The 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year, Michigan State’s Draymond Green, has a fan in former Spartans legend Morris Peterson, who was part of the legendary “Flintstones” that led the program to an NCAA national championship in 2000.
Both were known for clutch performances, leadership and effort. Peterson, now at the tail end of an 11-year NBA career – although “not officially retired” – appreciates the hustle Green put forth during his four years in East Lansing. Peterson says he wasn’t the most athletic or explosive player – and neither was Green – so it’s easy to appreciate what Green brought to the table.
Peterson has no doubt that Green, who was projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, will have success at the next level. Why? Because Green has a clear agenda, says Peterson, who was selected in the first round of the 2000 draft by the Toronto Raptors.
“You know what? Draymond has his head on straight,” Peterson said by phone Friday. “He’s one of those kids who won state championships (back-to-back with Saginaw High in 2007 and 2008). He understands what it takes to win. You can’t teach that.”
Green also appeared in one NCAA title game with Michigan State, which lost to North Carolina in 2009, his freshman year. He helped the Spartans reach the Final Four in 2010 before losing to Butler. Leading, competing and reaching the highest level possible is part of what Green is, says Peterson.
“He just has that in him,” Peterson said. “Doesn’t matter how high you jump, how fast you run. You have to use your mind. “
Green stands to have a lengthy NBA career if he “preserves his body,” Peterson said. Green’s humility and work ethic will certainly aide his quest to be an established pro, too.
“I think teams are starting to see that you need guys like Draymond Green,” Peterson said. “He just did it (played the game) the right way. There’s a place for guys like that. I think I’m a testament for guys like that. When I came to college, people weren’t talking about me going to the NBA. I had to work at it.”
Peterson paid close attention to Green the past four years. Each season, Green got better, and Peterson became more impressed with “Day-Day.”
“Well, I think he does a lot of stuff that doesn’t end up on paper or in the stat sheet,” Peterson said. “That’s big for a guy like him. He does so many different things; he’s a great passer, a rebounder. Just that leadership man, a guy like him… I watched his career, I watched him grow. You can see that work ethic. Every time I see him, he’s picking my brain and asking what he can do to get better.
And during a recent lunch with Peterson in Miami, Green yearned to satisfy his appetite after a workout with the Miami Heat.
“We talked, I told him ‘Hang in there, keep working and keep fighting,’” Peterson said. “I remember asking the same questions and having that same feeling. That’s what you have to do if you want to know something – find a vet that knows… When I got into the NBA, I listened to the vets and it got me 11 years in the NBA. (Green is) one of those guys if you tell him ‘no,’ he tells you ‘yes.’ I know he’s going to work his butt off.”
Follow Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81. Follow Detroit Sports 360 @DETSports360.