Dear Draft Prospects:
It's almost time for the big day and by now, you're probably ready to just get it over with. I'm going to tell you about my experiences and offer some advice to help you with the Draft and then your rookie season -- if you're lucky enough to get picked.
The Magic selected Mike Miller with the fifth pick in the 2000 Draft. Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE Photos
I worked out for four teams before the Draft. When you come in for your workouts, make sure you come in prepared. Be in shape and be willing to listen and work hard. Also be prepared to interview well because sometimes that counts more than you think it would. But I think the most important thing is being ready to work hard and listen.
The best way to make sure the workouts go well for you is you just have to be in great shape. I knew they were going to drill me to see how mentally and physically strong I was and that was about it. You just have to go in there, listen and be prepared for anything.
When it comes to the actual draft day, you just have to be excited because you can't control anything else. You go in there and have fun. Your whole life is about to change, definitely for the better, but all the power is out of your control.
The Draft takes place at night, so that morning, I went and worked out because I needed something to do. I was getting bored and my family was sick of watching me pace around the hotel. I was happy when it was finally time to get dressed and ready to go.
Wear something fresh because it's going to be seen all the time on television and in pictures. My girl and I picked out my suit together -- black and gray pinstripes with a single color gray shirt and tie. It was definitely fresh.
Then you just have to sit there and wait. You can't do anything about it. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait very long because the Orlando Magic called my name at No. 5. I felt complete excitement. It's an accomplishment just to be in the NBA, but to be drafted in the first round is big time.
The walk up to the stage to shake Commissioner Stern's hand was kind of long, but it went fast because you really don't have a lot of time to get up there. I put on the Magic hat and knew I had made it.
I moved to Orlando as soon as I got drafted and spent the summer working out here. When training camp rolled around in October, I was glad I had. It was one of those brutal things, but one of those things that helps you in the long run.
When you get to training camp, be in shape and be prepared to listen. Listen to the veterans. It doesn't matter if you think you're right or not, you have to listen. As long as you can take criticism and not pout about it, you'll be fine. The Magic veterans were great with me.
I'm not going to lie to you. The training camp workouts are tough. But there's nothing easy about the NBA. It's tough. That's part of the stuff that makes you grow up in a hurry and prepare yourself for the regular season.
I was excited when it was time to go out there and play for the first time. As the season went on, there weren't really a lot of surprises. Just prepare to work.
Miller averaged 11.9 points and 4.0 rebounds in 29.1 minutes as a rookie with the Magic. NBAE Photos
You can't really prepare yourself for the amount of travel in an NBA season. You just have to take care of your body. If you don't, then traveling is going to take a toll on you and show up in your game. Make sure you get your sleep. When you get into some town at one o'clock in the morning, don't go out to the clubs. Go to bed. And there's no way I can explain what it's like to be away from your girlfriend or family for such big amounts of time. That's just part of growing up. Having a cell phone helps.
I loved being a part of All-Star Weekend in Washington, D.C. when I played in the Schick Rookie Challenge. It's fun and exciting to be around the best in the world. You can see how they are as people and then you can watch and learn from them.
You're all going to have different roles on your new teams, depending on where you go. I was in a situation with the Magic where I was called to action right away and had to make a big contribution. But it doesn't matter if you're playing the whole game or learning with garbage time. You have to step up to the plate and be a player. That's it. We've all played basketball for a long time. So go out and play with confidence and I've said it a million times: JUST LISTEN.
The regular season is definitely long, but if you're lucky enough to make the playoffs, it's like a new season, so you have all kinds of energy. You can't really prepare for the playoffs. It's going to be a different step in your career regardless. Just go out there, treat it like another game and I'll say it again: LISTEN.
You're best listening and learning opportunities come from your own team. Coach Rivers gave me a lot of great advice and then Tracy McGrady
and Grant Hill
did too, because they're in my position. If I had to do my rookie season over again, I would start the beginning of the season like I did the end of the season -- being aggressive and full of confidence. By the playoffs, my teammates knew I was someone they could always count on, someone they could give the ball to down the stretch and someone they knew was going to give a contribution every night. And I have the Schick Rookie of the Year Award to show for it, something that I'm very proud of.
Now that I've survived being a rookie, I'm excited about helping the new guys who come to Orlando this year. Good luck in the Draft and I'll see you on the court next season. Remember what I said: LISTEN.