The Toronto Raptors were in town this past weekend to play the Bucks. As soon as their plane landed in Milwaukee on Friday night, Matt Thomas made his way over to our gym for a workout. We had some time to talk before the workout and we discussed the adjustments and challenges that Matt is facing as an NBA rookie. All players, at all levels, have to deal with some of the same issues:
Playing Time: The challenge for Matt is not knowing if or how much he will play on a given night. In their first six games Matt has averaged 10 minutes in three games and did not see the floor in the other three games. This is something new for him because he has basically been one of the main guys on every team that he’s played on since he was 4 years old. His focus has become staying as ready as possible and taking advantage of the opportunities when they are given.
This is something that all players can do. The coach will distribute playing time as they see fit. You can influence this by your practice habits and performance, but ultimately it is under the coaches control. All you can do as a player is focus on what you CAN control… staying engaged and your preparation.
Adjusting to His Role: Outside of the top 2-3 players on an NBA team, the rest of the players have very distinct roles. Matt has always prided himself on being a complete player. Now his role is to defend, run the floor hard, and shoot open three’s.
Every player has a role on their team. Coaches place players in whatever role they believe with help the team be most successful. As a player, you may agree or disagree with that role, but you must embrace it. You have to be a superstar in your role, but you must continue to work for the role that you want.