Donte Greene Named Jordan Game MVP

Donte Greene was named the MVP of the Jordan All-American Classic after turning in a dominating 20 point performance on Saturday evening. Greene scored inside and outside in his team's 127-119 loss and showed a degree of versatility that is very rare in a player his size. The only hole in his game was his inability to contribute on the glass like he contributed in the scoring column.

Game Assessment: The players were arbitrarily divided into two teams, named after the color of their jerseys (royal and yellow). The yellow team won 127-119 largely due to their superior guard play from the trio of Derrick Rose, Corey Fisher, and Jai Lucas. These three players controlled the tempo and flow of the game much better than their counterparts on the royal team (Kalin Lucas and Chris Wright).

Up close and personal with Donte Greene.

The yellow team opened up an early double digit lead and maintained it for most of the game. Fisher generated the first "ooh/ahh" play with a vicious crossover and finish on a fastbreak about two minutes into the game. Fisher would eventually win MVP for the yellow team with his 12 point, 10 assist performance, but I felt that Derrick Rose was the better point guard prospect in terms of long-term potential.

Fisher and Greene shared MVP honors.

Donte Greene helped to spark a late comeback for the royal team, pulling them within one point at 115-114 with just over 2 minutes left. He showed the ability to consistently hit pull-up mid to long range jumpers off the dribble, and also broke down the defense with a baseline drive and pass to Kosta Koufos for a dunk. However, a three-point play by Duke-bound Kyle Singler and a Derrick Rose steal and assist to Jeff Robinson for a windmill dunk sealed the victory for yellow.

Greene finished the game with 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the field and 4 of 7 from the line. He started the game slowly as he was matched up against physically imposing Blake Griffin. Early in the game, Griffin scored over Greene with a smooth spin dribble and finish. On the other end, Greene had problems with Griffin's strength and couldn't get anything going on the inside. Eventually he took Griffin to the perimeter, then blew by him and connected on a floating one-handed bank shot for his first basket of the evening. While Greene missed the ensuing free throw, he came up with the loose ball and threw an incredible no-look pass to teammate Chandler Parsons for a dunk.

Griffin and Greene go head-to-head.

Scoring over Griffin with a floating bank shot.

Greene's second basket of the game came on a three pointer from the wing, but it wasn't until late in the first half when he really started to take over the game. With the royal team down by 10 points, Greene got to the line for 2 sets of free throws, threw down a pair of fastbreak dunks, and blocked an Austin Freeman fastbreak attempt.


Packaged! Freeman can't get his shot off over Greene.

In the second half, Greene hit a trio of pull-up jumpers that ranged from 15 to 22 feet. He was basically unguardable, canning the shots off the dribble in the faces of players like Kyle Singler and Austin Freeman. The one negative in his offensive performance was his mediocre 4-7 shooting from the line, but this was somewhat uncharacteristic in that he's usually about a 75% free throw shooter in the game's I've seen.

It will be important for Greene to develop consistency from the line.

Donte Green Analysis: As always, it is somewhat difficult to draw conclusions from high school All-Star games. Consequently, I'm basing my assessment on a composite of the six times that I've seen Greene play over the past two years.

Greene stretches out to maintain his flexibility.

Strengths: Top level, NBA-type athleticism. Runs the floor effortlessly when he wants to and understands spacing in transition. Can create his own shot off the dribble. Unselfish (and underrated) passer. Shooting mechanics are solid and should get better with further repetition and tweaking. Has legitimate range beyond the college three point line. Versatile offensive game that includes the ability to score both inside and outside. Passes the "intangibles" test – always joking/laughing/dancing – helps to keep team's chemistry "loose".

Weaknesses: Basic defensive positioning skills are limited at present and he relies on bad habits such as clutching or holding. "Soft" rebounder for a player with his height and athleticism. Effort and intensity tends to wax and wane depending on game situation. Even though he has a strong handle for a player his size, it could use "tightening" up. Easily overpowered in the post when defending stronger players. Tends to emphasize perimeter offense over interior offense – better balance would make him more attractive as a pro prospect.

Donte Greene makes a cut through the lane.

Projection: His overall strengths and upside far outweigh any of his weaknesses. It seems highly unlikely that Greene will be a 4-year player at Syracuse. IMO he will need at least a second season to maximize his draft position, as his freshman year is likely to expose some of his strength-related limitations and general inconsistencies in terms of game intensity. From a physical standpoint, the sky is the limit, but I feel that he will need to grow into the role of "go-to" player, as he almost always deferred to teammate Malcolm Delaney while in high school. The bottom line is that Greene is a sure-fire NBA draftee, the biggest question is how long he'll be at Syracuse.   

Going to work against Chris Wright.

Photos courtesy of Daniel Langevin

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