The Color of Money
Jeff Green is a piece that fits any puzzle.
It’s been a quiet post-season for Jeff Green. He’s probably enjoying his off time in some tropical latitude, being as inconspicuous as a 6-9 person can. Rest assured, his mind is as clear as the sun-filled skies. Because when it comes to versatile small forwards, the Thunder are good.—Ed.
With emerging superstar Kevin Durant in place, the squad formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics is quickly becoming one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA—no matter what the standings say. Besides Durant, a big part of making the Thunder both fun to watch and better than they used to be (a 3-29 start to the season was followed by a 10-9 stretch) has been the play of KD’s fellow second-year forward, Jeff Green.
The versatile, 6-9, 235-pound Green grew up patterning his game around unselfish, highly-skilled players like Scottie Pippen and Magic Johnson, so it should come as no surprise that he enjoys his role as Pippen to Durant’s MJ. After a quiet rookie season, Green worked with Durant relentlessly in the offseason to improve his game and develop a consistent long-range shot. “I had an OK rookie season,” says Green. “But I just want to prove that every year I will improve and add something new to my game.”
Through about three quarters of his sophomore campaign, the 22-year-old Georgetown product was averaging 17.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal per game. He’s also converting more than 40 percent of his three-point attempts, a success rate he credits to the summer workouts with KD. “Our chemistry on the court is just unbelievable,” says Green of his one-time AAU teammate from their prep days in Maryland. “I think the more we play together, the better we’ll get and the better our team we’ll be.”
Green even insists on making 50 three-pointers before stepping off the practice court every day. All of those extra perimeter shots in the gym paid dividends when, with SLAM in the building, he hit a 17-footer off glass with 1.6 left on the clock to beat the Golden State Warriors in late January. But in Green’s mind, such shots are only the beginning. “I just want to keep learning, help my teammates as much as possible and keep getting better,” he says.
In the immortal words of Vince Vaughn, Green’s so money and he doesn’t even know it.