While many of the elite members of this terrific freshman class have taken their game and their teams to an entirely new level as the regular season comes to a close, one of its most talented playersDonte Greene
has not shared the same fortune.
Greene is still the same super-scoring oversized wing player oozing with NBA potentialstanding 6-10 or possibly even 6-11, with a terrific frame, smooth athleticism, and uncommon mobility and coordination for a player his size. He seems to have hit a bit of a wall late in the season, though, after averaging over 35 minutes per game for 30 games now, as his team has been crippled by injuries and has basically nothing to turn to off the bench, and the fatigue now seems to be catching up. Syracuse looks to be outside the bubble at the moment, and will likely miss the NCAA tournament unless they string together a few wins in the Big East tournament.
Greene has become more and more of a spot-up shooter as the year progresses, attempting over 50% of his shots from behind the arc on the season, but seeing his accuracy drop to a miserable 28.7% in 17 Big East conference games thus far (32.9% total). At his size, Greene can get his shot off virtually whenever he pleases, which is precisely part of the problem, since hes shown very little self-restraint. His 7.3 3-point attempts per game ranks him 3rd
amongst all players on our 08 or 09 mock drafts.
Whats ironic is that he actually has one of the prettier shots youll find in this draft, blessed with picture perfect mechanics, a high release point, and a very quick release. The problem is that his shot-selection has been poor, as hes fallen into some of the same selfishness that has plagued his entire team (particularly Paul Harris
) in Big East play. Greene has been taking too many rushed, off-balance, contested shots as of late, not fully setting his feet, contorting his body unnecessarily, and thus not getting the kind of accuracy he enjoyed earlier in the season. Regardless of whether his shot has been falling, hes continued to take them (he attempted sixteen 3-pointers in a single game a few weeks back), and thus has shot his team out of a few games.
As the year moves on, the scouting report has gotten out to a certain extent about how best to neutralize his potent scoringfurther aided of course by the injuries and lack of depth Syracuse suffers from. Teams are forcing him more and more to his off-hand (his left), which hes not particularly comfortable operating with at the moment. Hes struggling to beat players off the dribble, and has thus failed to emerge as the shot-creator Syracuse needs in their half-court offense. Not being incredibly explosive finishing around the rim, and possibly lacking some toughness at times going through contact, hes had his problems finishing his drives in traffic, and isnt getting to the free throw line at a particularly high rate. To his credit, hes responded by showing a better post game than we had seen earlier in the year, hitting some beautiful jump-hooks and turn-around jump-shots, even if it hasnt been on a consistent enough basis.
Defensively, its never easy to evaluate Syracuse players because of how heavily they rely on their zone defense. There might be some question marks about how hed be able to defend NBA small forwards, though, considering that he at times struggles to stay in front of players attacking him off the dribble, getting stuck flatfooted on the perimeter. He does have excellent size, length and a good frame, and seems to be a fairly smart player, so he should be able to become at least decent in this area down the road if hes willing to commit himself. He picks up a solid number of blocks and steals already within Syracuses zone.
Were definitely holding Greene to a high standard here, especially considering that hes just a freshman, as he obviously has the potential to emerge as one of the most talented players in the NCAA. Considering his size, tools, and scoring instincts at the small forward position, its hard to see him not getting drafted somewhere in the lottery, even despite his struggles this season, as he has more upside than any small forward in this draft. From what we understand, its still somewhat up in the air whether he enters the draft this year or not, although it seems like if he gets word that hell be taken in the lottery, he will probably leave. Hes the type of player that will look phenomenal in private workouts, and thus could see his stock bounce right back into the top 10 fairly quickly. He wont be rolling into the NBA on the red carpet (with the huge endorsement deals and marketing hype that goes along with that) thoughhed need another year in college to achieve that most likely.