If Noah was a longshot to be mentioned in a column like this before the season started, it was almost unfathomable to think of Taurean Green
being written about in the same sentence as the NBA draft.
Being the catalyst and most important player on a team thats won 20 of its first 22 games will do that to you, though, and that is exactly what Green is for this Florida team.
On Saturday Green continued to show why he is one of the most complete point guards in college basketball. He slashed, shot and passed his way to the tune of 29 points and 9 assists on excellent percentages, controlling the tempo to Floridas liking and leaving the much more highly regarded Rajon Rondo
on his backside after a ferocious pick more than often he let him stay in front of him.
Green used the high ball screens his team set him time after time to create offense for himself and his teammates off the dribble almost whenever he pleased, doing a terrific job mixing up his scoring with his passing and giving Rondo fits with his arsenal of offensive moves that left him clueless as to how to defend him. One time he would blow by him and take the ball strong all the way to the basket, the next he would pull up off the dribble from mid-range using a lightning quick release, and when his man got tired of being burned and gave him space he would instead just knock down a three pointer from well behind the NCAA line. He did a great job defensively as well and eventually fouled out the extremely frustrated Rondo; outscoring him by 7 points in the final tally, dishing out 9 more assists, shooting a much better percentage and turning the ball over less. Most importantly, his team delivered a demoralizing defeat to their archrivals, a win that will keep the Gators close to returning to the top 5 ranked teams in the country and within striking distance of the top of the SEC East.
The 6-foot sophomore leads the SEC in both points and assists, but his contribution to his team goes well beyond the boxscore. Green simply does everything you would hope your college point guard to do well; whether its scoring, passing, shooting, handling the ball, playing great defense, slashing to the basket and finishing at the rim, hitting clutch free throws, showing leadership skills and most importantly making everyone better. He rarely leaves the floor and is more than willing to take his team on his back when the offense bogs down. He plays the game with an arrogance and confident demeanor that all the great lead guards have, but doesnt let that affect the way he runs his team and keeps his ego in check the way most cocky point guards cant.
As far as his NBA potential goes, that is really anyones guess. Generously listed at 6 feet, he doesnt have the excellent physical attributes that most of this excellent class of sophomore point guards do, not being incredibly tall, long, strong or explosive, although he is a fine athlete. Players in his mold-- Jameer Nelson
is probably his best NBA comparisonusually have to do a bit more to carve themselves a spot in the league. Winning games the way he has so far and being the best player on his extremely talented team is always going to be the best way to accomplish that. Taking his team deep in the tournament will go a long ways in quelling his many doubters (of which we were firmly a part of until Saturday). Little guys always have it a little bit tougher to prove themselves, but Green is clearly on the right track and only seems to be improving week by week after being just a marginal contributor on a decent team in his freshman year.