The members of the NBA's rookie class of 2013 congregated at the Madison Square Garden Training Facility in Tarrytown, N.Y., on Tuesday to have their pictures taken. While the proceedings didn't have quite as much flash and panache has years past, some things worth noting did take place amid all the dunking and posterizing.
Without further ado:
The Best Photo
Clear eyes, full hair, wide stance, high dribble, can't lose. Great stuff, Boston Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk. I can only hope every photo of you packs this much deer-in-the-headlights awkwardness and majesty. Also, you might want to work on your handle before training camp — I can't see new head coach Brad Stevens being too psyched about you dribbling that high every time you get the ball. (Just a little piece of advice from Your Man, there.)
Also, this photo of the former Gonzaga standout showing us his name:
... immediately made me think of this:
... which instantly made me hope that Celtics fans wind up calling Olynyk "The Whole F'n Show" and breaking out "ECW" chants when he has a big game. Unlikely, sure, but a lapsed wrestling fan can dream, can't he?
This Year's Trend: Team Color Accent Lighting
In the past, we've seen a variety of special touches to give rookie photos a little something extra, with some (like the frame-by-frame collages of 2010) looking great and others (like what Trey Kerby dubbed the "fart-esque fog" of 2012) looking less than great. This year's special feature saw rookies bathed in lights matching the colors of their new teams, with some pretty cool results.
The red washes came off well for rooks like James Ennis of the Miami Heat:
... as well as lottery picks Nerlens Noel of the Philadelphia 76ers and C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers:
... and made Chicago Bulls swingman Tony Snell look awesomely terrifying:
The yellow accents used for Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke and Memphis Grizzlies wing Jamaal Franklin were pretty smooth, too:
They didn't all work out so great — Cody Zeller, for example, looked like the dude from that episode of "Scrubs" thanks to the Charlotte Bobcats' orange tint:
... but, generally, it was a cool look. And in terms of sheer coolness, nothing tops the blue hue on Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo:
It makes him look like a superhero about to overthrow a foreign government, or like a mini Young Ron Artest. I'm not sure which one is scarier, but the former Hoosier certainly has his menace game operating at a professional level.
Most Versatile Performer: Oladipo
The No. 2 overall pick seemed to stand out not only in his icy accents, but overall; whereas a lot of the first-year players just sort of stood there and went through their paces, Oladipo showed some personality and style in his shots, moving from the serious glare above to Guy Smiley status before shouting to the heavens for an explanation of why he's been forsaken (I'm guessing):
He also seemed to take to the outdoor aerial shots with a bit more abandon than some of his fellow freshmen-to-be:
I like the second one the best because of the commitment to action. "You want me to pretend to throw a no-look pass? OK, cool. I'm actually going to throw a no-look pass, as hard as I can, so you better send an intern or something out on a post route to track that sucker down." This all provides support for the hypothesis I introduced Wednesday: Victor Oladipo seems pretty fun. Enjoy, Magic fans.
Weirdest Aborted Idea: Aggressive Hands
Cleveland Cavaliers No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett gave it a shot:
And so did Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter:
But the premise was quickly scuttled, presumably because the first two options wound up somewhat reminiscent of this:
When the idea came back around a bit later, thankfully, Indiana Pacers first-rounder Solomon Hill was given a prop that made a pretty big difference:
It's like I always say: Sometimes the only thing separating "the threat of strangulation" from "helpful friendship" is a basketball.
This Year's Robert Sacre: Nate Wolters
Unlike the Los Angeles Lakers center at last year's rookie shoot, the Milwaukee Bucks' second-round pick doesn't have to worry about being jettisoned, as he signed a contract with the Bucks last week. Still, though, the South Dakota State guard sticks out a bit in the photos from the shoot as the lone dude without a number on his jersey ... which is especially weird because, according to the Bucks' official website, he's No. 6.
Oh, well — maybe the numberlessness will confer some good luck on the guard. After all, Sacre went on to become one of the league's most celebrated celebrators before inking a three-year deal in free agency. Not bad for a dude without a number.
Bummer Nation, Population: Alex Len and Archie Goodwin
The Phoenix Suns won't be unveiling their new jerseys for the 2013-14 season until Aug. 15. That meant their first-round picks, center Alex Len and guard Archie Goodwin, had to go through the whole rookie photo shoot in their practice jerseys, which probably wasn't all that fun and cool an experience; you get the sense that No. 5 overall pick Len wasn't very stoked about it.
Former Kentucky guard Goodwin, though, still looks to have had a decent time with it:
Good on ya, young fella. Here's hoping your soaring spirit in the face of a lack of official threads is an inspiration to next year's rookie class to imbue their photos with as much verve and personality as possible.
Until next year, I leave with you with an image of hope and love:
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