Later today, basketball’s top prospects will enter the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and hope to hear their name called at the 2014 NBA Draft. But yesterday, those same young players had some work to do. Namely, meeting the press.
Draft Media Day was a chance for these soon-to-be-superstars to get used to being surrounded by a large number of journalists.
It was also an opportunity to talk about how they thought things would go on draft day — especially what team would pick them and with what pick.
For some, like Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, there’s not a lot of drama. One of them will likely be selected first overall. Will it be by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who own the number one pick? Or will the Cavs trade it away? We’ll soon find out.
But for other players, a lot more is unknown.
Guys who have been juggled up and down an obscene number of mock drafts for months said it’s sometimes better not to worry about where they’ll end up.
Louisiana Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton has been predicted to go everywhere from 8 to 19, but he’s trying not to stress over the numbers.
“Anything can happen during the draft, you never know, and this is just a draft, just a number,” Payton said. “Where we’ll be when it’s all said and done is the ultimate goal.”
The players can’t control who will pick them. But they can make sure they have believe in themselves and their skills on the court heading into the Draft.
“I’m confident in who I am as a player, in my ability, but where I’m gonna go? I have no clue,” Randle said.
That uncertainty might be the toughest thing for these prospects to deal with, pre-Draft. And it’s the one thing that was on every player’s mind.
“It’s crazy, not knowing where you’re gonna live, where you’re gonna be drafted,” Michigan State forward Adreian Payne said. “It’s really crazy and I’m excited about it.”
But for one of Payne’s Big 10 rivals, Michigan guard Nik Stauskas, love of the game trumps all the jitters of the unknowns to come.
“It’s especially weird for me because this is like a hobby for me,” Stauskas said. “This is what I like doing so to call it a job is really strange for me. But I’m happy to be here right now and I’m living my dreams.”
Photo: David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images