With the Clippers’ 2020 season over, we will start our annual exit interview series for each and every Clippers’ player, starting with JaMychal Green.

Basic Information

Height: 6’8

Weight: 227

Position: Power forward/Center

Age: 30 (birthday on June 21)

Years in NBA: 6

Key Stats: 6.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 0.5 steals in 20.7 minutes per game across 63 games played on 42.9/38.7/75 shooting splits.

Playoff Stats: 6.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.5 assists, and 0.2 steals in 17.1 minutes per game across 13 games played on 56.4/43.5/77.8 shooting splits.

Contract Status: Player option for $4.9M in the 2020-2021 season.

Expectations

In my check-in on JaMychal Green just over three months ago well before the bubble restart, I wrote that Green would hopefully play a major role in the Clippers’ postseason push. I opined that he had been underplayed and underutilized all season considering his effectiveness and versatility, and that he should receive more minutes in the playoffs, especially as a small-ball center. I expected that the 2020 Clippers would make a fairly deep playoff run, and that JaMychal Green would be a somewhat major part of that.

Reality

Unfortunately, I was wrong on just about all counts. The Clippers did not make a deep playoff run, and Green actually played three and a half fewer minutes per game in the postseason. He rarely got opportunities to play backup center to stretch out opposing defenses, instead serving as a true replacement for Marcus Morris (who played 29.8 minutes per game). There were only a few occasions where he was out there at center, either alongside Morris or with a really small lineup with Kawhi Leonard at power forward. Instead, almost all of Green’s minutes came at power forward next to Ivica Zubac or Montrezl Harrell.

When Green was on the court, he was highly effective. Unlike so many other Clippers (really every other Clipper outside of Marcus Morris), his shot did not fail him, and he was probably the most consistent shooting Clipper at 43.5% from deep (albeit on low volume). As usual, he very rarely created his own shot, but he took advantage of his handful of mismatches on smaller players on the block, and made some extremely strong finishes in traffic (especially against the Nuggets). In short, for his role, he was a useful and valuable role player on offense. As we saw in the regular season, the Clippers’ offense really opened up in the rare occasions when Green was at center, his shooting and pick-and-pop abilities helping to draw defenders out of the paint and clear driving lanes for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

However, defensively was where Green really stood out. Unlike every other Clippers’ bench player, he was not a liability on that end, instead providing mostly stout play both on the perimeter and in the paint. Like the rest of the Clippers’ big men, he was regularly toasted by Nikola Jokic – but he at least played him with some physicality and was a much better deterrent than Montrezl Harrell. Despite low block numbers, he also offered more consistent rim protection than Trez, and was a better rebounder on a per-minute basis. Out on the perimeter, he proved much more capable than Ivica Zubac (expected), and Montrezl Harrell (somewhat less so), switching out much more effectively onto smaller players. He even played decent defense on Luka Doncic on a handful of occasions in the first round.

All in all, Green was probably the 5th best player for the Clippers in the postseason (behind Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Ivica Zubac, and Marcus Morris), and was the only Clipper outside Zubac who outplayed his expectations. Fans consistently called for him to receive more minutes in place of the struggling Harrell, and apparently, players on the team might have felt similarly. Green continued to be underutilized in the postseason, and while playing him more minutes over Trez would not have solved the Clippers’ issues, it would have helped a lot. Alas, Green’s role remained small, and the Clippers were eliminated early.

Future with Clippers

JaMychal Green has a player option this summer, and it will be fascinating to see what he does with it. It’s hard to predict right now, because we don’t know what the salary cap will be next year, and if it does tumble as many people think (due to the shortened season), it’s possible Green picks up the option, because he wouldn’t get an average salary that high.

However, considering that he’s 30 years old and has never had a big deal, Green could want to opt out and try to get a slightly longer deal that could provide more security. He’s played well enough over the past couple years that he should be able to secure a 3-year deal on around the same dollar value (if not a little higher) from a contending team.

The Clippers will reportedly make re-signing Green a priority, and for good reason. JaMychal Green was one of the only players who truly brought the “lunchpail” mentality of the 2019 Clippers to the 2020 iteration, and was effective at both big man positions alongside other key personnel. He’s a personality fit, an on-court fit, and his game should age fine into his early 30s. It would be a true shame if JaMyke was not brought back.

28 Comments

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    “Fans consistently called for [Green] to receive more minutes in place of the struggling Harrell, and apparently, players on the team might have felt similarly.”

    Loyalty is an admirable trait until/unless it’s loyalty despite actual performance. I know Doc wants to show faith in his guys, but the problem becomes when that faith is obviously a detriment to winning, and when that’s obvious to the other guys in the locker room. I think JMG, Zu, and even PatPat have legit beef w/ Doc giving them too few minutes (and giving said minutes to Trez instead, regardless of the in-game matchups), and I have a hard time seeing Doc correcting this issue next season. To his credit, Doc did start giving Zu more minutes at the end of our season, but we’ve all seen this pattern over the years – Doc has certain guys that he just rides with, regardless of how justified it is (e.g. Jamal, Big Baby, WeJo, the corpse of Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley), and the team often suffers as a result.

    I really, really hope the Clips can bring back JMG on a reasonable deal because it’s a lot harder to find frontcourt players who are competent defenders and who can shoot than it is to find frontcourt players who are undersized, score-first guys who can’t defend/rebound.

  • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

    In other news, just found out the Bulls are hiring Billy Donovan. That’s a good get for the Bulls.

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      I never thought he was a great coach, but he’s absolutely a hell of an upgrade from Boylen.

      • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

        I think he is a good coach, the sample sizes are small and kind of skewed based on his inexperience, but also having come into the league having to let Westbrook and KD run the show and then Westbrook and PG run the show. This season was the first time I think we got to see Donovan put his stamp on the Thunder.

        • Avatar osamu6238 says:

          He’s never really stood out to me. If I were a Bulls fan, I think I would be a little disappointed they didn’t go after someone with more upside. I do get that he’s really had to play Westbrook ball, and this season CP ball. These are probably two of the most “build a system around them” players in the league. I think this will be his biggest test yet, and determine if he’s going to stick as an NBA coach. Unfortunately for him, I would put his over/under tenure with the Bulls at probably like 2.5 years.

      • Avatar mlslaw1 says:

        Would Donavan have been a Doc upgrade? After this postseason, tempted to say yes.

  • Avatar Thretch says:

    I give some credit to JMIke. Early in the season, he’d receive a pass in the corner. Then he’d fake the 3 and drive … but step out of bounds with his push off foot. This would happen once every game. It was very frustrating, in that he’d make that same mistake over and over.

    But you know what? He cleaned it up. After the all-star break it almost never happened again. Maybe the coaching staff straightened him out, but the bottom line is he improved and cut down his turnovers. I appreciate that.

  • Avatar osamu6238 says:

    definitely finding guys that can legit defend the 4 and 5, and shoot 40% from 3 are pretty few and far between. Let’s hope he still has gone under the radar enough to keep him for a reasonable deal. I think his ability to play both the 4 and the 5, and stretch the floor is invaluable to this team. I felt the same last summer as well. At least this year they really have no reason to remove his caphold, so they should be able to pay him what he’s worth.

  • Avatar Labis says:

    Did you Robert not talked about resigning J. Green for 5 years 70 Million?

    He is a solid player, but not a cornerstone type of piece. If he opts in fine, if not the Clippers should find similar production elsewhere m.

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      Finding “similar production” stats-wise is easy enough (e.g. Trez’ stats look way more impressive than JMG). Finding “similar production” in reality though is pretty damn hard – there aren’t that many 4/5s who can effectively guard the perimeter and in the post, and who can also shoot.

      JMG isn’t a “cornerstone” piece, but he’s still someone who the team should be trying really hard to keep.