Former Spartan and NBA great Magic Johnson held a teleconference this afternoon and talked about a variety of topics.
Along with talking about the NBA, the upcoming documentary on his announcement that he had HIV and the Magic/Bird Broadway play, he answered some questions about the Spartans. (Full transcript here).
On MSU's success this season:
"I think they share the ball. This is the best passing team we've had probably since Mateen's team, Mateen Cleaves and them. Also the way they play with each other has been outstanding. They really pull for one another. This is Tom Izzo type team, Coach Izzo type team. He has done a wonderful job of coaching them.
I tell you, if he's not Coach of the Year, he's done an amazing job. I'm really proud of him. I would say also that we got a great leader in Draymond Green. I'm really impressed with Appling the way he's improved. It was tough to go from a shooting guard to a point guard. He has really adjusted very, very well. Dawson has played well as a freshman. I think he had to learn that coming from high school to college, it took him a while to adjust, and he is now playing well.
Thornton is shooting the ball coming off picks. He was just a defender before, he could always shoot, but he never shot the ball. So now he's shooting. The key for them is going to be Nix and Payne. If they can perform well in March Madness and the tournament, I think the Spartans can go all the way to the Final Four.
So those two big men have to perform well. They have to stay aggressive. They have to continue to hit the boards. We went back to Spartan basketball. Great defense and outstanding rebounding and that's how they're going to win and it's been the trademark of Coach Izzo's teams. And they're back to doing just that.
Last year was a disaster for Michigan State. But this year has been great and great recruiting by Coach Izzo."
He was also asked about Draymond Green, who has been described by Izzo as a very, very poor man's Johnson, given their similar skill sets. Does Johnson think Green have a future in the NBA?
"He's definitely going to make it in the NBA. He can rebound, he can pass, he can shoot and he's smart.
When you can pass, rebound and shoot, you have a nose for that basketball like he does, and he's a leader. He's going to definitely make it. Also he's a great teammate, so I feel that he's going to definitely back up somebody in the NBA. I think he'll be probably late first round.
The problem is he's a four‑year guy, so a lot of franchises are going to be looking for that type of guy who went to school, who knows, who can come in and play right away and be a sub right away. Draymond is going to be perfect for that role for some team in the late first round.
So you don't see guys that are a triple threat like that anymore. You usually see guys that can do one of two things. They can either rebound, they can't score. They can score, can't rebound. This guy is almost, what, he's got more double‑doubles. He's one of the leaders in double‑doubles in the country.
He can take you all the way out to the three‑point line. He's definitely going to make the NBA, no question in my mind."
(h/t Joe Rexrode)