Know the Prospect: Erick Green

Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

A possible sleeper out of VA Tech, guard Erick Green could surprise a lot of people at the next level.

Hello, friends. I hope you are excited to talk about another prospect. I've got your prospect right here. Yes, it's another ACC guard. Shh.

Projected to go in the second round in most mocks, Erick Green would probably be considered a reach at #24. Still, considering his talent I wanted to cover him, especially if the Knicks are exploring methods of acquiring a second-rounder this year. The top scorer in college basketball last season, Green has slipped in the draft partly due to a disappointing final season for VA Tech. Green played very well, but it wasn't enough to qualify even for the NIT Tournament as the Hokies went a miserable 13-19 on the year and 4-14 against ACC opponents. Despite opening the year on an encouraging 7-game win streak culminating in a huge win against Oklahoma State (in which Green scored 28 points on 10 FGA against stud defensive PG Marcus Smart), VA Tech went into a tailspin during the second half of their season. Green might not have the winning career that most teams look for in a prospect, but does the ACC Player of the Year's game project to serve him better in the NBA?

The Rundown

D.O.B. - 05/09/1991 (22 years old)

Hometown - Winchester, VA

Measurements: Height (w/o shoes) - 6'1.5"; Height (in shoes) - 6'3"; Weight - 178 lbs; Wingspan - 6'5.75"; Max Vert - N/A; Lane Agility - N/A (Green was unable to participate in athletic testing after suffering an injury the morning of the combine in a collision with Texas' Myck Kabongo.)

Projected Draft Position: 43rd to MIL on DraftExpress, 31st to CLE on NBADraft.net

Actual Scouting Reports and Stats: SB Nation, DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, Sports-Reference, HokieSports.com

Amateur Take - Offense: Scoring an efficient 25 PPG last season for the Hokies, Erick Green firmly established himself as the most prolific scorer in college basketball. He has a diverse offensive game and can put points on the board from anywhere on the floor. He shoots the ball extremely well off the dribble, scoring on over 40% of his jumpers in that situation. Green does a fantastic job creating space, using both a tight handle on the ball and great scoring instincts. He reads the defense well and simply takes what he wants. Green has a well-developed step-back jumper and does a great job squaring his shoulders to the rim when shooting, allowing him to convert extremely difficult shots with regularity. He also gets great elevation on every jump shot, making it hard for defenders to contest after he raises up.

In addition to his ability to shoot off the bounce, Green looks extremely comfortable spotting up and knocking down shots (shooting 44.7% in catch-and-shoot situations). Green has clear NBA range, and his 38.9% from three last season belies his ability as a shooter as he dealt with constant defensive pressure. He can shoot the ball running off of screens, scoring a very efficient 1.32 PPP when coming off of screens. It is difficult for defenders to keep up with Green as he races around screens to lift up for shots. He elevates quickly off of the catch gives the defense very little opportunity to contest. It would be no exaggeration to say that Green was among the most versatile perimeters scorers in college basketball last season.

Complementing his ability to shoot the ball, Green utilizes an advanced set of dribble moves to get wherever he wants on the court. As the #1 (and often #s 2 and 3) option on offense for VA Tech, Green has seen his fair share of double-teams during his career and does a great job of splitting the double to put the defense at a massive disadvantage. While Green is not the best finisher you'll find in the draft, he has an NBA-ready floater that will serve him well against the increased length and athleticism of pro basketball. The lanky guard compensates for his mediocre finishing ability around the basket (49%) by embracing contact and attempted a fantastic 9.1 free throws per 40 minutes (leads all guard and wing prospects in DraftExpress' top 100). Erick Green's ability to produce points from the charity stripe in addition to the 3-point line help make him a fascinating prospect at the next level.

Green was not a very prolific passer in college, but shows a greater willingness to give up the ball than his stats imply. During the first day of the NBA Draft Combine, ESPN analyst Jay Williams had this to say about Green's assist totals (transcript taken from SBNation's Gobbler Country):

After watching so many of his games at Virginia Tech, he could've averaged a lot more. He hit a lot of his players and Seth Greenberg, [a] guy that works with us at ESPN can definitely confirm this: he hit a lot of guys in the hands and guys were missing his passes.

Despite his elite ability to score off picks, Green passed on 47% of his pick-and-rolls and showed clear desire to find open teammates. He's perhaps at his best as a passer in the open court, and shows the ability to throw difficult pocket passes on the move to find teammates streaking to the rim. Still, Green only generated 3.8 assists per game last season and teams will expect him to take on a smaller scoring role as he transitions from NCAA star to NBA player.

An encouraging aspect of his offensive game is how well he avoided turnovers despite his massive usage rate. After turning the ball over on 22% of his possessions as a freshman, Green responded to consistent starter's minutes by turning it over on only 11% as a sophomore and a junior and improving to a sterling 10% of his possessions as a senior. Green rarely seemed overwhelmed by pressure as a college athlete and his ability to take on offense without surrendering possessions makes him a very attractive option for NBA teams.

Amateur Take - Defense: Unfortunately, questions remain about Green's ability to make an impact on defense in the NBA. Despite long arms for a point guard, he struggled often with various aspects of off-ball defense. He crumples on screens, allowing himself to be completely removed from plays with simple picks. He will need considerable work with an NBA coach to correct his defensive faults, as he didn't always appear to recognize his mistakes on that end of the floor. He has the physical profile to comfortably defend most NBA point guards, but Green's style of play lends itself to playing off of another guard and he will likely struggle even more with physical 2-guards.

It is important for Green to continue building his strength to help him defend both guard positions. With his speed and length, Green has the potential to be an above-average defender. Ultimately, his commitment to defense will determine his impact. Averaging 1.3 steals per game and .2 blocks per game last season, Green is unlikely to make a ton of defensive plays in the NBA but playing solid, fundamental defense will go a long way towards giving him minutes at the next level.

Random Red Flag: One of the biggest concerns facing Erick Green as he moves into the pro game is his win-loss record at VA Tech. GMs may be wary of selecting a prospect whose team's repeatedly failed to make an impact even within the ACC. Still, this shouldn't reflect too poorly on Green, who improved every year and underwent a coaching change going into his final year. I would attribute VA Tech's disappointing season more to the lack of talent around Green than any personal failings.

Knick Knacks:

  • His full government is Erick O'Brien Green. Sounds Irish. Important note: I know little about Ireland outside vague recollections of my Artemis Fowl collection.
  • His favorite music artist is Drake. His favorite Drake song is Over My Dead Body.
  • Only the second player in ACC history to win ACC Player of the Year despite a losing record (Len Bias in 1985-86 is the other).
  • First ACC player to lead the nation in scoring since Grady Wallace in 1957.
  • Green comes from a basketball-savvy family: His mother Tami Green played for Howard University and his father Erick Green Sr. was lil' Erick's AAU coach.

Let's Get Reel:


Erick Green - Virginia Tech - Official Highlights - 2013 NBA Draft (via ACCDigitalNetwork) - It's easy to forget that he is a very efficient scorer while watching Green hit difficult shots . I get used to seeing players who attempt these kind of shots shooting low percentages, yet Green posted a TS% of .59 last season. Crazy scorer.


One-on-One with Scoring Machine Erick Green (via ACCDigitalNetwork) - FRIED RICE WITH GENERAL TSAO'S CHICKEN!


VICTOR OLADIPO & ERICK GREEN WORKOUT / Dallas (via EYBLTheCircuit) - Cool video showing a bit of the relationship between the two guards as well as some of their workouts.


Erick Green Draft Combine Interview (via DraftExpress) - I like listening to Green do interviews. He comes off as thoughtful and confident and doesn't hesitate to give full answers. Good to hear him mention his leadership a few times here.

Strengths:

  • Spot-up jumpshot
  • Pull-up jumpshot
  • Perimeter shooting
  • Shooting off of screens
  • Advanced ballhandling ability
  • Elite speed and quickness
  • Basketball IQ
  • Pick-and-roll play
  • Transition scoring; pushes the tempo; 23.5% of offensive possessions come in transition
  • Passing in transition
  • Advanced floater
  • Drawing fouls
  • Extremely turnover-averse
  • Positional versatility; can play either guard slot
  • Maturity

Weaknesses:

  • Off-ball defense
  • Slight frame
  • Finishing ability; very right-hand dominant
  • Below-rim athlete
  • Shot-selection

Final Thoughts: As mentioned previously, Erick Green in many ways appears to be a sleeper this draft. Playing for a disappointing VA Tech team has hurt his draft stock but he has all the ability to make a difference for an NBA team next year.

Green would fit in well on this Knicks team. New York needs guard depth following the retirement of Jason Kidd and the possible departure of JR Smith, and Green is a great option. Because of his solid size, length, and scoring instincts Green may see minutes at the 2 next to another point guard (a look NYK is familiar with). His ability to both spot up off the ball and create offense with the ball in his hands makes it easy to plug him into most lineups. Green's ability to run the pick-and-roll makes him a dynamic threat alongside a star front court that features two of the most dominant scoring roll-men in the NBA. Unlike the guards already on the roster, Green is a dangerous threat from midrange and can consistently draw fouls in the paint. Green is great at maintaining possession of the ball, a huge part of what made the Knicks so good on offense last season. As long has his game translates reasonably well to the NBA, Green would be a welcome addition to the Knick roster.

Carmelo would be pleased to see the Knicks add a scorer to the roster. What do you all think?

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