BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Being drafted in the first round of the NBA is something less than half a percent of basketball players in the United States will get to experience. Most kids think they would be guaranteed shoe contracts, cell phone commercials and big fame and fortune but for the majority of NBA players this just isn't so.
Jared Cunningham was drafted in the first-round out of Oregon State and was traded twice by his sophomore season. The unpredictability of NBA life began for Cunningham.
"It is not at all how I thought," the 22 year old guard told 23ABC of his young career, "I was just entering my rookie season. It was tough just trying to get on the floor."
When you can't get on the floor for in the NBA, you find yourself on the floor in the D-League.
"It's not just getting used to life in the D-League," Jam coach Will Voigt explained, "It's not being in 4-star hotels anymore but you have to have the mentality of using the opportunity to get better."
And at the Jam, Jared's done just that. In his three assignments in two months, Jared has routinely been the Jam's leading scorer and lead the team in assists as well.
Life out of your suitcase is another one of those unfortunate realities of a pro athlete. The Bakersfield Jam have already logged 3 thousand miles of travel this season. But when you're on frequent NBA assignment like Jared is, even your travel life can be unpredictable.
"You never know," Cunningham described the unpredictable process of assignment, "they might tell you 20 minutes after game time or right after practice."
Jared Cunningham has logged over 10 thousand miles more than your average D-League player due to frequent cross-country flights that ultimately see him riding the bench for Atlanta.
Although life as a pro hasn't been anything like he dreamt, Jared Cunningham is thankful to be on the journey and on the Jam -- he wouldn't trade it for anything.
"Just to go out there and play every day is a blessing and that's what i love to do," Cunningham said, "I couldn't ask for a better job than playing basketball."