Though I've been training in Las Vegas for most of the summer, I've had communication with the Magic coaching staff, a few of the players and some people in management here and there. Coach Gunning and Coach Vaughn came out and spent a few days with me here in Vegas in July.
I feel good about our team going into this season. I felt good about it last season. Obviously we suffered some injuries and the group that we had assembled had so many young players that we were a little inexperienced. But all of those young players got experience last season, partly due to those injuries and hopefully the veterans can stay healthy this year. As long as we can compete and play hard every night, I feel like we have a chance. That's how we're going to move as a team.
Obviously I'm aware of some of the moves that have happened around the NBA this offseason, but I don't pay too much attention to anything in particular. I hear things and read things every now and then, but the truth is having tunnel vision has been the best tool for success for me.
I don't think it's productive to worry about what other teams are doing or what other players on other teams are doing. It's more important to focus on my team and seeing what we can do to be successful. All those trades for other teams are great for the league, but at the end of the day there can only be one champion and we're going to get out there and compete.
As long as we can compete and play hard every night, I feel like we have a chance. That's how we're going to move as a team.
As I get deeper into my career and now that I'm going into my seventh year, I'm kind of appreciating more the game-by-game approach. The big picture perspective always stays there, individually and from a team angle, but I'm just learning that when you focus on the task at hand tonight and not worry so much about things that are not in your control, you tend to do better.
Hopefully on a night-to-night basis the team that we have assembled can get it done and we can let the big picture kind of take care of itself. I believe the winning attitude is there. How it translates to winning games for us come regular season, we'll see.
CATCHING UP WITH MY ROOKIES
A lot of the players were heavily involved in summer league because we have such a young team and I've spoken with a few of the young guys throughout the offseason just to catch up with them and checked in on a few of my rookies, especially Moe Harkless.
Moe is probably the one rookie I spent the most time with last season. He was very receptive to me and the things I have to say. He was only 19 last year and just turned 20 a few months ago. He has the energy and the mindset to get so much better at this point in his life to where he could be and I'm excited for him. He loves the gym and hopefully he's taken all that he learned last season and comes back a little more mature, in better shape and a little more skilled.
We have a lot of players who I'm excited to play with again this season. I only got to play about a dozen games with him last year, but Tobias Harris came over last year in the trade for J.J. and immediately displayed the confidence and passion to win.
You have to enjoy playing with players young or old who want to win and who have the confidence in winning despite any circumstance. Tobias is definitely one of those players who believes he can get it done personally but also help this team and feels like we can win on a night-to-night basis so I'm excited to play with him over a full season.
I haven't gotten a chance to talk to him at length yet, but I texted my congratulations to Victor Oladipo, our first round pick on draft night. I've been around at draft time obviously and it's a good moment for kids coming out of school, but it's a change of life so they have a lot of adjustments to make.
I'm excited to play with Victor for sure and hopefully we'll co-exist well together. I don't watch too much college basketball, but since he was drafted I have become more familiar with his game, his personality, the chip on his shoulder that he plays with on both ends of the court.
You have to enjoy playing with players young or old who want to win and who have the confidence in winning despite any circumstance.
From what I've been told, Victor is highly motivated and it's always impressive to have a guy come into the NBA with an extreme work ethic. That's how I made it in the league. I wasn't necessarily overlooked, but I wasn't given the most experience in the world coming out of college after being drafted in Detroit.
I came into the NBA with a Pistons team that had a lot of veteran players and was in a situation where I constantly had to earn my way, from rookie year to second year in Detroit, to having my true first opportunity to play starters minutes in Denver and then using those minutes to grow my game and at the same time play my role.
It was difficult, but I've enjoyed every minute. Every year it's been a process for me in terms of growing and adjusting. I don't see any limits or any reason why it should stop. That's why I work so hard.