The Warriors introduced their 2011 NBA draft picks today and their second round draft pick, Jeremy Tyler, is probably the most intriguing prospect of them all. The story of Tyler as high school drop out turned international "bust" (of sorts) dominates his public image and concerns about his immaturity issues. But 2 years later and his stock having slipped some 37 picks during that time, Tyler has made it to the NBA and with the Warriors of all teams. Tyler has all the bells and whistles that NBA teams look for in big man "potential." But, is Tyler ready for the big leagues, emotionally? All signs so far point to, "yes," and he's got a superstar former prep-to-pro as his end goal.
Tim Kawakami sits down with Tyler to gauge to what extent his immaturity is a thing of the past and if he's ready for the rigors and scrutiny of being an employee of the National Basketball Association:
What do you think your strengths are? And your weaknesses?
-TYLER: Strengths, definitely my athleticism. Everything on my game can be improved. There's a lot of things that I do really well. And there's a lot of things that definitely need improving.
The things I do really well I work on them a lot more because I want to get those great. And the things that really need improving on, I do that, too.
For the most part, shooting, making quick decisions, playing smart, playing under control... those are definitely things that have been a major factor in my game, as far as keeping on top of.
Wow. Before I start spewing praise that Tyler has turned a new leaf and is now emotionally disciplined to NBA professionalism, I will play devil's advocate and assume that his agent prepped him to rebuild his reputation. For the most part, college players (even second rounders) come in and at least mention some instantly translatable college skills they possess for the big time. Heck, it surprised me when Jeremy Lin said such things publicly about how he is a point guard and that he just needs more playing time to show what he can do. And he was an unheralded guard who to this day seems to have even a bigger aversion to dribbling with his left hand than Monta Ellis.
But what we can glean from Tyler's brief statement is that he's aware of all the pitfalls that young, unpolished big men possess. The amount of self-awareness that Tyler has over his current limitations is particularly impressive and hopefully it translates in practice and on the court.
What everyone wants to know about is what Tyler projects to be in the NBA. For Tyler, Amar'e Stoudemire seems to be his ultimate goal:
-TYLER: I've always been a big fan of Amare Stoudemire. The way he approaches the game and how hard he plays, with his emotion and his passion. It's something I want to model my game and my skill after.
Stoudemire is not necessarily the defensive presence the Warriors seriously need at this point. But if they had someone with that kind of physical presence in the game, that could be amazing. But for the time being, Tyler's gradual development seems good enough for us Warrior fans looking for a shift in culture towards accountability.