• Gerald Green: From Dunk Contest Winner to One of the Most Improved Players in the NBA [Opinion]

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    Gerald Green

    You ever hear the expression, “good things come to those who wait?” Well, I’m more of a fan of the saying, “good things to come to those who work for it,” and whoever created that expression must have had Gerald Green of the Phoenix Suns in mind.

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    Since the 2013-14 NBA season began, many fans and analysts have been surprised by the play of the Phoenix Suns. Throughout the season, various Sun players have received credit and recognition for their good play, like Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, even the Morris twins (Markieff and Marcus) but no one wants to give credit to Gerald Green for his improvements.

    Now I’m not writing this article to talk about Green being the next great player or the underrated superstar that no one talks about. I am simply saying that Green has improved and he deserves some recognition for it.

    Since being drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2005, Green has struggled to find his identity on a team. He has played for a total of eight NBA teams including the Suns, then you add that with his time spent in the NBA D-League and overseas in Russia and China and you’re talking about a young veteran of the game.

    The main form of success that he is known for is winning the 2007 NBA Dunk Contest, beating out Nate Robinson, Tyrus Thomas, and Dwight Howard. After that, the next form of success that comes to mind for Green was his short yet productive stint with the New Jersey Nets who are now known as the Brooklyn Nets. He didn’t join the Nets until February of 2012, but through the season he averaged 12 points, and four rebounds in the 31 games he played.

    However, since joining the Suns back in summer of 2013, Green has steadily improved. He is currently averaging 14 points and three rebounds per game. While those stats may not be the most impressive, it speaks volumes for a young man who originally relied on his athleticism to succeed.

    Over the last few years, I have seen a change in him. He’s a better all-around player, he has worked on his fundamentals, ball-handling skills and passing. He also seems to be finding the line between being an important contributor and taking over a game. Over his last five games, Green has averaged 21 points and nearly five rebounds per game, all while shooting 47 percent from the field and 83 percent from the free throw line.

    Back in January, Green hit a game-winning three against the Minnesota Timberwolves, after dropping 14 points. Then most recently, he scored a career-high 36-points in a win against the Denver Nuggets. What I like most about Green this season, is his consistency, he isn’t just having a few good games here and there, he is valued contributor every game. He has certain games, where he struggles but he also has games where he dominates and takes over, then he has certain games that he just plays to his particular role.

    He has even shown some moments of leadership, for example, since Bledsoe went down with an injury, Green has stepped up both as a scorer and a leader. Don’t get me wrong, Green still has plenty of things to work on, like becoming a better creator and defender but the point being  that Green is constantly growing and improving which leads me back to what I said earlier, Green seems to have found the “fine line” between being an important contributor and taking over a game.

    Green may not win the Most Improved Player of the Year Award this year but he represents what the award is about. He came into the league with high expectations for himself, he didn’t meet those expectations and was forced to go through some trials like constantly being traded or released by teams or being sent to the D-League. However, he didn’t let those trials and tribulations stop him, he took it is as a challenge to make himself a better player and leader.

    Like I said earlier, I’m not writing this to say that he is the next great player or the underrated superstar that no one talks about. I am simply saying that Green has improved as a player and leader and he deserves some recognition for it. While you’re giving him credit, be sure to give some more recognition and credit to the Phoenix Suns head coach, Jeff Hornacek because he has done a wonderful job with this team in his first year.

    Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit

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