , the OG’s are on. It’s pretty real now; got the jersey tucked in.”
You and Kuzma were a power duo in Summer League. Take us inside your chemistry. — “The chemistry started in summer league. He’s the player to play with and it’s helped my game a lot. Hopefully our connection will keep going throughout the season.”
In your words, what’s your role this season? — “My game is to help the team win. I’m a point guard. I’m going to help the guys in the best way I can and hopefully it ends up in a W… we’re just working every game and taking it one game at a time, and hoping that we end up in the playoffs.”
How do you handle the mental aspect of the game, especially with all of the hype around you? — “It’s credit to my dad. He taught me at a young age. The games are about wins and losses, not about points or accolades. I try to stay as humble as I can. And, like I said, I try to do whatever I can to help my team out.”
What’re you most looking forward to on your first NBA game? — “I think it’ll be pretty cool to hear my name called for the first time. I’m looking forward to it.”
You’re the face of the Lakers now. Are you feeling pressure weighing on you? How are you handling it all? — “No. I kind of came in with the mindset that I was going to be such a high pick. So, now, it’s my job to bring wins.”
What shoes are you going to wear in the first game of the season? — “They’ll definitely be mine. The color is to be determined.”
Kyle Kuzma — Los Angeles Lakers
How’s the big move to LA been? — “It’s feeling real now. It’s been two months since the draft and probably three weeks after the draft, I was living in LA. Then it felt real. I haven’t been out too much because of traffic and I don’t like that, but I’m liking the vibes out there and I’m living by the beach.”
We asked Lonzo this, but we want to hear it from you as well. Can you explain the chemistry between the two of you? — “We feed off each other. I know that if I run the floor, he’ll look at me and find me in transition and he does the same. He wants assists and I like the floor, so it’s good.”
Describe yourself on the floor. — “Versatile. Somebody that can really do multiple things on the floor; Pass, shoot, dribble, rebound. I can do everything well.”
What’re the Lakers doing different this upcoming season? — “We’re going to be tough-minded. Coach Walt [Luke Walton] wants to bring more intensity on the defensive end, and more passing, just really like showtime. Watching Magic back in the film and just trying to do what he did on defensive.”
First big purchase? — “I got a car, a Porsche.”
DeAaron Fox — Sacramento Kings
How are you adjusting to the pace and different level you’re playing on now? — “I’m adjusting, but, you don’t really know until you really start playing, so it’s hard to prepare for it.”
What’re you looking forward to in your first official NBA game and what’re you going to bring to the team? — “Trying to perform well, but more importantly, just trying to get the win; that’s the most important thing for me right now. I want to bring an electrifying point guard to the team. I’m trying to make plays on both ends of the court.”
You’ve said you’re the best point guard in the draft class; Why? — “I feel like I can get it done on both ends of the court. Offensively, I feel like I can put the ball in the basket and I can get my teammates involved. Defensively, I feel like I can change the game and lock down on the opposing teams. If their best scorer is a guard, I feel like I can guard him.”
On the court your name is associated with the words “explosive” and “aggressive.” Are these two accurate words to describe your floor performance? — “Just trying to be a dog on the court. I’ve always played with a competitive fire and it’s something I don’t even have to think about at this point. When I get on the court, it’s just my mentality.”
What is Sacramento’s goal for this season? — “Just really trying to be better than we were last season. Everyone on the team wants to win and change the culture in Sacramento and that’s how we’re going into every game.”
John Collins — Atlanta Hawks
How does it feel to be fully decked out in your uniform at your rookie photo shoot? — “It’s cool. It’s crazy to see everyone else in their jersey’s and then see myself; it’s a realization. I’m happy to be here. It’s that next step to let you know that you finally made it.”
We spoke to you before the draft. But, how is life now, after the draft as you head into the official season? — “It’s been really hectic. We haven’t had much of a break since I’ve gotten drafted. But, it’s been good to get used to it to prepare myself for the upcoming season.”
How’s the offseason prep? — “Obviously summer league, and I just came back from camp. Outside of all the regular team scheduled workouts, weight lifts and all of that kind of stuff, I’m just getting acclimated in Atlanta and trying to find my way; trying to get a house and a car and getting situated and start my career.”
As rookie, your confidence is insane. How do you get to that mental part of the game? — “I think it’s the way I played the game at a young age. I wasn’t as good as a younger guy. So, I tried to get on the court and play with explosiveness and energy, and I think it rubbed off into now and it’s just ingrained in my game. Now, it’s something I try to do every time I get onto the court. I grew up in a military family, so that also helped shape my game. My mom was 20 plus years in the air force. My dad was 20 plus years in the navy; I traveled a lot as a kid, so I got a structured background on top of everything. I feel like I have a different mindset than a lot of guys because of growing up.”
What would you say is the game plan or mentality as a whole for Atlanta going into the next season? — “I think it’s just progression. Obviously, you see our franchise is in sort of a rebuilding period; we got rid of a lot of guys and focused more on a younger core. So, for us, it’s more of jelling and seeing what we have and going from there. We are in the East, so we have a little more leeway than if we were to be in the west, so it’s a good time to be in Atlanta, especially for myself; I’ve got a big opportunity.”
Pre-game style and rituals? — “It’s more of how I’m feeling that day. If I’m feeling preppy, I may come in a polo and dress clothes; or if I’m feeling relaxed I may come in some sweats. I’ll definitely have some style… I actually figured out for myself that the calmer I get, the better I play. So, I just try to be as relaxed as possible; so whatever that may be to get ready; maybe it’s not listening to music or maybe it’s watching movies. Whatever the case may be, it’s whatever gets me relaxed as possible.”
Jordan Bell — Golden State Warriors
How does it feel to join Steph, Draymond, Klay and Durant? — “When I found out I cracked my phone! My agent called me to tell me and I just dropped it and started running around the garage, going crazy.”
How would you describe your game? — “A do-it-all player. I wouldn’t say there’s just one thing that I do well. I would say, there’s a lot of things — blocking shots, getting steals, rebounding, passing, I can handle the ball in transition, I can finish… I’m a dog because of the way I play. I always strive to be the toughest guy on the floor; Just stepping up to the challenge and guarding everybody on the floor.”
Can you imagine putting a ring on your finger in your first year? — “Everybody here [at the photo shoot] has been talking about it and making jokes, saying, ‘You’re getting a ring in your first year.’ But, nothing’s guaranteed. They’re just jealous,” he jokes, adding “I know Markelle [Fultz] is really jealous too. But, naw, they’re just joking. But, for real, nothing is for sure.”
First big purchase? — “I’m very cheap with my money. The first thing I bought was a steak that was like $40 and it was way too much [laughs]. That was way too much for me though; that was pushing it.”
Pre-game rituals? — “Before games I’m laughing; that’s the way I am. If I’m serious, then I don’t play well. Basketball is supposed to be fun, and I just try to have as much fun as possible.
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