After being selected with the 30th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Omari Spellman lasted just a single season in Atlanta, having been sent to Golden State in a trade this past offseason. As Anthony Slater of The Athletic details, Spellman dealt with depression and weight issues during his failed stint with the Hawks, getting up to 315 pounds by the end of his stint with the team.
Having received a second chance with the Warriors, Spellman has enjoyed a more promising 2019/20 campaign so far, slimming down to about 260 pounds and earning a regular role for an injury-plagued Dubs squad.
Speaking to Slater, Spellman took a clear-eyed look back on his time with Atlanta, insisting that his problems as a rookie were more about self-sabotage rather than anything the Hawks did wrong.
If you have an Athletic subscription, the entire conversation is worth checking out, but here are a few highlights from the unusually forthcoming 22-year-old:
On how he missed the NCAA structure during his first season in the NBA:
“When you’re in college, they kind of — you got class, which blocks out parts of your day, practice, hot yoga, all these things I was doing. Team dinner. Then on the night of home games, we’re in a hotel anyway. … Then you get on your own and I equate it to what a normal teenager, when they first get to college, what that’s like. They have all this freedom, no structure and they kind of f–k up.
“I was f–king up, but the difference is, this time, when I f–ked up, no one was helping me. No one was saying nothing to me. It was just, I was living by myself, so can’t nobody really tell me nothing, at that time.”
On when he realized things were heading in the wrong direction with the Hawks:
“To be honest, man, I knew for a pretty long time. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I knew for a fact that, at some point, the relationship had gotten so toxic in Atlanta — organizational to player. They had tried a lot of stuff, they really did and I could never say they didn’t. They tried a lot of stuff to help me and I was just not in a place to accept that help yet.
“I could tell they were frustrated. I won’t say I knew I was going to get traded, but I knew something was going to happen. Either this year I was going to start in the G League or this season, I don’t touch the court. Or I knew I wasn’t going to be in Atlanta anymore.”
On why things have turned around with the Warriors:
“Well, one, getting traded as a first-round pick after your first season lets you know that you’re about to be out of the league. For certain people. Now, for Landry Shamet, totally different. But for me? The way it happened to me? Yo, bro, you’re on your way out. … So to me, it was like if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out putting my best foot forward. Because I know last year was not my best foot, at all.
On how his mentality has changed since last season:
“I was like: ‘I’m a slob. I’m f–king fat. I’m f–king useless in the league.’ Then you have to consciously decide that I’m going to shift that mentality. I’m none of those things. I work hard. I play hard. I leave it all out there. I’m a great teammate. You have to view yourself like that. It’s not a cocky thing. That’s who you are. To take that fight, take that challenge, I was proud of myself. Because I easily could’ve just gave up. Just said: ‘F–k it, man. It is what it is. I’m not supposed to be in the league.’ Some people stay in that mindset forever and it’s hard to escape it.”