Originally posted on Stepien Rules  |  Last updated 6/11/13
Danny Green is starting for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. He connected on 10-of-15 shots in his first two games while averaging 14.5 points on the series. Each time he touches the basketball, though, my mind inevitably drifts into a one-sided conversation about the importance of fit and confidence in determining individual NBA success. Green, for example, did not fit into the Cleveland Cavaliers' rotation when he first arrived in 2009. LeBron James was at one wing, Delonte West and Anthony Parker were at the other, and Green played in only 20 games as a rookie. His confidence suffered as a result and he was later cut by the Cavaliers.  What he told me about that process when we spoke last summer, though, is something important to consider when evaluating the NBA Draft.  Danny Green speaks on being cut by Cavs and past season with Spurs (StepienRules.com / July 2012):  "Confidence is the biggest thing that's turned around everything for me", Green said. "I see a lot of these guys who weren't playing well last year but are playing better this year, and that's because of confidence. Back when I was cut by the Cavs, I didn't know whether I was going to get back into the NBA or not. I thought maybe I was going to get stuck overseas, I didn't know what was going to happen." What ended up happening first, for Green, was that he signed with the Spurs one month after being cut by the Cavs in November of 2010. Two weeks after that, however, he'd be cut for the second time in his short NBA career. "I just told myself then that this is my dream", Green said. "I was going to give it one hundred percent, go full force, and I was going to see what happens. I was going to just stay here and try to stay in the League. I got into the D-League, and luckily got brought up at the end of the year last year, and then I had to start all over again this year. Then somebody gets hurt, it's a short season, lot of games in a lot of days, and I got a chance to play a little bit and I earned myself some minutes. Things turned out great for me, it's a dream come true," Green added.  "It's been a total 180 for me throughout the year. Coming from being cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers, being in the D-League, overseas, and then starting in the Western Conference Finals it was kinda crazy.  Playing with Tony, Timmy and Manu, guys that I've watched play growing up in middle school and high school, it was a dream come true. I couldn't ask for a better situation, and better organization."  Without question, Danny Green earned every opportunity he's received in this League. He was handed nothing as a second round pick and hit critical shots with his career hanging in the balance.  But Danny Green and his skill-set did/do fit perfectly in San Antonio when he didn't necessarily fit in Cleveland. His confidence improved because of that and he's developed into a player who will start in this League for a long time. Which is why his story--beyond being an inspirational narrative of perseverance, mental toughness and determination--is also important to consider when selecting a player in the NBA Draft.  If Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson are your core pieces, the question of who fits best alongside those three guys moving forward must be asked when evaluating each prospect. I know this might seem elementary in a world of advanced stats and algorithms, but not all players will reach their maximum potential on all teams.  Otto Porter, to me at least, appears to fit really well at the small forward position on this Cavs team specifically. I think the nucleus of Irving, Waiters, Thompson and Porter has the potential to be special because of that fit.  For those reasons, among others, I made Porter my selection for the Cavs in the SLAMonline Mock Draft. I can make a similar argument for Nerlens Noel. At the same time, though, I also don't think Porter--or even Noel--are great fits for every team. I'm just saying that it's important to consider how well a player would fit when projecting the future success of that prospect. I'm also saying that Danny Green is the best example I can ever remember of specifically that.
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