In anticipation of the 2007-08 Minnesota Timberwolves season, TWolvesBlog is counting down the days ’til tip-off by featuring some of our team’s players. These player articles were written by several of our forum members, as well as the site’s regular contributors. The third piece in this series was written by yours truly, C-Dub. I’d like to present to you our high-flying, sweet-shooting, illmatic-dunking, third year shooting guard Gerald Green.
Gerald Green – “The Sky Is The Limit”
By: College Wolf
Gerald Green, Jr. was born January 26th, 1986 in Houston, Texas. He did not play high school basketball until his sophomore year at J. Frank Dobie High School. He made the varsity team his junior year, but was unfortunately cut from the team due to academic issues. Gerald then transferred to an alternative school in Houston, Gulf Shores Academy, which began his ascent to stardom. He averaged 33 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 blocks per game, and was named to the 2004 McDonald’s All-American team. He won the McDonald’s All-American Slam Dunk Contest that year, defeating Josh McRoberts (who would go on to star at Duke University.) This was a pre-cursor of things to come, as Gerald also won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 2007 during All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. He’s got the body (6’8”, 200 lbs) and the physical ability to succeed in the NBA, but can Green put it all together?
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Gerald has already weathered his fair share of adversity during his young career. A childhood accident caused him to lose most of his ring finger on his right hand. Luckily for Gerald, this accident never affected his game in negative manner. (If he should ever get married, let’s hope his wife is willing to make concessions.) In addition to his high school academic issues, the 2005 NBA draft did not exactly go as planned either. Green was heralded as a “preps to pros” phenom coming out of Gulf Shores Academy. He originally committed to Oklahoma State University, but chose to forego college and declared for the NBA draft. His immense talents and remarkable athleticism had scouts comparing him to Tracy McGrady, and he was ranked as one of the top 10 prospects entering the draft. He expected to be drafted between 3rd and 6th, yet tumbled all the way to the Boston Celtics at 18th. Green was being spotlighted by ESPN, and was personally invited to the draft-day “green room” (reserved for the sure-fire draft prospects), which only made the slide infinitely worse. Green had no choice but to sit there and stoically look on as uber “talents” such as Antoine Wright, Fran Vasquez, and Yaroslav Korolev were all drafted before him. It was not his talent or athleticism that contributed to his fall, but rather, teams questioned his determination, work ethic, and desire. Reportedly he had avoided full contact practices and drills during his team workouts, which had many GM’s wondering about his commitment to being the best player he could be. In hindsight, Green said he was “disappointed” but thought that he landed in one of the best possible situations available. It would be up to Green to prove his critics wrong.
2007-08 will be Green’s third season in the league, yet the GM’s that passed on him are still waiting to be proven wrong. After he was drafted, Gerald had still more adversity to overcome, as Boston’s GM (Danny Ainge) informed him that he would be spending his rookie season playing for Boston’s NBA Developmental League affiliate, Fayetteville. For lack of better words, Gerald’s skills were very “Green.” He wasn’t overly excited about having to play in the D-League, but in Fayetteville he was able to regain his confidence, and benefited from the additional coaching and instruction. Gerald was recalled to the Celtics on February 3rd of his rookie season, and after getting sent back and forth a few times, finally settled on with the Celtics. His rookie campaign was largely unimpressive, as he played in 32 contests and averaged 11.7 minutes per game, 5.2 points, and 1.3 rebounds.
Going into his second season, the Celtics faithful and Boston’s Front Office brass had much higher expectations for Gerald on the court. Even though he had shown flashes of the brilliance towards the end of his rookie season, he still had quite a ways to go until he realized his full potential. The summer after his rookie season, he worked on developing all facets of his game, in the hope that it would lead to more playing time on a very young Celtics team the next season. Even though last season’s Celtics squad was decimated by injuries, he did not get quite as much playing time as he expected. He started his first career game last December, and ended up in playing in 81 contests (starting 26 games.) While his statistics were not spectacular, they were decent for a second year player not accustomed to playing major minutes. On April 10th he played his best game as a pro, logging 45 minutes and scoring 33 points on only 12 made field goals. He averaged 22 minutes per game, 10.4 points, and 2.6 rebounds. He showed some flashes of offensive greatness, but still struggled with his defense and playing within the team offense. The knock on Gerald is that he does not have a particularly large “basketball-IQ,” however he’s still very young. With more experience and playing time, Green could take a big step towards maximizing his full potential.
Then in July of 2007 his life changed. Green was included in the “KG trade” along with 4 other Celtics teammates (and two draft picks), in the biggest trade in NBA history. Gerald is viewed as one of the key parts to the trade – a prospect with unlimited potential. Hopefully Gerald can live up to these expectations, and the pressure of (partially) being trade for Kevin Garnett doesn’t weigh too heavily upon him. The good thing about the trade is that Gerald will once again find himself on a young team, with plenty of opportunity for him to improve and show everyone what he can do out on the court. Being traded to Minnesota may not have been his ideal scenario; however the opportunities to shine will be within his grasp. Playing time will be wide open this season, as the Wolves will be one of the youngest teams in the league. Unfortunately, Coach Wittman has informed everyone that there are no set lineups or pecking orders as of now. This does not bode well for our team or most of our fans, but it will give the youngsters on the Wolves ample opportunities to prove what they can do. Gerald could be one of the guys that takes this chance and runs with it. We can only hope.
Gerald is known for his athleticism, silky smooth moves, and beautiful jump shot. He is a thunderous dunker, and as everyone knows he won the 2007 Slam Dunk Contest. He’s got three-point range, as evidenced by his 36.8% three-point field goal percentage last season. Due to his supreme athleticism and “hops,” he is capable of getting his shot off against almost any defender. However, his 48 inch vertical doesn’t excuse the flaws in his game that he needs to work on if he wants to become a complete player. His hustle and determination has been questioned at times, and people sometimes wonder if he is truly giving his greatest efforts out on the court at all times. Another perceived deficiency is his “basketball IQ” in regards to playing defense. His man to man defense has gotten better the past two seasons, but he is often lost in team defense situations. He sometimes doesn’t understand or properly execute the defensive rotations, and other players are able to impose their will on him. Lastly, if he is able to improve his handle and refine his shot selection, it would only help his advanced offensive game.
Although there will be prevalent opportunities for Gerald to show everyone what he do, there is an entire roster of young players in the same situation as Green. Right now this roster is loaded with shooting guards and small forwards, the two positions which he is capable of playing. He will be vying for time with the likes of Ricky Davis, Rashad McCants, Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes, and Marko Jaric. It is a crowded field, and if other players shine, the minutes could become scarce. It is imperative that Gerald make the best of his opportunities when they are presented to him.
Given enough time and opportunity, Gerald could someday be a star in this league. His success (or lack thereof,) is truly up to him and the effort he puts into improving. Does he have the desire, heart, hustle, and character to work towards greatness and exceed expectations? It certainly won’t come overnight, as there are a plethora of things that Gerald needs to work on before anyone considers him a great player. The opportunities will be there on this young Wolves team. It’s up to Gerald to capitalize on these chances and to make the best of every situation. If he can fine-tune his offensive game and improve his defense, the sky is the limit for this young man.
And finally, let me leave you with some titillating highlights of Gerald Green: