View Full Version : Rookies Ready to Roll (After Picking Up the Donuts)

10-17-2008, 01:25 PM
Rookies Ready to Roll (After Picking Up the Donuts)
Freshman Orientation
Every NBA player has gone through it. Every player.

Even a guy like, say, Austin Carr? (He ain’t every player, you know. He was the No. 1 pick. He’s “Mr. Cavalier.”)

Every player has come into this league and done their rookie chores.

“I had to carry the bags – and the projector,” said A.C., his trademark smile quickly disappearing. “I had to carry that thing. That was my sidekick. It wasn’t like anything they have now. This projector was a big old, heavy thing."

“I tried to lose it several times.”

The biggest, baddest dudes in the NBA were once wide-eyed rookies. At one time, Charles Oakley probably had the innocent grin that Darnell Jackson gets caught flashing in Training Camp practice. Amare Stoudemire once toiled up and down the court doing line touches like J.J. Hickson is right now.

(Among the Cavaliers’ battle-tested vets, there’s only one player who still wears that fresh rookie look, and that’s Daniel Gibson. The man smiles his way through conditioning drills.)

The Cavaliers haven’t had multiple Draft picks since 2006, when they selected Shannon Brown at No. 25 and Daniel Gibson 17 picks later. Brown bounced from Cleveland to Chicago to Charlotte. Boobie is household name.

The Wine and Gold didn’t have a pick last season or in Danny Ferry’s first few days on the job in 2005. Before that, the Cavaliers last had multiple picks in 2003, when they tabbed a cool Californian called Kapono and a local kid named James.

This past June, the Cavaliers went to both spectrums of the collegiate experience – selecting a high-flying freshman from North Carolina State and dealing for a rock-solid senior, fresh off a National Championship with Kansas.

J.J. Hickson just turned 20-years-old, and although he’s illustrated his maturity during Summer League and in Pete Newell’s Camp, he’s still got the wide-eyed look of a rookie. A couple weeks ago, in the Cavaliers’ “Wine and Gold Scrimmage” in Akron, the Atlanta native blocked every inch of Lance Allred’s dunk attempt, almost like he didn’t know any different.

Darnell Jackson arrived via a Draft day trade with the Miami Heat – chosen at No. 52 and shipped to the exact destination he’d hoped for. Not blessed with the same brand of athleticism as Hickson, the former Jayhawk instead relies on strength and versatility in the low post. In four years at Kansas, the OK City native shot 58 percent from the floor.

Despite Darnell’s national championship pedigree, despite J.J. Hickson’s first-round skill-set, they both still have to learn the ropes from the veterans. And that means picking up the Krispy Kremes.

“Yeah, I think getting donuts around here is standard,” smiled the 19th overall pick last June. “It’s all good, though; it’s all fun. I’m just coming out here, trying to do what a rookie does.”

Darnell Jackson wasn’t left totally off the hook. Rookies don’t sing fight songs or get taped to the goalposts like in the NFL. But they still have a baptism in store.

“Mo (Williams) made me jump in the cold pool,” deadpanned Darnell. “J.J.’s getting the donuts and I had to jump in the cold pool. That’s not bad. But it was real cold.”

Both were made to don diapers before a preseason game against the Celtics last week. Sometimes, it’s just no fun to be a rookie in this league.

But it’s not all abuse from the veterans. The Cavaliers know they may have to count on their rookies before the season is over. After an early-season practice, Lorenzen Wright had the young guns running the court while the rest of the team leisurely shot free throws.

“Lorenzen took us aside and was like, ‘You know we have to be ready and conditioned when our name’s called to get up and down the floor,’” explained Hickson.

“You never know when you’re going to get out there,” added Jackson. “So knowing that I’m a rookie, and I might not get the chance to play, I have come in here and work and do the drills so when Coach Brown does call my name, I’m ready. I don’t want to be out there, tired.”

The Wine and Gold have high hopes for the 2008-09 season, and they’re loaded with proven veterans. It’s not clear where the rookies will fit in, but over the course of an 82-game schedule, anything can happen. Either or both could be vital components in this season’s run at the Ring. Or they could wind up fine-tuning their skills in Erie. (And learning under Bay Hawks head coach John Treloar wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.)

But so far, both youngsters have kept their head above water. Against the World Champs this past Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, J.J. Hickson started the second half against Boston’s starters and finished 4-of-7 from the floor for eight points and a team-high seven rebounds. Jackson was equally productive – hitting four of the five shots he attempted for eight points of his own.

Both freshman impressed LeBron James.

“They played well,” said No. 23. “They’re going to make mistakes, there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re rookies. I made mistakes then; I make mistakes now. Hopefully, they’ll learn from it and continue to get better. But J.J. and Darnell played extremely well.”

Both big men are still learning the subtle differences at the next level.

“I’d say, the spacing (is different) on the offensive end,” said Hickson. “And on defense, knowing your rotation. If you mess up the rotation, you can break down the whole defense.”

Darnell Jackson has been battling Big Ben Wallace early in Training Camp. That’s truly getting broken in by the biggest and the baddest. Darnell was asked if Wallace has been giving him a good pounding in the post.

“No, not really,” Jackson smiled, before breaking down and blurting out the truth. “Yeah, he is! But I’m enjoying it; I’m learning from a great guy and a great player.”

Cavs.com (http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/features/freshman_orientation_081016.html)

Hopefully Hickson and Jackson can help us this season and get better as our team does well this season.

10-17-2008, 02:10 PM
I am hoping our rookies dominate this year.

10-17-2008, 08:43 PM
I know im going off topic here, but do you think Shaq did all that rookie stuff?:confused:

When he was a rookie i would've been scared to make him do something cuz he's huge!

10-17-2008, 09:41 PM
I know im going off topic here, but do you think Shaq did all that rookie stuff?:confused:

When he was a rookie i would've been scared to make him do something cuz he's huge!

I don't think he had to do stuff like the new rookies do.

10-18-2008, 03:31 PM
I know im going off topic here, but do you think Shaq did all that rookie stuff?:confused:

When he was a rookie i would've been scared to make him do something cuz he's huge!

Shaq was dominant even as a rookie. When you're the best guy on your team you probably don't get treated like a normal rookie.