It's a weird time for Tech fans.
No, not because we are struggling through that awkward phase of emptiness in the sporting calendar with no games or practices. Not because we've been obsessing over the decisions of 17-year-olds for the past month, and have been absolutely devastated when their decisions don't go our way. It's because the NBA Draft is tomorrow, and Tech fans finally have a reason to care.
In case you forgot...or had it electrocuted from memory...basketball is a sport, in fact a sport that the Hokies were not very good at. Erick Green however, was the exception. Think about what it would be like if Leo Dicaprio was in the newest Adam Sandler movie. If De Niro starred in Police Academy 7. If Russell Crowe had a part in the new Superma....oh wait. You get my point.
Green was the lone bright spot in a season of negativity and blowout losses. He won ACC Player of the Year, was first team All-ACC, a third team AP All-American selection, and now he has the chance to be the first Hokie taken in the first round of the draft since 1986.
I'm assuming, however, that you know all of this (unless the electroshock therapy really did a number on you). The reason I'm here, is to fill in the blanks that you possibly missed while reading about a high school junior's travel plans. I have watched this process like a hawk. I love everything about the NBA draft. I love the over-saturated coverage, the suits and the awkward make out sessions. It's basically like the Oscars, only if Sinbad picked out each actor's tux. Needless to say, I've been paying a great deal of attention to the process, and will break down exactly what "the book" seems to be on Green.
I'm going to summarize everything he two most trusted draft sources (ESPN's Chad Ford and DraftExpress.com) have said about Green, and whether or not it is realistic to hope he goes in the first round.
A Quick Summary of the Draft
Here are the basics for everyone who doesn't follow the NBA draft. There are two rounds of 30 picks each. The first 14 are the teams that did not make the playoffs, and thus are considered "lottery teams", because each of them has a chance to win the first overall pick. (A team like the Dallas Mavericks, who just missed the playoffs, had a 0.1% chance of winning, while the team with the worst record in the league, the Orlando Magic, had a 25% chance of winning). Other than the stature of simply being a first round pick, it is important that Green gets picked in the first 30 for another reason entirely. First round picks have contracts guaranteed for two years, with a two year team option after that, so he'd actually have a chance to stick. The success rate for second round picks isn't nearly as high as first rounders, simply because they're more expendable to a team looking for roster flexibility or cap room.
What the Numbers Say
Not many people were able to put up the type of numbers that we saw from Green this past season. As I previously detailed, no one scored more points per game and very few players were more efficient. The most important numbers that teams may use when they look at him is his turnover percentage (the estimated amount of turnovers in 100 plays) and his field goal percentage, compared against his usage rate (the estimated amount of plays used for him offensively). These make him look good, as his turnovers were down, field goals were up in a higher percentage of plays used for him.
There is probably one big concern with his numbers, and that is the prodigious jump in production between his junior season and his senior season. His junior season wasn't bad, a 15 points per game scorer, shooting 43%, but those aren't the stats of a potential first round pick.
This begs the question; which one was the real Erick Green? And that has been something that scouts and general managers have been trying to figure out for months.
What The Experts Say
35th ranked player on DraftExpress
40th ranked player on Chad Ford's Top 100
DraftExpress puts together a video for every major prospect like the one above. It details their strengths and weaknesses, and is used as a tool by many people in the League that need to get a head start on scouting. The DraftExpress scouts list three strengths and three weaknesses in each video.
- Speed and Quickness
- Scoring Ability
- Improved Distributor
We all know these. What we can take away from this is that even though his teammates didn't make a ton of shots off of his passes, scouts noticed that he was getting the ball to them. This is important, because of questions about his legitimacy as a point guard (we'll get to that in a bit).
Other than that, it's a lot of stuff we already know. He has an array of moves both off the dribble and screens. He can hit both open and contested jumpers from the mid-range and from three.
- Finishing at the Rim
- Can He Defend in the NBA?
There are three listed, but really it's just two. Strength and NBA defense are one in the same. It's a concern, because defense is becoming seemingly more valued by the minute in the NBA, but the good news is that there is still room on a bench for a scorer who sometimes struggles on the other end. Even if he can't fully piece it together defensively (and with the right coach/situation, I really think he can) he could still stick.
Finishing at the rim is more of a worry. He's not going to draw all of the respect calls that he did last season, and there were plenty of times that he was bailed out of a poor shot due to a foul. He does, however, have that beautiful floater, which is a shot that is hard to master for professionals, not to mention college kids. Will that be enough to turn eyes away from finishing? It will probably depend on the team considering him.
This is Chad Ford's draft page on Green:
- Athletic combo guard
- Can really score the ball
- Good shooter with 3-point range
- Excellent in transition
- Quick first step
- Is he a tweener?
- More of a scorer than a PG
- Needs to add strength
Mostly more of the same scouting reports, but now we're starting to see the tweener tag thrown around. This is usually given to a guy in college who is called a "point guard", but only because he carries the bulk of the offensive responsibility on his team. Sort of like the "ATH" in recruiting, when a player plays quarterback in high school only to get him the ball as much as possible.
Tweeners usually fall further in the draft than their talent dictates. If scouts don't think that a certain prospect can cut it as a point guard in the pros, they will almost always need size to be considered a valuable shooting guard. The problem though, is that many of these college point guards don't have size. If someone deemed as a shooting guard is only 6-3, it doesn't matter how many points he scored in college, scouts worry that it simply isn't translatable from one level to the other.
Here's Ford on a recent NBA Draft conference call with the media talking about Green's potential problems:
Very intriguing player that really didn't come on until his senior season in the eyes of NBA scouts. By the way, you think, well, that's a good thing, but scouts are always wary of seniors. And he's a player that I think to me is a guy who really can score the basketball. The question is – is he a point guard or not?
This is going to be a very interesting subplot to tonight's draft. Green has worked out for 17 different teams over the course of this draft process, all of which were probably testing his abilities as a point guard.
I think that even if Green's workouts didn't go as well as he hoped, he could still be considered a player similar to the Spurs' Gary Neal, an above-average combo guard that comes off the bench for a contending team. His ceiling? It could be as high as a 6th man scorer such as the Hawks' Lou Williams or a scoring point guard such as the Hawks' Devin Harris (all of these are a good thing).
As far as draft status, he could go anywhere from the low 20s to the mid 30s. Ford also said that many teams in the 20s have been looking at him, and that if he slips to the second round he could be one of the sleepers of the draft.
As for me, I think he goes in the first round. I've been hearing for the past two months that people in his camp think he will go in the first round. I'm not talking people like his agent, I'm talking about people who talk to scouts and know things. Green could have a "promise", what a team gives to a player promising they will draft him, then in turn the player would then shut down the rest of his scheduled workouts. I don't think that is the case, however, simply due to the fact that he's worked out 17 different places. Promise or not, I think he will be intriguing enough in a draft like this (full of 7th-9th men/role players) to crack the first thirty.
My guess is that he goes somewhere between 25 (the Clippers, who need bench scoring and shooting) and 29 (the Thunder, who also need bench scoring). In his latest (and final) mock draft, Ford has Green sneaking into the the first round, going to the Suns with the 30th (and final) pick.
Wherever he ends up getting drafted, this will be a big day in the life of the Green family, and I hope that they enjoy every second of it. As for Tech fans, enjoy it, because this could be the last basketball related good news we hear for a while.