We took a look at a list of goals for the entire Thunder team a couple weeks ago. But let’s get detailed. Let’s get specific. I’m going to dig in and hit on some individual goals for a few players that would define a successful season. So what meters for success should we set for Uncle Jeff Green?
25 double-doubles. This number may be a wee bit high. Last season, he recorded 11. But that’s with 20 games or so at small forward where he had far less opportunity to board. Green isn’t a bad rebounder by any means (6.7 a game last season), but he’s not great either. The Thunder is missing a guy that can put up consistent double-doubles and Green is the best candidate. He’ll see the minutes, he’s in the position and he’s got the ability. It’s just a matter of him getting it done.
Over eight rebounds a game. When Scott Brooks challenged him last year, his rebounds bumped up big time. Here’s a challenge Jeff. Do it for a full season. We need to see a couple 15 rebound games. A bunch of 10 rebound game. And at worst, pull down five boards. None of this 34 minutes, two rebounds crap. He had 20 games last year where he pulled down fewer than five. But I know he’s capable of being a quality rebounder. Look at his production from February of last season – 9.5 a game with 12 a game in the last five. Then he got hurt and the number went down to 6.3 for March and 4.4 a game in April. If he commits mentally to being a good rebounder before each game, I think he can be OKC’s main guy on the boards.
Right at or over 40 percent from 3. Uncle Jeff went from a “Nooo!!! Dont’ shoot!” kind of guy into a “Take that!” guy in one season (27.6 to 38.9). He can hit an open 3 and that evolution in his game was one of the best things from last season. He put in the work during the offseason and it showed on the floor. As long as he maintains and hovers around that 40 percent mark, he’ll be a nightmare matchup for other power forwards.
Post scoring, post scoring, post scoring. Like I said, last year the evolution for Green was the 3. This year, let’s hope it’s a post game. He played basically everything outside of the paint last year, but at times he showcased some nice post offense. I just don’t think he’s confident enough in himself to go down on the block and try to score consistently. I’m not saying he needs a sky hook, but if he could back down and score more in the paint, I’d be a happy fan. It would open up more for Kevin Durant on the outside, but also with Green’s outside shooting ability it could make post scoring easier.
Become a quality interior defender. Look, I know some don’t think there’s any way Jeff Green can play the four in this league. I understand that. But right now, you’ve got to deal with it because that’s where he’s playing. So when he matches up with Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and Blake Griffin (!), he’s got to be able to contain them. He didn’t do a horrible job of it last year, but he wasn’t the best. He doesn’t move his feet extremely well and he’s not very physical. I’m not thinking he’ll be a three block a game kind of player, but a little help defense and a little bit of a wall on the block would certainly be nice.
Don’t disappear late. How many times did Jeff Green have a first half that looked like this: 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting, six rebounds, four assists, two blocks. But he finished the game with a line that looked like this: 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks. Not only did his production disappear sometimes, but it seemed like he just faded away in the game. He became overly passive and didn’t have the eye of the tiger late. I understand that KD is the go-to guy in crunch time, but Green has got to be there.
Take over 13 shots a game. Stay aggressive, but don’t overdo. He can’t be afraid to be the Robin to KD’s Batman. He’s more than willing to hand off the spotlight, but it seems like sometimes he does it to an extreme degree. He took 13.7 a game last year and although the addition of James Harden might take away a few, the reality is Green is OKC’s second best scorer right now. He has to continue to add support. In games he was productive, the Thunder was as well more often than not.
Ideal stats: 17.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 bpg; 46 percent from the floor, 39 percent from 3. Lost in KD’s great season and Russell Westbrook’s stellar rookie campaign was Green’s excellent improvement. His numbers went up across the board last year – more points, more rebounds, better percentages, more free throws. He really went from being a potential top five disappointment into an excellent pick. And if things continue to move forward for him, he could be in for an outstanding season. He put up 16.5 a game last year and if he can get to the line more and become a little more efficient, I don’t even think 20 a game is out of the question. But that would likely mean he’d be shooting more, which unless he explodes into a big time scorer, we don’t want. So a nice season would be another point per game while sticking around the same amount of attempts. Rebound better, distribute the ball (he’s a really nice passer) and bump the percentages up.
Your turn. What did I miss?