Carolina's Danny Green could be a second-round stealGreen Energy
by Keith LangloisEDITOR’S NOTE: Pistons.com continues its draft series, after profiling 13 players who might be considered with Detroit’s pick at 15 in the first round, with a three-part look at groups of players who could be possibilities for the Pistons’ three second-round picks. Today’s second installment looks at wings, players who could play either small forward or shooting guard or both.
By Keith Langlois
If every first-round candidate was invited by the NBA to sit in the green room at Madison Square Garden’s WaMu theater, North Carolina would require its own separate table.
The NCAA national champions figure to have four players hear their names called on draft night, with two of them – point guard Ty Lawson and power forward Tyler Hansbrough – candidates to go in the lottery. Smooth wing shooter Wayne Ellington is also highly likely to be off the board in the first round and almost surely before the Pistons exercise the first of their three second-round picks at No. 35.
But the fourth member of Carolina’s title team, senior wing Danny Green, could still be on the board. And while Green doesn’t have one overwhelming area of strength – Lawson’s blinding speed, Ellington’s silky jumper or Hansbrough’s outsized competitiveness – a lot of NBA scouts think even if Green might never be a star, he’s destined for a long and productive NBA career as a role player with a great motor and a keen sense of how to play.
The only knocks on Green, 6-foot-7, come down to lacking top-end athleticism. He’s not an explosive leaper and he’s not going to be a guy who creates his own offense. But he’s tough, a willing defender, smart and an accurate shooter with developing range. Even as the No. 4 option at Carolina, he averaged 13.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals a game. He’ll probably be more comfortable at small forward early in his career, but has the tools to be at least a two-position defender.
Green might be the surest bet of the wing players who figure to be in play from the start of the second round through its middle. Among the others are a trio of foreign players, two from Philadelphia colleges and Missouri teammates.
DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons led Missouri to a terrific Big 12 season that nearly culminated in a Final Four berth, the Tigers narrowly losing in the regional finals to UConn. If you could merge the two of them – Carroll’s toughness with Lyons’ skill level – you’d have a top-five pick.
As it is, both figure to go anywhere from the early second round on down, though there is some sentiment that Carroll’s high-energy package might coax somebody into taking a shot late in the first round.
Carroll led the Tigers in scoring and rebounding at 16.6 and 7.2 despite not much in the way of a perimeter game. At 6-foot-8 and 208, Carroll could be a poor man’s Dennis Rodman. Lyons, 6-foot-9 and 240, averaged 14.6 and 6.1 for Mizzou and has an effective mid-range jumper and a nice mix of physical tools. He’s just not as physical or as tough as his teammate.
The Philadelphia prospects are Temple’s Dionte Christmas and Villanova’s Dante Cunningham. Of the two, Cunningham is more likely to be off the board by the time the 35th pick rolls around. Scouts might be split on where Cunningham is best suited. Cunningham measured at just over 6-foot-8 at the Chicago combine. If he can improve his ball skills slightly, his future is at small forward where he’d have a better chance to make an impact. He averaged 16.1 points and 7.5 rebounds a game for Villanova.
Christmas averaged at or near 20 points a game for each of his last three seasons as the focal point of the Owls’ offense. He’s more a candidate at shooting guard, checking in at 6-foot-5½.
Of the three foreign players possible for the Pistons, the one most likely to be out of reach is 6-foot-7 Omri Casspi, an Israeli who worked out for them prior to the 2008 draft before pulling out. Renowned for his toughness and savvy, Casspi isn’t a great athlete but seems to thrive more in five-on-five settings if not quite as much as others in individual workouts. Casspi could be gone by late in the first round.
Australian Joe Ingles, with Olympic experience, is a lanky 6-foot-8 shooter with a sophisticated offensive feel and a smooth jump shot. He’ll likely struggle defensively, but could develop into a Hedo Turkoglu type.
One of the more interesting names to watch on draft night will be Sergiy Gladyr from the Ukraine, who played in that country’s professional league, not among the best in Europe, and only recently has begun gaining momentum when he showed well in camp settings. At 6-foot-5, the 20-year-old Gladyr is more difficult to project than other prospects but could have more potential.