Pelicans

Is Josh Green New Orleans’ Missing Piece?

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The NBA is finally back. 22 teams will gather in Orlando to compete for the 2019-20 Championship. While all eyes are set on the return, we look ahead to the NBA Draft as well, where Arizona freshman Josh Green can become the last piece needed for New Orleans to become contenders for the next decade.

Josh Green is a name Pelican fans must become familiar with. The 6’6 guard from Sydney, Australia put together a commendable freshman season at Arizona. A former five-star recruit, Green was highly touted out of high school, receiving offers from Kansas, UNC and Arizona, to name a few.

Overall, Green and future 1st round pick Nico Mannion led the Wildcats to a 21-11 record. In his 30 games, Green averaged 12 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game. His solid offensive game was matched with elite defensive play, which is his projected calling card in the NBA. The productive season has Green ranked as a top 20 player in this year’s NBA Draft.

Offense

His freshman year saw many ups and downs offensively. A red-hot start to the season in November led to a two-month scoring slump in December and January (5/25 from 3 in 12 games). Green was a great transition player in his lone season at Arizona. His athleticism shone through in transition, where he scored 1.2 ppg. Along with his athleticism, Green’s underrated IQ allowed him to correctly fill lanes and attack when the court was unbalanced.

The clip highlights Green’s transition game. He sees the defense is set incorrectly and rightfully pushes up the court to receive an outlet pass. The rest is pure athleticism as Green outruns and outjumps two defenders for the emphatic finish.

Additionally, Green’s feel is underrated and underappreciated. He regularly made smart extra passes but also showed capabilities for difficult behind-the-back passes. He moved extremely well off-ball, continually adjusting his position to get free. His ability to get to his spots makes it appear effortless.

Green’s spot-up shooting is another strength of his. His mechanics are easily repeated. His high arc and consistent release point give him a nice, soft shooter’s touch. However, he does need to speed up his release and fix his mechanics off the dribble if he wants to become a good NBA 3-point shooter.

Conversely, despite his elite athleticism, Green struggled to finish through contact at the rim. Regularly avoiding contact, he opted from too many floaters and low-percentage finishes. His non-existent left hand made him extremely predictable when driving to the rim. Green’s first step is somewhat questionable too. With his weak handles and high dribble, his upside as a pick-and-roll scorer and distributor looks quite low.

Defense

Defense is where Josh Green will impact the NBA game the most. He has exceptional tendencies on-ball and off-ball, giving him the potential to become an all-NBA defender.

On-ball, Green’s excellent footwork and anticipation allow him to block driving lanes and disrupt penetrations. Additionally, his frame enables him to switch onto all guards and wings. The lateral quickness Green offers, highlighted in the clip above, projects him to create a lot of steals, deflections and blocks as the primary defender.

Off-ball, Green reads the game superbly. His energy is contagious. Throughout his freshman season, Green served as a disruptor, regularly helping on double teams and mismatches. He showed an understanding of baseline rotations and how to guard different player types. His motor never dies and continuously provides the same effort regardless of the score.

Green has to remain disciplined on defense. He sometimes gambled for too many steals and worked outside of the scheme Sean Miller implemented. His stance is inconsistent at times. Given his age, all the ‘negatives’ are easy fixes, and with proper coaching will deteriorate.

Fit With New Orleans

Josh Green’s fit with New Orleans is enticing. New Orleans lacks an elite wing defender, with Jrue Holiday being the primary matchup for all elite forwards. Green projects to be a stopper similar to Robert Covington and Danny Green. A perimeter trio of Lonzo Ball, Holiday and Green provide a lethal group of stoppers, all capable of switching seamlessly among each other. New Orleans tends to switch on the perimeter as much as possible, and giving Green’s strength, the switches will only increase.

Offensively, New Orleans’ fast paced style suits Green’s developing game. Alvin Gentry enforces a run-and-gun scheme. Given Green’s best offence is transition, Gentry, Ball and Holiday will invigorate him to push up the court at all times. Green’s role in half-court sets will be minimal. Early on, Green will spot up in either corner and be tasked with crashing the glass on the weak side and hitting open shots.

As his game develops, Green will serve as a tertiary pick-and-roll handler. His handle and control will have to improve drastically before then, but Green projects to be able to do so.

Green provides excellent value in the late-lottery or early 20s. He has the potential to be a 3-and-D starter but also has the tools to carve out a career similar to Andre Iguodala’s. New Orleans’ needs are minimal given their current roster construction, but a player like Green is the missing piece that fills those needs.

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About Vance Abreu

An Australian trying to make it big in Toronto, Canada. Weekly articles about the Pelicans journey to a NBA championship

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