Meeting Up With The Nets’ Rookies

Meeting Up With The Nets’ Rookies

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be allowed to attend Panini’s 2010 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot.  Over 40 rookies were in their uniforms walking around from station to station, getting their pictures taken for their first Panini basketball cards.  Media were allowed in, and I was able to grab both Derrick Favors and Damion James and talk to them for a little bit.

What really impressed me about both James and Favors is that they were both willing to talk about their weaknesses and what they needed to improve on.  I asked Favors about his defensive struggles during Summer League and what he needed to do to improve on that end, and he offered no excuses saying “Adjust to the NBA style of play.  I got called for defensive three seconds a lot so I just need to adjust to the NBA-style of defense.”  When I asked how he would be able to do that, he told me “It comes with work and experience.”  Favors also mentioned that he was working to improve everything, especially his strength.  Meanwhile, James told me that he was working on his ballhandling.  This is pretty important, because James played both the three and the four in college, but at the pro level he is going to play the three mostly.  He needs to be able to handle the ball a bit better than he did in college (turnover rate of 14.0 last year with Texas).  It was reassuring to see that both James and Favors are able to identify their weaknesses, come to terms with them, and be willing to do the work to improve on them.

In addition to their weaknesses, both rookies seem to be excited about building a winning team and playing for coach Avery Johnson.  As Favors told me, “He’s a nice guy, and I am going to try to help build something with him.”  As for Damion James, I was really interested to see what he had to say about coach Johnson because he has been mentioned as an Avery Johnson type of player.  When asked if he was excited to play with coach Johnson he said, “No doubt man.  I know he is eager to come back to coaching and he is going to try to turn the team around.  I want to be a part of that, and I look forward to it.”

Finally, with the fact that most guys have seen Derrick Favors play, but haven’t been able to see Damion James play too much, I asked him to describe his playing style.  “I’m a guy that’s relentless.  Never let up on my opponent and try to dominate him on every play.  I go hard on both ends.”  And then, to make sure he got his point across, he concluded, “I play hard.”

After the jump, check out some video of both James and Favors getting their picture taken and some general thoughts/observations of the photo shoot.

  • Panini and the NBA did a great job with the Photo Shoot.  You could tell all of the rookies were excited to be in their uniforms, and it showed on all of their faces.  Maybe the best thing that Panini did was designate a hoop for the guys to shoot around on while they were waiting to be moved from station to station.  This is where a lot of the fun took place.  Guys were taking trick shots, but the best was a dunk contest among the rookies that broke out (for a NSFW version of the contest, featuring a cameo from our own Damion James, click here).  Some one on one games broke out too:

  • As for the actual shoot, it was a pretty surreal experience.  Before starting the site, I was a fan and not a journalism guy, but the awe of interviewing Nets’ players have worn off with the few events and practices I have been to, but this was different because all of the rookies were just walking around intermingled with the media.  Wanted to talk to someone?  Just go up and ask them if they had time for questions.  Pretty cool.
  • James and Jordan Crawford were actually hanging around each other a lot.  I don’t know if it was because they were in the same group moving from station to station or if it was because they had a past relationship, but I thought it was funny because they were traded for each other on draft night (Favors was in the same group as his college teammate Gani Lawal).
  • If you head over to Getty Images, you can see the results of the photoshoot.  Most of the pictures look fantastic, but seeing it live was funny because the players were being asked to throw silly jump passes and pretending to dunk.  My favorite were the pictures that showed players dunking and slow motion.  The photos came out great, but for some reason the photographer didn’t want them actually dunking.  Some players struggled with the concept and looked really funny…Damion James was one of them, as it took him a few tries.