Green eager to shine in NBA Summer League

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

Erick Green is just going to be himself.

The former Millbrook standout and Winchester native is headed back to the NBA Summer League this weekend in Las Vegas, and Green has a different attitude than he had last year a month after being drafted.

“Coming out of college everybody was saying he can only score, he’s not an ultimate true point guard,” Green said in a phone interview earlier this week from Denver. “So last year I was trying to show everybody that I was a true point guard instead of just being myself. This year I want to show that I’m a scoring point guard who can make plays and make things happen. If it doesn’t work out for me, at least I’ll go out being who I am.”

Green, who led the NCAA in scoring his senior year at Virginia Tech, was drafted last year by the Utah Jazz with the 46th overall pick (second round), and was then traded to the Nuggets.

Green signed a one-year deal with the Nuggets and played in the NBA Summer League last year, but the Nuggets did not keep him on their roster. Green then signed with Montepaschi Siena of the Italian League.

Green said he’s happy to be playing in the summer league again this year and get another chance to make the Nuggets’ roster. The Nuggets’ first game is Saturday against the Toronto Raptors at 6 p.m.

“It’s a good opportunity for me,” Green said. “I’m excited. I learned a lot from being overseas last year.”

The Nuggets currently have three point guards on the team with Ty Lawson, Aaron Brooks and Nate Robinson. They also have rookie Gary Harris, who they drafted last month out of Michigan State. Harris is on the summer league roster, and there are several other point guards on the team as well.

One of those point guards is Georgetown University alum Chris Wright, who played in France last year, and is also one of Green’s best friends.

“It’s tough. We’re friends off the court, but once we step on the court we get after it,” Green said of Wright.

One thing that should definitely help Green is his experience playing for Siena. Green said the game was more of a half-court game in the Italian League, and that helped him become a better, smarter player.

“I think I learned to be more poised and not to rush things,” Green said. “It was a great experience. The atmosphere was crazy.”

Green said there were riots at the games, and fans threw stuff onto the court at times.
Green played in 45 games this season and averaged 10.8 points and 1.1 assists per game. He averaged 21.1 minutes per game, and made 56.4 percent (155-for-275) of his shots. He also shot 34.0 percent (34-for-100) from 3-point range.

“There’s a lot of good competition in Europe,” Green said. “I don’t think most people realize how good the players are in Europe.”

Siena made it to the Italian League Championship, but lost four games to three to EA7 Armani. Siena held a 3-2 lead in the series but lost the last two games, including a heart-breaker in Game 6 (74-72) on a buzzer-beater. Siena was up six heading into the fourth quarter in Game 7, but EA7 rallied for a 74-67 win.

“There’s nothing like trying to win a championship,” Green said. “We had a chance to pull it out and just didn’t get it done. In Game 7, we were up five or six and they came back and stole it from us.”

Green led Siena in Game 7 with 15 points.

The final game was held on June 27, making for a very long season. Green said the team started to get ready for the 2013-14 season last August. The first game was played on Oct. 13.

“It’s been tough, my body hasn’t had a chance to rest,” Green said. “Hopefully, I’ll do well in the summer league and then I can take a nice vacation.”

Green said his agent has been keeping tabs on free agency, and if it doesn’t work out with Denver he believes Green can catch on with another NBA team.

Green said that he would consider going overseas again if he had to go that route. He said he will do whatever he has to do to make his dream of playing in the NBA come true.

“At one point when I was in Italy the thought went through my mind to just pack it up and go home and be done with it,” Green said. “But then you look at the stories of guys like [San Antonio Spurs] Danny Green and [Charlotte Hornets] Gary Neal and they played like two seasons in the [NBA] D-league. You just have to be patient.

“I truly believe I’m going to be playing in the NBA one day, if it’s not this year it will happen at some other point. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there, just being able to get there is what counts.”

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd