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Suns coach: Gerald Green benefiting from growth, team’s system

LISTEN: Jeff Hornacek, Suns Head Coach

Gerald Green has always been known as a great athlete.

Since being selected in the first round of the 2005 draft out of high school by the Boston Celtics, the shooting guard has shown flashes of being more, but had yet to really put everything together.

But aside from winning the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest in 2007, his career had been pretty nondescript.

Green had played for seven different NBA teams before this season — as well as a few other D-League teams and two in other countries — but it appears he may have finally found something in Phoenix.

And, in turn, the Suns may have found something in him.

Brought over from the Indiana Pacers in an offseason trade, Green is averaging 13.9 points, 3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and nearly 1 steal per game, while shooting .439 from the field and .370 from three-point range.

Forced into a starting role due to Eric Bledsoe’s absence, Green has averaged 15.5 points per game and helped the Suns stay relevant in the Western Conference playoff chase.

It’s shaping up to be Green’s best season as a pro, and Suns coach Jeff Hornacek says a lot had to happen for the player to get to where he is now.

Monday in Philadelphia, Green exploded for 30 points on 10-of-12 shooting (4-5 from three) while adding 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks and 1 steal.

“When a guy goes overseas and then he gets back in the NBA, they change a little bit,” the coach told the Doug and Wolf Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “Maybe he’s matured a little.”

But at the same time, Hornacek understands the team’s system has likely also played a role in the increased production.

If the season ended today, Green would finish with the highest scoring average of his career by a full point. With an ever-expanding role, chances are good the difference will be even greater when the season comes to a close.

“It’s our system that probably allows him to do some of the things that make him good,” Hornacek said. “I think early in the season, because of our team, we let him do a lot of things that, typically, a coach probably won’t put up with, with some of the crazy shots. You see a coach take him out and take guys out when they take the bad shots.

“We tried to allow him to do it because sometimes he’d get hot. We’re just trying to teach him, day-to-day, what’s a good shot, what’s a bad shot, when to make a pass.”

The coach added he’s been pleased with Green’s passing of late.

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