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Gerald Green: Two-Way Spark Plug

Pedro Portal/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

When the Heat signed Gerald Green for the vet’s minimum, it was bittersweet for me. Summer League was still going on, and I was enamored with an energetic big man named Willie Reed that was cleaning the glass, drawing fouls, and otherwise doing awesome things on both sides of the floor. I thought to myself, “Sure, Green’s high-flying ability could be fun, and his shooting is needed, but the man is a sieve on defense!”

Or more specifically, I actually tweeted this:

Reed would later be signed by the Brooklyn Nets, and I still haven’t quite let that one go:

willie reed tweets

In the meantime, Green has exceeded my expectations on both ends of the floor — so now my anger has been redirected to the Amar’e Stoudemire signing until further notice.

Green is averaging 11.8 points per game on 42.6 percent shooting from the field and 37.4 percent shooting from three this season, primarily in a bench role. It was known coming in that would be his role to make things happen, and he’s done so. Miami is 7-4 in games where Green has scored at least 10 points so far this year.

As the temperature has gotten colder (or warmer or whatever the heck the weather is doing this year), Green has heated up:

gerald green splits

Green has been good for quite a few highlights this year. Just ask Cleveland:

Beyond the highlights, Green has been able to thrive in transition (82nd percentile via Synergy) and on spot-up opportunities (81st percentile). Miami also runs him off a good bit of screens to get him attacking off the bounce:

The most impressive thing about Green this year for me has been his defense. He hasn’t been a sieve, or even below average. He’s actually been pretty darn good on defense this year. To Green’s credit, he always felt like he could play defense:

“I’ve always felt I could play defense, but people used to always talk bad about me. This is the first team that honestly never talked crazy about my defense. It motivates me to want to go out there and do more. When you go out there and you’re trying your best and people still dogging you like you ain’t doing it, yeah, it makes you not want to do nothing. But when you go out there trying your best and the team is encouraging you, you’ll give it all you got. That’s the difference. Last team I was on [Phoenix], they dogged me for going out there and trying to do what I was trying to do. This team is different. Maybe this team has a different philosophy than the last team I was with. I don’t know. I don’t see myself doing anything different than I was doing last year. I just feel like I’m getting more encouraged than I was in the past.”

Green has definitely stepped up his effort defensively. Last year, opponents shot 45.7 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three when guarded by Green. This year, opponents have shot 42.7 percent from the field, but 38.8% from three. Green has looked good defending on-ball, but still has lapses off the ball, getting caught ball-watching at times.

Here is an example of Green actually doing a solid job guarding off the ball:

Green rotated nicely and got a nice block on Aron Baynes here:

This was some wonderful help on Kevin Love:

In one of the more shocking developments in the young season, Green did a solid job on Melo here:

In fact, I’d recommend checking out Green’s performance against the Knicks in general. Green finished with 25 points while holding his opponents to 5-14 shooting, including Carmelo Anthony shooting 1-5 against him:

Like I said, it hasn’t been all good, though — especially off-ball. He didn’t have that good of a showing in Detroit:

Overall, Green has been a pleasant surprise defensively on top of providing the (shooting) spark Miami needs off the bench. He’s provided tremendous value on a minimum contract, and he seems to want to be in Miami long-term:

Green is not thinking about this as another one-season stay, however. He believes he has an opportunity to earn a multi-year contract and the stability he craves.

“I’m trying to find a home, and can’t Miami be my home?” he said. “That’s where my intentions are. So what is a Miami Heat requirement? To D-up. I know if I want to be here the rest of my career, (forget) offense. I gotta D-up. That’s where my mind is at.”

If Green can continue to rain down threes and compete defensively, he’d be a welcomed mainstay in Miami.

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