Gerald Green Reminds Doc of McGrady

June 29, 2005
WALTHAM - When the phones started ringing non-stop in the draft war room minutes before they made the No. 18 selection, the Celtics knew they had lucked out with Gerald Green. No one expected the Houston high school phenom to last past the lottery. But after Portland passed at No. 6, the Celticsthought there was a chance he might slide. When the 6-foot-8-inch forward fell out of the top 12, executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge started "begging" the basketball gods that Green be there at No. 18. And when he was, the Celtics' celebration began in earnest.

"We're very excited about our pick here at 18," said Ainge. "I'm sure a lot of teams say this kind of stuff. We had him ranked way up in this draft. We thought he was going sixth to Portland. We found out in the last couple days, because he didn't work out in Portland, that they might take [Martell] Webster instead. We'd been doing a little research and thinking, this guy may not have a home.' But we thought somebody will definitely take him. So, I guess, we're the lucky team that got to take him.

"We think he's got a tremendous upside. This kid can shoot and he can fly. On the downside, he's 19 and he's not ready to win in the NBA. I'd be surprised if he beat out our young guards in Delonte [West] and Tony [Allen] and obviously Paul [Pierce] and Ricky [Davis]. He's just another piece for the future."

Green joins an increasingly younger squad as Ainge works to build with talent and athleticism. He becomes the second consecutive player the Celtics have drafted straight from high school, with Al Jefferson (No. 15 in 2004) completing that short list. And for the third consecutive draft, the Celtics have finished the night with a prep player, with Kendrick Perkins coming on board after a draft night trade with the Grizzlies in 2003.

Stylistically, Green stands as an undeveloped amalgam of Davis (athletic ability) and Pierce (scoring ability). Coach Doc Rivers called him "an athletic freak." He's explosive and has good range. Many predict Green will be a future star. The Celtics look at Green in much the same way they viewed Jefferson last year.

After averaging 33 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists as a senior for Gulf Shores Academy in Houston and earning praise as the top high school prospect in the country, he drew comparisons to Tracy McGrady and Rashard Lewis.

Rivers, who worked with McGrady in Orlando, does not shy from drawing such parallels.

"Obviously, if the kid turned out to be like that we'd be on our way," said Rivers. "He absolutely does remind me of [McGrady]."

Rivers added: "We had a bunch of names and Green was not one of them, not because we didn't like him, but because we didn't think he'd be available. We need to keep trying to get more athletic. He's a kid, so we're not going to get too excited. It's great for me that I've coached a high school kid. Some of the mistakes I made with Al, I won't make with this kid."

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