Making the Laker Roster Won’t Be Hard, Green Says
Attention, A.C. Green: There’s some good news and some bad news for you.
The good news is that the Lakers made you their first-round pick in Tuesday’s NBA draft and project you as a future member of their front line.
The bad news is that the front line is set, for now, and first you have to make the team.
“I don’t think it will be that hard,” the 6-9, 218-pound Oregon State forward said by phone from Portland. “It just depends how hard I want to work.”
Green has the credentials to back up his confidence. He was the player of the year in the Pacific 10 as a junior, averaging 17.8 points and 8.7 rebounds. He boosted those totals to 19.1 and 9.2, respectively, as a senior. When Oregon State was eliminated from the NCAA tournament in the first round by Notre Dame in March, Green bowed out with 26 points and a dozen rebounds.
The Lakers selected one local player Tuesday, picking forward Tony Neal of Cal State Fullerton in the sixth round. Neal is 6-6 and 210 pounds.
Laker Coach Pat Riley said of Green, “He’s very versatile. We are trying to keep in line with our philosophy. He can run the floor. He’s active inside. He can get offensive rebounds and he can shoot from the low post.”
But getting into the Laker transition game will require a transition by Green. He will be trying to leap into the game’s fastest fast break from a offense that often gave new meaning to the word deliberate.
“We’ll change that,” Riley said. “Even though (Oregon State) played a slow tempo, Green played a quick game. He has tremendous energy and he gets a lot of what we call garbage points inside. You’ve got to like a player like that. Players are not going to fall out of the sky for us, especially one as versatile as this.
“What we want is someone willing to trail on the break. Our fourth man has to get the ball out of the net (after a basket by the opposing team), out of bounds and into Magic Johnson’s hands. It’s a very subtle thing, but very important to us.
“If he can perform, give us a shot here and there, give us some time, he’ll be doing a lot for us. We look for him to really contribute one or two years down the line. He might be able to step right in now and start, but to do that, he has to deal with a guy named Superman (Kurt Rambis).”
Still, if you’re handed the prodigious task of becoming a Laker starter of the future, better it should be in the front line.
General Manager Jerry West said: “You look at our club and we have some age up front. (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 38, Bob McAdoo is 33 and a free agent who may not be re-signed, and Jamaal Wilkes is 32 and coming off knee surgery.) You look at our guards. We are young there. The person with the most opportunity to play, this year and in the future, is up front.”
That’s the way Green figures it as well.
"(In the playoffs), I saw the team I’d like to play for,” Green said. “It’s the Lakers. They play my kind of game--free-lance. You can’t ask for any better system than the Lakers have.”
Green said he will bring with him the advice of Ralph Miller, his coach at Oregon State.
“He told me to be as assertive as possible and to look for my shot more than I did in college,” Green said.
Green was the 23rd man taken in Tuesday’s draft. That’s not the best spot from which to pluck talent, but it has been done before. Among other 23rd picks in league history are a couple of decent finds named Alex English and World B. Free.
Two others considered by the Lakers were forwards Dwayne McClain of Villanova and Bill Martin of Georgetown. Both were taken by the Indiana Pacers in the second round.
The Lakers had neither a second- nor a third-round pick, having previously traded them in deals for Dwight Jones and Larry Spriggs.
The other Laker picks were Dexter Shouse, 6-4 and 185, a point guard from South Alabama in the fourth round; Timo Saarelainen, 6-6 and 200, a forward from Brigham Young in the fifth round, and Keith Ciefplicki, 6-4 and 165, a guard from William & Mary in the seventh round.
A. C. Green Oregon St. F Dexter Shouse South Alabama G Timo Saarelainen Brigham Young F Tony Neal CS Fullerton F Keith Cieplicki William & Mary G