Damien Wilkins may not be a name that every NBA fan knows, but he was known as a role model and much-needed veteran presence last season with the Indiana Pacers. After not playing in the league since the 2012-13 season, Wilkins found a home in Indiana to be a mentor to the young team. He ended up playing in 19 games with the Pacers and even started one.
He also found out that he was having a baby boy during a game with the Pacers this season.
Pacers' Damien Wilkins finds out he's having a boy during tonight's game ? pic.twitter.com/LgAgaD7i7E
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 28, 2017
Back in the 2004-05 season, Wilkins made his entrance into the NBA with the Seattle SuperSonics. He had four very successful seasons with them before becoming a journeyman. Wilkins had stints with Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Atlanta, Detroit, and Philadelphia before joining the Pacers.
Throughout his 582 games played in the NBA, Wilkins averaged 6.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. He shot 42.6 percent from the field overall and knocked down 32.7 percent of his three-point attempts.
Now, after an impressive comeback to the NBA, Wilkins is pondering his next step. Whether he continues playing or gets into another aspect of the league such as coaching or management, he has had a successful career.
NBA Analysis Network owner Evan Massey had the chance to sit down for an interview with Wilkins. Plenty of topics were discussed and it is a must-read for any NBA fan.
First up on the agenda was to discuss his comeback with the Pacers and the year he had in Indiana.
“Surreal! All the hard work had paid off. After a four-year “hiatus” every year that passed seemed to get me further and further away from that elusive comeback. All the different routes and places I’d been were all apart of the plan of allowing me to grow as a person and player. It was all so worth it. So gracious to the Pacers organization, fans, and community for embracing the way they all did.”
For those who are curious, Wilkins said that the most difficult places to play in the NBA are Oklahoma City, Utah, and Golden State.
Next up, we discussed some of his thoughts about his future and what is next for him in his basketball career.
“Eventually I’d love to be in a position to run a team from a front office standpoint. That’s always been a goal of mine but with that you have to start somewhere. That ‘somewhere’ could be anywhere. I love the game. Truly. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than playing. If soon another opportunity comes along that allows me to play, then I’ll look at that. But for now I’m preparing for both life on and off the floor.”
The NBA has changed dramatically since Wilkins came into the game. He talked about those changes and what he thinks of them.
“It’s gotten younger and it’s gotten smaller. But to young guys credit, they have been pretty talented. Seems everything with the NBA is cyclical so it may return to teams that play big and veterans being appreciated more. I guess time will tell.”
As for the Pacers, Wilkins talked about the team that has been put together in Indiana.
“They’re led by, in my opinion, some of best minds in basketball with KP, Chad Buchanan, Nate McMillan…then they have guys like Vic and Myles who buy into the culture. Makes success easy to come by.”
Wilkins also believes that the NBA needs to return to the city of Seattle in the near future.
“Seattle is a sports town. Basketball most certainly needs to return there soon.”
Another intriguing question was to find out what five players Wilkins thinks are the toughest in the league, who the toughest player to guard was for him, and his thoughts on the debate between LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
“Rondo, Draymond, Kemba, CP3, Russ are the toughest. Kobe by far was the toughest matchup I’ve had. I think LBJ even mentioned as much as he has been with MJ makes him already the winner. I appreciate the greatness of them both in their respective eras.”
Those who know Wilkins know that Dominque Wilkins is his uncle and his father, Gerald, also had a successful NBA career. He talked about what kind of help they gave him throughout his career.
“The most important lesson I’ve learned from them both is preparation. Being ready whenever my number was called. That’s pretty much been the staple of my career.”
If you’re a young basketball player with dreams of playing at the NBA level, Wilkins has some advice to ponder.
“Lock yourself in the gym and ignore the ‘noise.’ Too often young guys focus on results instead of focusing on the work. Focus on getting better and the results you seek will come.”
To close the interview, we asked Wilkins about Victor Oladipo and how good he thinks the Pacers’ star can become.
“I don’t see a ceiling at all. Vic can be as good as and go as far as far as he wants. He has the will and the work ethic. He’s the only thing standing in his way.”
Wilkins may not end up playing in the NBA again, although an opportunity could arise for his veteran presence. If he doesn’t play, his comeback with the Pacers was an impressive feat. His future in basketball appears to be in the front office, which is a role that he will certainly thrive in.
We thank Damien for his time and wish him the best in his next chapter of life, whatever that may be.