Heading into the NBA 2K League Draft, I definitely felt like I was going in the first round. Being a little older than most league members, I felt I could give most teams that extra piece that they were looking for.
For me, it’s always been about more than just statistics. How I communicate with people, how I show leadership, how I never quit or give up even through all adversities. I was in a position where I always felt confident in myself, especially given my experience playing NBA 2K but also my experience in life.
When I was drafted to Memphis it was like an ‘I did it, I finally made it’ moment. No matter where I went, it wouldn’t have mattered, I wanted to be a first-round pick, I wanted to be that guy that a team can build off of.
For outsiders looking in, everybody is caught up on whether you are a first-round pick or not. The title of being a ‘first-round pick’ brings a level of expectation for your performance.
I don’t really get caught up on outside noises. I’m really about building and being the best teammate and leader I can be; I’m just trying to be that guy.
Individual performances are okay, but if you’re doing great or scoring a lot and your team is losing, then it’s not really helping the team. So when we’re at practice, I try to be the guy that’s driving the team, or when we’re at dinner, I’m that guy trying to figure out ways to make our team more efficient. That’s really my role as a first-round pick. But make no mistake, I can also put the numbers up if I’m put into a position to do so. For me, it’s both off the court and on the court.
I’d say the toughest part so far has been the building process – it’s a struggle. A lot of times, it’s not about thinking we’re the best players, it’s about figuring out the best system that we can run. We’ve tried a lot of different lineups this season and we’ve tried moving people to different positions – I was drafted as a point guard originally and so far I’ve played three different positions.
Putting the right pieces together in a way that makes everyone comfortable is probably our biggest challenge. We’re trying. We’re constantly building chemistry. I don’t think anybody really understands how hard it is to take six guys from six different parts of the world and put them together and say ‘hey, go out there and win games.’
We’re building. We’re getting there. Every day in practice we’re challenging each other. Hopefully, it will translate to some wins and a deep run in the playoffs.
I believe in myself as a point guard, even though I’ve heard some stuff where people say Grizz Gaming doesn’t really have a point guard. It’s kind of frustrating at times when I hear things like that but, at the end of the day, it’s five other guys that have to buy into that and if we’re not all on the same page, it can definitely cause problems and friction within the team.
As you see when I’m on the court, I’m trying to do whatever I can to help us win, whether it is at point guard, shooting guard or small forward. In my heart, I know that point guard is a position I’ve always played and been successful at but ultimately, it’s about the team. I don’t mind playing any position and if my team is winning games I can’t really complain.
I’ve been a winner my entire life, but sometimes losing is good too. We all came from top Pro-Am teams. Guys like us, we don’t like losing. If I’m smiling, it’s not because I like losing, it’s because when my teammates look over at me and they see me grinning, ready to go, being in the position I’m in, their attitude ultimately changes based off that; you start seeing a little more fight in them. We might be down, but it’s not that bad and let’s finish out the game.
If I’m sitting over and I’m mad and not communicating, it’s only going to get worse. That’s my role. I can’t focus on what other people think or what other people interpret about my smiling or how I approach the game, that’s how I approach it, other guys may do things differently. So far, it’s been working for our team. We’re fighting for every game. Having that positive attitude is one of the reasons we’re able to do that.
Right now, statistically, I’m doing okay but personally, I’m not meeting my expectations for myself. It’s about more than just statistics.
I’m very hard on myself, I’m a perfectionist, it’s something I pride myself on. Every game I’m going to go out and give it my all. There have been a few games I didn’t feel like I gave the team what they needed, whether it was scoring or defense or communicating.
We just haven’t been able to get wins consistently yet, but it’s a long season. I feel like every game that we play is a winnable game, it’s really just about execution.
In the past, I was always the guy who was carrying the load – I would score the most points, I’d have the most assists, I’d be the leader on defense. I did a lot. Now I’m in a position where I don’t have to do that as much.
Now, it’s about putting that ego aside, putting pride aside and relying on my teammates a lot more, believing and trusting in them. That goes both ways. You’re going to win some games, you’re going to lose some games, but if you’re taking away positives then, ultimately, you can only build from that.
Success by the end of the season would be a championship. We have all the pieces to be a successful team; everyone has the potential to be great. We just need to find the right recipe and that’s what we’re looking for. I believe we can make a deep run in the playoffs, I truly believe that. If I didn’t believe that, you would see it on the court – I’d have my head down, I wouldn’t be smiling.
People might not like how our record looks in the standings, but we’re putting in the work, we’re putting in the hours and we’re trying to do anything to challenge ourselves.
We’re focused on both the future and the now. We’re focused on this year, but also on being Grizz Gaming, an exciting team that’s popular in the future. We want people to tune in and watch us. We want people to believe in us.
I believe in these guys.
Image Credit: NBA 2K League