Asked following Monday’s practice how the team might generate frontcourt scoring on the second unit now that pick-and-roll finisher extraordinaire Derrick Favors is gone, coach Quin Snyder deflected a bit by quickly retorting, “I don’t know — who are we playing on the second unit?”
How that group ultimately shakes out remains in flux for now, owing to the trickle-down effect of not yet having a clear frontrunner for the starting four position. Still, while uncertainty abounds for the moment, there is, realistically, one guy we can have some level of certitude about.
You pretty much know what you’re getting out of Jeff Green at this point, don’t you?
JAZZ AT BUCKS
When • Wednesday, 6 p.m. MDT
TV • ATTSN
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound former lottery pick now on his sixth team in as many years has been pretty consistent the past four seasons — averaging between 9.2 and 12.3 points, and between 3.1 and 4.2 rebounds per game, all while making about one out of every three shots he tries from deep, predominantly as a four off the bench.
Simple, right? Except …
“You see Jeff Green — coach is encouraging Jeff to play a bit of the one,” Danté Exum revealed early in training camp.
Say what, now?
OK, so it turns out “Jeff Green, point guard” is perhaps not quite as accurate as “Jeff Green, guy trusted to grab a rebound, bring the ball up, and find an open teammate.” Regardless, it goes to show that Snyder is willing to embrace possibilities with the veteran Georgetown product that go beyond the obvious expectations.
“That’s one of the many things he’s encouraged me to do,” Green conceded. “With the personnel that we have, we have a bunch of guys who can bring the ball up the floor and initiate the offense. So me, as a versatile guy who can rebound the ball and push it, he expects that from me. So I’m gonna do my best to do a good job at doing that. I think it’ll be a good challenge, it’ll be fun for me, so I’m looking forward to it.”
As Green himself pointed out, though, that initiating is just “one of the many things” Snyder has thrown at him. The others? Among them, being more vocal on defense, quickly gaining mastery of all the team’s schemes and actions, becoming more adept at positionless basketball (particularly on offense), and becoming more of a driver and slasher, as opposed to someone simply content to fire up deep jump shots upon receiving the ball.
That last component was particularly on display in the Jazz’s exhibition demolition of the Adelaide 36ers, as Green more consistently went to the hoop, and wound up with three dunks in the game to show for it.
“Jeff can see space and attack the rim. … If he can’t get there and people are back, he is capable of playmaking,” Snyder said after that game. “That is something that we have been talking about with him. He has been working to find the situations, and [against Adelaide] he was able to break through the line and get to the rim, but if they do show a crowd, he is capable of creating, too.”
Indeed, both his versatility and his personality have contributed to Green already making a big impression on his newest set of teammates.
“Ah man, he’s a heck of an athlete. And he’s a really great guy. Those are the two [biggest] things,” said Georges Niang. “He does a great job of seeing the game and pushing us as a veteran leader. And his ability to finish around the rim is just spectacular. He does a great job of getting to his right hand, getting to the rim, and being able to put down some dunks — it’s pretty impressive. And like I said, his veteran leadership — he’s been doing it for awhile now, so the advice that he gives is amazing. I try to pick his brain anytime I can.”
That leadership manifested itself in stridently straightforward fashion on Monday afternoon when he was queried as to what would represent a successful season for him.
“Winning a championship,” he said succinctly.
OK, fine — that’s the stock, cliché answer, and we get it. But what do you want to accomplish personally?
“No, no. Winning a championship — that’s the main goal,” he insisted with growing vehemence. “I don’t, personally, make any individual goals — I know this is a team sport. I look forward to winning a championship — that’s the ultimate goal. When you do things like that, everybody wins. I’m not here for the individual things; I’m here to be part of a team and have a chance to play for a championship.”