Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart were taken with the fourth and sixth picks of the 2014 draft by Orlando and Boston, respectively. Smart played two years at Oklahoma State where he lost in the opening round of the NCAA tournament back to back years.
Gordon played one year at Arizona where he led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight and dazzled spectators, including the Orlando Magic into drafting him.
The pair of Smart and Gordon were on-hand at the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program earlier this month to discuss their path to the NBA and more with HoopsHabit.
HoopsHabit: Can you take us through what the past few months have been like?
Smart: The past few months for me have been a whirlwind. The phone ringing off the hook constantly, going from east coast to west coast. You’re living out of a suitcase, it takes a toll on your body and some if it’s not even physical. It’s mental too. There’s a lot of distractions out there but for the most part its been fun. I’ve been enjoying it.
HoopsHabit: Did any of these things ever worry you?
Smart: No not really. I’m from Dallas and I went to Oklahoma State. I’m used to the changes and I’ve stayed there for two years. Moving to Boston is definitely on a whole other level. I like going to new places and experience different things and a different view. I can’t wait to get up there and start training.
HoopsHabit: Who have you leaned on throughout this process?
Gordon: My family, I have a really good foundation. I have parents that are still together and an older brother and sister. I have plenty of mentors in my life. My agent Calvin Andrews and a couple of other people I know really have my back.
HoopsHabit: What kind of role have your parents played in you getting drafted?
Smart: They played a big role. My mom and dad, I’m the youngest of four boys, and they did everything they could to make sure we had everything we needed, shelter, clothes and food. They loved each of us equally, taught us our morals, our character; building us up to be the type of men we are today.
HoopsHabit: Why did you become a basketball player?
Gordon: It started with me being athletic and trying a bunch of sports. I came to like basketball a little bit more. The uniqueness to it and ever-changing game, there’s something different each year. There’s new moves that need to be created and new ways to score. I think I realized that as little kid; it’s [basketball] limitless. I grew up watching Magic Johnson who was a 6’9 point guard and that was one of the things that just broke the foundation of basketball. Bigs don’t have to be bigs and littles don’t have to be littles. I like the instant gratification of basketball, where if someone scores on you, you can get the ball out and go score on them as quickly as you possibly can. I grew as a Freshman in high school. I’ve always had guard skills and now it’s just coming together a little bit.
HoopsHabit: Have you felt a change in yourself?
Gordon: Definitely, I’m more compassionate for myself. Before, I was so hard on myself to be drafted as high as I possibly could. Now that the draft is over, it’s just playing basketball. I’ve achieved one of my goals off of hard work, now I understand I can and I’m willing to do it.
Smart: I haven’t made any changes besides moving. I haven’t went out and spent a lot of money on a lot of ridiculous things. I’m not that flashy. If I think something looks nice, now I have the money and can afford it.
HoopsHabit: What has been the hardest part of getting to the NBA?
Gordon: There’s a lot of distractions. Anytime you have the urge to go out or anything, you can stop yourself, go to the gym and play basketball. It’s kind of a release for me. Surrounding myself with my brother, sister and my friends who have my best interests at heart. It was easy to stay away from distractions.
HoopsHabit: What has your interaction with VP of Player Development Chrysa Chin been like?
Smart: She’s very enthusiastic about what she does and helping us players. She’s very easy to talk to. She was with us on draft night. The relationships she builds with players is very unique because not many people can deal with different type of people and the characteristics that they bring and she does that.
HoopsHabit: Have you gotten acclimated with the city of Orlando?
Gordon: A little bit. I move in Aug. 29, a little place in downtown [Orlando]. I’ve got a car and I’ve been driving around, checking out different spots. There’s a cool movie theater there.
HoopsHabit: Have you set any goals for yourself this season?
Gordon: The one goal I have for myself right now is to stay level-headed as I possibly can. The other accolades I’ll write up closer towards the season.
Smart: Not right now.