Salt City Hoops » Tracy Weissenberg http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:52:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Tracy Weissenberg http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com Trey Burke Video Interview http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-video-interview/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-video-interview/#comments Sun, 22 Dec 2013 20:16:25 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9256 Author information
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP1P2fNqVMg&autoplay=0&rel=0&hd=1]

 

Trey Burke, acquired by the Jazz to fill a desperate need at the point guard position, spent the beginning of the season on the sidelines. The ninth overall pick suffered a fractured right index finger on October 12, causing him to miss the first 12 games of his rookie campaign. During that stretch, the Jazz went 1-11, ranking 29th in points, three-point percentage and assists.

After coming off the bench for his first two games, Burke has started every game since. His presence in the lineup contributed to an improved offense, but most importantly, wins. In Utah’s next 18 games, the team put together a 7-11 record.

“He can score,” says Head Coach Tyrone Corbin, “He’s learning a lot. He’s a guy that’s looking to get better every night he steps out there on the floor. He’s working his tail off to understand what we’re looking for from him and what gives us a chance to be effective, while we try and figure out what gives him a chance to be as effective as he wants to be on the floor.”

courtesy: Getty Images

courtesy: Getty Images

Asked if he expected Burke to be able to instantly contribute, Corbin says, “Yeah. He was College Player of the Year. The way the team is now, we understood we were going to have him on the floor a lot. We were going to demand a lot from him. He responded to it. As he picked things up, we demand more from him.”

Burke is averaging 13.2 points and 4.9 assists in just under 30 minutes. Although he is shooting under 40 percent from the field, many have noticed his innate scoring ability, which Corbin calls the most NBA-ready aspect of his game. “He can really shoot the ball. He can shoot it, so that gives you a chance. He’s a point guard by nature, who’s a scoring point guard, so some of those things allow him to be able to be on the floor and be effective on the floor because he can put the ball in the hole.”

“He’s done a great job of coming in, being ready to score. [Burke] spaces the floor for us pretty well and has knocked down some shots,” says fourth-year forward Gordon Hayward.

Already the natural scorer, Burke’s shooting percentages can be attributed to both his sudden immersion in the offense and the lack of double-teams drawn by Utah’s roster. Derrick Favors is currently the only member of the team averaging better than 50 percent from the field.

While the Jazz is a team in transition, Burke has quickly provided a spark for the offense and bright spot for the future.

Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague, who experienced a contrasting career trajectory to Burke’s, was familiar with the 21-year-old from his two-year career at Michigan. “I watched a lot of his college games, I’m a big college fan, so I know he’s a really talented player. He’s going to come out and play hard and do what he does best–he can score the basketball, he can make shots.”

While Teague started only 10 games in his first two NBA seasons, he is putting up career-high points and assists in his third straight starting campaign.

“He makes the right plays, he makes shots,” Teague says of Burke, “That’s all you can really ask for out of a rookie.”

Author information

Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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Paul Millsap Jazz Media Interview http://saltcityhoops.com/paul-millsap-jazz-media-interview/ http://saltcityhoops.com/paul-millsap-jazz-media-interview/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 22:45:15 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9241 Author information
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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As reporters congregated around Paul Millsap, the eighth-year forward’s tone had a bittersweet tinge when reminiscing about his time as a member of the Utah Jazz. Millsap, the 47th overall pick in 2006, grew into a household name during his seven seasons with the Jazz. This past summer, Millsap signed with Atlanta as an unrestricted agent after the Jazz decided on a drastic rebuild. This season, the versatile forward is averaging 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and a career-best 43.4 percent from three.

courtesy: Getty Images

courtesy: Getty Images

As he prepared to face his former team for the first time, Millsap spoke to the media about his past with the Jazz and current opportunity in Atlanta.

On how his career ended in Utah:

Paul Millsap: “For me, it was a little disappointing. Anywhere you go, you want to try to win big, and I wasn’t able to do that. I felt like I’d done all I could do, so had to move on.”

On whether he was surprised to not re-sign with Jazz: 

PM: “I don’t know. Things happen for a reason. I feel like that and [that I landed] where I’m at for a reason. I can’t really look back in the past and say ‘if this, if that.’ I’ve got to move forward.”

On whether he knew he could shoot threes at the career-high percentage he is averaging this season: 

PM: “Did I know? Yeah. Did I have the confidence to do it? No. Getting here, the coaching staff, giving me the confidence, the players, giving me the confidence to put me in the situations to shoot it and make it.”

On his expanded role on offense:

PM: “Here, they’re pushing me to shoot it more and it’s part of the offense. I feel like, they feel like, that we’re at our best if I space the floor and shoot the ball…It moves me out from under the basket a lot, getting banged on, so that helps a lot.”

On whether he sensed Jazz were on the verge of a drastic rebuild:

PM: “No, not at all. I don’t think anybody had seen it coming. It was one of those things that happened. You can’t help but respect the decision from the front office, they have control over that.”

On his rise from late second-round pick to top option:

PM: “It feels great to know that your hard work pays off. Over the years, I busted my butt to get where I’m at, so I’m very grateful. I feel like I’m getting another opportunity to come out here and showcase my talents.”

On Gordon Hayward’s leadership:

PM: “He’s more of a floor leader than a vocal leader. I think everybody knows G’s a pretty quiet guy. When he gets on the court, the ball’s in his hands, he makes decisions. He’s a good decision maker. As far as leading, he’s pretty much a good leader on the court.”

On his time in Utah, whether one memory stands out: 

PM “All of it’s together, it just brings up one incredible career in Utah. Not just one memory sticks out. Over the course of the years, met great people, befriended a lot of people. It was great times.”

On whether he has incentive to play his best game against former team:

PM: “A win would be good enough for me.”

Author information

Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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JazzRank #2: Derrick Favors’ Time to Shine http://saltcityhoops.com/jazzrank-2-derrick-favors-time-to-shine/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazzrank-2-derrick-favors-time-to-shine/#comments Tue, 29 Oct 2013 21:54:14 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7655 Author information
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Editor’s note: This is the penultimate in the annual series from Salt City Hoops ranking the current players on the Utah Jazz roster. Throughout the preseason, we’ll count up through the current Jazz roster, from worst to first, profiling each player as we go along. The profiles are individually written by Salt City Hoops’ staff of writers, while the ranking was selected by me (Andy Larsen). To go through JazzRank articles from this or past preseasons, visit our JazzRank category page. Derrick Favors is #2.

The time is now for Derrick Favors. The Utah Jazz let their free agent frontcourt walk this offseason: Al Jefferson signed a big contract with the Bobcats, and Paul Millsap is in a two-year transition deal with the Hawks. These actions pointed to the franchise’s confidence in their young power forward, only to later be solidified with a four-year, $49 million contract extension before the start of the season.

Favors, the 3rd overall pick in 2010, was acquired in the trade that sent franchise point guard Deron Williams to the Nets. Favors was given several seasons to develop, starting only 21 of 164 career games with the Jazz (contrasting the 23 starts in 56 games with the Nets during his rookie year).

In 2012-13, the third-year power forward showed improvements in nearly all categories, averaging a career-high 9.4 points and 7.1 rebounds in just over 23 minutes. His 1.7 blocks ranked 13th in the NBA, and only JaVale McGee of the Nuggets blocked more shots (2.0) in less playing time.

Last season, the Jazz offense was run by a committee of point guards, with assist leader Mo Williams appearing in only 46 games due to injuries. Williams, Earl Watson and Randy Foye–guards who all made starts last year–are no longer on the roster. Jamaal Tinsley, who started 32 games last season, was re-signed only four days before the season opener.

Utah traded up in the 2013 Draft, acquiring point guard Trey Burke with the ninth selection. It looked as if Burke would get handed the reins and have an opportunity to largely define the Jazz offense. Those plans will have to be put on hold due to a fractured right finger the rookie sustained during preseason. After undergoing surgery, Burke is expected to miss the first few weeks of the season, and the Jazz will once again rely on a committee to run the offense. This will likely have an impact on the development of Favors and the other bigs on the team, who are waiting to build a consistent on-court rapport and comfort level with the point guards.

Due to the shuffled roster and uncertain guard situation, Favors’ offense may require some patience. Without anyone on Utah’s roster consistently able to command double-teams, Favors will need to pick his spots offensively and not settle for bad shots. He will have to adjust to more defensive attention, especially if the Jazz go to him as a first or second option. His 7.4 field goal attempts per game will likely double, and while he will still get high percentage shots and putbacks, his shooting percentage could initially dip.

However, more responsibility on offense will lead to more facilitating opportunities. Last season, Favors averaged 1.0 assists and 1.7 turnovers. He rarely handled the ball, especially in his role off the bench. As a starter, Favors will be counted on to pass out of double teams and make quick decisions to maintain the flow of the offense. Expect his assists to increase, but the real stat to track is whether he can keep turnovers down as his possessions accumulate.

Utah, despite a number of three-point inclined guards, attempted less than 17 threes per game last season (28th in the league). If they continue to keep the ball inside, Favors should average a double-double, and easily slide into the Most Improved conversation.

While Favors has the opportunity to make great strides with his offense, he has already proven himself a solid defender–something the Jazz have definitely noticed during his tenure. Favors will be the key of a strong interior defense, as it will enable the team to stay afloat in low scoring, slower paced games.

If the play of Favors and Enes Kanter lives up to potential, then Utah was able to gain a formidable frontcourt in the trade for Deron Williams. The Jazz have created and stuck with their blueprint for a post-superstar era: part foresight, part solid draft moves, and part strategic aggressiveness by the front office–both in trading Williams early and letting Jefferson and Millsap walk.

Utah has likely designated 2013-14 as time to evaluate players in starting roles, with the promise of cap flexibility next season. However, with the quick extension to Favors, it is clear where he stands in the team’s future.

Author information

Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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JazzRank #5: Alec Burks http://saltcityhoops.com/jazzrank-5-alec-burks/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazzrank-5-alec-burks/#comments Thu, 24 Oct 2013 18:16:15 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8096 Author information
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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Editor’s note: This is the ninth in the annual series from Salt City Hoops ranking the current players on the Utah Jazz roster. Throughout the preseason, we’ll count up through the current Jazz roster, from worst to first, profiling each player as we go along. The profiles are individually written by Salt City Hoops’ staff of writers, while the ranking was selected by me (Andy Larsen). To go through JazzRank articles from this or past preseasons, visit our JazzRank category page. Alec Burks is #5.

 

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Selected 12th overall in 2011, Alec Burks hasn’t yet received lottery pick playing time. In 2012-13, his sophomore season, he averaged 7.0 points in just under 18 minutes. He shot 42 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from beyond the arc. While the Jazz spent the offseason clearing cap space—and floor space—for their younger prospects, the minutes look promising for Burks in his third season.

And while his minutes look sure to rise, his role looks likely to change as well. The Jazz aren’t known for handing rookies the reins, but that was about to change with 9th overall pick Trey Burke. Perhaps Burke and Burks would have comprised a backcourt in a sort of sink or swim scenario for the young guards on a team in transition. However, Burke sustained a broken finger during preseason and is out for the start of his rookie campaign. Who will be the beneficiary of those minutes? One option is veteran journeyman John Lucas III, who impressed in the past as part of the Bulls’ bench mob. It is also likely that we will see 6’6” Burks spend time as facilitator, adding size to a position where the Jazz are extremely small.

Utah, without any real first options or go-to scorers, will spend a lot of time manufacturing offense and grinding out games. Burks will have a lot on his plate, especially as he transitions between both guard spots. The Jazz do not have players that consistently command double teams, so it is unlikely he will see a lot of easy baskets. Burks, who hasn’t started a game in his first two seasons, will have to prove he can find is own shot against other teams’ starting lineups.

Last season, Burks scored nearly 40 percent of his points in the paint. He is a crafty scorer, who can penetrate and get off shots in traffic. Some of the opportunities in transition come from his ability to play the passing lanes. This season, more attention will be paid to his on-ball defense, especially if he spends significant time defending point guards. Back to offense, if Burks can improve his range, especially beyond the arc, he will open up more opportunities for both himself and the young frontcourt of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.

While Burks doesn’t have a large body of work in the NBA, he has proven himself productive in limited minutes. The Jazz, losing their top two scorers last season in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, will be desperate to find some instant offense. Burks should be given the green light, and for the first time in his career, he can really start to define his place on the team and in the league.

Author information

Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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Interview With Dionte Christmas http://saltcityhoops.com/interview-with-dionte-christmas/ http://saltcityhoops.com/interview-with-dionte-christmas/#comments Sun, 07 Jul 2013 14:16:33 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6900 Author information
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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The former Temple University star, overseas pro and NBA hopeful is on the Jazz Summer League Roster. 

Each year, Summer League arrives shortly after the Draft. It is where the top picks, undrafted free agents, former lottery picks, and NBA and overseas journeymen converge for the chance to make a name for themselves in a sea of pro-level talent. Those games will have a different meaning for everyone, and for those without a guaranteed contract or place on a roster, it is an audition.

The top picks play alongside journeymen, huddling up with players who will continue forging their basketball odysseys in leagues across the world. For every success story, there are hundreds of hopefuls who have cycled in and out of summer league. That is what makes the paradox of the rosters so special. Dreams are realized, and dreams are fought for.

Dionte Christmas has been so close to realizing his. In 2009, the year he went undrafted as a senior out of Temple, he participated in training camp for his hometown Sixers. Last season, he averaged 12.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the Celtics in Orlando Summer League. He continued playing for the Celtics in Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 14.2 points on 48% shooting. His play earned him a partially guaranteed contract, but he was eventually released by the Celtics after appearing in four preseason games.

After playing in Russia and Italy this past season, Christmas is back to work, preparing to play with the Utah Jazz in the 2013 Orlando Summer League. While the Jazz acquired No. 9 overall pick Trey Burke in the Draft, they are in definite need of a scoring two guard. I got a chance to catch up with Christmas while he prepares for the Jazz’s first Summer League game on Sunday, July 7.

Tracy Weissenberg: I think a lot of people remember you with the Celtics last year. Can you catch everybody up on your career since then?

Dionte Christmas: I still keep in contact with those guys. Great organization…they gave me a great opportunity. [After being released] I signed with one of the biggest teams in Europe. I signed with CSKA, but I finished the year off in Italy with Siena. We won an Italian championship. So I had a pretty good year individually. I’m just back trying to get back into the NBA and trying to get another contract with a team and hopefully just stay over here for the year. Time is winding down for me, but I’m still feeling great. I’m still young. Like I said before, I’m going to just keep trying until I get it.

TW: Can you talk about the game overseas, how does it prepare you for these opportunities?

DC: Very physical. I know the NBA is very physical as well. Playing in Euroleague is very physical every single night. You’re playing top level basketball every single night. I think that prepared me for situations like this, like Summer League and to play in the NBA. I believe I can play in the NBA and I’ve been told by a lot of people high in the game of basketball such as Doc Rivers and Aaron McKie, coach for the Sixers. A lot of people told me I can play in the NBA, so I’m never going to stop chasing this dream. Hopefully, this year it can happen. Last year I was so close, I was knocking on the door, and this year, hopefully I can get in.

TW: You were pretty close with Philadelphia in 2009.

DC: Yeah, a lot of times I was very close. I was very, very close. But the NBA is a game of numbers, it’s a numbers game. So sometimes, you’re good enough to play, but some teams may need something and you’re the one guy that they have to let go. I believe that happened to me twice so far in my career, and I’ve been told that. I can’t hang my head, I’ve never hung my head. I’ve never given up one time. I believe God has His plan for me. I should keep playing hard and keep respecting the game, and just keep giving it my all. I think it will happen. Even if it doesn’t happen this year, it will happen next year.

I look at the guy [Chris] Copeland this year for the Knicks, he was 28. He played really well. I’m never going to give it up.

TW: You’re taking my questions! I was going to ask you about Chris Copeland. He told me he never even got the chance to play in Summer League until 2012. He just had a successful rookie campaign, so you have paid attention to stories like his?

DC: Yeah, for sure. I love stories like that. My favorite story to tell people is me and Wesley Matthews. We came out together [in the 2009 Draft], both of us were undrafted. We went to Orlando, we went to Vegas, and we didn’t really know what was going to happen. He got picked up by the Jazz, and he was just going through camp, not knowing what to expect. He had that one chance in the playoffs, I think a couple of people got hurt, and he played really well against Kobe Bryant. The next year, he signed for $35 million. That right there just showed me you never give up, and a lot could happen. There have been a couple of guys that played in Summer League that got contracts, and Chris Copeland is another great story that is mind-blowing to me. He played Summer League, played well, played preseason, played well, and got some minutes. Now, he’s probably going to get a big contract this year. I tip my hat off to them, I respect them a lot for that.

TW: You’ve talked about coming so close to your NBA dream in the past. How do you personally deal with bouncing back and continuing your career?

DC: Since I was young my dad, he’s like my brother, he’s always told me never to give up. One story that comes to mind when I was young, I think I was like 11 years old, my dad asked me what sport I wanted to play–either football, basketball or baseball. He told me whatever sport I chose, I had to play that sport, he would never let me quit. I chose basketball, and the first time I played basketball, I got cut. I wasn’t that good. Actually, that was my worst sport. I got cut, so he actually went to the coach, and asked the coach, can I continue to practice with the team but just not play games? And the coach said yes, cause he was a good friend of my dad. So I had to go into practice every day with the team that cut me. That right there got me prepared for times like this. I’ve been cut before. The Sixers have cut me. Teams have said no to me. It just motivates me. I think every year I’ve gained from each team that’s released me or has cut me or whatever the case may be. My focus is the same and my game has elevated to another level, so I just want to showcase that this year.

TW: You’ve played in Russia, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel. What have been the best aspects of those experiences because you’ve really traveled the globe?

DC: Yeah, my mom and dad and grandma really say that all the time. I’m only 26 and I’ve seen the world. I get a chance to see the world and play the game that I love to play. That’s the beauty of it. I thank God everyday. When I play, I thank God for the blessings and everything he’s given to me up to this point. A lot of people haven’t seen the things I’ve seen or made the money I’ve made or gotten the opportunities that I’ve gotten.

TW: What is the hardest aspect of having a professional career overseas?

DC: Not seeing your family and being away from home, that’s definitely the hardest part. I’ve been over there for four or five years now. I don’t want to say it’s getting easier, but I’m starting to deal with it better. This year, I didn’t get home until June 21. If I do go back, I would have to go back sometime in August. I get about a month and a half, tops, home, so you have to just cherish the time you have with your family.

TW: How do you view the opportunity of Summer League? 

DC: Going to Summer League, I take it as going to work. There’s 30 teams, and you just need one person, one team to like you. I’m not just playing for the name on my chest, I’m playing for all the teams there, representing themselves and watching Summer League. It’ll be another great opportunity for me. Like I said, I signed a huge deal last year in Russia, and I think it was all because of Summer League and the way I played. I’m not just playing for NBA teams, I’m playing for some of the top level overseas teams [to scout me] as well. It’s going to be another great opportunity for me and to showcase what I can do.

TW: You’re playing for the Jazz, who have a few guard slots opening up because Randy Foye and Mo Williams are free agents. I know the roster isn’t fully shaped yet, but did you break down their situation, and see yourself as a potential fit?

DC: Yeah, for sure. I watched them this year, they had Randy Foye, and in the past they’ve had some good shooters and great playmakers. I definitely could see myself playing there. Throughout the practice today, I picked up some of the things that they do during the season. I think I could definitely could fit in with the Utah Jazz. It’s a great program and I’m just happy to play for them.

TW: You’ve been around some great NBA teams and veterans, like last year with the Celtics. Has anything you’ve seen during practice or any advice you have received stuck with you?

DC: Watching their work ethic, and watching how hard those guys work. Those guys are established Hall of Famers. So just watching that was enough for me, but I definitely talked to those guys personally…talking to Doc Rivers was great too. Doc told me, you know, he definitely thinks that I’m an NBA player, he definitely thinks that I belong in the NBA. Never stop what I’m doing, don’t give up my dream, just keep playing, keep fighting, and things will all fall into place. Doc talked to me for a long time after [the Celtics] released me. I love Doc, he’s a great guy. I’m very happy for him and his new job. He’ll do great things in L.A., I believe.

Author information

Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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Danny Green: Behind the Numbers http://saltcityhoops.com/danny-green-behind-the-numbers/ http://saltcityhoops.com/danny-green-behind-the-numbers/#comments Sat, 15 Jun 2013 17:30:15 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6585 Author information
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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Spurs shooting guard Danny Green has made 19 of the 28 three-point field goals he attempted in the NBA Finals, a blistering 68% on the brightest stage playing for the biggest prize. Through four games, Green leads the team in scoring with 16.5 points. He is among veterans, a trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili specifically, whose 100 playoff victories together rank second all-time amongst trios. While Green has held his own among the battle tested starters in the Spurs lineup and against the elite competition of the Miami Heat, let’s break down some of his other numbers.

46: The spot he was drafted in 2009 by the Cavaliers.

115: The number of minutes he played in 20 games during his rookie campaign.

0: The number of minutes he played in the 2010 playoffs with Cleveland. The Cavaliers lost 4-2 vs the Celtics in the Conference Semifinals.

8: The number of regular season games he played in his first season with the Spurs in 2010-11.

66: The number of games he played in the next season with the Spurs (every game considering it was a shortened season). He started 38.

80: The number of games and starts in 2012-13.

115: The number of 3-pt field goals made in his first three NBA seasons combined

177: The number of 3-point field goals made this season, ranked 8th in the NBA.

47: The number of 3-point field goals made this postseason, which leads all players.

18: The number of playoff games he started for the Spurs in 2013.

32: The number of minutes he has played per game in the Finals vs former teammate LeBron James.

The path to greatness is often cloaked in rejection. Green’s NBA career, after four seasons at UNC, has been defined by the consistent need to prove himself in a game that is as much about opportunity as it is talent.

He spent time in the D-League. He was waived. And waived again. Talent without opportunity is just a promise, often unfulfilled. Green’s opportunities would come, and he stayed ready.

In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, with the series tied 1-1, he erupted for 27 points to lead all scorers. He shot nine of 15 from the field, including seven of nine from beyond the arc. LeBron James, the teammate Green once cheered on from the bench and scrimmaged against in practice, was limited to 15 points in the loss. While it is certainly not a James vs Green matchup or comparison, there is an element of irony in the Finals face-off. For James, the four-time MVP and 2012 Finals MVP, this stage has been expected, if not almost predestined. For Green, a place in the league seemed like a long shot at times. He could have won a championship with the Cavaliers as an afterthought. With the Spurs, he is integral.

In the postgame press conference, Green reflected on his childhood days as a fan watching playoff games and press conferences.  “I watched hundreds of them…I never thought I’d be up here talking to you guys now,” he said.

Asked by a reporter if he thought he would ever be in a position to outscore former teammate LeBron James in an NBA Finals game, Green responded, “No. Never thought in a million years that would happen.”

While the numbers don’t define Green, they represent the tangible evidence of an ongoing journey. Many players face similar obstacles, as the road ahead is filled with the uncertainty of whether opportunity will ever be afforded and talent will ever be realized. The only constant that connects journeymen–players of different ilk looking for their shot, their chance to prove they deserve a place–is that good things can only happen if one stays ready for them.

 

 

Author information

Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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