By Mike Baldwin •
Modified: April 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm •
Published: October 19, 2008
/articleid/3313078/1/pictures/508212"> Oklahoma City Thunder Jeff Green (22) goes up for a shot past Golden State Warriors' Stephen Jackson during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
His understanding of the game is terrific. His work ethic is terrific.”
Carlesimo agrees. He said Green and Durant did an exceptional job during off-season workouts.
"Jeff and Kevin were both noticeably different in April,” Carlesimo said. "They were even different in Orlando (this summer). That was one increment. It’s been another sizeable increment since then. That (second) year sometimes flattens out. But Jeff has given every indication he’s building on what he did last season.”
Green averaged 15.6 points the final month. But Green doesn’t gauge success by his scoring average. He prefers to be viewed as an all-around player who compiles stats in every category. His I’m-in-the-NBA moment was when he guarded Kobe Bryant in an early season game in the Staple Center. Bryant scored 35 points.
"I did OK last season but I want to get better on defense,” Green said. "I’ve tried to get in better condition because we play 82 games. At my position, and Kevin’s position, we’re going against the best players in the NBA. You’re playing against an All-Star every night.”
After learning tough rookie lessons, Green diligently worked out this summer back home in D.C. One week he would concentrate on improving his pick-and-roll. The next week it might be workouts centered on his low-post move or shooting or dribbling.
"He’s still growing. He’s still learning,” Thompson said. "The more they ask of him the more he will give them. He can play inside. But he’s also the type of player who makes plays on the perimeter for him or his teammates. The big thing is getting him comfortable. His best ball is ahead of him.”
Green has been hampered by a sprained ankle the past week. But teammates said Green already showed noticeable improvement from his rookie season during August voluntary workouts at Southern Nazarene University.
"For people who really don’t know Jeff Green he’s going to amaze you for years to come,” said point guard Earl Watson. "His growth from last year to this year has been amazing. I’ve never seen a player get that much better that quickly. The sky is the limit.”