He has his John (Russell Westbrook) and Paul (Kevin Durant). The entire basketball world knows this and credits him for it. But Sam Presti has had nearly four full seasons to determine whether Jeff Green is his George Harrison or Ringo Starr.
Serge Ibaka has become Harrison and I wager Green will want too much money to re-sign as Starr and ultimately goes the way of Stuart Sutcliffe, but we may see him resurface if the situation is perfect for him and he's not asked to do too much, as in a Sofia Coppola movie. The question for Green is whether he, as Jay-Z says, wants to be overpaid or underrated (with a team capable of winning a ring in this decade).
The Thunder have the fifth overall offense, built largely on the transition game and off movement without the ball in the halfcourt. Oklahoma City has good but not great perimeter shooters as a collective and the same goes for situations where their scorers are in complete ISOs.
Clearly, Scott Brooks doesn't have a reliable low post scorer. Green is his most frequent option and his capacity is very average to be generous. Green is a talented player who does a lot of things well, but doesn't have a special skill (at least not with the Thunder). While he is indispensable and under-appreciated, there is little doubt the Thunder can turn him into a different player that can elevate the sum of Oklahoma City's parts.
On the defensive end, the Thunder have taken a step backwards and rank 17th in points allowed per 100 possessions compared to ninth in 09-10. They defend the post and pick and roll reasonably well, but perimeter players get too many easy looks and Green has been a liability against ISO scorers.
Desperation Meter: Durant signed an extension without flinching, so Presti isn't a hostage to a win-now-at-all-costs mentality the way his former San Antonio colleagues have in the past (Danny Ferry with Cleveland) and present (Dell Demps with New Orleans). Westbrook will be eligible for an extension this summer and will certainly follow suit.
Green will be a restricted free agent and David Falk isn't going to take the qualifying offer, so it is all going to hit the fan shortly if they decide not to trade him.
At a certain point, Oklahoma City's best players won't have any room to get better and their hands will be more tied to make a major move.
1.) Paul McCartney was probably the more gifted musician, but John Lennon had that fearless swagger. Durant is the better pure ballplayer, but I have more confidence in Westbrook in the final minutes of big games to be completely undaunted..
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