The answer to one question could be as important to the Phoenix Suns’ future as anything else.
Is Gerald Green good?
A journeyman who is now with his seventh NBA team, the 6-foot-8 swingman with great athleticism certainly has the tools to be a very good NBA player.
But up until this season, all the former first-round pick had been is potential. Sure there were highlight reel dunks and the occasional scoring outburst, but he had never consistently played at a high level.
That’s all changed in Phoenix and if Green, now 28, has truly come into his own, the Suns may have themselves a heck of a player.
It seems to have come out of nowhere.
“He was a kid that was just raw. He wasn’t ready skill wise, nor was he mature enough,” ESPN NBA insider Chris Broussard told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday. “That’s really why, up until this season he was, for the most part, a bust.”
Given a large role in Phoenix, though, it appears Green has busted out, as he’s averaging a career best 15.9 points per game on 44.7 percent shooting, including a 40 percent mark from three.
And in 45 games as a starter, Green averaged 17.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Often times virtually unguardable, he has carried the Suns to victories.
He’s a different player.
“I think it’s not only that he’s improved his skills — we know he’s become a dangerous three-point shooter and he didn’t have that coming out of high school, so that is a tribute to his work ethic,” Broussard said. “I also think the bigger part may be maturity and realizing what it takes to be successful in the NBA.”
Broussard said when Green entered the league straight out of high school in 2005, the player thought he would come in and be a star.
“You can’t blame him. He had tremendous athleticism, everybody loved him,” the insider noted. “He thought he was going to be a star. He was kind of silly, he was immature.
“He wasn’t a smart player.”
But Green’s road to Phoenix humbled him, Broussard believes, saying being traded and cast aside — along with having to go to Europe to continue his playing career — made him the player he is today.
It also helped him realize he had to become more of a basketball player than an athlete.
“Obviously being overseas, that’s a place you can really learn the game from an intelligence standpoint,” he said. “I think all of that is what combined to make Gerald Green the player he is this season.”
Of course, then there’s that question. Is this a fluke? Is it Green’s peak? Or, maybe, is it just the tip of the iceberg?
“I think he’s got the ability to sustain this for a few years,” Broussard said.
The Suns can hope.