LAS VEGAS – The Warriors’ leading scorer stepped onto the red carpet.
Draymond Green, the second-year forward from Michigan State, had just scored 18 points to lead Golden State to a 14-point win over the Kings.
But this red carpet was hardly glamorous. It laid on the floor of a narrow, dimly lit, crowded and stuffy hallway at the Thomas & Mack Center, home of the NBA’s Las Vegas summer league.
Here, Green plays a star role as one of the Warriors’ primary scoring options, an assignment that helps him work on his ball-handling and shooting off the dribble. As a rookie last season, Green served as a glue guy in Golden State, an off-the-bench defender and hustler.
“It’s an adjustment,” said Green, who’s averaging 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game heading into into Golden State’s summer-league semifinal against the Bobcats at 8 p.m. tonight. “We had a scrimmage before the first game, and it took me the whole first half to adjust to that role. It’s not going to be natural. It’s like putting myself back at Michigan State, being that role where I’m the focal point of the team. But, at the end of the day, it’s a role that I love playing, a role that I’m definitely looking forward to.”
Green also talked about Michigan State’s quality of preparation for the NBA, now that he’s been in the league long enough to develop his skills.
“One thing about Coach Izzo is that he preaches toughness and going hard each and every day, and in the NBA, you have to go hard each and every day,” Green said. “You’re going to play against guys better than you, you’re going to play against guys stronger than you, you’re going to play against guys quicker than you. When you have that work ethic and you’re going to continue to go hard, when a guy takes a play off it’s your chance to go in. Izzo taught me to go hard and have toughness each and every day.”
A week after the Detroit Pistons and former Michigan point guard Trey Burke both finished competing in the Orlando Summer League, Green – a Saginaw native – is one of several players representing the state of Michigan in Vegas.
Another, former Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr., is making adjustments after the Knicks selected him No. 24 overall. Hardaway played in Michigan’s No. 1-rated offense last season, but that was sharing a backcourt with Burke.
“You know, the guards at the next level are totally different,” Hardaway said. “What Trey Burke did for us, he had to be that type of player in order for us to get as far as we got. So, it’s different at the next level with finding guys that are trying to get their teammates involved. They’re just trying to be all around players.
“I think once you’re practicing with the guys who are trying to make the team – the pros, second-year guys – then you get a sense of how you have to play. The practices really help out a lot. If you just keep practicing the games will come easy for you.”
In his second summer-league game Hardaway injured his left hand early in the second quarter and sat out the rest of New York’s games. Still, the Knicks tend to play small, and Hardaway showed enough in Vegas to indicate he’ll fit well.
“I felt great. I felt more confident today. I felt good. … Everything was going smoothly,” Hardaway said after his final game. “I was just upset a little bit because I had to come out.”
Perhaps no in-state prospect fared better in Vegas than Ray McCallum, the former University of Detroit point guard who’s from Beverly Hills, Mich. After picking him No. 36 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Kings signed to a three-year guaranteed contract, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. McCallum averaged 12.6 points, 4.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game this summer, though he shot just 38.0 percent from the field.