Amidst a breakthrough season, Gerald Green has been a diamond in the rough for fantasy owners everywhere. Not even on the fantasy radar at the beginning of the year, injuries have catapulted him into the Suns starting lineup. Most notably, the Eric Bledsoe injury has opened up the starting SG gig for Mr. Green. No doubt about it: Green has been phenomenal. However, all good things must come to an end.
Don’t fool yourself and think this breakout is unprompted. Green has flat out been much better when Bledsoe has been on the shelf. Most of Green’s value comes from scoring and the Suns have a big void to fill when Bledsoe is out. At 18.0 PPG, Bledsoe ranks 34th in the NBA in scoring. Filling the void of a top 35 overall scorer isn’t easy and has forced Green to take his game to new levels. Just take a look at the months in which Bledsoe has missed the most games:
January: Bledsoe missed 16 games, Green’s scoring: 15.9 PPG (16 GP, 16 GS, 29.6 MPG)
February: Bledsoe has missed 10 games (as of 2/25/14), Green’s scoring: 18.2 PPG (10 GP, 10 GS, 30.0 MPG)
November: Bledsoe missed 6 games, Green’s scoring: 15.1 PPG (16 GP, 12 GS, 29.6 MPG)
What about the months that Bledsoe didn’t miss any games? His scoring numbers didn’t even approach the others:
December: Green’s scoring: 11.4 PPG (13 GP, 0 GS, 23.5 MPG)
October: Green’s scoring: 5.0 PPG (1 GP, 0 GS, 17 MPG)
As you can see, Green’s value has fluctuated according to Bledsoe’s games played in a given month. When Bledsoe returns, he no doubt will end up starting once again next to Goran Dragic. Never mind that they are both true point guards, they were starting to learn how to play next to one another before the injury. Besides, the Suns were 16-8 (66.7 win %) in games with Bledsoe. In games without him, their record drops down to 17-15 (53.1 win %). As you can see, Bledsoe is an important part of the team’s success. Very importantly, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek isn’t worried about Bledsoe’s consistency once he is cleared.
"The true competitors really don’t, and I think he is a true competitor," Hornacek said. "When he starts playing, you won’t see him hesitate. I’m sure he’ll still play the way he always did."
If you are relying on Green to hold value for the rest of the season, I would strongly reconsider. When Bledsoe comes back, Green will slide back into his bench role; a role which has a much lower success rate than starting. There won’t be much a transition period either. Bledsoe is working on ramping up his endurance off the court right now so he should be fully ready when the medical staff gives him the go. The problem is he has been out a long time so the team doesn’t want to rush him back. Bledsoe underwent arthroscopic surgery approximately six weeks ago on his right knee at this point. Reports state the team and Bledsoe’s representatives are being extra careful on his knee because he underwent surgery on the same one 27 months prior. Still, the day "mini LeBron" takes foot on the court is the day you downgrade Green for the foreseeable future.
However, it’s not like Green is going to become useless. If you remember the month-to-month numbers from above, you’ll see Bledsoe missed zero games in December. In that month alone, Green had three games (out of 13) of over 20 points alone. Of course with his near 11 PPG average, he surely had his duds also. A sixth man type Gerald Green can be compared to the fantasy value of someone like Danny Green or Joe Johnson. While Green is probably inside the top 100 overall fantasy players when Bledsoe is inactive, he falls outside it when the Suns PG returns. He will be an inconsistent scorer that can give you an excellent amount of 3PM and fair share of blocks. Players with that skill set fall just outside the top 100 but can have a spot at the end of a starting lineup on a winning fantasy team. Probably the best spot would be one of the first bench players on a good team. Regardless, Green won’t totally be off the radar.
So if you’ve been loving the production Gerald Green has been giving your fantasy team lately, don’t get too used to it. Both you and Jeff Hornacek have been pleased with him but both need to be reasonable. Eric Bledsoe is the better player and deserves more minutes of the two. Bledsoe will most likely receive a max contract from the Suns after this season. Green is no max player or anything close. We’ve likely witnessed the best stretch of his season, both fantasy and reality, barring another injury. Fantasy owners of Gerald Green won’t be happy to see Eric Bledsoe back but let’s be reasonable here. If you were the Suns coach, wouldn’t you give Eric Bledsoe bigger minutes the second he came back? Yeah, I would too.