So, if you don’t like the title and where this is headed, bye!
Today, Jason Jones wrote a piece about Donte Greene having a good practice. I wonder what this means. NOT A FUCKING THING.
I’m always of the view that you don’t spend too much determining a young players fate so early in the game. Players like, oh, Donte Greene, Omri Casspi and Jon Brockman. Unlike Casspi or Brockman, however, Greene seems to generate a certain aura of negativity from fans who are expecting more.
May I remind he’s the 28th pick of the 2008 draft? (Do I need to trot out every 28th pick made this decade? Me thinks I do.)
2009: Wayne Ellington (Minnesota)
2008: Extra E!
2007: Arron Affalo (On Denver’s roster)
2006: Maurice Ager (out of the league; not sure where he is)
2005: Ian Mahinmi (Spurs roster; hasn’t played much due to injury and lack of development)
2004: Beno Udrih (Don’t–please don’t okay?)
2003: Leandro Barbosa (Drafted by Spurs; traded to Phoenix on draft day–yes the Spurs point has merit so wait for it)
2002: Dan Dickau (By the Kings; traded to Atlanta on draft day)
2001: Tony Parker (Drafted by Spurs)
2000: Erick Barkley (washed out of the league quickly)
Notice something? 28 is a special spot this decade because of the Spurs. Is it really a surprise that in a screwball draft like 2001 that Tony Parker (if not the best player; the 2nd best player) and the Spurs came out on top? Take Parker and Barbosa out of the equation. Who is the next best player? Arron Affalo if you ask some. I would be willing to bet that if you ask any NBA GM whose been around the last 10-20 years, they might tell you that Donte Greene has the most talent of any player on the list sans Parker.
Are you expecting Donte Greene to be an All-Star?
Donte Greene is 21 years old. Don’t put him in a hole before he gets there. The Kings organization will wash their hands of their 2nd cheapest player on the roster if he is not what they are hoping. Donte Greene, 2 years from now, if he gets to that point with the Kings, will be making just under 1.7 million dollars. In his 3rd season (next season), just a bit over 930K.
Is that worth giving up too early on a project? Me thinks not. After reading Rip City Project earlier, I think the fella, Coup, who wrote this piece on Travis Outlaw has a great point:
So let’s appreciate what Travis Outlaw has done in six seasons. In 2003 he was drafted to a team that would begin a stretch of three losing seasons bookended by 41 win years and zero playoff appearances. Not to mention he was drafted by a franchise that, at the time, rivaled the Oakland Raiders in terms of dysfunction, discord and overall dismal-everything. They’re only All-Stars were only All-Stars on “All-Mugshot” fantasy basketball teams. We’ve even heard stories about local writers being warned about getting sucker punched in the locker room. So comes along an unheralded, unassuming 19-year old from Starkville, MS (of around 20,000 people) and…how the hell was he supposed to succeed in that environment?
Now, I recognize the situations of Donte and Travis Outlaw are not real similar. First, the Blazers organization was far worse in 2004 than the Kings organization is now in 2009. (That would be the main point.) Ignoring that, though, the other part was that Outlaw went from a young project to a reasonable player paid at a reasonable price for what he does on the court (which is score in a variety of ways other Blazers cannot). The other (minor from where I stand) difference is that Outlaw was outta HS, and was drafted at 23rd overall in 2003.
Okay. I understand 23 is a bit higher than 28, but it’s not like a ton more 23 picks have succeeded this decade than 28 picks.
Maybe Donte Greene doesn’t turn out to be an All-Star, but, as far as I’m concerned, I would be happy with Donte being an effective rotation player. All-Star? This isn’t the late 90′s. Teams don’t get nervous about HS players like they have throughout the HS draft years. If Donte ever becomes an All-Star, I can promise that I never expected it to happen within the first 4-5 years at a bare minimum.
The first step to being an All-Star is being one of the best players, if not the best, on your team. Donte hasn’t been able to crack the rotation so far up to this point.
Which brings me to this point about Paul Westphal and what he said about Donte:
“He’s not going to be the first option, the second option or probably the third option on offense,” Westphal said of Greene. “And when you catch the ball, take early shots and miss, it’s like you have a flashing sign on your shirt saying, ‘Take me out, please.’ He’s got to learn what his role is.”
Now, I recognize Donte does have issue’s with this. But, at what point do you expect him to not take shots that he ends up becoming a detriment on offense? Donte may need to crack the rotation by being a stopper on D. I can respect that, and it’s not unreasonable for PW to ask that of Donte for this team at this time. No problem there.
My problem is how is taking 3 shots in 7 minutes, 1 of those a 3, can be considered as excessive? I can understand if PW was making a general point, but I get the feeling that it had more to do with the “type” of shots he took up in Portland. In fact, I believe if PW had wanted to make his feelings known about “last season” with regards to Donte, he would have done so directly. It’s not that hard to say,” Well, last season, you know, he took too many shots without looking around for options that should have had the ball in their hands.” Or some such. It took me all of 25 secs to write that quote up. PW does not lack lung power as anyone who has ever heard him talk live will tell you.
I think we found the reason that Donte sat in the 2nd game vs Portland last week. (As if we didn’t already know.) He took shots that were ill-advised according to PW. That’s fine, too. Why not just say that then? If I had to guess, it was because PW already made his point. Why make a player dwell longer than he has to when he’s 21 years old? My guess is that PW was making a point, not just to Donte, but to Omri Casspi as well, that getting shot happy is not wise when you’re not a top 3 option on offense. Donte or Omri are not likely to ever be top 3 options for the Kings. In my limited view of Donte and Omri, only Donte seems to have that LEVEL of talent. Omri’s strengths are not in that area. The good news is that Omri is already 7-8 in pre-season. That’s the type of efficiency that PW is looking for in a reserve forward. It’s a good lesson for Donte. Hopefully, Omri can learn it as well. (I don’t think that’s a major issue though.)
Later in the story, I found this note more telling than the PW quote:
Westphal said Sunday’s practice was Greene’s best of training camp. Greene attributed that to making hustle plays, attacking the basket and getting out on fast breaks.
I don’t care how you look at this. If Donte can figure that out, and find a way to be a reasonable running mate alongside Omri Casspi, the development of Francisco Garcia’s awful (not to mention a fucked up irritating one) injury may not turn out to be a bad thing. It may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
None of that, though, was something that I would have said was potentially possible a month ago. If anything, Donte Greene has (in my eyes) become the most compelling useful story to gauge how PW handles his young talent. Given that there is 8 players 25 or younger on this roster, that patience PW seemingly has had may be the only real story by the time the end of the season rolls around.
What do I know right now? 2 games into pre-season and the jockeying over where players and what lineup’s should happen has begun. If we were talking ideally, I would say it would be pretty incredible for the Kings to have Omri Casspi as the starting SF because of the potential compliment he provides to the starting lineup. I think Greene and Nocioni could be a very valuable wrecking crew because of each players versatility. Without a player of Garcia’s skills or versatility out for at least two-third’s of the season, what else could you ask? (Shit does happen to the best of us even when we have the best of intentions.)
Now, the trick for Greene, and maybe the rest of us, too, is to survive the rest of training camp without being the shot maker or shot caller. Can he do it? Yeah, if I knew that answer I wouldn’t be writing this blog. I’d be sitting on a beach with a naked Megan Fox somewhere sipping Dos Equis Lager imported because I can do that. What do you think the odds are of that happening sometime soon?
The point? Get used to crackpot off the wall type analysis at EC Inc. If not us, then whom? As far as Donte? Yeah, we’re hoping. Because a valuable Donte Greene isn’t just valuable to the Kings, but possibly other teams. Which then means you can start talking about netting major asset’s in return.
Isn’t that a pretty way to hope that your team maximizes it’s talent opportunities so that it always has a better chance to improve it’s team via a trade? So, in order to apply this to Donte, that while I would hope his development helps the Kings on the court, at the very worst I also hope that he develops so that the Kings have a quality trade asset at a time in the NBA where cheap productive asset’s may be worth their weight in gold.
If you hate Donte right now, isn’t that among the best reasons to root for him to develop? Me and Myself thinks so. (I is a douchebag. Ignore him.)