What JaMychal Green brings to the Denver Nuggets

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

The Denver Nuggets were active on the first day of the 2020 free agency period, adding two players to the roster to further add to their depth in both the back and frontcourt.

After signing point guard Facundo Campazzo, Denver added a more notable presence in the frontcourt in the form of JaMychal Green. Green is an established veteran, having been in the NBA for six seasons, most notably as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies from 2014 to 2019.

The 30-year-old forward has become one of the more underrated post players in the league in recent seasons, especially as his 3-point shooting has continued to improve. In 63 games for the LA Clippers last season, Green averaged 6.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in 20.7 minutes of action per contest.

Following the departure of Jerami Grant, Green figures to play a crucial role in Denver’s frontcourt rotation, whether as a starter at the power forward (four) position or as a hybrid power forward/center on the second unit.

Let’s take a closer look at what Green adds to the Nuggets frontcourt for the upcoming season.

Floor-spacing highlights offensive game

Although the “3&D” description is often reserved for wings and guards, there’s no reason it can’t apply to players that strictly play four or five spots. Green represents this skillset, especially on the offensive end of the floor.

During the 2019-20 season, 67.6 percent of Green’s shot attempts came from beyond the arc, where he shot a healthy 38.7 percent. In an offense that already includes Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Green should slot in nicely as a floor-spacing presence in the frontcourt that occasionally crashes the offensive glass.

When taking a closer look at Green’s dependent offensive game, it’s clear he will enjoy playing alongside Jokić, perhaps the best passing big man of all-time and one of the premier distributors in the NBA today. A staggering 98.2 percent of Green’s career 3-pointers were assisted, while 61.6 percent of his two-point field goals were assisted during his six-year career.

Now in Denver, Green will benefit from the tremendous attention Denver’s top offensive players generate, thus opening up quality looks for the University of Alabama product on a regular basis. If those looks are open in the corners, that will be music to Green’s ears, as the previously undrafted forward has connected on 40.1 percent of his corner 3-point attempts throughout his career.

When it comes to making an offensive impact inside the arc, that will likely come exclusively around the rim. Green averaged 1.2 offensive rebounds per game (again, in 20.7 minutes per game) last season, while he has been an impressive finisher around the basket throughout his career. Over the course of his 362 career games, Green has shot 61.2 percent from within three feet of the rim. Green’s teams have consistently seen an increase in the number of shot attempts around the rim when he was on the floor, including a three percent increase in LA last year.

However, it must be pointed out that Green’s frequency of shots attempted from that range dropped to a career-low 20.5 percent of his overall shot attempts. If last season was any indication for how Green’s offensive game will develop over the coming years (especially in a crowded Nuggets offense), look for a healthy dose of 3-point attempts to fuel his production on that end of the floor.

In the end, Green is not a player that will be holding the ball and looking to create his own shot. Expect to see him primarily space the floor in the corners when on the court with Denver’s starters while occasionally occupying the dunker spot (the area along the baseline that is just outside the paint but not quite in the short corner of the floor).

Rebounding and physicality on defense

Although Green has been signed to fill a need at the power forward position with the departure of Grant, make no mistake, the two players are very different on the defensive end of the floor. While Grant is a power forward that can play and guard opposing small forwards and smaller wings, Green is more of a classic frontcourt player capable of matching up against bigger, physical forwards and centers.

Green doesn’t project to be able to switch on to smaller wings on the perimeter or match up against the likes of Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, etc. Rather, he is a more physical matchup to throw at bigger forwards that like to play in the post.

Although basic statistics don’t paint a strong picture of Green’s defensive impact (career averages of 0.6 steals and 0.4 blocks per game), Green graded out as a solid, if unspectacular defensive player during the 2019-20 campaign.

With a Defensive Box Plus-Minus of +0.7 and Defensive Real Plus-Minus of +0.33, Green certainly won’t take anything away from Denver’s defense when on the court. Green’s defensive impact and style of play compare more favorably to that of Paul Millsap’s rather than Grant’s.

An area Green should help Denver is on the defensive glass, one of Denver’s surprisingly weak spots considering the team’s elite offensive rebounding numbers in recent seasons. The Nuggets finished the 2019-20 season ranked 20th in the league in defensive rebound percentage. Denver allowed opponents to grab offensive rebounds on nearly 26 percent of their missed shots, a figure that should improve with Green now in the fold.

Green averaged 4.9 defensive rebounds per game last season with the Clippers, which jumped to 8.6 when adjusted to per-36 minute averages. Furthermore, in four of Green’s six seasons in the league, his team has improved its defensive rebounding when he was on the floor. With a larger role for Porter Jr. expected in the 2020-21 season alongside the addition of Green, look for Denver to take a step forward on the glass.

Green likely won’t wow fans with impressive chase-down blocks or by locking up opposing forwards on the perimeter. However, through impressive rebounding and good court awareness, Green should help Denver’s defense in several key areas as the frontcourt re-tools following Grant’s departure.

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