Rookie Diary: Life in the NBA can snowball on you

Cody Zeller's Bobcats currently stand at 12-14, good enough for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Jonathan Daniel/NBAE/Getty Images

I had no clue how this season would go. Everyone kept asking me before the year how good I thought the team was going to be, but I had nothing to compare it to. All I knew was that guys came in and worked hard and were better than the competition I had seen before.

The Eastern Conference hasn't been so good. Which has helped, to say the least. But we're 12-15 and getting a decent amount of wins. We're in the playoffs at this point, so hopefully we can keep it up. The coaching staff and veterans have really been leading the way.

The last time I didn't start was my freshman year in high school. It's been a little bit weird adjusting to a reserve role. Guys in this league are so talented. I have so much to learn. I really don't mind coming off the bench and playing fairly decent minutes. It's been different not being the first option, but having the chance to come off the bench and be an energy guy and play good defense and do all the little things has been fun. I'm always going to do whatever the coaching staff asks me to do. If they need me to score, that's what I'll do.

CODY ZELLER: First impressions on NBA rookie life

My competition with Josh McRoberts isn't really hostile. Josh and I are very similar with how we play and he's been in the league for seven years. He's helped me with the little things here and there. It's not like college when you've got your five main contributors and the others don't play. We've got 82 games and go 8-9 deep every night. Both of us get plenty of time even though he's the starter, so things are pretty friendly. We are both trying to help each other along and help the team.

I've been doing a lit bit of acting on the side. I recently recorded a video for the 'Cody Zeller Sock Drive,' a promotion I'm doing with the Bobcats and I also recently filmed a spot for a car dealership back home. It's kind of fun doing stuff like this. In college and growing up I was never allowed to do endorsements or anything like that. It's been fun hearing from people back in Indiana who have seen the commercial. I get made fun of a lot, but that's fair. It's fun keeping in touch with friends back home and having that connection.

The filming only took a few hours for the car dealership. We did radio advertisements, TV commercials and a little bit of everything. But the guys were fun and they hooked me up with the car I wanted too, a 2013 Dodge Charger.

The whole town of Washington, Ind. came to see me play against the Pacers last week. I did the math and I think I've played 12-15 games in Bankers Life Fieldhouse when adding up high school and college games. Just walking in there I get a lot of flashbacks and memories. I won three high school state championships in that building. So it was great coming back and playing in front of so many people I knew. I got to see people I hadn't seen in 5-6 years because I hadn't been home for so long.

Playing back home also felt different. I forgot what it was like having so many friends and family in the stands. It also was my first game that was on TV back in Indiana, so it was a chance for everyone to see me play in the NBA.

I tried to get my teammates excited about our road trip to Indiana. But they weren't too pumped when they got off the plane and it was five degrees.

I keep in contact with Victor Oladipo a lot. We text probably once a week just sharing stories and talking about what it's like going through our rookie years. It's tough mentally more than anything, so it's great to have someone else who knows what you're going through. We share stories, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Going back to our time at Indiana, Vic and I have always been really close, so it's great to keep in touch.

I talk to my brothers Tyler and Luke pretty often too. But we never talk about basketball. We're all really close. I'll call them a lot of the time on the road just to see what's going on. A lot of the time Tyler and I talk and we're both sitting in the hotel room with nothing to do. We can talk about pretty much nothing for quite awhile.

The 82-game season kind of snowballs on you. You play well one night, you play bad the next, and then you've got another game right away so you have to put that behind you. If you get behind on sleep or you aren't eating healthy, things can snowball on you real quick. If you aren't your best every night, it's not like you have a non-conference game against some nobody like in college. Playing so many talented players and teams every night is mentally draining. You've got to stay on top of your treatment, rest and do the right things.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.