College basketball’s national scoring leader in 2011, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, was the 10th overall pick of the NBA draft. Last season’s top scorer, Oakland’s Reggie Hamilton, went undrafted.
Virginia Tech’s Erick Green figures to experience a draft night somewhere in between Thursday.
A 6-foot-3 guard and the first player from a power conference to lead the country in scoring since Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1994, Green averaged 25 points this past season. He’s virtually certain to be selected Thursday and could become only the second Hokie chosen in the first round, joining Dell Curry (1986).
“I think he’s worthy of a first-round pick,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said during a media teleconference Wednesday, “and that’s saying a lot.”
Green not only carried the scoring burden for an offensively challenged team but also scored efficiently, shooting 47.5 percent from the field, 81.6 from the free-throw line. The primary questions about him as a pro:
Can he be an every-day point guard? And can he defend?
“If it was clear he is a point guard, I think we would have been talking about him as high as 15, 14 in the draft,” said Chad Ford, an NBA reporter for ESPN. “I know there's some interest there for some teams in the 20s like the Pacers, for example, at 23. The Jazz have liked him a little bit, the Clippers liked him a little bit at 25.
“I just don't think he gets out of the first five picks in the 30s just because of the intriguing nature of what he did last year, and the efficiency with which he scored. He’s one of the players that I think is a sleeper in this draft.”
Green averaged an ACC-high 36.6 minutes per game, wear and tear that, combined with his scoring responsibilities, compromised his defense. In Bilas’ words, Green “didn’t distinguish himself as a defender.”
“You have to be able to play on both ends,” Bilas added, “because if you don’t play defense, they’re going after you. They’re going to target you, and if you don’t score, they’re not going to guard you.
“I didn’t watch him a ton live this year because after a certain point of the season there weren’t as many meaningful games he was playing in. But I watched a ton of tape of him, and he did take breaks defensively, but the guy played 40 minutes every game.”
First-round selection (top 30 picks) or not, Green does not project to play 35-40 minutes per night in the NBA. That should permit him to improve his defense and hone his versatile offensive skills.
“He’s good coming off screens,” Bilas said. “He can shoot it off the catch, he can shoot it off the dribble, he can create for himself. …
“I can’t imagine that there are teams out there (saying), ‘OK, we’re going to draft Erick Green so he can come in here, be our top guy and leading scorer.’ … He’s going to have to fit into an overall concept where he’s not the lead guy.”
Ford: “He’s small for a (shooting) guard, so teams want to see him as a point guard and they want to see how he reads defenses, how he passes the ball. So in a workout where you can play three-on-three -- that's the NBA rules, that's the most that you can play in workouts -- they're going to put him in situations where he has to make reads, and they want to see how he reads the defense as a point guard, not as a scorer. …
“What's your basketball IQ? How will you see your teammates in the openings? … I've generally heard that that's gone very well with Erick, and it's helped him move into the first-round consideration.”
Curry was the 15th pick in 1986, by the Utah Jazz. Teammates Keith Colbert and Bobby Beecher also were drafted that year, and the lone Hokies taken since were Bimbo Coles (40th in 1990), Eddie Lucas (58th in 1999) and Deron Washington (59th in 2008).
The hunch here is that Green goes late in the first round to a quality team such as the San Antonio Spurs at 28.
“Everybody’s got a different sensibility and eye,” Bilas said of scouting the draft. “Nobody’s got a magic eye for this.”
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