What’s up, everybody? I’m interning at The Players’ Tribune this week, and despite what your Twitter comments say, nah — I’m not just fetching coffee. I’m in Photoshop. I’m in Google Docs. I’m out here making content.
Since it’s NBA Draft Week, I invited a few of the top picks to sit down for a relaxed conversation at the TPT offices in New York City. We even let some fans get in on it through the magic of BlueJeans video chat.
Up first is Wade Baldwin IV from Vanderbilt University. Let’s go.
Wade, how you doing today? Good?
All good, man.
You played high school ball with Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns was this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year. He almost prevented us from making the playoffs. He hit a game-winning jump hook against us at home. That was great. For you to grow up with him and see his transition to the league, what has he shared with you about making it to the NBA and having success so early?
His path is a little different than mine, especially his draft process. He was always nationally ranked as a young kid, known around the country, so it was a little different going into his draft workouts. He only did like one or two of them because he was the No. 1 pick. And I had to do seven, so it was a little bit different, but the advice he gives is just keep chugging along. It all starts once you get drafted.
You’ve been able to watch him through the transition, so what have you learned from just watching him?
Just how to conduct yourself, entirely, as a professional. On the court and off the court. He comes from a good family that raised him right and he’s just followed suit in the NBA in the same way.
Yeah, you can see he’s well polished. He carries himself like a professional. His game is very mature beyond his years. So you just finished the pre-Draft combine. I know what that’s like going through the questions. You get seven visits with NBA teams, so you’re able to kind of get an understanding of each team by the questions they ask you. I had some funny questions in my Draft interview process, but without naming names — well, I’ll name names for you because I don’t care, I’m already here — tell me about your most interesting draft interview question.
I got a couple. The Atlanta Hawks asked me, “If a bat and a ball cost $1.10 together, how much does the ball cost?” I had like 10 guys sitting right in front of me waiting for the answer, and I didn’t know what it was until I got back to my room and I texted what the answer was, but it was kind of embarrassing that way. And as soon as I walked into the Spurs’ interview, they kind of were just like, “We have Tony Parker, Patty Mills. You’re not gonna play. You’re just going straight to the D-League.” They didn’t even say, “Hello, what’s your name?” introductions and stuff. That was the first thing they did, and I was like, “Ah, damn.” And yeah, that was kind of weird for me.
That’s interesting. My interview — I actually met with the Cavs. The Cavs had the No. 1 pick, so when I came in, I said, “I’m not going No. 1. I know the facts. You guys got Kyrie.” They had Dion Waiters at the time. It was like, Why me with you guys? Basically, they were like, “You never know, we could trade the pick. We could trade back in the draft.” Long story short, when I first walked into the room, they had a deck of cards. So they were like, “Take three cards.” I take three cards. I sit down and they’re like, “Look at the cards.” So I look at them. And they’re like, “Give ’em back.” I give ’em back. I do the entire interview and at the end of the interview, they said, “Do you remember the three cards?” I’m like, “Yeah. It was like a black king, a red seven, a three of diamonds.” They just looked at me. I was like, “You played yourself.”
And as soon as I walked into the Spurs’ interview, they kind of were just like, “We have Tony Parker, Patty Mills. You’re not gonna play. You’re just going straight to the D-League.”
Alright, so let’s check in with our first fan. We got some fans that are gonna call in, so it’s a nice opportunity for us to get some questions. How are you doing, Aaron? What’s your question?
Aaron (fan question)
So who’s the toughest person you’ve had to face so far in your career as far as a defender?
You guys can’t see it, but Jamal Murray’s hiding behind the TV right now raising his hand. Hahaha. Who was the toughest defender you had to go against, Wade?
I’ll probably say Retin Obasohan from Alabama. Big, strong kid. Major competitor. Did a lot of things for Alabama and we matched up well against each other.
If you want me to answer, too, I’ll say James Harden. He gets fouled a lot. He’s good with the ball. He’s strong and he got this move where he dribbles left, he grabs your arm, and then he shoots it. And as a young player, you don’t get a lot of respect.
Alright, Next caller. How you doing, Brian?
Brian (fan question)
Good, how are you doing? This one’s for Wade. One player that you idolized growing up that you think you’ve taken aspects of their game and modeled them into yours.
I think growing up, I spent a little time in Virginia, so it’s always the Allen Iverson era. More recently, it’s probably Russell Westbrook. I’m just trying to model after him, with my own modifications, of course. Probably those two guys.
There you have it. Thanks for calling in, Brian. We appreciate it. Wade, I know you’ve got a busy week ahead of you. I appreciate you coming on. Best of luck in the Draft on Thursday.
Next up we’ve got Jamal Murray from the University of Kentucky. Click below for that one.