The Utah Jazz made some moves this offseason. After bringing in Mike Conley via trade, and signing Bojan Bogdanovic to a four-year deal, they filled out their roster will some very solid players on relatively cost-efficient deals. One of those spots was filled with NBA veteran Jeff Green.
What can we expect from Jeff Green while in Utah? We brought in Washington Wizards expert, Ben Mehic, an NBA writer who covers the Wiz at Bullets Forever. Here’s a Q&A with Mehic on what Jazz fans can dream of for Jeff Green in a Jazz jersey this season:
A true basketball nomad, Green is now with his 8th NBA team in 13 seasons, including his 5th team in 5 years. How do these constant changes affect his game, if any? How does he manage to hop teams each year, and did you notice any impact on his game last season resulting from so many changes?
Uncle Jeff Green gets buckets. That’s not going to change. He’ll get buckets in the park during a random pickup game. He got buckets in Washington. And he’ll get buckets in Salt Lake City (love you and miss you, SLC). That’s the constant. It doesn’t matter where Green is -- he’s always going to be the same player, for better or worse. Obviously, he built a reputation for himself -- whether it was warranted is kind of up in the air. The guy came back from what could have been a career-ending heart procedure and played the best basketball of his career in D.C. People -- mainly NBA pundits -- might want to change Green, but he’s not altering his game. There’s still a place in the league for players like Green -- players who score the ball and don’t do much else. The great thing about Green is, he can do it in a variety of ways. For an almost-33 year old, Green has the hops of an athletic NBA player in his 20s. He’ll dunk on your favorite player’s favorite player. There’s no affecting Green’s game. Can you tell that I’m a fan? If not: spoiler alert. I’ll miss Green -- a lot.
He had his best season in the last five years last year on the Wizards. What contributed to this, and how was Washington able to get the most out of him?
I’ll be blunt: the Wizards started Markieff Morris, who was recovering from injury and never really found his rhythm. Green didn’t have much competition on the team. The third power forward in the rotation was often Sam Dekker, who’s a huge fan of me, by the way. Green had the ultimate green light and Scott Brooks, having coached him in Oklahoma City, gave him the confidence to shoot it whenever he wanted. At times, Green was easily the Wizards’ second best player. Sure -- the team was bad and won just 32 games, but Green (and Bradley Beal) was often the only player they could depend on.
At age 32 and with 12 years of NBA experience under his belt, what type of veteran presence does Jeff Green bring to the table? What is Jeff Green’s most valuable skill?
He’s awesome. When John Wall and Bradley Beal were making national headlines for freaking out during a practice (Wall cussed at Brooks and Beal told Ernie Grunfeld that he’s not-so-good at his job, basically), everyone predicted the locker room falling apart. A large part of the reason why the team stuck together was Green. He’s calm, cool and collected -- you’ll never see him get heated or do something that, if you did it, would disappoint your mom. That might be his most valuable skill, honestly -- that and his scoring, of course. It’s not like the Utah Jazz need a locker room leader, but it doesn’t hurt to have another rational voice.
Green started just over half of his games in a Wizards jersey last season, and came off the bench for the rest. How did his game change as a starter vs. a reserve, and how does he provide value to a team that might use him in both roles?
I don’t want to sound repetitive, but Green’s game is going to stay the same no matter what -- whether he’s playing 30 minutes as a fill-in starter or 5 minutes off the bench. He’s going to score. He’s going to knock-down corner threes efficiently (he made 38 percent of his corner threes last year), he’s comfortable with handling the ball on transitions, and he’s got a solid turnaround jumper on the block. This is kind of ridiculous, but Bradley Beal compared Green to LeBron James during training camp. He’s not LeBron (breaking news), but he’s super versatile -- he can score in just about every way and, at 6-foot-9, he handles the ball like a guard.
The Jazz were exposed last year in the playoffs after not being able to convert open three-point shots. Green shot 34 % from three last season. How capable of a three-point shooter is he, especially on wide open looks or when you really need them in close games?
Green shot about 43 percent on his open 3-point shots last year. He also shot about 36 percent from three when the ball was in his hands for less than two seconds (shout out to NBA.com for this data). He’s clearly efficient. If the Jazz needed a 3-point shooter, they got one. Plus, he’s so much more than just a shooter. He’s an all-around scorer -- and the fact that the Jazz signed him for the veteran’s minimum boggles my mind, just like it does Dwyane Wade’s.
What will Jazz fans like most about Jeff Green?
How sneaky good he is. Here’s the thing -- and I promise I’ll stop ranting soon -- NBA Twitter and pundits alike have boxed Green up as this inefficient, one-dimensional player that never lived up to his potential. It’s so easy to get wrapped up into the narrative -- to believe it without actually watching him play. Look, the Wizards were never on national TV last season. How many people actually watched them -- and consequently Green -- play? The narrative survived because people don’t watch him play -- and really, it’s easier to accept a narrative without doing homework. If you haven’t already, buy all the Jeff Green stock -- because the guy can ball. He’s worth more than what he got paid. He’s not going to be the star player on anyone’s team, but he could be a legitimate contributor to a winning season. Jazz fans will love his personality -- he’s quiet, a tad quirky, and absolutely loves basketball. Having gone through the heart procedure, basketball is more than a job to Green -- it’s a way to experience life. Jazz fans are lucky to have him -- and finally, he’ll be on a team that can utilize him properly, and win.