NBA Rookie Playlists: Five Basketball Freshmen Talk Favorite Music

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Michael Carter-Williams, Cody Zeller, Trey Burke, Ben McLemore, Tim Hardaway

Read what first-round picks Michael Carter-Williams, Ben McLemore, Cody Zeller, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. said about their musical interests.

The 2013-14 NBA season is finally about to tip off -- and with regular season games starting on Tuesday night (Oct. 29), basketball junkies get to watch the biggest stars, their favorite veterans and most promising rookies suit up for the first time. Following the draft last June, this year's crop of rookies particularly presents a number of questions. Who will measure up to their high draft spot? Which player was the sneaky-good pickup in the second half of the draft? And (arguably) most importantly: what type of music do these fresh-faced players listen to?

At the 2013 Panini NBA Rookie Photo Shoot earlier this year, Billboard caught up with five of the 2013 rookie class' biggest names -- Michael Carter-Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers, Tim Hardaway Jr. of the New York Knicks, Cody Zeller of the Charlotte Bobcats, Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz and Ben McLemore of the Sacramento Kings -- to talk about what music pumps them up before game time, which artists do they consider all-time favorites and what songs do they associate with their unforgettable draft nights. Check out the NBA rookies' answers to Billboard's music shoot-around:

Billboard: What song or artist motivates you before a game or at the gym?

Michael Carter-Williams, 76ers: "I mostly listen to Jay Z when I work out, or whenever. He's my favorite rapper. My favorite Jay Z song is either 'Lost Ones' or 'Beach Chair.'"

Tim Hardaway Jr., Knicks: "Before a game, I always listen to Jay Z's 'Blueprint 2.' On 'Blueprint 2,' every song is a hit, and every song gets you hyped to play. And I always listen to Meek Mill, Wale, Rick Ross and anything else from Miami. I love 'God Forgives, I Don't.'"

Cody Zeller, Bobcats: "I listen to a lot of rap and stuff in the locker room and before games, but I'm a big country fan. I like Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Toby Keith -- all those guys. There were probably four or five guys at Indiana [University] that listened to country as well, so all kind of stuck together and tried to get some country played every once in a while."

Trey Burke, Jazz: "Tupac Shakur has always been an inspirational artist to me. He's a guy that gets me hyped up before games, and I can relate to his lyrics. Besides Tupac? Jay Z -- his new album, 'Magna Carta,' is something I listen to before games, as well as J. Cole's 'Born Sinner' album. And Kendrick Lamar is a really good lyricist -- he gets me hyped and motivates me before games. Last but not least, I have to go with Drake. He's an artist that talks about greatness, being great and pushing yourself to that next level. All that music inspires me."

Ben McLemore, Kings: "Pretty much Lil Wayne, Jay Z, Drake, J. Cole, Wale, Rick Ross -- all those guys. I listen to them before games and they get me going."


What song or artist do you listen to in your downtime?

Carter-Williams: "I listen to a lot of Drake when I'm relaxing, or Kendrick Lamar."

Hardway: "I listen to Miguel, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and other R&B artists like Alicia Keys, Beyonce and Maxwell."

Zeller: "Country music. I know quite a few [hip-hop] songs, because it's always on in the locker room or in the gym, because I go with country."

Burke: "A lot of Drake's music calms me down, as well as J. Cole. He's not really a rowdy type of artist. He has more of a calm demeanor about himself when he talks. When I'm just relaxing, I turn him on and vibe to his music."

McLemore: "I'm listening to that new Jay Z album, 'Magna Carta.'"


What song or artist do you most closely associate with Draft Night, when you joined the NBA?

Carter-Williams: "I was listening to Meek Mill, 'Dream Chaser.' I was listening to that song before the night. That song just speaks to me."

Hardway: "A lot of rap and hip-hop. I was very excited in that moment."

Zeller: "One of my favorite songs is 'It's A Great Day To Be Alive' [by Travis Tritt], so I played that, because it reminds you to enjoy the moment and not worry about what's in the future."

Burke: "There was so much going on that I didn't really have time to listen to music! Draft night was a crazy night."

McLemore: "There wasn't one particular song or artist I listened to before the draft -- just Jay Z, J. Cole, Lil Wayne."



Who is your all-time favorite artist?

Carter-Williams: "Jay Z."

Hardway: "Jay Z."

Zeller: "Kenny Chesney."

Burke: "Tupac. I love 'Me Against the World' and 'Hail Mary."

McLemore: "Lil Wayne. I love all of 'Carter' albums, and old Lil Wayne, like the Hot Boyz. I've been a fan for a long time."


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