Draymond Green's draft advice to fellow Spartan Nick Ward: Outwork the next guy
Warren — On the eve of the NBA Draft, former Michigan State basketball player Draymond Green was back in Michigan on Wednesday and talked about his memories of the draft and the road ahead for fellow Spartan Nick Ward.
The three-time NBA champion's prominent recollection from the 2012 night when he was taken 35th overall by Golden State?
"But that was one of the best nights of my life," Green said. "Just to hear my name called and to know I would have the opportunity to carve out a career in a league that I was always a fan of was something special to me."
The 29-year old Green is known for his positional versatility, excelling at power forward and center. Ward seems unlikely to be drafted on Thursday, but many see him as the same "tweener" center/forward as Green.
"It doesn't matter (what Ward's professional prospects are)," Green said. "It's about the work you're going to put in on a daily basis. We can look at a ton of guys, including myself, and say the prospects weren't that great, but who knows who's going to outwork the next guy? Who knows what situation you'll end up in, and that situation could possibly benefit you. He'll (Ward) determine what that looks like by the work he puts in."
The Spartans made the Final Four last season and they return three of their top four scorers, including Big Ten player of the year Cassius Winston, making Michigan State the odds-on favorite to win an NCAA title in 2020. Green, who was a consensus All-American his senior season in East Lansing, likes their chances but admitted he might be biased.
"Michigan State could be projected to win zero games, and I'm going to go into the year thinking they could win," Green said.
A week ago, Green was battling Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors in the fifth-straight appearance in the finals for Green and the Warriors.
"During the finals I felt exhausted. Right now I feel great. It's like swimming. Every once in a while you get the chance to come out from underwater, and it's like, 'Wow, I can breathe again.'" Green said when asked if the long playoff runs had worn him out.
Despite losing in the NBA Finals to the Raptors, Green said after the final game that the Warriors dynasty wasn't over, and on Wednesday the Saginaw native wouldn't back off the comment.
"Hundred percent," Green said. "Why would I change that (comment)? There's no reason to change that. The world knows I stand by that. That'll never change."
During his NBA career, Green has gotten to know new Michigan coach Juwan Howard and thinks Michigan chose the right coach.
"I think he'll do a great job," Green said. "He's a guy who's dedicated himself to the game of basketball and obviously Michigan is a Big Ten power, so he's going to go in there and do the best job he can."
Green, a three-time NBA All-Star, was in Michigan to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Blink Fitness, a new gym co-owned by Green.
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.