Donte Greene: Don'te Leave

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Donte Greene: Don'te Leave

Oh, how I love those witty one liner t-shirts.

What started as a line of wishful thinking by some marketing savvy ‘Cuse students earlier this season could now be seen as some damn good advice. 

The subject is, of course, Syracuse’s much ballyhooed but only somewhat accomplished freshman Donte Greene. 

During the pre-Big East schedule he was the toast of upstate NY, dropping 20-25 a night in an efficient, high percentage manner. But unlike truly great players, when the competition has been ratcheted up in conference play Greene has shrunk. Against the Georgetowns and Lousivilles of the world—truly elite defenses—three for 15 shooting nights have become the norm for Baltimore’s latest stud hoop prospect.

I don’t understand how I can still scour the various NBA mock draft sites and see Greene projected to be picked in the 6-10 range. For as much raw talent as Greene has, I can’t see an NBA GM burning a high lottery pick on a lanky kid who right now is best known as an ill-advised gunner. 

Selfishly, as a Syracuse fan, I hope NBA GMs agree with me and his stock slips just enough for him to return for his sophomore year with something to prove, showing he is a can’t miss Top Five pick.

Even if his stock doesn’t slip that far I still think he should strongly consider taking the advice of the popular t-shirt. Here’s why:

It’s all about the second contract.

While a rookie contract is nothing to shake a stick at, NBA players don’t become absurdly overpaid (even by pro athlete’s standards) until they have a couple of years under their belt and hit free agency. If Greene leaves now he runs the risk of not bringing a polished game to the league and the likelihood of him failing to distinguish himself in just two years increases.

His game is still a work-in-progress.

This kid is way too good to just jack 23 footers all day. Another year of polishing could do wonders for his game.

On the to-do list:

Get to the line more, learn to exploit mismatches when guarded by smaller defenders, and improve defense.

The chance to leave a legacy:

With Syracuse staring at a second straight NIT appearance it might sound strange, but the 2008-09 team could be a legitimate Final Four contender. The 2007-08 team has been painfully undermanned and inexperienced in certain spots, yet has still been very close to picking off the top teams in the Big East. If Donte comes back and everyone gels with the returning vets, I envision at least a Sweet 16 team.

No Syracuse fan wants to remember Donte Greene’s last game as the race for 66th.

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