Green ready to back up fellow first-rounder Durant
Seattle Times staff reporter
Jeff Green is not on the cover of ESPN the Magazine, and his face isn't splashed across the newest video game. He's not co-starring in the latest commercials, nor is he poised to sign a $60 million shoe deal.
Those distinctions belong to Kevin Durant, Seattle's top draft pick and the most marketable rookie to enter the NBA since LeBron James in 2003.
Green, for lack of a better term, is the other guy. Taken three slots after Durant at No. 5 in Thursday's draft, he arrived to Seattle via a trade with Boston that shipped Ray Allen to the Celtics.
The past 48 hours for the Sonics have been all about Durant and Allen. And fair or unfair, Green will forever be linked to both players.
He's going to be remembered as the player who was traded for a seven-time All-Star.
"I was just honored to be put in the same category with Ray Allen," Green said. "He's probably one of the top 50 players in the NBA. It's just an honor. But things happen for a reason. I'm here and he's in Boston, so there's not really much I can say about that."
And Green will be tied to Durant, a fellow Washington, D.C., native with whom who grew up playing basketball in Maryland's Prince George's County. Green attended public school at Northwestern High in Hyattsville, while Durant went to private Montrose Christian in Suitland.
"It helps to have Kevin here so we can go through this together," Green said. "We're both young guys who had winning ways since we've been to college and we come from the same area. So I think that will make things a lot easier for myself and Kevin, especially the way we play. We're very versatile, and it will open a lot on the floor."
Any other year, Green wouldn't receive second billing. But this isn't any other year.
"I may be the Big East Player of the Year, but that's the National Player of the Year standing over there," he said, pointing at Durant. "With the season that Kevin had, I understand. He's very marketable and he deserves all the credit he gets."
It would seem Green had better become accustomed to standing in Durant's shadow.
"I don't need the spotlight," said Green, who described himself as laid-back and easy-going. "I don't need it at all. I can go out and still play 40-plus minutes and do what I can to help my team to win. As long as my team wins."
During three seasons at Georgetown, Green did a little bit of everything for the Hoyas. He ranks 17th in scoring, 16th in rebounding and 12th in assists on the school's all-time lists.
Sonics general manager Sam Presti said Green developed into an exceptional passer because of Georgetown's system, which features the Princeton offense. That system, which stresses teamwork, might also be the reason why Green never averaged more than 14.3 points in a season with the Hoyas.
"Playing in a system that he has, I think he's probably been hidden a little bit," Presti said. "From those that have seen him play in venues other than the Georgetown system, they have a better understanding as to what it is that this guy brings to the table."
Tony Dickens, who coached Green for three high-school seasons, remembers the day they met six years ago.
"I've been coaching for 19 years," he said. "When I took over in '01, he was a sophomore and we had open gym. I turned to one of my assistant coaches and said, 'He's going to be a pro.' It was his shot. The shot from what I've seen at Georgetown, fundamentally it's the same. The shot is mechanically sound.
"Then there's the desire. He just gotten better and better every year."
Said father Jeff Green Sr. :"He developed a love for the game early on. But Jeff really came into his own working with Coach [John Thompson III] at Georgetown. That's where he learned the team game. Jeff likes sharing. His game is a team game. He wants everybody to be successful."
Taras Brown, who coached Durant's AAU team in D.C., watched Green develop as a teenager. He believes the Sonics' rookies can share the court -- even though both are 6 feet 9.
"It definitely can work," Brown said. "They'll have to look for and take advantage of the mismatches. Most nights, Kevin is going to have the mismatch and Jeff is going to have the freedom to move around."
Aside from basketball, Dickens said the Sonics are fortunate to have taken Green.
"You guys out there in Seattle, you're getting a great young man," he said. "You're not going to have any problems with him or any of that craziness. The one thing about Maryland, we produce good basketball players, but we produce even better people."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
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