Nuggets prospect Erick Green benefits from overseas experience

Former NCAA scoring leader developed while in the Italian League
by Aaron Lopez

After four years of college at Virginia Tech, Erick Green headed overseas for a postgraduate course in international basketball.

He is hoping his studies abroad will help launch his career in the NBA.

Green, a year removed from leading the NCAA in scoring, is among the 16 players on the Denver Nuggets’ summer-league roster. The Nuggets acquired his rights in a draft-night trade with the Utah Jazz on June 27, 2013, and then watched him develop with Montepaschi Siena of the Italian League.

The 10-month experience with Siena proved to be eye-opening and educational for the 23-year-old Green, who was the youngest player on his team.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “Being the youngest on the team, you have to grow up fast. I had a demanding coach (Marco Crespi). If it wasn’t his way, you weren’t playing. It made me grow up a lot and showed me how a pro ballplayer really has to be. I think it’s going to help me this summer.”

Green averaged 11.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists for Siena, which advanced to the Italian League finals before falling to Armani Milan in seven games. The series ended June 27, giving Green just 10 days to fly home, visit his family and report to Denver to prepare for the Samsung Summer League with the Nuggets.

“It was the longest season of my life,” he said. “I’m in great condition.”

Along the way, Green learned the importance of game preparation and film study. He also developed a confidence and identity that was missing at times when he played for the Nuggets at the summer league last year. Hoping to show he could be more than just a scorer, he tried to be a facilitator. In six games, he averaged a modest 9.3 points and 1.8 assists.

“Last year, I had people telling me that I wasn’t a point guard,” he said. “I’m a scoring point guard. I’m going to score. I’m going to make things happen. I think I got away from that and tried to show people things that weren’t me.”

From Stephen Curry and Ty Lawson to Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook to John Wall and Isaiah Thomas, the scoring point guard has become a staple throughout the NBA.

While Green doesn’t pretend to be at that level, he wants to follow their blueprint for success.

“I can do both,” he said. “Last year, they wanted me to do that and instead I was showing them I could be a passer. Not this year, though. I’m going to be who I am – score the ball and make plays. Let’s get it done this year.”