I wouldn’t dare compare anyone to Zach Randolph in a Memphis uniform, especially considering the impact that he had on the community surrounding this team. Frankly, the prime of Zach Randolph’s tenure in Memphis was right around the time I was learning to develop my own loyalties in sports, so my respect for him is a little inflated. But JaMychal Green comes close to filling the role that Zach Randolph once dominated, at least on the court.
Green is a similar player in a lot of ways. He comes from an old-school style of play - he earns his minutes by doing the dirty work, and he doesn’t need the spotlight to make a difference. JaMychal Green’s game is very Memphis, which is one of the reason I find it fitting that he was unable to find a home anywhere heading in to last season. Green brings a force to this team that few can match, and has had basically the only highlights on this team from a player not named Mike Conley or Marc Gasol in recent years.
As Green continues to find his form in the NBA, the Grizzlies are reaping the benefits of an athletic big with decent range. He has improved statistically every year he has been with Memphis, this year looks to be more of the same.
2017-18 Season in Review
Last year was odd for JaMychal despite being the best campaign of his young career. Green went down in the first game of the season with an injury that would sideline him for 13 games to start 2017-18. He may have told the media that he fully recovered, both physically and mentally, but there were long stretches where he didn’t play like himself. Granted, there wasn’t much to get excited about last year for any player, but Green is typically an energizer bunny with no “off” switch.
He would end the year averaging 10.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, both career highs. Those numbers are nothing to be ashamed of, and his progression in this league has been so encouraging for Memphis fans. His three point numbers were down from a year ago, but he attempted more shots and was called into a different role than he has been in the past.
Most notably, Green averaged 28 minutes per game, a large chunk considering he was often sacrificing minutes in blow out games, which were all-too-frequent last year. With the significant minutes that he is logging, his impact can be monumental heading into this season on a roster that is supposed to be improved.
Best Case Scenario
JaMychal Green is a starter for this team, at least for now. The Zach Randolph comparison is a stretch in some ways, but in reality, Green fills a similar role. Best case scenario is that he owns the bully-ball role. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff claims Grit-N-Grind is not dead yet, so someone has to maintain the grit, that’s where Green can fill in. He can guard any position on the floor, move without the ball, and use the vintage high-low action that Gasol and Randolph were notorious for.
Green also can become a solid shooter from three-point range. Two seasons ago he shot a respectable 38%, slightly dropping to 34% last season. He attempted 2.3 threes per game last year, which is right around the number that is appropriate for him. Bringing that percentage up this season can not only clear space down low for the big men (and himself), but adds another perimeter weapon that Memphis needs so desperately.
Worst Case Scenario
I worry about JaMychal Green becoming a shell of himself. The early season injury seem to take him back more mentally than physically. It was tough for him to find his role and his motivation seemingly lacked a little at times. Now with more size and depth added to the roster, his minutes will have to be fought for. Earning his place on the floor against the likes of Jaren Jackson Jr., a (hopefully) healthy Chandler Parsons, Ivan Rabb, and Omri Casspi will be a challenge. If his effort and consistency aren’t there, Green may find himself at the bottom of rotation.
His health has never been a real concern, so worst case scenario is more about his contribution on the floor. His shooting will have to improve.
I expect Green to have another quality year. He was seeking more money in his last free agency run and appeared to be disappointed when no teams came to the table. JaMychal once again has a chance to prove his value this season heading into a free agent off season. His numbers have improved every season, so if that trend continues he will be a double-double guy for this team. I think Green is very much capable of being a 10-10 double double player, he just has to improve his shooting.
JaMychal Green figures to be a consistent starter on this team, grabbing the garbage buckets to get into double figure scoring each game. He will grab his usual rebounds as well. Where I think he will improve the most is on the defensive end. He has always been a defensive stalwart, but this year I believe he will take the next step at solidifying his dominance down low. He has the speed and length to defend every position, and his defensive presence will be a necessity on this team.
With the best season of his career in sight, JaMychal Green has the potential to price himself out of the Grizzlies budget heading into the 2019-2020 season. Let’s hope we get to reap the benefits of what he sows this season.