Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Last week in New Jersey, several Knicks were in attendance for the NBA's Rookie Transition Program, a four-day event that the league and the NBPA put together to help rookies adjust to life as a pro athlete. Players listened to experts, ex-players and their peers discuss topics ranging from sexual health to social media.
"At the core of what we're doing is, 'How are you the best professional you can be? And how are you clear and concise in what your decision-making process is?" says Greg Taylor, the NBA's Head of Player Development.
Second-year Knicks Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier were among the players in attendance this year. Rookies RJ Barrett and Iggy Brazdeikis were there as well.
Robinson said an ex-player's talk about his struggles with mental health issues was impactful.
"For him to tell us what he went through and the mental health (issues) that he had, it made me feel like I can use some of those skills to become a better person, better player," Robinson said.
The goal of the program is to help prepare young players for the off-court elements of life in the NBA. Robinson and Trier attended this summer because they weren't able to make it last year.
Trier said he found the first-hand accounts from current and former players valuable.
"It was great to hear people's stories who came and spoke. A lot of them did a lot of revealing of themselves, their lives, whether they were going through great times or struggles," the second-year guard said.
Financial health and sound financial decision-making was also discussed during the program.
"A lot of us grew up with different backgrounds and different traits so this will allow us to get a head start on the game and open our eyes to what we're getting ready to see," Trier said.
Taylor points out that the transition program is only the start of the league's effort to help young players adjust to NBA life. The league has multiple meetings with teams over the course of the season to reinforce the points and lessons discussed in the program.
"It's a year-long effort," Taylor says.
Both Trier and Robinson answered a few questions about the Knicks during their interviews.
ON EXPECTATIONS FOR THE SEASON:
"Just come in and be better," Trier said. "Obviously, there's no question that we have more talent across the board, which can always be more helpful. Now it will be on us to execute Coach Fizdale's plan for us and to come together and find a way to be a better basketball team, which there should be no excuse for with the talent that we have coming into this season. It will be a great opportunity for us."
Said Robinson: "Just to bond with (new teammates), to grow with them. Hopefully we'll be teammates for a long time.... They don't know how I play, I don't know how they play. We've played against eachother. When training camp starts, (we'll) just grind together and get that connection."
Coming off a 17-win season, the Knicks added Barrett and Brazdeikis in the draft and Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris, Elfrid Payton and others in free agency this summer.
TRIER MAY SHOOT MORE THREES:
In an interview with The Athletic last month, Trier said the organization told him to shoot more threes this season. As a rookie, Trier shot 39 percent from beyond the arc on 2.1 attempts per game. Those attempts may increase this season. Trier is entering the season prepared to shoot more threes.
"Me being such an accurate shooter from the perimeter, (the organization) wanted me to take more of those in order to provide more shooting for our basketball team. That was something they felt that I could bring to the table," Trier said. "They thought that I could do more of that, which would make our basketball team that much tougher to guard and help me be that much more effective as a player."
ROBINSON ON FOULS, HOSTING CAMPS:
Robinson got into foul trouble early in his rookie season but cut down on his fouls as the year went on. He expects to continue that trend heading into his second NBA season.
"I slide my feet more than I did (at the beginning of his rookie season)," Robinson said. "The game kind of slowed down for me at the end of last season. So the only thing I can do now is pick up where I left off last season, which is continue to stay out of foul trouble and get better."
Robinson hosted several basketball camps for kids in different cities over the summer. He hoped to provide exposure to kids who may not be able to attend NBA games.
"Kids want to go to NBA games but NBA game tickets are crazy expensive," Robinson said. "I wanted to try to give kids a lesson that no matter how tough things are you can still work and strive for greatness. These kids just want to learn like players want to learn. So when I have an opportunity to be with them at camp, I'm going to be there."
INSTANT CARDS AVAILABLE:
Panini has released the first official NBA Instant cards featuring Barrett. Cards will be available until Monday at 3 PM.