You might be surprised at the player who has emerged as the most pivotal piece in Oklahoma City this season. Because it hasn’t been Kevin Durant, the Thunder’s superstar scorer, or Thabo Sefolosha, the team’s dogged defender.
The most important player on the Thunder’s roster through 19 games has been Jeff Green, the still unheralded third-year forward whose play the Thunder has either rallied behind or fallen flat because of. A simple deduction can now be made entering tonight’s game against Golden State. When Green plays well, the Thunder generally wins. When he underperforms, so too does OKC. In the Thunder’s 10 wins, Green is averaging 17 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists. In the team’s nine losses, Green has underwhelming averages of 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Green’s shooting percentages from the field, 3-point line and free throw line also are markedly better in wins. Only Green’s blocks and turnovers are better in losses. The statistics show Green, for better or for worse, has now evolved into the all-so important sidekick to Durant that he was projected to be when the franchise selected him fifth overall in 2007. "He’s a very integral part of our team,” said Durant. "He’s one of our leaders, so we depend on him a lot. We’ve got to continue to encourage him and feed him the ball and make sure his confidence is always up.” Confidence has rarely, if ever, been an issue for Green. Consistency, on the other hand, is where Green must continue to step up and emulate Durant, who’s numbers only take a slight dip in losses.