Michigan State forward Draymond Green (6-foot-7, 230-pounds) spent a little over an hour working out for the Hawks coaching staff Tuesday morning. Green was a consensus first-team All-American and the Big Ten Player of the Year last season before the Saginaw native led the Spartans with 17.7 points per game and 13.7 rebounds per game in their NCAA Tournament run.
Kentucky guard Darius Miller (6-foot-8, 235-pounds) was scheduled to join Green in the workout, but a hamstring injury forced him to pull out of the workout. Miller plans to reschedule his workout and he was replaced in today’s workout by troubled Alabama forward Tony Mitchell (6-foot-6, 210-pounds).
For Larry Drew, the workouts are a chance to evaluate the players at the NBA level.
“We look for the NBA skill, if they can do the things necessary to play on this level,” said Drew. “Obviously you hope to get a guy that can make shots and can defend. These guys were all great on the college level, but it’s our job to make sure that talent will transfer to this level.”
Green’s showing at the workout impressed the coaching staff, and Drew raved about Green’s abilities and versatility.
“I like him a lot,” gushed Drew. “I think all of his intangibles that he brings to the table, he’s going to make somebody a fine player. I don’t think there’s enough players like him that bring a little bit of everything to the game. I think he’s going to be a terrific NBA player.”
Drew elaborated on Green’s versatility and where he felt Green would fit in an NBA rotation.
“He’s a guy that can make shots, he can post down low, a great defensive player, and he’s great making plays averaging around three assists a game,” said Drew. “He’s a guy that brings a little bit of everything to the table and he’s just a tremendous kid.”
“I think he can develop into a (small forward),” continued Drew. “I think he has the versatility to where you can move him around. A lot depends on matchups, but I think he has the footspeed [for the small forward] and the size to play the (power forward). I think that’s just going to be a plus for him to be able to move to the three or the four. This league is moving towards that versatile player that can play multiple positions, and he certainly fits that profile.”
Green highlighted his versatility when asked about where he thought he would fit in the Hawks system.
“I’m a big NBA fan so I’ve seen plenty of the Hawks,” said Green. “I think I would fit in well at either the 3 or the 4 in this system. There are a lot of established guys here, but you have to come in and find your niche.”
As for the Hawks draft strategy, Drew said it was simple.
“We are going to take the best player available,” revealed Drew. “At the position we are drafting there are going to be some names that are intriguing. Some big guys and some perimeter guys, but collectively we are going to have to keep a close eye on who is going to be there and hopefully we make a selection and get a player that can come in and help us.”
Green is a nice player, but there are definite questions about his ability to make an impact in the NBA. At 6-foot-7, he’s a bit undersized at power forward and there are serious questions as to whether he could be successful defending at small forward. Green’s biggest issue, at his own admission, is movement.
“I’m trying to improve my foot speed and defensive quickness,” admitted Green.
For Green to succeed at the three-spot in the NBA, he’ll have to defend some of the strongest players in the league, and if quickness is an issue, he’ll struggle. What should concern Hawks fans most is how much Green seems to fit the mold of what the Hawks like in a player. He is average at two positions, not great at any one thing, an average outside shooter, average post-player, but maintains the ability to offer flexibility in positioning and rotation.
The Hawks brass loves the idea of versatility, but the lack of success deep in the playoffs has to beg the question of whether having a team of flex players is really the best option.
Outside of Jeff Teague at the point and Zaza Pachulia at center, it is difficult to pin down exactly what position the other players are. Joe Johnson (SG/SF), Josh Smith (SF/PF/C), Marvin Williams (SF/PF) and Al Horford (PF/C) all fall into that flex category. While that can create certain mismatches and advantages for the Hawks athletically, there are many times, especially against the top competition, when the Hawks struggle to match up with players that more traditionally fit their positional roles.
The Hawks need to add versatility to their lineup in a different way this offseason: by picking up traditional position players. Adding a true center or power forward that will stay in the post and pound the glass or adding a backup point guard that passes first on offense and will harass the ball-handler on defense would improve the team much more than adding yet another athlete without a true position.