Erick Green – PG - SR - Virginia Tech
In spite of his team’s struggles this season, Erick Green has improved in ’12-’13 as much as any player in the country. The nation’s leading scorer also ranks 5th in the country in PER, a statistic that summarizes his amazing ability to score at an elite level while still remaining an efficient offensive player. Even with the substantial increase in usage rate and field goal attempts from a season ago, Green has significantly improved his shooting percentages and efficiency on the offensive end. Fran Fraschilla says it best about the Virginia Tech point guard, commenting that “If a guy can play hard on offense, its Erick Green.” Green has a lot of variety to his scoring game, and can literally create offense from anywhere on the floor. He is relentless in attacking the rim, and gets to the free throw line more than anybody in the country. Green is a workhorse off the ball, where he loves to come off screens on the wing and drive the ball into the paint. He uses great length and elevation to finish in the lane, where he can pull up at the top of the key or absorb contact at the rim and finish his drive. He possesses superb balance and body control, and almost always gets the ball to his right hand to create a good look in the lane. Green also has deep shooting range and can beat a defense by shooting over the top. With good size and leaping ability for his position, he can get off his shot in isolation situations as well as off of ball screens. But even for a player that scores as much as Green does, he very rarely forces his offense. More often than not, Green will get off the best look based upon what the defense is giving him, whether it be for himself or for a teammate. In spite of playing on a team lacking elite talent, Green is still an amazingly consistent scorer, reaching the 20+ point mark in 25 of his team’s 27 games this year. He is outstanding in transition and is one of the quickest guards in the nation from baseline to baseline. He has a great understanding of offensive tempo, possessing a great hesitation move and knowing when to best attack a defense. Green is a very underrated passer, and has the ability to create looks for others by getting into the lane and attracting multiple defenders. He is an elite free throw shooter, and works extremely hard on every possession to get the best look possible for his team. His outstanding ability to consistently produce so much scoring at such an efficient level makes Green a fascinating prospect with a polished offensive skill set.
The questions that scouts have about Erick Green’s offensive game revolve around how his skill set translates to the NBA game. He is a strong passer, but is not regarded as a true point guard prospect that can run an offense at the next level. Scouts worry that Green might be a bit of a tweener, and that his lack of natural point guard instincts limits his pro ceiling. There are also a few issues with his physical build with regards to his pro potential. Green is athletic, but is not regarded as an elite athlete. If he plays the 2 at the next level, he may have a difficult time getting his looks with off-the-ball movement or drives into the paint. Green also has a very slim frame, and may not score as efficiently in the paint as he does in college. Green is not an elite scorer in isolation situations, and instead prefers to get going with a ball screen or movement away from the ball. He beats his man with a hesitation move or by getting the ball while on the move, but needs to improve his first step quickness in isolation situations. Green appears to have the scoring instincts that translate at any level of the game, but his physical traits may limit just how great an offensive player he can be at the next level.
Green’s best trait on the defensive side of the ball is his quick hands and anticipation. He is never going to be an elite defender, but he can be an average to above-average one by generating steals and beating his man to the spot. Green does a nice job of keeping his man out of the paint, even if he has to play off, by exhibiting an elite understanding of angles and funneling his man into space where he knows he has help. Green gets his steals without gambling and leading to defensive breakdowns. He has good length for his position and can close out on shooters very well. As a strong leaper with long arms, he is an above-average rebounder for his position. Green competes on the defensive glass and generates transition opportunities on his own by grabbing long rebounds and looking to push the pace.
While Green can be a decent defender in the right scheme, he is never going to be an elite on-the-ball defensive player that can take opposing guards out of their game. Green lacks great lateral quickness on defense, and will often play a step or two off of his man to prevent from getting beat on the drive. His slim frame works against him, particularly when working against screens. He does not guard with much physicality, and often gets lost going under screens on the ball. He can close out on shooters but struggles guarding them one-on-one because he does not fight through screens and challenge every shot. Green is a very smart defensive player, but will never be a shutdown defender and needs to add some size to more effectively guard the pick and roll.
When you watch tape on Erick Green, his ability to consistently create an open look, but to do so in an efficient manner by getting to the line, is as impressive as any prospect in the draft. Green is such a relentless offensive player, possessing an ability to beat a defense from anywhere on the court. He is a good shooter with legitimate range, but is best at coming off screens on the wing and getting looks in the lane. He can pull up and shoot, elevate in the lane and score, or absorb contact at the rim and finish. For a scorer of his caliber, Green is not a volume shooter and rarely takes a bad shot. He can also create looks for others, as his ability to beat his man with the drive is his best means of creating offense. The question with Green, as is often the case with elite college scorers, is whether his skill set is translatable at the next level. There are questions about Green’s pro position, as he is not a true point guard but lacks the ideal measurables to play the 2. Green is a good athlete, but not an elite one, and may struggle to create open looks on a consistent basis as he does now. Green will never be an elite defensive player, but adds value by generating transition opportunities through turnovers or rebounds. Because Green has improved so drastically this year, he remains a fascinating pro prospect whose stock has the potential to elevate quickly once pro teams work him out in the draft process.