OKC Thunder rookie Darius Bazley work experience offers advantages over his peers

OKC Thunder: Darius Bazley (Photo by Sean Berry/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Darius Bazley (Photo by Sean Berry/NBAE via Getty Images) /

While OKC Thunder rookie Darius Bazley missed out on the NCAA the advantages he gained via an unconventional choice offer their own benefits over his peers.

Darius Bazley may have foregone accepting his Syracuse University scholarship and attending college to gain the NCAA experience. Instead, the OKC Thunder rookie opted for the well documented internship with New Balance.

In hindsight, his decision held him back in terms of spending time on the hardwood with his peers and developing his game via input from college coaches. Yet, there are always two sides to everything and in this case, the positive takeaway for the rookie is he gained some advantages over his peers.

By interning at New Balance he gained a ton of transferable skills which other rookies missed out on while at college. Firstly, working in an office atmosphere put Bazley in contact with a more mature group of people. Not only did he learn from them but it was his first real job. The advantages he gained are very transferable skills as he laces up for his first professional season.

Often rookies cite the many changes and challenges of going from being a college student to being responsible as a professional. For most of these youngsters, the NBA is their first real professional experience. Adjusting can be tough and many can struggle with the change initially. Most rookies note the challenge of dealing with increased travel, more games, and a faster pace. And that’s not even touching on the rookie wall which many hit halfway through the season. It’s not that Bazley won’t be dealing with the same issues, but the experience he gained at New Balance will help with his mindset which is half the battle.

An ESPN article by Nick Friedell touches on the advantages Bazley gained and also points to the unique internship and position Bazley garnered working there. In fact, as Friedell points out both New Balance and Bazley gained through the experience as the shoe company got direct input from a young player.

"Now that Bazley has transitioned fully from “intern” to “endorser,” Cassidy’s goal is for his former intern to be “the most knowledgeable, insightful athlete in the game about the shoe industry and how things are made and developed and get on the feet of elite athletes and what the industry is like."

The other notable difference the 19 year old holds over his peers is his relationship with his agent Rich Paul which put him in direct contact with the best player in the NBA – LeBron James.

"Throughout his year away from organized basketball, Bazley had multiple conversations with James, though the topic rarely focused on basketball itself.“It’s more like — we’re at Top Golf or something and we’re just having a good time stuff like that,” Bazley said. “Sometimes you don’t even have to have a one-on-one. You can just sit down and listen. If you listen more than you speak, you’ll learn a lot. And with my situation, I was lucky enough to be around greatness every day.”"

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As Bazley told Friedell the ability to spend time with James gave him a heads up on how the superstar lives his life and showed him how the best athlete in the business approaches his day to day life.

Ultimately, the fact Bazley recognizes how important something as simple as listening is should have Sam Presti and Billy Donovan grinning. It might seem like a small thing, but communication and listening are often the difference in how quickly a young player progresses.

With so many youngsters possessing similar talents their ability to expedite growth generally falls under two areas – work ethic and absorbing the information the coaching and development staff dole out.

Next. Grading and examining every Thunder player contract. dark

In that respect, Darius Bazley has an advantage over all his peers which means the OKC Thunder gain through his experience as well!