Green Making Defensive Adjustement at Off-Guard
Gerald Green’s offense has produced highlight dunks, shooting sprees and, most recently, a game-winner. Phoenix has counted on his ability to get hot in a hurry, and he has delivered.
His production has come despite a position shift from small forward to shooting guard, a transition that has opened up the team’s depth. More minutes and opportunities are available not only for Green, but for more traditional small forwards P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris.
Offensive duties don’t change drastically between the two positions, but defense does. At 6-foot-8, Green is being asked to contain quicker perimeter players that measure three to five inches shorter than he is. Among them: Eric Gordon, Brandon Knight and Dwyane Wade.
Green acknowledges the adjustments, but credits his teammates for ensuring they aren’t too costly in live game action.
“Guys might be a little bit quicker, good at creating on the dribble," he said. "I’ll still pressure them because I know I’ve got Miles and the twins having my back."
Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek lauds Green’s ability to “recover” on defense. If the player he’s guarding gets a step ahead, Green’s length and athleticism enable him to catch up and contest or block the shot attempt.
The 27-year-old has also shown signs of improved initial defense, gambling with more efficiency in the passing lanes and staying grounded when the opposing player is handling the ball. Over the last five games, Green is averaging 2.4 steals per contest.
“He’s getting better,” Hornacek said. “The biggest thing is if we can get him to bend a little bit more. He kind of stands straight up. He’s a tall guy and a lot of times he’s on a smaller guard. He’s going to have to use the length by getting down really low and sliding his feet. When he gets focused on that, eh does a decent job of that. He can really challenge shots because of his length.”