While Blake Griffin, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins have rightfully stolen the main limelight of the rookie race thus far, a lot of other young guys are still finding their bearings in their first NBA season. And being in L.A., I’ve been fortunate enough to have already seen a good amount of those rooks roll through town.
With the bulk of the season still remaining, and teams becoming more comfortable with their new talent by the day, it only seemed natural to see how the League’s newest commodities were fitting in. And with teams from Detroit to Portland coming through to play the Clippers and Lakers recently, it provided us with a nice hodgepodge of rookie thoughts.
Whereas Lottery picks like LAC’s Al-Farouq Aminu (7.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and Detroit’s Greg Monroe (3.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg) are still easing into the season, second round guys like Portland’s Armon Johnson (4.7 ppg, 2 apg), LAL’s Devin Ebanks (3.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg) and New York’s Landry Fields (10.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) – who has started every game this season for the Knicks – are taking advantage of their early burn in the rotation. But the season is still fresh and there’s a lot of time for any rookie to make his presence felt.
Dime: How have you been adjusting to life as a rookie so far?
Greg Monroe: It’s been a lot of fun, I’m learning a lot right now definitely. Just trying to take as much information about the game as I can, but it’s been fun traveling (and having) new teammates. It’s been a very fun experience.
Armon Johnson: Things have been going pretty well, been working hard. All my veterans and my coaching staff have been helping me out a lot, so things are going great.
Devin Ebanks: Everything’s been going well so far, you know I’m making adjustments. Just keep working hard and everything’s going to work out.
Dime: Have you had any rookie hazing?
Johnson: (laughs) Nah, they don’t do too much hazing; they’re pretty cool. They’re traditional, you know carry a bag or something, but that’s something that I offer to do anyways. They’ve been very great with me and just delightful; it’s been going very well. Being in the NBA is a blessing, so I’m glad to be here.
Ebanks: Everything’s been strictly business with us really. We’re trying to win a third (consecutive) championship, so everything pretty much is serious. But as far as hazing, just cleaning up after the guys with bottles and towels and stuff like that.
Landry Fields: Uh (looks around the locker room) it’s not too bad. I don’t want to say that loud because they might make it worse, but it’s been alright so far (laughs).
Al-Farouq Aminu: We (rookies) got to sing happy birthday and things like that. Nothing too drastic, it’s all fun.
Dime: Who are your veteran mentors? Have any guys taken you under their wing?
Monroe: Ah, everybody. All the veterans have given me advice and information and have helped me; given me tips during games, after games and in practice. So everybody’s really been taking me under their wing.
Ebanks: Yeah, really Kobe and Ron Artest and L.O. as well. Mainly all the guys really are just teaching me and Derrick [Caracter] the ropes as far as how the NBA goes.
Fields: They’ve all been really good, but I’d say the one that’s been the best for me is Ronny Turiaf. He’s always in my ear and I think we have the same kind of basketball IQ, so when we’re out there talking, it’s really successful.
Aminu: All the veterans, it’s not just one in particular or anything like that. They all take me under their wing and it’s been great.
Dime: Likewise, how have you been adjusting to life in a new city?
Monroe: It’s different, but you know I’ve adjusted pretty easily. It’s just different people. A city’s a city you know, you’ll find stuff to do, it’s the same stuff in every city. But it’s just new people you got to meet.
Johnson: I really do (like the city). You know it rains a little bit but besides that it’s been terrific. All the fans have been very, very nice and very supportive of us. I like where I live and everything’s going great.
Fields: Um, it’s a little hectic. There’s a lot more going on, it’s not as laid back as out here in L.A., but I’m adjusting pretty well.
Dime: Any games or player match-ups in particular that you’re circling on the schedule this season?
Monroe: Yeah, you know coming up during the whole pre-draft process you’re with (your draft class) a lot, so you become friends during that process, you know during draft week and pre-draft camp. So all the rookies in this class are friends … Definitely when we play the Celtics, Kevin Garnett is definitely the person that I was like, wow.
Johnson: Well it’s always the next player that I get to go against and that’s all I look forward to.
Ebanks: Not really. Just be ready to play everyday and try to get a win.
Aminu: Yeah, James Johnson, I can’t wait to play him. [Jeff] Teague, Ishmael [Smith], you know he started a couple games for Houston. Phoenix with Gani Lawal, we grew up together; so there are a lot of players I want to play against.
Dime: Do you foresee any rookie wall happening at some point?
Fields: People keep talking about the rookie wall. You know we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I’ll remain even keel and it never happens, but you never know.
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