Memphis Grizzlies: Jeff Green Serves As Offensive Fire Hose

Oct 6, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Jeff Green (32) drives against Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Houston 92-89. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 6, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Jeff Green (32) drives against Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Houston 92-89. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

Jeff Green perfectly positions himself in the NBA landscape by running around and splashing points for a Memphis Grizzlies team that rarely rises above average unless the stars align. If only Green did this regularly, he would make a difference.

Instead, the 6’9″, 235-pound forward connects with varying effectiveness. He made 42.7 percent of his shots in 45 games after the Grizzlies acquired him via trade from the Boston Celtics on Jan. 12, hitting 40 percent 27 times. This season, he’s drained 40 percent of his shots in five of 11 games while scoring 8.7 points per game on 38.8 percent from the field, 26.1 percent from three-point range and 84.6 percent from the free throw line.

Erratic Shooting Through His Career

This should surprise no one, considering Green has made more than 43 percent from the field through four of his eight NBA seasons. Green’s career shows no correlation between his highest scoring campaigns and effective shooting.

At this point, the league has the book on Green. He excels on poor teams and grabs scoring wherever he can. This explains why the two teams for whom he averaged 16 per game (the 2008-09 Oklahoma City Thunder and the 2012-13 Boston Celtics) were losing squads.’s Matt Moore plainly illustrated Green on the Eye on Basketball podcast, saying, “Jeff Green’s fine. Don’t count on him to score 17 points and hit the big shot and lead you to a win in the playoffs. Why do you expect that out of Jeff Green? What in his game tells you that’s who he is? Well, he put up all these numbers in Boston. Well, yeah, he did, but there’s a reason why Boston fans are also like, ‘Please take him.'”

Some believed Green would adjust in his first full year with the Grizzlies after having a net-negative impact per possession despite scoring 13.1 points per game for Memphis last season. During training camp in October, Mike Conley told The Commercial Appeal’s Ron Tillery the 29-year-old knew he could be better. Zach Randolph said Green looked “way more comfortable.”

Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger was also optimistic, telling Tillery, “He’s a guy I’m hoping he turns his game up and his level of aggressiveness.”

However, all that was wistful thinking. Green has only four double-digit scoring games and has disappeared a few times with five or fewer points in four games.

Clutch On Occasion

When Green flips the switch, he’s big for the Grizzlies, flushing opponents out like a fire hose. He drenched the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday with a team-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Green also drained a decisive three-pointer from the corner that gave Memphis an eight-point lead with 1:40 left. Fifteen of his 21 points came in the second half.

Green’s explanation of the Grizzlies’ hot shooting also spoke to his own.

One cannot rationalize how Green gets on streaks or falls off. Sometimes it simply clicks.

That was the third time he came through for the Grizzlies in the clutch this season. Against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, he drove for a go-ahead layup with 26 seconds left.

On Oct. 29, Green ensured a 112-103 win against the Indiana Pacers with two three-pointers in the last three and a half minutes during a stunningly low-usage 12-point performance.

Properly Placing His Scoring

The Grizzlies are finding a few different spots in which they can use his scoring. Most of this comes off the bench since Green’s scoring does nothing to replace Tony Allen‘s all-world defense, not to mention the fact that Green is wildly ineffective defensively.

Memphis can space out and allow Green to create for himself off the dribble or catch and shoot threes, which he’s managed from the corner a few times this season.

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Using Green as a stretch-4 has become a must in certain moments. Since Brandan Wright and Jarell Martin are out long-term with injuries, JaMychal Green is the only true big man off the bench. Hence, in order for the Grizzlies to rest both Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol at the same time, they need Jeff Green in a frontcourt slot.

Green said he’s open to different roles, telling Tillery, “There’s nothing I can’t do. Wherever coach puts me I’ll play and be aggressive.”

He’s started only twice thus far, compared with 37 times (82.2 percent of his games with Memphis) last season. Green can act as a spot starter as he did on Sunday, relieving Courtney Lee, who has struggled with 33.8 percent shooting from the field and 21.1 percent shooting from downtown.

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Starting on occasion works fine for Green. He’s good as a utility scorer. However, thrusting greater responsibility on him would diminish his usefulness.