Austin Spurs' Jarell Eddie takes the Danny Green path

By Lorne Chan

CEDAR PARK – Basketball players can be torn between spending a season overseas or joining the NBA Development League, but that was never the case for the Austin Spurs forward Jarell Eddie.

Because Eddie he has an NBA blueprint in Danny Green.

Green is the San Antonio Spurs’ 6-foot-6 sharpshooter from the University of North Carolina, who spent two months with the Reno Bighorns in 2010-11 before he signed with the Spurs.

Like Green, Eddie went to an ACC school (Virginia Tech), using his 6-7 frame, long-range accuracy and quick shooting release to spread the floor. When the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics waived Eddie in October, he said he knew his next option would be the Danny Green route.

“I look at the way Danny rose up in the Spurs organization, and the way he can knock down shots, but also does the little things,” Eddie said last week. “I look at him, and I know what I have to do to make it myself. ”

Eddie is shooting .422 (97 of 230) from behind the arc, and the quick release also showed when he won the NBADL 3-point contest in February.

When he won the contest during the NBA’s All-Star weekend, Eddie stuck around to watch the NBA three-point shootout as well. He noted that five of the eight competitors were 6-5 or taller, with similar builds as Eddie. And Atlanta’s Kyle Korver, another player Eddie has modeled his game after, turned his shooting ability into an All-Star selection.

“Shooting’s a premium at the NBA level,” Eddie said. “With the release that I have and the size that I have, I’ve always had the mindset the I’m an NBA player. Now, it's clear that if you keep working in the D-League, someone will spot you.”

When the NBA calls, Eddie will be the third Austin Spur to reach the NBA this season. JaMychal Green signed 10-day contracts with the Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies, before he recently signed a multi-year deal with Memphis. Bryce Cotton is on his first 10-day contract with the Utah Jazz.

Eddie is averaging 11.9 points and 3.3 rebounds through 37 games in Austin, but what has impressed Austin Spurs coach Ken McDonald the most is his willingness to improve as a defender.

“Jarell obviously has a coveted skillset that he can flat-out shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor,” McDonald said. “The biggest thing is that he’s really embraced becoming a better defender on the ball and off the ball. The strides he’s taken have really reminded us of why we’re here and what we’re accomplishing.”

That’s a familiar tale for Green.

Green calls himself a “normal guy” compared to other talents in the NBA. He may be able to shoot, but said intangibles he picked up in the NBADL helped him make a leap professionally.

“It lights a fire under you to see what it really takes to make it to the NBA,” Green said. “So you spend that extra time picking up things defensively. I feel like I’m the guy they look at a lot of times because I just worked really hard and can shoot the ball. Us D-League guys didn’t have the easiest path, but it’s a path that’s worth taking.”

The biggest transition for Eddie from college has been the speed and spacing of the pro game.

He said the adjustment to the NBA 3-point line was easy compared to the fast decision-making required when facing NBA-level opponents and a 24-second shot clock vs. the NCAA’s 35 seconds.

“Spacing is so much different with how fast everything moves here,” Eddie said. “We play 0.5 basketball here. You have to make a decision in 0.5 seconds, whether it’s shoot, pass or attack. That’s what you need so the ball isn’t in one place at a time.”

For now, the NBADL 3-point trophy currently sits on a counter at the front door of Jarell Eddie’s apartment.

Following the path of Danny Green and an ever-growing list of D-League players who have graduated to the NBA, Eddie won’t be staying in the same apartment for long.