Amazon Contextual Product Ads

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Scouting Report: Erick Green

Its rare for a player in a big time conference to lead the nation in scoring and it is even more rare for someone to do that and get as little publicity as Virginia Tech's Erick Green has gotten. Green is the first player from a major conference to lead the NCAA in scoring since Glenn Robinson did it in 1994 and the only other player in ACC history to do it was South Carolina's Grady Wallace back in 1957.

Green is used to traveling under the radar. Virginia Tech was the only ACC school that was willing to allow him to realize his dream of playing ACC basketball. Green spent his senior season in high school playing at Paul VI, a basketball power in the DMV area, and showed off the same impressive scoring ability that he has continued to do in college.

Green was a combo guard coming out of high school, and still is to this point, but that doesn't mean he is incapable of running the point position or making plays. Green is actually a very smart and unselfish decision maker and is certainly accustomed to having the ball in his hand.

After two seasons watching and learning from Malcolm Delaney at Virginia Tech, Erick Green took over the scoring load during his junior season. The Hokies had made the NIT the previous two years, but since Green has been the leader they've been relegated to the bottom of the ACC Standings.

While his lack of winning ways beg questions that need answering, it is important to understand what Virginia Tech lost after his sophomore season and the type of talent he is currently surrounded with. Green is the sole playmaker on the team and is asked to do virtually everything - including be their defensive stopper at times. While winning would have helped Green's talent get recognized more, it is very unfair to write him off as a prospect because he hasn't won in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech has been without a threat in the post or a secondary ball handler in each of the past two season.

It is a major bonus to his character that he hung around in Blacksburg and never showed any frustration. After Seth Greenburg left and Dorian Finney-Smith - their hope for the future - transferred, it was apparent that Green's senior year may be a long one and a rebuilding season for the program. Yet he didn't ever entertain leaving and came into this season as one of the most improved players in the country. He was always a positive influence at Virginia Tech, loved by both fans and teammates alike. Even though he was clearly the most talented player on his team, he never acted like he was above everyone else. NBA teams can breath easy knowing the have a good character guy on their hands if they decide to draft him.

Erick Green stands at about 6-3 with long, lanky arms (6'6.5'') and a slender frame. He is deceptively quick and extremely fast in the open court. Green does a ton of damage in transition, often refusing to be stopped until a defender is forced to foul him. Green is also an excellent shooter of the dribble, arguably the most prolific in the country, and has no problem getting shots off. His scoring exploits come from a combination of transition opportunities, off the dribble mid-range jumpers, and pick and roll plays. 

Green loves to use the pick and roll and head to his left, although he tends to finish with his right hand. He is very deceptive and crafty with the ball and handles the basketball like it is on a string. He can toy with defenders and is the cause of plenty of sore ankles. Green combines his crossover move with subtle head fakes, shiftiness, and hesitations to keep the defense completely off balance. He is able to create space in the mid-range at will and has hit these tough jumpers at over a 40% rate the past two years - most of the created all by himself off the bounce. Although Green creates space for his shots with his dribble, he also has a natural fade on his jumper and gets good separation that way. In terms of shooting closely contested twos, only Isaiah Canaan and Deshaun Thomas can call themselves his peer.

At the NBA level, scorers are usually asked to do more than hit contested two point shots though. No matter how good you are at making them, contested twos are something a lot of GMs and coaches have looked to get away from as the statistical evolution continues. It certainly doesn't render Green's skills useless, but he will need to be able to bring more to a team than just his mid-range game.

The main variable in whether Erick Green will be a successful NBA player is his frame. Right now, he is very skinny and has trouble getting all the way to the rim and finishing. Green does a great job of being creative and has mastered the appropriate footwork en route to the rim (as well as a nice floater), but his strength and average at best leaping is tough to compensate for. Green won't near as many transition opportunities in the NBA and will need to be able to get tough points inside in a halfcourt offense.

Green shares some similarities to the Pacer's George Hill who was also an excellent scorer in college as a combo guard. Hill has made the successful transition to point guard and I believe Green shares the same qualities as a basketball player. Green is smart enough to run an offense and has no trouble being unselfish. He has been a great leader during his stay at Virginia Tech while continuing to compete all the way until the end of his senior season. But again, the difference between Green and Hill comes down to their physical profile. Hill has put on weight since coming into the league, but he had the profile of a stronger guard coming out of college - complete with wide shoulders. Green's shoulders on the other hand, don't suggest much room for growth.

As a three point shooter, Green has hit shots at around a 38% clip in his final two years on campus - showing much improvement from his sub-30% figures his first two seasons. Green has certainly put in the work to improve his shot and has increased his range from 18 feet to beyond the college 3. Green's stroke however, is much more conducive to being a good mid-range/off the dribble shooter than it is for being a great NBA 3-pt shooter. For one, Green puts a lot of effort into his shot and it looks like stepping back a few more feet for NBA 3s will be a bit of an adjustment for him. Green also uses a lot of his legs in a swinging motion and fades on his shots - great for mid-range shots as I said - but his release is a little lengthy for a spot up shooter. I think Green will be a solid 3-pt shooter in the league, but I don't think that it will be his ticket for playing time.

As for his defense, Green has been very impressive with both his ability and effort on that end of the court. Considering his workload he handles on offense, it would be almost expected that he takes breathers on defense but it seems he takes great pride in both sides of the ball. Green has the length and lateral quickness to bother players and is disruptive in the passing lanes. He has great anticipation skills and rarely makes any mental errors. Some will look at him and project him as a versatile defender who can cover both guard spots while there will be others who will question his quickness to cover PGs and his strength in covering SGs. His defense may, once again, come down to how much strength he is able to put on. Regardless, I don't think Green will be a reliability on defense simply because of his length, effort, and basketball IQ.

Moving forward, a lot of Green's success will depend on his frame's development., but I like him as a prospect. He is certainly underrated and is one of the better senior guard prospects in the country. He could sneak up into the late first/early second round territory after teams are down evaluating the film and discover he may be the best immediate option if they need a scoring guard. As of now, I believe he is clearly the best senior PG ahead of Nate Wolters, Isaiah Canaan, Matthew Dellavedova, and Pierre Jackson and possesses the most upside as well. He shouldn't have a problem playing the NBA's version of PG as long as he has a solid ball handler beside him.

No comments:

Post a Comment