My NBA Draft Experience (Part One): Jameer Nelson

My NBA Draft Experience (Part One): Jameer Nelson
May 08, 2006, 03:18 am
DraftExpress columnist Charlie Bury sits down for a chat with Jameer Nelson to discuss his personal NBA draft experience. Jameer talks about testing the waters, the workout process, the NBA pre-draft camp, the actual NBA draft, and much more.

DraftExpress June 2004 Interview with Jameer_Nelsonafter the Chicago pre-draft camp physicals.

Charlie Bury: Hi Jameer. What have you been up to since the season’s been over?

Jameer Nelson: I’ve really just been trying to spend some time with my family and relaxing. Lifting a little weights right now.

Charlie Bury: I heard you were working out with Steven Smith from LaSalle.

Jameer Nelson: Yeah we met with a shooting coach a couple times and did some muscle memory.

Charlie Bury: Have you given him any advice about the draft process?

Jameer Nelson: Well he actually went through it last year. He put his name in the draft, tested the waters, and went to Chicago. You know… he has a good understanding for what it takes to go through what he’s going through.

Charlie Bury: Steve’s a Philly guy like yourself…you hear so much about the New York game and where I’m from you hear Steve Francis talk about the DC game. Tell me a little bit about the Philly game.

Jameer Nelson: In Philly it’s basically just all about guards and guard play. We got probably some of the best guards in the country. Especially at this point right now the guys that are in high school…like I’m looking at these games now and we got some of the best guards around the country that are based out of Philly.

Charlie Bury: Take me back to your draft experience. What perspective did you gain by declaring a year early and deciding to “test the waters”?

Jameer Nelson: Well I thought I needed to let the teams on the West Coast get a feel for my game, and an understanding of who I was as a person by going through interviews with the (NBA teams) and everything.

Charlie Bury: Did you get any feedback from NBA people?

Jameer Nelson: I got a lot of feedback NBA people, even players. I talked to Iverson a couple times about certain things and Aaron Mckie. Mostly all the Philly guys because I was around here and I had a good relationship with mostly all those guys.

Charlie Bury: After your senior year when you won the Naismith and the Wooden and had that awesome year with St. Joe’s, did you feel like you had to prove yourself all over again during the workouts and pre-draft camp?

Jameer Nelson: Yeah I think anybody coming from college to the NBA has to prove themselves all over. Because it’s a different level, you’re going to a new setting so you have to definitely prove yourself over and over.

Charlie Bury: Two words we hear get thrown around all the time at this time of the year are “upside” and “potential”. How sick and tired were you of hearing those two words describing other players and not yourself?

Jameer Nelson: Right, I mean…my thing was teams said I couldn’t get any better. So when teams were saying I couldn’t get any better and that this guy or that guy has more potential than me or this that and the other. So I said ‘Cool, I’m going to work my tail off and be the best player I can be.”

Charlie Bury: How much do you think teams can learn about a guy from a workout that they don’t already know after watching him play four years in college?

Jameer Nelson: I don’t think they can learn too much at all. Just that he’s a good workout guy or a bad workout guy. You can’t determine whether you’re going to pick a guy off of a good shooting day or a bad shooting day. I think in my case with Orlando, I’d seem them numerous times, at least fifteen or twenty times at my games my senior year and they came and talked to me before that.

Charlie Bury: I recently talked to Dave Babcock, who is the director of player personnel for the Bucks. He said one of the things he likes to do is really get to know guys as individuals by taking them out to dinner and things like that. Were you being taken out to dinners by a lot of teams?

Jameer Nelson: Yeah I went to dinners with teams I interviewed with. It’s basically an interview, it’s a job interview. They work you out, put you in a hotel, and pick you up. They do everything in a business fashion.

Charlie Bury: What kind of the things did the teams say to you after you had finished working out?

Jameer Nelson: I don’t think any teams would tell you that you did bad or whatever. They all told me that I did well, and for myself I think that I really did good. I don’t think I had any bad workouts. I proved myself against all the players when I played one on one and two on two against them. Even the bigger guards. It wasn’t even a question for myself whether I could play in the league or not.

Charlie Bury: What were the games like at the pre-draft camp in Chicago? Does anybody ever pass the ball?

Jameer Nelson: Well….On my team we did. We had a good team. My year we had Keith Bogans, myself and a couple other guys. You almost have to be buddy buddy with the guys from the beginning if you want to get the ball, because you’re out there working together.

Charlie Bury: Do you think it was a little easier for a guard because you can control the ball a little bit more than a big man that is depending on people to feed him in the post?

Jameer Nelson: Yeah definitely.

Charlie Bury: It seemed like you kept your head and remained calm throughout the draft even though you were slipping. What was that ordeal like for you? Did you have any idea where you were going to be drafted?

Jameer Nelson: It was a mystery. I think a couple guys got drafted that nobody thought were going to get drafted before me. Whether it was a point guard, a two guard or even big men. I was telling people like ‘just one pick can mess the whole draft up’ so you know, I rolled with the punches.

Charlie Bury: Without naming names, how does it feel now knowing guys that were drafted ahead of you have played in like 130 minutes over two seasons and you’ve had the success you’ve had?

Jameer Nelson: That’s my hard work. Like I said, I’ve never doubted myself or said I couldn’t play in the league. I’ve known this from the beginning. I knew I was going to be a starting point guard eventually and that it was just going to take a little time.

Charlie Bury: Your new GM Otis Smith has recently called Dwight Howard and yourself “the cornerstones of the franchise”. Do you have the kind of relationship with Otis where he might come to you and say “Hey Jameer who are you likening from this year’s draft?”

Jameer Nelson: Yeah I talk to Otis all the time. We’re friends before we do business. He’s a great guy and he does have bind with the players.

Charlie Bury: Who are some of the guys you think might help the Magic in this year’s draft?

Jameer Nelson: I really don’t know. I mean I haven’t sat down and looked at our roster and said “This is what we need”. I think…I know we could use another wing player and a big man but I don’t know who’s out there. I really haven’t stayed on top of college basketball last year.

Charlie Bury: Right now we’ve got you taking J.J. Redick.

Jameer Nelson: We could definitely use Redick, because he’s a shooter.

Charlie Bury: Your former St. Joes teammate Dwayne Jones went undrafted in last year’s draft. Did you talk him through the process at all, and tell him to keep his head up or anything like that?

Jameer Nelson, Yeah, definitely. I keep in contact with those guys, me and Delonte. He’s probably frustrated because he hasn’t played as much but I think he’s going to get his chance. He’s a guy like myself that’s just going to continue to work, continue to get better.

Charlie Bury: During your rookie year in Orlando you had three rookies coming in with three different perspectives. You had a proven college guy in yourself, a kid straight form high school in Dwight Howard, and an international player in Mario Kasun. Do you think it was easier for you then it was for those guys to adjust to NBA life after four years of college?

Jameer Nelson: Definitely. I think you’ve got to go to college, even going to college for a year or two, you can adapt faster than a guy coming straight from high school. Not to take anything away from anybody coming from high school I think those guys are great players and great for the league, but I think guys coming out of college are more mature obviously and definitely have been through a lot more.

Charlie Bury: So are you in favor of the new age limit?

Jameer Nelson: I mean…I think guys are just going to stay back in school and then go to prep school and then come to the league. To me I don’t think it matters. Not in my case anyway, I’m already here.

Charlie Bury: What about on the international side, was there anything you noticed Mario Kasun struggling with adjusting to the NBA?

Jameer Nelson: Definitely the language. I think we speak a little faster over here for those guys, and it’s hard to try to tell them certain things during the course of the game .They struggle with that type of stuff, because they don’t know what you want them to do. So they get a little a little confused .

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