Jeff Green was once considered one of the more promising athletes at the wing position in the NBA. Those days are past him. After becoming a punch line as the “guy a pseudo-contender wasted a first-rounder on to try to get them over the top”, he signed a one-year, $15 million deal with the Orlando Magic last summer.
Last year, he wasted away, as players tend to do when they sign contracts with the Orlando Magic (see: Frye, Channing). He averaged career low in minutes (22.2 per game) scoring (9.2 per game), rebounding (3.1 per game), field goal percentage (39.4 percent) and three-point percentage (27.5 percent).
With that said, and I know this sounds like a stretch, I’m generally inclined to disregard players experiences in Orlando. That place is cultural hell, neither tanking nor competing, with little to no system on a year-to-year basis and a disastrous roster fit.
Tyronn Lue has an affection for Green, as he coached him in Boston when he did this to a LeBron James-led Heat team:
Green certainly can’t do that anymore, but he can still at least score at the rim at a decent level. He only took 23 percent of his shots within 0-3 feet of the rim, but finished at a healthy (if not insane) 56 percent. It was the “everywhere else” that was a problem. 46 percent of Green’s shots came from 16 feet or further from the rim. He shot 34 percent on shots between 16 feet and the three point line, and 27.5 percent from three.
Cutting out these ugly shots that he just can’t really make and focusing more on screening and cutting, especially against slower fours, could help revitalize his efficiency to some degree.
With that said, there could be an issue of finding minutes for Green, though Joe Vardon seems to think that he will land in Lue’s rotation:
“I don’t view Crowder as someone who shares minutes, and the Cavs are extremely happy to have him. Green, meanwhile, is a favorite of Lue’s, so he’s going to play behind James or Love or Crowder.”
This makes sense to some degree until you account for the fact that because LeBron historically has such an expansive minutes load, Jae Crowder will have to play a ton of his minutes at the backup four spot just to get to the 30 or so he deserves. With Kevin Love being no slouch in the minutes department either, even accounting for some extra time at center this season, it’ll be tough for Green to find minutes.
Lue historically runs a nine man rotation, and once the team is fully healthy, either he or Channing Frye will have to be the odd man out. With Dwyane Wade set to join the Cavs, it gets even trickier for Green.
Lue isn’t afraid to play guys who are productive, but we also saw Derrick Williams show promise last season and get squeezed out of the rotation by players with better pedigree. Green can still revive his game by cleaning up the kinds of shots he takes and focusing hard on becoming an impactful defensive player on switches, but it could be very hard for him to find the minutes to do so in 2017-18.