One Theme Song for Every 2012 First-Round Pick in His Rookie Season
The NBA offseason is rapidly coming to a close, and with that means is the opening of training camps, preseason games getting underway and eventually, blissfully, basketball making its way back into our lives.
Now, since there is still a month of down time before actual, meaningful games start, I've got plenty of time left to fool around and write my heart's content about things meaningless to the sport itself, which seems to be my forte.
One of my favorite things to do, both because I'm a basketball nerd and a music nerd, is fit a perfect theme song in for teams or just sum a team's work up with a singular song. I feel it helps reflect what a team has been able to do and it allows me to branch out and listen to music that I've yet to listen to.
The most recent installment of me putting basketball to a soundtrack comes in the form of theme songs for each rookie moving forward. Rather than letting them go into the season in silence, I've found a song to preface the situation they'll find themselves in and get them ready for the league in general.
Anthony Davis: "Award Tour" by A Tribe Called Quest
The 2012 season is officially Anthony Davis's as far as the rookie class goes. There are a host of other great rookies, but all eyes will be on Davis from the opening tipoff until the season closes next year.
From here on out, this should be considered Davis's award tour, as it seems there is little belief that he won't end up winning the Rookie of the Year Award come the end of the season. He'll be going from city to city as a preface to the award that's surely coming his way.
Beyond that, the song calls for an end to pacifism, which is a bit how Davis played in his one year at Kentucky, and a continued dominance in whatever area he's going to excel in.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley
Hard times are going to follow Michael Kidd-Gilchrist around for a few seasons at least. It's going to be hard to drag this Bobcats team out of the cellar and into the playoffs in any kind of immediate future.
However, he should realize that nobody expects him to turn this team around in a day or two, although he is expected to be the man to turn the team around.
When times are getting hard and he thinks he's going to break, all he needs to remember is that everything is going to be alright in time. He needs to just keep working hard and hope for the best to happen around him.
Bradley Beal: "Eric B. Is President" by Eric B. & Rakim
"Eric B. Is President" may very well be one of my five favorite rap songs of all time a,nd in this case it seems to reflect the slightly goofy-yet-dominant and effective style of play that Bradley Beal has.
It's boastful, but not boastful in a way that makes you dislike Rakim, just in a way that says, "I'm here, and I'm about to blow your mind."
That's the way that every lottery pick should show up at training camp. They need to have the Willie Mays Hayes style about them that shows they're confident, but also have the skill to back up that confidence. Rakim has that skill, and so should Beal.
Dion Waiters: "Clap Your Hands" by A Tribe Called Quest
In case you didn't notice, I've been on a bit of A Tribe Called Quest kick lately. That's all you can hear bumping out of my car windows recently, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
"Clap Your Hands" is a bit of a self-gratuitous song along the lines that every rap song today tends to go, basically saying "Look at me! Look at how great I am!" but in a way that's far cooler than any rapper today can do.
That's precisely the attitude that Dion Waiters needs to take in Cleveland. He can't sit back and hope that his game works its way into the team, he needs to force his game into the the team's game. That, combined with some borderline cocky confidence, can go a long way for a rookie.
Thomas Robinson: "Stakes Is High" by De La Soul
For Thomas Robinson and the Sacramento Kings there is no doubt that the stakes are high moving forward. Their play this season could very well determine whether or not Sacramento has a basketball team a year from now and beyond.
De La Soul complains about the status quo of rap in the time, complaining that it's all talking about being rich, being famous and being something other than where people started, "We living in them days of the man-made ways/ Where every aspect is vivid."
They realize that (surprise) the stakes are high, just as Robinson must realize. Don't focus on the material aspects of the first big paycheck from a rookie season. Instead focus on how he can make his team better. That's the reason why they drafted him, after all.
Damian Lillard: "Sunday Kind of Love" by Etta James
Etta James continues to be my favorite female singer of all time. Her voice reverberates and gets to your core in a way that no other woman since has been able to (for me at least). In her song "Sunday Kind of Love" she yearns for a man who she can love past Saturday night.
In a way, that's the way the Trail Blazers are hoping Damian Lillard's career can go. He put up huge numbers at a mid-major in college, and it's always been hard to really tell how well guys like that will translate to the NBA.
Lillard needs to hope that his game is a Sunday kind of love, not just one that loves him on Saturday night.
Harrison Barnes: "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by Bob Dylan
For all the teams that passed on him. For all the teams that saw his NCAA Tournament performance and decided to push him down their draft board. For all the teams that didn't think he was as good as they hype suggested, don't think twice, Harrison Barnes, it's alright.
That's really the attitude that Barnes needs to take moving forward. Instead of competing against the ones who spurned him in the past, he needs to compete for the team who ended up taking him on.
There's no use in holding onto a grudge, the best way to show teams that they were wrong to pass on him is to play his heart out for Golden State and let his game and the team's improvement do the talking.
Terrence Ross: "Stand by Me" by Ben E. King
Terrence Ross is going to join a team where a lot of what's going on is in question. Realistically, nearly every single position is up for grabs, whether it be Jonas Valanciunas filing into the center spot, therefore bumping Andrea Bargnani down to power forward, figuring out who fits best in the 2 and 3 spots and then whether or not to start Kyle Lowry at point guard.
Ross, and the rest of the Toronto Raptors for that matter, need to take a look at each other and realize that they're all in the same boat, trying their hardest just to get playing time.
If one should slack off, call them out, and if one needs help along the way, just tell them that they can stand right by you.
Andre Drummond: "Frankenstein" by the Edgar Winter Group
This is my absolute favorite notion for a theme song out of any of the 30 players. For those of you who don't know about the song, it was named "Frankenstein" not because it totally sounds like the song that would be played every time you would see the monster were a modern-day Frankenstein be made, but because it itself is a monster made of many parts of other songs.
Basically, the nine-minute instrumental hit from a giant creepy white dude with a keyboard around his neck, and his band is an exact replica of how Andre Drummond's game needs to work out.
Rather than work with him in one skill to make him a specialist in this or that, he needs to be cobbled together from old parts. Get old basketball players to work with him to teach him to play the game in every way imaginable.
Hopefully what comes from it is half as cool as Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein." If not then you've at least got a big dude to fill up space.
Austin Rivers: "I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends" by the Beatles
Austin Rivers is probably in the best situation of any lottery pick in the draft. He gets to play alongside the number one overall pick, and therefore for a team with moderate expectations at the highest.
What he needs to do is latch onto Anthony Davis and ride in his sidecar as Davis throttles their motorcycle down the road at a blistering pace. Before he knows what's happening, he's suddenly the sixth man (or even the starting point guard if he can win that spot) on a team trying to be competitive.
Rivers doesn't have to try to carry a team himself, he's not the base of the pyramid and he's not even one of the three main pieces. With a little help from his new friends he should be able to find himself a serviceable role early on and grow into the league as he goes along.
Meyers Leonard: "Join Together" by the Who
Meyers Leonard is coming in with Damian Lillard to try to keep the Portland Trail Blazers from needing a full-on reboot after injuries and a few poor free agent decisions saddled them with a lottery team.
Leonard, much like Austin Rivers, isn't expected to be the block that sends the Blazers over the top, but he's expected to be another link in the chain that will be the new-look Trail Blazers. All he needs to do in that case is forge his link of the chain and add it to the rest of the team.
Join together, if you will, and play his ass off for what seems to be a great group of guys for one of the best basketball cities in the NBA.
Jeremy Lamb: "Gimme Some Mo" by Busta Rhymes
Basically after every shot that Jeremy Lamb makes this season he needs to tell everyone what Busta tells everyone in his song here, "gimme some mo'."
The Houston Rockets are on the verge of a total collapse in terms of the team that they've had for the past few seasons, so they're going to be looking for the focal point of their team moving forward, and if Kevin Martin isn't that guy then it very well could be Jeremy Lamb.
Lamb seems to be a bit of a throwback player, more of a volume scorer than an efficient shooter, but that might be just what Houston needs right now, a guy who's not afraid to ask for more.
Kendall Marshall: "Third Planet" by Modest Mouse
Kendall Marshall is coming into a place where the very foundations are crumbling around him, yet everything is somehow still standing. The line, "Everything that keeps me together is falling apart," could be very indicative of how the Phoenix Suns season goes, depending on how their free agents work out.
There are a lot of illusions going on in the Suns organization that the team they have is going to be able to hold them over until they end up with another star player to lead them back to the playoffs, but that belief, as most beliefs, should be questioned.
Marshall needs to realize that this probably won't be the team he's a part of for long, whether he gets traded in the future or half of the rest of the Suns do is still up in the air, but there are going to be a lot of changes moving forward.
John Henson: "Voodoo Chile" by Jimi Hendrix
Listen to Jimmy shred for a few minutes and realize the greatness of the past, then get ready to move forward.
"Voodoo Chile" continues to have one of the greatest guitar riffs in the history of rock music, inspiring people to fill their heads with smiles and hope for things to come.
That's what John Henson needs to allow this song to do. He must let it fill his ego up to the point where he thinks he can stand up next to a mountain and chop it down with the edge of his hand. The role he's going to have to play with Milwaukee is unlike the one he played on North Carolina, mostly because he's going to have to go up against much bigger men.
As Milwaukee's center of the future (or so they hope), Henson needs confidence from day one that he can do what they're asking of him.
Moe Harkless: "Changes" ByDavid Bowie
Moe Harkless is embracing changes already, deciding to go by the more professional-sounding (although far less cool) Maurice, rather than Moe. Until I hear him definitively say so, however, I can't allow myself to stop calling someone Moe.
Anyway, Harkless is leaving an old life behind and getting ready for a new one with the Orlando Magic. He's going to have a tough time with a team that will likely go belly-up early on, a change from his days at St. John's when he was Big East Rookie of the Year.
To embrace the changes, I give him David Bowie to walk with him hand-in-hand until he's ready to branch out on his own.
Royce White: "Learning to Fly" by Pink Floyd
Sure, the fact that Royce White is afraid to fly is something that's been beaten into the ground ever since it came out, but this Pink Floyd song means a lot more than just literally learning to fly. It's a song about moving forward with your life even with the weight of the world on your shoulders.
For White dealing with anxiety issues, the weight of the world can often be thrown on his shoulders for the simplest reasons, and if it gets out of control then he can become a detriment to his team.
He's going to have to learn to fly every day as he moves forward, dealing with pressure far more massive than when he was in college. If he can do that then he'll probably be a good basketball player, but it's going to take some work.
Tyler Zeller: "Layla" by Derek and the Dominos
In this situation Tyler Zeller is Layla and the Cleveland Cavaliers will be Eric Clapton, shouting for him to come to their side and to let them ease his worried mind.
The fact is that the Cavs were seeking out Zellar before the draft even started, willing to give up multiple picks to move up and grab him, which should make him realize how lucky he is to be in a place that wanted him on their team so much.
Layla, or in this case Zeller, needs to sit back and let Cleveland have the best he's able to give to them in order to make their team as good as possible. And at the very least Zeller can chill out and listen to an awesome guitar solo from Clapton.
Terrence Jones: "Smooth Operator" by Big Daddy Kane
For my money there is not a smoother rapper in the history of the game than Big Daddy Kane. On that same level, there isn't a big man in this draft class quite as smooth as Terrence Jones.
Sure, guys like Thomas Robinson and John Henson might be better, but Jones plays the game with such smooth swagger that it's hard to imagine him not developing into a decent basketball player.
Jones needs to listen to a few bars from Big Daddy Kane for a few bars, flow and go to a slow tempo like Kane himself says and play the game the way he always has.
There's something about a big man that plays smooth like a guard but still has the presence of a big man that makes them a rare commodity, and if Jones can pull it off like Kane does then he'll have a great career.
Andrew Nicholson: "When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin
At some point, probably early on in the season for the Orlando Magic, it's going to start raining. Then it's going to rain harder as people start to talk about a possible flood. Before you know it levees are going to be full to bursting and they'll be staring at their worst season in years.
Robert Plant puts it perfectly when he sings, "Cryin' won't help ya, prayin' won't do you no good." There's nothing that Andrew Nicholson can do himself to stop this Orlando Magic team from going belly-up, so he might as well wait for the playing time to come and make the best of it.
He's got a built-in life raft in that he's got a contract for the next two years at the very least, so he doesn't have to worry about the team trying to cut him away as part of the rebuilding process, and if they do it'll probably mean a trip to a halfway decent team.
Evan Fournier: "Drop" by the Pharcyde
It's not so much the song itself rather than the video that Evan Fournier needs to use as his theme for the remainder of the season.
When compared to the other rookies in the class nobody else has the playing style that Fournier has. His herky-jerky moves through the lane are very reminiscent of Manu Ginobili, although nowhere near on his level yet.
Pharcyde's video is one of the most crazy videos ever made, as it consists of them filming it backward then playing it in reverse so it looks like they're moving forward. It's really mind-blowing to think about how much work was put into it.
Anyway, Fournier's methodical, extremely thought-out moves look a bit like the guys from Pharcyde trying to step perfectly so it looks like they're walking forward when played in reverse.
Jared Sullinger: "My Back Pages" by the Byrds
Jared Sullinger has already been through a lot as a young man in terms of his basketball life, and there's a lot he should have learned already from all of it. If not, The Byrds are always there to remind him.
"My Back Pages" is about learning as you move forward in life, but realizing that the information would be better to know as a young man. Even still, as wisdom comes, realization that life should be enjoyed more accompanies the wisdom.
Sullinger's college career was full of back pain and a trip to the injured reserve or two with injuries nagging him here and there to the point that he was red flagged before the NBA Draft, causing his stock to plummet.
With all he's been through, Sully needs to learn to take life as it comes and just be happy in the moment. Youth is fleeting but life itself is long.
Fab Melo:" Lust for Life" by Iggy Pop
"Lust for Life" isn't necessarily a lesson for Fab Melo to live by, instead it should be an inspiration for him to play with as much effort as possible on the court.
In his years at Syracuse, Melo tended to seem sluggish, sometimes uncaring and not really much into advancing his game as much as possible. He seemed lazy, to an extent.
However, throw on this song before every game or practice and Melo is going to realize what he needs to do. He needs to love life more than life can possibly love him back, get as intense as possible while he's on the court and show the Celtics that there's a reason why they drafted him.
John Jenkins: "Survival of the Fittest" by Mobb Deep
John Jenkins is entering a unique situation on the Atlanta Hawks. They just sold their best (or I guess Joe Johnson was just their highest paid) player for pennies on the dollar, bringing back a slew of guys who may or may not see playing time moving forward.
Mobb Deep repeats the policy that Jenkins needs to live by over the first few months of his career, "Survival of the fit, only the strong survive." Instead of trying to fill in a spot with Atlanta, Jenkins needs to stand out and make them realize what spot he needs to be in.
Atlanta's got a handful of guys who can come in and be shooters, but if Jenkins wants to be the shooter, he needs to show them why he's the fittest of the bunch.
Jared Cunningham: "Roadhouse Blues" by the Doors
Jim Morrison's crooning voice and the strange yelping noises aside, "Roadhouse Blues" happens to be one of the coolest songs of the '70s.
Anyway, Jared Cunningham is entering a situation with the Dallas Mavericks where he is one of the few players with a contract signed past this season. Because of that he is able to feel a little bit more secure than most of the rest of the team.
It's Cunningham's job to come in and play the best basketball he possibly can, but at the end of the day he's in a situation with the Mavericks where playing time will be sparse and his team is going to be in flux until next Summer at the very earliest. Until then, it's probably best to just let it roll, baby roll.
Tony Wroten: "Hold It Now, Hit It" by the Beastie Boys
Like most of the songs the Beastie Boys ever put out, Tony Wroten needs to do his best to chill out in Memphis and have a fun. It's not that he should give up trying to get much playing time, but that he shouldn't feel slighted and get frustrated if he's buried on the depth chart for a while.
The chorus of the song should tell him how he needs to live his life with the Grizzlies. While he'll hear a lot of "Hold it now," keeping him from showing what he's made of, once he hears the emphatic, "Hit it!" it's time for him to get moving as quickly as he can.
Playing time might come sparingly at first, so he's going to have to show his merit in short bursts of time, just the way the Beastie Boys tended to throw together a rap.
Miles Plumlee: "Once in a Lifetime" by Talking Heads
For all intents and purposes, Miles Plumlee should consider himself lucky. It seems that, if the Indiana Pacers didn't take him with the 26th pick in the first round, he would have waited well into the second round to hear his name called.
Whatever the reasoning behind the pick, Indiana ended up with the big fellow from Duke as the newest member of their team in hopes that he'll turn into a nice addition to their team.
One thing that Plumlee needs to keep in mind is how lucky he is and to keep lucid throughout the next year and beyond. "Once in a Lifetime" is about more than David Byrne doing weird dances, it's about life slipping by and you not realizing how you ended up where you are, something that's all too easy to do.
Plumlee needs to keep in mind that he's still controls his own future and if he works hard and realizes what's going on around him it'll ultimately be for the best.
Arnett Moultrie: "My Mind Playing Tricks on Me" by Geto Boys
Arnett Moultrie's got a lot of competition on the Philadelphia 76ers, yet with a lot of hard work and proof that he's good enough he should be able to end up with a good chunk of playing time by the time the season gets into full swing.
However, in order to get to that point he's going to have to have a certain kind of mindset. Moultrie needs to be constantly aware of his surroundings and of the other guys on the depth chart around him.
Guys like Kwame Brown and Lavoy Allen may not be superstars, but they've got enough to offer a team in order to get some playing time, and Moultrie needs to be on the lookout for those two, who are in just about the same situation that he's in.
Perry Jones: "Stormy Monday" by BB King
Sometimes you need to go ahead and sit back and watch the rain come, wait it out and go on from there. That's the way Perry Jones's fall from grace seems to have gone so far.
BB King sings about a stormy Monday, followed by a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that are as bad as or worse than Monday as his guitar drips beauty and soul all over the stage. When Friday and Saturday come around it's time for happiness and relief, followed by prayer on Sunday.
Jones needs to take that approach with the start of the NBA season and beyond. He needs to fly like the eagle on Friday and play on Saturday, play as well as he can and do whatever possible with every ounce of playing time he gets. Every time he gets a good chunk of playing time, he should get down and give thanks, and then listen to BB King pick out some more beauty.
Marquis Teague: "Use Me' by Bill Withers
It's obvious the reason that the Chicago Bulls drafted Marquis Teague with their pick late in the first round, Derrick Rose is out with a knee injury and nobody knows exactly when he'll be back. The Chicago Bulls are using him as a place filler for the time being.
Teague needs to stand up and just let the Bulls use him.
Sure, there are situations in which he might be able to finagle more playing time on a different team, but the Bulls need to keep him in place as their emergency point guard of the future and the current backup.
If he plays his own cards right and lets the Bulls get whatever they want out of him then he could end up being very happy himself.
Festus Ezeli: "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry
Festus Ezeli isn't quite the simpleton that Johnny B. Goode seems to be in Chuck Berry's classic song, but he does rise from humble beginnings to get to a level where he's going to garner a lot of attention from the general public.
Ezeli comes from Nigeria, raised with hopes of good schooling and a happy life, but his size and skill on the court led scouts to his corner of the world and got him a ride on the nearest train set for the USA. From then on out it was a constant struggle to improve and play at a higher level with the competition.
"Johnny B. Goode" will remind him of the beginnings he comes from, but is also a groovy enough track that he'll be able to get down while he's at it, and inspire himself to continue to get better.