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Jeff Green's shortcomings at power forward could hold Thunder back

Jeff Green's poor performance against Memphis' Zach Randolph last week highlighted a growing concern for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: January 9, 2011 at 10:27 pm •  Published: January 9, 2011

Green historically struggles to defend each of those players. Green, however, courageously continues to accept those challenges, calling the competition fun.

“People are confused about what my game is,” Green said. “I play the power forward. But when I'm out there, I try to use the advantages that I have against people, not necessarily just fitting into the title of a power forward.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks refuses to concede that Green's career-high 37.9 minutes — mostly at power forward — are a concern. But the coach comes off more as one who is unwilling to complain while playing the hand he's been dealt.

That leaves the burden of figuring it all out on Thunder general manager Sam Presti.

Presti has a pivotal potential contract extension for Green on his plate this summer. Several factors could determine whether a deal gets done, most notably the details of a new collective bargaining agreement and how much another team might offer the soon-to-be restricted free agent.

As a safety net, Presti has 21-year-old Serge Ibaka waiting in the wings, as well as steady veteran Nick Collison, who is now under contract for the next four seasons. Both are more traditional power forwards who can defend the post better than Green. But Ibaka and Collison lack Green's versatility, which could pose problems defending perimeter-oriented power forwards and point guards in pick-and-roll situations.

If Green wants to remain with the Thunder, everything will work itself out, whether Green accepts a reduction in minutes or a move to the bench.

For now, the Thunder continues rolling merrily along toward a second consecutive 50-win season. And that's satisfactory for the next 44 games. But at some point this summer, the Thunder must answer two burning questions.

What is Jeff Green? And what is he to this team as it continues to evolve?

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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