Erick Green is coming home. Well, to be more accurate, he is coming back to the team that drafted him.
Many will remember that the Jazz selected Green with the 46th pick in the 2013 Draft, doing so for the Denver Nuggets, with whom they had consummated a trade earlier that night. Who came back to Utah in the deal? One Rudy Gobert. That certainly turned out well for the Jazz.
But now that he is an official Jazzman, Green will no longer be a footnote in the franchise’s history. With swingman J.J. O’Brien’s 10-day contract expiring, the Utah Jazz inked the 6’4″ guard to take his place. Who is he and why does this move make sense for Utah?
Erick Green is a high-scoring guard who was a four-year player at Virginia Tech. Through hard work and perseverance, he improved his scoring, field goal percentage, assists and rebounds each season. As senior, he led the entire nation in scoring, pouring in 25.0 PPG. Green displayed a well-round offensive repertoire, doing damage at the basket, from downtown (38.9 percent) and from the charity stripe (8.3 FTA per outing). He chipped in 4.0 APG, 3.8 RPG and 1.3 SPG, earned ACC Player of the Year honors along the way1. The Hokies finished with just a 13-19 record, which probably affected Green’s draft standing.
Even so, Green’s penchant for scoring helped earn him many workouts with NBA teams, including one with the Jazz. Interestingly enough, Green and Gobert worked out for Utah on the same day2. He did enough in his tryout with the Nuggets to grab their attention.
After a so-so showing for Denver’s summer league entry that summer, he decided to spent a year honing his game in Italy. The Nuggets brought him back, and his improvement earned Green a three-year pact. Green played minimally as a rookie, averaging 3.4 PPG in 9.5 MPG. Despite doing well again in summer league and preseason, the Nuggets cut him a few games into this season.
Since then, he has been tearing it up with the Reno Bighorns in the D-League. Green has poured in 26.7 PPG — second in the league — and is doing so very efficiently: 53.3 FG%, 48.1 3% and 88.5 FT%. He has become a high volume 3-point shooting, attempting 6.7 treys per game. That has to be something that helped catch Utah’s eye. He is also bringing 4.4 APG, 3.6 RPG and 1.4 SPG to the table. Thanks to all this, he sits on the top of the D-League Prospect Watch list.
The Jazz picking him up makes a lot of sense, even if it is for just 10 days. First. with the extent of Raul Neto’s concussion not yet known, a guy who can play some spot minutes at point guard is a plus. Chances are, a majority of the ball-handling responsibilities will be doled out to Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood, but having another capable guard is sound insurance. With the way the injury situation has played out for Utah this season, Green may be needed for some spot minutes right away.
Second, the Jazz desperately need some help in the scoring department. There have been some dismal offensive spells in recent games, most of which have contributed to some stinging losses. No one will expect Green to be a solution, but he might be able to provide some spark off the bench.
Third, at age 24, he has upside. He has a unique ability to shoot, facilitate and cause some problems defensively. Green has solid size at the point guard spot, and given his scoring propensity, can swing over to shooting guard. Many NBA types seem pretty high on him.
Fourth, given their experience scouting him in college and the D-League, as well as working him out, Utah must like him. While they may once again rotate guys in and out with the 15th roster spot, the Jazz will never bring someone in whom they do not see some potential. Remember the Jazz’s ever-present desire to search high and low for another diamond in the rough. One never knows when someone will prove his worth.
So, at least for a week and some change, Erick Green is a Jazzman. He could be an intriguing addition to the mix.