Suns swingman Gerald Green, who is putting the finishing touches on the best season of his career, blitzed the Oklahoma City Thunder with a career-high 41 points last night, the better part of them coming from eight made three-pointers. This topped a previous career high set just last month, when he scored 36 against the Nuggets. Gerald Green has been balling out lately, and that's great news, because the world needs men like Gerald Green.
Green embodies a familiar NBA archetype: the big, athletic swingman who possesses all of Michael Jordan's physical skills and confidence, but not nearly enough of whatever the hell else it was that made Jordan so great. These are the guys who can dunk on anyone in the league, who can take guys off the dribble with ease, who can get hot from three-point range at any moment, but can never seem to do all of those things at once. These players are just as frustrating as they are intoxicating. Just ask any Knicks fan who fell in love with J.R. Smith last year.
But sometimes, one of these players will go through a stretch where everything seems to click, and they go from being an underachieving sideshow to dunking, three-point launching terror, a nuclear option that defenses can't stop. That's what's happening to Green right now, who is on his seventh team in seven years, and who was in the D-League just two years ago.
Green has abandoned all those long twos that once killed his efficiency (he's taking just 15 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet, the lowest rate of his career), and is instead focusing on three things: running, dunking, and shooting threes. He's got 43 throwdowns this year (and oh lord have they been pretty), and he's launching six threes per game. According to Synergy, 45 percent of his shots have come in transition or on spot-up jumpers, and as a result he's scoring 15 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the floor.
And the thing is, it's fun as hell when a player like Green finds his groove like this. Remember how much fun the Knicks were last year, when the ball was zipping around the perimeter and J.R. Smith was out there sinking ridiculous shots and wreaking havoc from every spot on the court? Smith just kept shooting, and the ball was either going to go in or it wasn't, but either way there was nothing the defense could do about it. That's the kind of zone Green is in right now.
Green scored 25 points and was 6-of-6 from three-point range in the third quarter alone last night, and he was woofing and talking shit all over the court. It was the kind of shooting spree that makes you feel a little delirious while watching it unfold. The Thunder are the best team in the Western Conference, but they couldn't do a damn thing to stop Gerald Green, and it was so damn fun to watch.
Who knows how long Green's renaissance will last, but we should all enjoy it while we can. The NBA is a better place when players like him are around to bring a little bedlam to the court.