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For Green, venture to unknown

- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2007

Jeff Green is obligated to end his ambiguity by 5 p.m. today, the NBA's deadline for early entry candidates.

The junior forward has been stuck between the national-championship aspirations of Georgetown and the uncertainties of the NBA Draft since announcing his decision to leave the university nearly a month ago.

That is understandable, given the challenges of the NBA that overwhelm even the best-prepared newcomers and all the information that is available to early entries inclined to test their value.

Green has had the last few weeks to sift through all the draft projections and player evaluations.

He knows by now that he is seen as a versatile player who lacks an extraordinary quality by the standards of the NBA. Whatever his destiny is in the NBA, whether special or forgettable, it will depend on his work ethic and fortitude, the immeasurable elements of a player.

That is what inevitably undermines all the good work of personnel gurus going into the NBA Draft. They can take the height and weights of players. They can put them through drills. They can do the background work.

But they cannot peer inside a player's head. They cannot determine whether the college definition of a hard worker is the same as the NBA definition.

Green seemingly wants a guarantee from an NBA suitor after working out for four teams and being scheduled to audition for three others.

That guarantee is impossible to deliver with the order of the draft likely to be littered with surprises after Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are selected one and two.

Green is envisioned as a lottery pick, anywhere in the 5-14 range, excellent money that is guaranteed.

Yet he could be in a more favorable position next June if he returns to Georgetown and he and Roy Hibbert lead the Hoyas back to the Final Four.

That is one of the considerations before Green.

The gamble cuts in the opposite direction as well, as Florida forward Joakim Noah has found.

Noah possibly would have been the top pick in the draft last June if he had left Florida following his impressive series of performances in the NCAA tournament.

His draft stock has plummeted considerably after failing to progress on offense from his sophomore to junior seasons.

He is still viewed as a lottery pick but one with raw skills and no naturally defined position.

Green lacks a signature move on offense, the kind that can pull him or his team out of a funk.

This failing was most evident in Georgetown's national semifinal meeting with Ohio State.

With the Hoyas desperately trying to overcome the foul troubles of Hibbert in the second half, Green was unable to provide a lift. He finished with a mere five field goal attempts in 40 minutes, an incriminating statistic for one who was the Big East Conference Player of the Year.

That is not how the big gun of a team is supposed to go down in defeat.

Yet Green has appealing functions: soft hands, good vision and a willingness to distribute the ball and play defense.

He is not ready for the NBA, but then few players are.

So much of a player's usefulness in the NBA is about good fits and bad. A player can become lost in the NBA if he lands in a system that does not complement his style of play.

Daniel Gibson, a second-round pick of the Cavaliers last June, went to a team that did not need him to run the offense. All he had to do was stand on the 3-point line and await the opposition to collapse around LeBron James. With another team, Gibson might not have made the roster.

The unknown dimension of the draft is omnipresent for all the parties.

No doubt all the unknowns have pulled on Green since he made the announcement to leave Georgetown last month.