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Memphis Grizzlies 2017-18 Player Preview: JaMychal Green

With Zach Randolph gone, Green is our forward for the future.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies
JaMychal Green throws down a dunk against the Spurs
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

2016-17 Statistics

Points per game: 8.9

Rebounds per game: 7.1

Assists per game: 1.1

Blocks per game: 0.4

Steals per game: 0.6

FG%: 50

3P%: 37.9

Last season, JaMychal Green really came into his own. Coach David Fizdale gave Green a spot in the starting lineup formerly occupied by Zach Randolph and Green rewarded him by setting career-best statistics in every major category. His talents opened eyes not only in Memphis, but also in the rest of the NBA. He shot the ball at an above-average rate, and he was able to showcase his talent as a defender capable of guarding almost any player on the court.

Versatility like that simply can’t be taught. Being tall enough to rumble with bigs, but quick enough to guard wings meant that the Grizzlies had a guy that could guard the opposing team’s best player off the pick and roll—no matter what position they played. Green managed to parlay his talents into a two-year, $17 million contract.

2016-17 Recap:

After Coach Fizdale announced that Randolph would be coming off the bench, Green took over his spot and ran with it. While his numbers may not seem all that impressive, his contributions go beyond the box score. His tenacious defending can help swing the momentum of a game and his rim-rattling dunks can energize even the quietest of crowds.

Overall, Green had a successful season. After a long summer of seemingly fruitless negotiations, he returns to Memphis on what can be considered a steal of a contract. Last summer’s salary cap explosion left many Memphis fans thinking that the Grizz would quickly get priced out of getting him back. But with many teams not having the cap room we anticipated they would, Grizzlies management was able to drag out the negotiations and get Green back at a below-market price. Now that he’s officially back, he can return to doing what he does best.

NBA: Preseason-Memphis Grizzlies at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Projected Role:

Although Green was inserted into the starting lineup, Zach Randolph was still the go-to forward. JaMychal played the fewest minutes of any starter and was usually the first guy to hit the pine when Z-Bo entered the game. Now that Randolph has taken his talents to Sacramento and given the lack of viable backups behind him, Green is perfectly positioned to soak up a lot of the minutes that Randolph left behind. Hopefully this uptick in playing time will lead to an increase in production. After losing longtime vets like Randolph and Tony Allen, Memphis will need Green to step up and be a major player. Barring injury or a complete drop off in play, Green should be a lock for the starting lineup all season long.

Best Case Scenario:

Green played well when given the opportunity last year, but this year could really be his season to shine. He owns the power forward spot and continues to expand his offensive role. In case Chandler Parsons never becomes the player he once was, the Grizzlies will need a player capable of being a third leading scorer. Green has all the skills needed to become that player as well as a leader alongside Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Worst Case Scenario:

Green’s worst case scenario could be a real doomsday situation for Memphis. Despite the increase in playing time, JaMychal’s game could stagnate. He is unable to build off last season and eventually starts losing minutes. This is the part that’s the scariest. One thing that the Grizzlies don’t have is a suitable backup for Green—Brandan Wright is more of a center. Jarell Martin still has potential, but hasn’t shown that he’s ready to take the next step and may not be on the roster in two weeks. Ivan Rabb just isn’t ready for the NBA yet. If Green starts losing time to anyone, the Grizzlies could be in real trouble.

Expectations for 2017-18:

I expect that JaMychal Green will build off last season and become a strong contributor this season. Look for him to score about 13 points per game and average around 8 rebounds. It seems much more likely that Green will perform closer to the best case scenario than the worst case, and that his role in David Fizdale’s offense expands. With JaMychal back in the fold, the Grizzlies are a step closer to making the playoffs for an 8th straight year.

Follow @sbngrizzlies