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Expert weighs in on Josh Green’s NBA draft stock and pro potential

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Josh Green is the last of Arizona’s three heralded freshmen to make his NBA Draft intentions known, but he is expected to join Nico Mannion and Zeke Nnaji in the professional ranks when that time comes.

And even though Green didn’t post huge numbers in his freshman season— averaging 12 points and 4.6 rebounds on 42 percent shooting—that wouldn’t be a mistake, according to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic.

Yes, even if it means spending time in the G League, a path that is becoming more common, and accepted, for young players these days.

“I’ve heard that he’s just a mentally tough kid that is going to be able to deal with the adversity that comes with this,” Vecenie said. “For me, it’s just all about is his skill level good enough to play in the halfcourt? And that’s gonna be something that he has to prove at the next level and how he proves that will go a long way toward his NBA future.”

Still, Vecenie thinks it’s plausible that Green actually makes a quicker impact in the league than Mannion and Nnaji.

“Absolutely terrific on-ball defender, it’s the first skill that he’s going to be able to bring to the table,” Vecenie said of Green, who’s listed at 6-5 with a 6-10 wingspan. “NBA coaches, in terms of guys who get on the floor early, they really like guys who have great defensive awareness and the athleticism to be able to play at the NBA level. I think Josh will actually be able to get on the floor relatively early. It’s just a question of what do you do with him on offense. Obviously he runs really well, he’s a good transition player, can even handle the ball a little bit. But I don’t think he handled it well enough to be more than like a secondary ball handler. And obviously, I’m a little bit more worried about the jump shot than some people seem to be. I don’t love the mechanics on it.

“He has like a pretty unnatural right arm bend that I think is going to portend some inaccuracy as you see with the way that his percentages fluctuated throughout the course of year. He closed at 36.1 percent. If you have to extend out beyond the NBA 3-point line and start to take more than 83 shots in a 30-game sample, I think that you’re going to start to see some questions with Green’s shooting arise. And if he can’t shoot it, I don’t really know what you do with them in the halfcourt setting, so that’s why I’m a little bit lower than some people seem to be on Josh Green. But I do think it is likely he gets taken somewhere in the top-35 and absolutely gets a multi-year guaranteed contract.”

Vecenie has Green ranked No. 33 on his big board, a little lower than most of his colleagues in the industry.

In a normal year, Green would have a chance to boost his stock by working out for NBA personnel, but such events could be virtually non-existent this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

The draft, as of now, is still scheduled for June 25.

“I think it’s harder for guys to make the case that there were situational issues holding them back,” Vecenie said. “I don’t necessarily mean to throw Arizona’s guys into that bucket, but I think in general for guys who may not have been as successful, such as a Nico Mannion, as they expected coming into the year, it makes it harder for them to prove what their skills are because it’s just not going to be a situation where they can go into a workout and knock down 75 out of 100 3-pointers at the end of a draft workout.

“So I’d be interested to see what the pre-draft process looks like. I think the big part of it is that it’s very uncertain. We don’t know when the draft is going to be yet. I think it goes as scheduled, but I think there’s also a pretty real chance it gets moved back and we do get some sort of workouts. But it’s so uncertain at this stage that it’s really hard to gauge how this is all going to impact everything.”

Check out Sam’s full big board here.