Virtually everything surrounding the Phoenix Suns has been a surprise during the 2013-14 season.
The fact that they’re a playoff-caliber team after being picked to finish last in the Western Conference. The fact that they’ve accomplished this with a rookie GM and head coach at the helm. The continued improvement of point guard Goran Dragic.
But maybe the biggest surprise of the season has been the play of veteran journeyman guard Gerald Green.
After playing for six teams in seven NBA seasons, and two years toiling in Russia, Green has found a home in Phoenix. The former first-round pick of the Boston Celtics has averaged 16.8 points in 41 starts for the Suns this season. His production leads one to wonder what becomes of Green once Eric Bledsoe returns from his knee injury — something that is very close to becoming a reality.
“It’s still going to be a three-man rotation,” Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek told Doug and Wolf Tuesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “That doesn’t screw up Gerald, you get Eric in there, but now Ish (Smith) is throwing a wrench into that because of the way he plays.
“But that does give us the option that we can also fly Gerald to the three and get him minutes there.”
Depth at the guard position is a nice problem for Hornacek to have, especially considering the Suns have just 23 games remaining in their push to make the postseason.
“But if they just play and not worry about their minutes or their points or whatever and just play the game the way the coaches are asking, they’ll all get plenty of minutes,” Hornacek said.
Green was acquired in an offseason trade with the Indiana Pacers that also brought Miles Plumlee to Phoenix. Neither was considered much of an acquisition, but both have excelled in the desert. Hornacek is not totally surprised by Green’s play.
“A couple years ago, Gerald had a pretty good year, so we saw that he had the capability,” he said. “Again, it was the consistency we’ve been asking of all of our players. I think Gerald right now has gotten to that level where he’s been pretty consistent.
“There are not many nights where he goes 1-for-10 and then he comes back with a 10-for-11. He still has his hot nights, like he had the other night, but his bad nights are still pretty decent nights.”
Green exploded for 33 points in Phoenix’s 129-120 win over Atlanta Sunday night, but that level of offensive output hasn’t been an anomaly. It was the third 30-plus point game Green had posted in his last 16 games. The 28-year-old has scored in double figures in 35 of his 41 starts.
“He’s a fun player to watch, he’s a fun player to coach,” Hornacek continued. “He’s doing more things than just scoring for us. He’s playing better defense, he’s getting us some rebounds, he’s helping more defensively, and when he does that, he’s a great player.”