Welcome to the NBA ... Rookies!
From the comfort of their respective summer vacations, the Draft Class of 2001 looks at this year's prospects with a mixture of sympathy and smugness. It was only a year ago that they were going through the same process -- the workouts, the waiting, the wondering. After a season of taking their lumps as rookies, these players are more than ready to pass the torch to a new class, but not without first sharing what they learned about the draft and rookie experience.
Following are some words of advice from the now sophomores to the soon-to-be rookies:
KWAME BROWN, WASHINGTON WIZARDS
First Round, No. 1, Glynn Academy
"I would just say prepare yourself during the summer. The summers are important. Stop listening to what everyone is telling you because I know there are a lot of people in your ears. These are the times to be around your family, because you're going to be away from your family for so long. For my situation, I'm away from my family. I don't know how everybody else's situation is going to be. But I would spend as much time as I could with my family and friends and work hard all summer."
TYSON CHANDLER, LA CLIPPERS (traded to CHICAGO BULLS)
First Round, No. 2, Dominguez HS
"Just make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. It's not as easy as it looks. You have to come in and put in a lot of work. I've heard a lot of comments about young players in the league, high school players as well as college players. It's not as easy as it looks from the outside. I thought the same thing coming in. There's nothing they can do to prepare themselves. These players are NBA players and they're amateurs."
PAU GASOL, ATLANTA HAWKS (traded to MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES)
First Round, No. 3, Barcelona
"It only happens once in the life and I will forever remember it. Moreover it was my first time in the US and New York is an impressive city. Thinking about it, it all happened quick and being selected third was spectacular. Organization before, during and after the draft was really well, it was a good experience. My advice for the players this year, especially for those international is to feel confident; never fear, to be patient, work hard and wait for the opportunity to come."
EDDY CURRY, CHICAGO BULLS
First Round, No. 4, Thornwood HS
"Tell them to work hard no matter what. Tyson (Chandler) and myself were put into unique situations where we were coming in and played right away so it's easy to keep your head high in a situation like that. But other times you come in and you don't know when you're going to get on the court and you don't know how long you're going to be out there. Play hard no matter what.
"And just try to keep a level head. You have to realize the same things happen every year -- the same people say the same things about the talent coming out every year. It's not like you're anything special. You're just a kid coming out of high school to the NBA so you just have to really establish yourself. Let everybody know that you belong."
RICHARD JEFFERSON, HOUSTON ROCKETS (traded to NJ NETS)
First Round, No. 13, Arizona
"Just know that there's been a lot of second-round All-Stars and a lot of first-round busts so regardless of where you go or what number you go, you control your own destiny. There are a lot of No. 1 picks that never really did anything and people who were drafted at the end of the first round that became great players. So you control your own destiny. Once you get in the door, it's up to you."
JARRON COLLINS, UTAH JAZZ
Second Round, No. 53, Stanford
"Actually, I'm a good guy for the kids out there. Regardless of where you come into the league, if you're the top pick, if you're coming out of high school, coming out of college, leaving early, if you're a senior, regardless. For myself, I was the 53rd pick overall. All the draft stuff, it doesn't matter. The NBA draft is all about perception. When you get into this league, when you get into training camp, you have to prove yourself all over again."
Take the draft for what it is. It's a beginning into the NBA, but it by no means determines where you are. I'm the 53rd pick; people said that I shouldn't have even made the team, but I ended up starting for the majority of the year. Just come in, prove yourself all over again and just compete, regardless of where you get drafted."