Jeff Green's Impact
The Clippers may have only had Jeff Green for a week, however it is becoming clear that he will pay dividends once playoff time comes around. Going into the trade deadline, the Clippers were in desperate need of a starting small forward. Nothing against Luc Mbah a Moute, but averaging 2.9 points per game will not cut it as a starter in this league. Green has stepped in nicely averaging 12.8 points and about 25 minutes per game with his first start as a Clipper coming in last Friday’s game versus the Sacramento Kings. My first observation since trading away Lance Stephenson for Green has been the difference in size. At 6’9’’ Green is four inches taller than Stephenson and has an extra 2.75 inch advantage in wingspan. This extra size allows the Clippers the flexibility to play Green at either small forward or power forward depending on the matchup. This is a luxury to have in the playoffs as Doc Rivers can look to put Jeff Green on players such as Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard who the Clippers have struggled matching up against in previous meetings. Green’s size also allows him to help the Clippers defensive rebounding deficiencies as the team ranks near the bottom of the NBA (tied with the Lakers) in the amount of opponents offensive rebounds per game. Green is able to out leap opponents and move smaller defenders out of position to retrieve defensive rebounds. This has been the Clippers achilles heal for the entire season and will definitely need to be a point of emphasis moving forward as Green alone cannot individually fill this void. From an offensive standpoint, Green has shown the consistency to stretch the floor by hitting 50% of his three-point shots in the past four games and 31% on the season. His ability to shoot consistently behind the arch will help create even more offensive spacing on the floor as opposing defenses will not be able to cheat off of him, allowing more opportunities for Blake Griffin (once he gets back in the starting lineup) and Chris Paul to dominate in the paint. One of the more surprising skillsets that I wasn’t expecting with Green was his ability to put the ball on the floor and draw fouls as he attacks the hoop. Green has shown the skills to finish in traffic and if not, draw enough contact for officials to call a foul against the opposing team. The overall balanced game of Jeff Green is a timely asset that the Clippers needed before the trade deadline. While it is hard to say whether or not this move makes them a favorite to come out of the Western Conference, as the Clippers slowly integrate Blake Griffin and Austin Rivers back into the lineup there is no doubt that the team is better equipped to challenge the NBA’s past two championship teams.