Sonics rookie tandem listening and learning
Kevin Durant is making it look too easy. Rookies aren't supposed to score 45 points in their first two NBA games like the Sonics' prized...
Seattle Times staff reporter
LOS ANGELES — Kevin Durant is making it look too easy. Rookies aren't supposed to score 45 points in their first two NBA games like the Sonics' prized guard.
They're supposed to struggle early on while adapting to playing against bigger, stronger and faster competition. They're supposed to test the patience of their coaches with silly fouls and frustrate fans with errant shooting.
They're supposed to play, well, like Jeff Green has played during the past week.
It's not as if he's on the opposite end of the Durant spectrum, but the 6-foot-9 forward taken fifth in the draft hasn't had as smooth of a transition as his rookie teammate.
"The shot is not falling," said Green, who has converted 4 of 14 field goals. "But I'm still being aggressive and going to the free-throw line. I'm going to continue to play my game.
"I missed a lot of shots against Phoenix [on Thursday], but I know they'll fall soon. Games like that is something you want to get in the past. I went 3 for 12 and missed a lot of layups I should have made. Even though I got contact, I should have put them in."
In many ways, Green has a much more difficult job than Durant, who leads the Sonics with a 22.5 scoring average and is being groomed as the team's next superstar.
Green, a reserve, is still discovering his role, which is the offshoot of being so versatile.
At times, he's a small forward who doesn't appear comfortable shooting the NBA-range three-pointer, but is strong enough to overpower smaller opponents in the post. And other times, he's a power forward quick enough to get to the rim on dribble drives but unable to consistently score in traffic.
"It's all about learning," Green said. "You've got to find different ways to try and get to the rim and try to finish. In college I was bigger than a lot of guys, and I was able to get it over the top of them.
"You've got to adjust to the NBA. I'm learning. Kurt Thomas has been helping me, and I'm learning from one of the best."
In today's matinee against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center, Green might receive a lot of playing time at power forward because center Robert Swift (sore right knee) is listed as questionable and Thomas (strained right hamstring) is doubtful.
Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo is also considering playing reserve 7-foot center Mouhamed Sene for extensive minutes to counter a front line that includes center Chris Kaman and forwards Tim Thomas and Corey Maggette, who scored a combined 62 points in Friday's 120-114 win over Golden State.
"It will become a decision of whether Mo gets more of the minutes or whether we play Jeff at four," Carlesimo said. "One of the biggest differences last night is they really punished Golden State on the boards."
The Clippers (1-0) outrebounded the Warriors 53-36, but the Sonics (0-2) have been staunch on the glass. They won the rebounding battle in both of their games.
Admittedly, Green is having an easier time rebounding and playing defense than anything else.
During three years at Georgetown, he was branded as a do-everything forward, but so far he's managed just two steals and one assist while averaging 6.5 points, three rebounds and 20 minutes.
Conversely, Durant seems to have adapted to the pro game like a duck to water.
"That's my teammate and I'm not going to compete with him like that," Green said. "If he gets 25 points, it's not like I feel that I've got to 29. If we win the game, I'm satisfied and I'm happy for him.
"Whatever attention he gets, that's not affecting me at all. I'm going out there and playing as hard as I can and giving it all I got. If I don't get the media attention, that's cool with me. If I continue to play hard and give it all I got, that's all I can ask for."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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