Erick Green is a 26 year old 190cm guard from Virginia that is playing his fifth professional season and first in Spain with Valencia Basket (Spain-ACB). Last season he played with Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-A!) playing 31 games averaging 9.4ppg, 2.2rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 40.0%, 3PT-2(47.3%), FT: 76.7%; In the Euroleague, he played 36 games averaging 9.9ppg, 1.9rpg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 81.7%. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 2013 at #46 in the second round and played as a rookie with Montepaschi Siena (Italy-SerieA) playing 45 games averaging 10.8ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 56.4%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 83.3%. In the Euroleague he played 10 games averaging 11.1ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 46.5%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 69.2%; In the Eurocup, he played 6 games averaging 11.2ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 70.0%. In the 2014-2015 season he played with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League playing 2 games averaging 21.0ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.0apg, 2.0spg, and the Denver Nuggets (NBA) playing 42 games averaging 3.5ppg. In the 2015-2016 season he played with the Denver Nuggets (NBA) playing 3 games, the Reno Bighorns (D-League) playing 44 games: Score-3(26.5ppg), 4.4rpg, 3.9apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 57.2%, 3PT: 43.6%, FT: 85.5%, in Feb.’16 moved back to Utah Jazz (NBA) playing 6 games averaging 2.2ppg. He played at Virginia Tech(NCAA) from 2009-2013 playing a total of 128 games and as a senior led the NCAA in scoring with 25.0ppg, 3.9rpg, 3.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.7%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 81.7%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Euroleague game against Brose Bamberg in Bamberg.
Erick thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome back to Germany. You split last season with Brose Bamberg in Euroleague. With what kind of feeling are you coming back to Bamberg?
It is a good feeling coming back to Bamberg. It will be a tough game. They have another good team this year. They have a good crowd and nice atmosphere in the arena.
Overall you have a positive 3-1 Euroleague record against German teams. In your rookie season with Montepaschi Siena (Italy-SerieA) you swept FC Bayern Munich. What memories do you have overall playing against Germans teams?
I don´t remember too much to be honest except for playing against my ex teammate Malcolm Delaney. I am really happy that he got a chance to play in the NBA after that
You have played in Italy, NBA, G-League, Greece and now in Spain with Valenica. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball? Do you have any friends playing here?
I have a friend playing in Germany with Daniel Hackett of Bamberg. I have known him for four years. Other than that I don´t know too much about Germany.
Valencia Basket are the ACB defending champions and have started off well in both competitions ACB and Euroleague. You have the two big powerhouses Real Madrid and FC Barcelona and many other title candidates. The team has kept a healthy core of players from last season and added some new pieces. How confident is the team after this start that it could repeat?
I think that we are confident at the moment and also know that we will be competing against the two tough keepers Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. But we have another great team and coaching staff and if we continue to improve as the season goes on, then I believe that we will have good chances to repeat.
How inspiring has it been playing with 35 year old veteran and heart and soul of Valencia with Rafael Martinez who is in his tenth season with the team and won two Eurocup´s. How vital is he for the success and what have you tried to soak up from his game?
He isn´t only a great leader, but a great guy. He has been helping me a lot pushing me and giving me a lot of confidence. He keeps continuing to stress for me to score and make plays. He is so valuable for me and a great captain.
Two seasons ago, you were in the Utah Jazz organization and played one game with German Tibor Pleiss. How has his game progressed since that time and what added dimension does he give the team?
Tibor has gotten so much better since being with the Utah Jazz. He has such a great touch and can finish with his left or right hand. He has a nice mid range shot that spreads the floor and is that seven footer and important presence inside that every team could use. He continues to get better and better. I feel he didn´t get a fair opportunity with Utah. He was in the right place at the wrong time. So many guys can play in the NBA, but so can he. I am sure that he will get another chance. He is an NBA player.
Let´s talk about your game. You a scoring combo guard. What is your role this season with Valencia Basket and is it different from last season in Greece?
My role this season is to score and be that player that they didn´t have last season. They want me to be that go to guy that will finish well 1-1. Last season in Greece we were stacked with a lot of talent and there were many great players. It was tough playing behind Vasilios Spanoulis, but I didn´t pout, but learned as much as I could from him. He was a great leader and guy.
You have been a scorer all your career, but if you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would you choose?
I would compare myself to Lou Williams. We have something in common in that we can both score and are great 1-1 players. We both know how to get buckets. You can watch him and see him having four points and before you know he will have 20 points. It is crazy how fast he can fill the stat sheet.
Your also a guy that can fill the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
My ability to create. I think that I can be a really good passer when I am aggressive.
After two seasons in the NBA, you returned back last season to Europe and played with Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus. There you played with Greek legend Vasilios Spanoulis who has won 12 Greek titles, three Euroleague titles and numerous medals for his country. Do you feel like some of winning genes and leadership rubbed off on you last season that will help you lead Valencia to tiles?
Yes I think so. He is a winner. He doesn´t care about how many points he gets, but just wants to win. At the end of the day that is what it´s all about. I learned so much from him, but one thing really stuck. He told me that I can do so much on the court especially score and that it is important to pick and choose carefully. In Europe it´s not all about scoring, but picking and choosing on the court. You also have to know how to find your teammates. He also told me “Don´t chase the money just play well and good things will happen to you”. There are too many guys in Europe thinking too much about the money. I learned so much from him and he told so many interesting stories
You played parts of two seasons in the NBA with Denver and Utah. When you look back at this time, what did you learn to appreciate most about the whole experience?
It was a great experience. I played behind some very experienced and older point guards like Jameer Nelson, Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson. Most important was that I learned great work ethic from these guys. These guys were all around and over 30 years of age, but their work ethic was incredible. A Nelson was already in the gym at 8:30 in the morning when we had a practice at 11am.and he already had a full out sweat when I got there. I was 23 years old and this kind of work ethic made me get my butt in the gym seeing that an older guy was putting in the work.
In the 2014-2015 season you played 42 games with the Denver Nuggets and on the last game scored 17 points and dished out seven assists in a loss against Golden State. Is this one of those games that stick in your mind knowing you held your own with some of the best players in the world with Curry, Thompson and Green?
100% yes. I had the chance to showcase my abilities and a game like this gave me confidence that I could play with the best. My goal continues to try to get back to the NBA. I hope my dream of the NBA will come through again.
When you look back at that season with Denver do you feel like you could have done anything differently that would have earned you more minutes or were you content with your stay?
I would never say that I was content, but it´s hard to get minutes when you are the third string point guard. It was difficult to really be able to show what I could do. In the games where I did get a chance to show what I can do, I felt I did well for the minutes that I received.
This is your second season back in Europe and you last played NBA Summer League in 2015.Have you pretty much ended the NBA chapter or do you feel with more Euroleague experience you could make it back to the NBA soon? I think your ex teammate Malcolm Delaney is a great example of a guy reaching the NBA after some years in Europe.
Yes that dream never closes. My goal is to get back to the NBA and I really do hope that I will get another chance. I feel that where I am now is the best route in trying to get back to the NBA. I have the chance to prove and play well at the ACB and Euroleague level where NBA scouts are always present. Last year there was something like 5 Euroleague players that went to the NBA.
As a rookie you played for Montepaschi Siena (Italy-SerieA): 45 games: 10.8ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 56.4%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 83.3%; Euroleague: 10 games: 11.1ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 46.5%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 69.2%; Eurocup: 6 games: 11.2ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 70.0%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in Virginia
I had quite a few wake up calls. I was thousands of miles away from the states and it´s tough for a young guy coming out of college to come to Europe. At Virginia Tech, I was three hours from home, but in Italy I was 9-10 hours away by plane and my family only visited twice a year. There were some times where I thought about going back home. It was difficult being in a small city and getting used to the language barrier. All in all, Italy was great. Siena was a beautiful city and I am happy that I didn´t walk away and go home. In Italy I matured and became a better player.
How important was it having many Americans on the team that helped you make the adjustment easier? Was there a particular guy that you felt you profited most? You had teammates like Marquez Haynes, Josh Carter, Spencer Nelson, Matt Janning and Othello Hunter?
All of them. They are all great people and I still have great relationships with them today. We are all in a group chat and keep in touch. They showed me how to play in Europe and without them, I don´t really know if I would have survived.
You played at Virginia Tech from 2009-2013. How tough was it your senior year being the best scorer in the nation, but the team playing below 500. Despite playing so much did you ask your self at times if you could have been doing more?
Yes for sure. I remember my parents saying what you scored only 25 points? You have to be getting 30 points to help your team win. It was cool getting all the honors and winning the scoring title, but in the end I never made the NCAA tournament in my four years there. That really got to me having to hear my friends talking about their experiences in the NCAA tournament.
After struggling your freshman year at Virginia Tech, you became a gym rat and your game rose after that from season to season. Even after leading the nation in scoring as a senior, have you continued to practice that same focused work ethic now in the pro´s?
Yes for sure. Work ethic is what got me to where I am today. I have had this type of work ethic my whole career. I love being in the gym. I love seeing how my game improves. I strive to get better every summer and then keep improving during the season. I want to continue to improve each year.
You didn´t have much to cheer about in your senior season concerning wins, but was the 66-65 win against Wake Forest where you led all scorers with 22 points one of your most memorable wins as a senior?
That was a nice memory, but the best memory was beating Oklahoma State when Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics was on the team.
In the 2012-2013 season Adam Smith was with the team, but couldn´t play, but he practiced daily with the team. What memories do you have of your battles on the court?
Adam is a great player, shooter and guy. When he came to Virginia Tech(NCAA), he didn´t expect the level of the ACC to be so high. He was also a gym rat like me and worked his tail off in his time at Virginia Tech. Seeing how he improved was great and he had a heck of a career there.
How did head coaches Seth Greenberg and James Johnson help groom and prepare you best for s professional career?
Seth Greenberg was a great coach. He was my first coach for the first three years and was very demanding. I remember when I came in as a freshman in open gym and him telling me that he thought I would be an NBA player. He stayed on me the whole three years and demanded a lot from me. Johnson was the assistant coach in my first three years and became head coach in my senior year. I had known him since I had been 15 years old and he always had recruited me wherever I went. He was a big role model for me and was like a father figure.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Malcolm Delaney?
He got some of the best of me as I was a freshman. He is a very good player and taught me a few things. In my second year I did some work on him though. I always thought that he would get drafted. In one on one you saw two great scorers going against each other. It would be fun going against him today.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
I would say the toughest guy I faced was Grevis Vazquez. He gave us 40 points. That was one of the best performances that I ever saw in the NCAA. I have had the chance to play against Kyrie Irving in high school and other guys like Kevin Durant and Brandon Jennings in the summertime.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaq
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
When looking at rings it´s Jordan, but when you look at the player it´s Lebron. He is so dominant and a player that we haven´t seen before. I saw Jordan play at the end of his time, but in my era Lebron is the most dominant.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
Westbrook is one of my favorite players. I don´t think that it is a fair assessment to him. It was crazy to average triple double stats. He helped lead the team to the playoffs without Kevin Durant. He has the most edge of any player. He goes 100 miles and tries to kill you when he has the ball.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
My two NBA rookie of the year candidates are Ben Simmons who can change a game and Dennis Smith Jr.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
They can make a good run, but Golden State will be too strong for them.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
Boston got the better deal. The deal shows just how much Boston was willing to give up for Irving. Lebron probably has 2-3 more good years, but Boston is young and if they stay together will be very scary in a few years.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
I think they could. They are losing at the moment, but they will be clicking soon. They are missing a bench, but will be scary. They could give Golden State a run, but won´t have enough in a series against them.
What was the last movie that you saw?
It. It´s a clown horror movie.
Thanks Erick for the chat.