Deonte Burton and Dime are back for the second installment of the Deonte Burton Draft Diary. Last time we spoke with Deonte, he was still a senior guard from Nevada. Tomorrow night, he’ll be Deonte Burton, member of the [insert NBA team]. Some of us bust our asses for years and wait for it to payoff; for Burton, that time is tonight.
Deonte was kind enough to open up to us before the biggest night of his life. Most people would believe that Burton is nervous as hell, losing hour after hour of sleep. As he told me, though, he’s just relaxing and not even worrying about the draft. His work is done – its up to the NBA war rooms to decide his fate now. Whoever gets Burton, it should be noted, is getting an absolute steal.
He’s been working out for NBA teams all over the country and explained the hardest and easiest things about the whole process. When asked about the prospect of basketball being his full-time job, Burton gave a sigh of joy that he’s finally able to wholly concentrate on his first love. When we discussed the Isaiah Austin situation, Burton expressed sadness and described it as “heartbreaking.” It definitely makes him realize how blessed he is to be able to play this sport.
First, we brought you the trials and tribulations of becoming an NBA Draft prospect. Now? It’s draft day, baby. Let’s get into the mind of someone whose dreams are about to come true…
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On his workouts with NBA teams and improvements in his game:
The workouts went well. I just tried to give it my all on every play. There was a lot of 1-on-1, 3-on-3, defensive drills. I tried to be elite in the defensive drills to stand out that way, so scouts and GMs can see that I can defend. That’s key in this league, being able to defend.
I didn’t have any private workouts, mainly 3-on-3 with other guys. The three workouts that went best for me were the Clippers, Sacramento and Milwaukee workouts. I stood out because I was very vocal. I was playing both ends of the floor, scoring and defending. I was being a leader out there, directing the big man I was playing with. All three of those workouts I was just feeling good, being a leader, being vocal, and bringing it on both ends of the floor. No teams really showed their cards about wanting to pick me, but those three workouts I mentioned were the best. They called my agent and said that I had a great workout and I did really well.
I heard about that question that was asked to [Nik] Stauskas. I heard that he picked partying with Bieber, which I don’t think was the right answer they were looking for [laughs]. I was asked, “If I was a pencil in a jar, how would I get out?” It was a pretty crazy question, I didn’t know how to answer it. I said, “I have no clue how to answer that” and the guy just said okay [laughs]. I don’t know why it was asked, I’m sure there is a method to their madness, but I have no clue why. It beats me.
I’m starting to be more vocal at the point guard position. I wasn’t really vocal coming into these workouts. I was more of a guy that would show you on the court. Coming into these workouts, I started to become more confident and a vocalization skill to direct people where they’re supposed to be and take control of the game like the point guards supposed to do. I was working on balance with my shot – I had a left side deficiency on my shot. So when I would shoot, I would lean to the left a lot and it would alter my shot. I just worked on balance all summer and correcting the mechanics.
One guy that I’ve enjoyed going up against in the workouts and everything is Zach LaVine. We’ve been teaching other tricks and things like that. We worked out for several teams in Santa Barbara. We’re two competitive guys and we make each other better everytime we step on the floor together.
On the events of draft night:
To be honest, I’m not even thinking about it [the draft]. I know how crazy that sounds. I’m a guy that falls under the late first or early second round. It’s out of my hands now, I did all my workouts. The only thing I can do is watch and leave it in god’s hands. Whoever selects me, they’re going to get a steal in my opinion. I’m not going to get too happy, or too low, I’m even keel until my name gets called or not. I think that’s the best way to go about it.
I have no clue what I’ll do after the draft and I don’t know my schedule for tomorrow. But, I’ll be with my family thats for sure. We will all hang out and watch it together, that’s about it.
On his work ethic and transition to the NBA:
No matter drafted 1st or 60th you just have to work your butt off to show everyone that you belong in the league or whatever pick you go. You just have to have confidence and work hard.
The Isaiah Austin situation definitely makes you realize the opportunity. Not so much for [Joel] Embiid, because that won’t pull him down forever. But, Isaiah Austin, we played on the same traveling team called the Compton Magic. It’s heartbreaking to have the sport you work everyday for taken away. It definitely humbles me and makes me thank god everyday that I have this game to play still.
Just working hard everyday is necessary to make it. You have to be in tip-top shape for this league. You have to treat your body well and eat well, because whatever you put in, it’s going to come out. That’s the most important thing is treating your body well.
There have definitely been easy and hard parts about the transition. If you put your hard work in the offseason and the summer, the season will come and you will be ready. You’ll get great outcomes from it, thats my opinion. I just think that harder you work, the easier it will be. One of the hardest parts is going to workout for other teams and flying all over the country. Being in different timezones is hard. You have to be up at 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning and you get in another state and it’s already 2:00 PM and then you have to get up in five hours and work your tail off for the workout. That’s a tough part, but it’s what comes with it. You can’t complain, you just have to go out there and get it done.
On playing for an NBA team:
One thing I can bring to an NBA team is explosiveness, getting to the basket. That’s what I can bring to an NBA team right now. If I had to pick, I would pick Serge Ibaka or Birdman [Chris Anderson] to dunk on in the NBA.
Oh, I would love playing with a KD or LeBron! That just makes my job easy, you know? If I had to go to the NBA and pass the ball to Kevin Durant or LeBron, that’ll make my job easy. I’ll just do what I have to do on defense and I’ll lock up. I think I’ll play more minutes that way.
I’m gonna compete no matter whos in front of me, no matter if it’s Chris Paul or Derrick Rose. I’m gonna bring it everyday, learn from them, and compete; that’s the biggest thing [competing]. I’m a huge competitor and I don’t care if I go to a lottery team or a team that has Kevin Durant, Westbrook, or Derrick Rose. I’ll learn from them and get knowledge about the game, but I’m definitely going at them in practice trying to take their spot. I know it probably won’t happen, but if I have that mindset, eventually I’ll have my chance.
Being from LA, it would affect my life in terms of my family being in LA if someone across the country picked me. Like, if my parents had job opportunities in different states with good pay and a place to stay, they would take it. It’s the same thing if I get selected to go to Philly for example, it’s just something I have to do. It’s a part of my life, it’s my job now. I’ll take it, no question.
On being able to focus on basketball as a full time job and his thoughts on this entire draft process:
Man, it’s great. As of right now in my career, I don’t think there’s any other job for me than playing basketball full-time. I love the game, I’ve been playing basketball my whole life, you know that’s been my job. When I was a student athlete, I couldn’t focus solely on basketball. I had to worry about being at class on time, turning this paper in or doing this and that. There’s none of that, it’s just basketball. The room to just grow and get better, oh my god, the potential is just skyrocketing for me.
If I had to pick one word to describe this process it would be adventurous. It’s full of excitement and a lot of fun experiences. Visiting different places and getting a little taste of how the NBA season goes. Preparing for your career, so I’d say adventurous.
Being in the draft is another opportunity to show the world that I can be one of the – I don’t wanna say the greatest to ever play the game – but that I can play in the NBA. Just to show everyone that dreams can come true if you work hard.
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