This season alone the NBA Development League has had 36 players receive call-ups to play in the NBA. Six of those players where from the Los Angeles D-Fenders. Once a player is called up, the pressure is put on them to take advantage of that opportunity.
The D-League gives players a chance to showcase their talents and develop their skills, and considers itself the home of NBA prospects. This has proven true with players like Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes, who upon receiving a call-up, went on to have successful NBA careers.
One specific player from the D-Fenders is taking advantage of the NBA stage. Former D-Fender forward Gerald Green has taken the NBA by storm. Green received his call-up to the NBA, signing a 10-day deal with the New Jersey Nets. Although it may seem like a short time Green made the best of it.
So far with the Nets, Green has averaged 11 points and three rebounds a game, but that’s not what’s grabbing peoples’ attention. Green was given a top play twice in the same week, being part of the NBA and ESPN’s Top 10 list.
Green first brought Nets fans to their feet following an alley-oop windmill dunk off a pass from teammate MarShon Brooks. The dunk was showcased on NBA TV, ESPN, NBA.com, YouTube, Twitter etc. The play was so powerful it is already being considered the dunk of the year.
Green continued showcasing his high-flying skills, keeping up with other high-flyers such as Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Phoenix Suns guard Shannon Brown. Green’s highlight reels where receiving titles like: “Dunk of the Year”, “Dunk of the Night”, “Green Throws Down” and “Seeing Green.” His high jumps work for much more than just offense, too. Green created buzz after rejecting New Orleans Hornet guard Jarrett Jacks shot attempt in the fourth quarter.
Impressed with his work ethic, this past Sunday the Nets agreed to sign Green for the remainder of the season. Originally signed to a 10-day contract Green played in 11 games, reaching double figures in the last five. Green’s rejuvenated talent brought flashbacks from the 2006-2007 NBA season, back when Green was a member of the Boston Celtics and won the 2007 Slam Dunk contest.
As Green continues to showcase his talents one question comes to mind. With Green already being stationed in L.A did the Lakers miss out on a great opportunity?
In just 13 starts with the D-Fenders this season Green is averaging 19 points, four rebounds and one assist. He shot 48 percent from the court and a incredible 48 percent from behind the arc. Green also took part in the 2012 NBA D-League All-Star Game, leading the West to a 135-132 victory over the East. Green was named the All-Star Most Valuable Player, finishing with a game-high 28 points. He became the first player in D-Fenders history to be awarded the MVP crown.
Yet although Green is primarily known for his athleticism and ability to make plays, there were still some concerns. It seemed his biggest problem was the mental aspect of his game. That alone seemed to have kept him from being a contributor at the NBA level. In the past Green seemed to have a knack for making bad decisions. Green would take an ill-advised shot or fail to make an extra pass to an open teammate, all minor yet crucial mistakes. But since playing overseas and with the D-Fenders, Green has proven he has matured as a player. He has shown he can make timely shots, hit open players, play competitive defense and not commit unnecessary fouls.
So with all this recognition and hype that Green was gaining, how could the Lakers not have seen what was in their own backyard? Truth is they did, but didn’t allow Green to fully showcase his talents. Green was signed by the Lakers back in Dec. 2011, but was later assigned to the D-League. The Lakers then went on to continue working with players such as Devin Ebanks and Darius Morris, while Green developed.
So what if the Lakers had kept Green? Well, fast forwarding to the current season the Los Angeles Lakers could have used him in their line-up. He would’ve fit nicely in Mike Brown’s offense, and I’m sure fans would’ve love to see his high-flying talents in action. Green provides depth at the shooting guard position, and would have been a nice replacement for the former Laker Shannon Brown.
Also, the Lakers are trying to get younger players. Green is only 26-years-old and provides young legs with veteran experience. He would have been a valuable asset off the bench, providing 15 to 20 minutes of high-energy basketball; giving the ‘Black Mamba’ a nice break.
Unfortunately, before the Lakers could make a move for Green the Nets swooped in and signed him. Since then the ‘Green Machine’ has taken flight. But have no fear Lakers fans, Green has definitely shown up on the Lakers radar. As long as he finishes the season strong, I’m sure the Lakers won’t pass up another opportunity to have him play in purple and gold.