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Going Gorilla: The Human Torch

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Gerald Green spent eight years trying to find his place in the NBA before a trade sent him to the Phoenix Suns. That transition was the fulcrum on which Gerald resurrected his career and turned into a super sub and one of the most electrifying players and incendiary scorers in the league.

This guy is always on fire.
This guy is always on fire.
Image provided by Dustin Watson

I like Gerald Green.

The Gorilla gets the cover art, so I decided to put a picture of Gerald in here.

Gerald Green is the Human Torch. I wasn't sure whether the 4 on his chest was emblematic of the moniker "Four Fingered Assassin" or if I should photoshop a 1 in front of it for his jersey number. Either way, this is how I've been picturing Green lately when he enters (per Goran Dragic) video game mode.

I've had more than a couple opportunities to let that vision dance through my head, since Green has busted out the flamethrower on multiple occasions. Here are a few of his more spectacular outings.

11/4 - Suns 112, Lakers 106

Green entered the game at the beginning of the second quarter with the Suns leading 26-24 and poured in 13 as the Suns stretched their lead to 58-46 by halftime. He then made a curtain call by scoring 11 of the team's first 15 points in the fourth quarter as the Suns avoided an embarrassing loss to the loathsome Lakers. Gerald finished the game with 26 points on 11-19 shooting.

11/9 - Suns 107, Warriors 95

The Suns were down 79-71 to start the fourth quarter in a game they hadn't led since the score was 26-25. Green then rattled off eight consecutive points to give Phoenix their first lead (83-82) since the first quarter. The final tally of the carnage was 16 points in the quarter as the Suns surged past Golden St. for one of its signature wins of the season. Green finished with 19 points, with three of his four triples coming during the fourth quarter fulmination.

11/12 - Suns 112, Nets 104

The Suns dug themselves a huge hole early in this game (38-19) before the Gerald Green show began. GG scored 18 points over a seven minute stretch to help keep the Suns from getting boat raced. With the Suns still trailing to start the fourth, Isaiah Thomas (12) and Gerald (10) combine to score 22 points in the quarter and help the Suns complete the comeback. Green hit 11-12 from the free throw line in the game and scored a season high 28 points.

11/22 - Suns 106, Pacers 83

The pyrotechnics started early in this one, as Green scored the Suns' final 12 points of the first quarter over the last 3:06. Green hit two more threes early in the second, the last of which put Phoenix up 43-31. If you're counting at home that's another 18 point outburst in just over seven minutes. The Suns would ultimately cruise to victory as Green finished with five from deep and 23 points.

11/26 - Suns 120, Nuggets 112

Green came up jumbo large in a period spanning the end of the third and beginning of the fourth period. His 16 points were mostly of the spectacular variety and energized the crowd while demoralizing the helpless Nuggets. Gerald scorched Denver with a season high six long distance bombs and elicited the "you're like a video game" compliment/assessment from teammate Goran Dragic.

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Green was an amazing +72 in those five games. Plus/minus isn't always a great tool to accurately measure a player's impact, but in these cases I think it's very apropos. Green is a pyromaniac's basketball dream. I'm surprised he hasn't been charged with arson in a post game interview.

Gerald does tend to suffer from the feast or famine mechanic, but he's not exactly disappearing in his more human outputs. Green has scored double digits in each of the team's last 10 games while only shooting less than 40% in two of them. He hit at least two three pointers in seven of the games.

The 20+ outbursts have become one of Green's calling cards. The other is his foudroyant, jaw-dropping dunks.

Here is a picture of me watching G Twice going nuclear.

Is this a fan boy article? Yes.

This is a fan site, though. I write here because of my passion for the Suns and the enjoyment it brings me. The wages are exiguous - it's kind of like working for peanuts... except there are no peanuts. The benefits are all non-tangible perquisites (Dave is really stingy with the raises, but don't let him know I told you that) related to my love of the game and ability to express myself.

Special players like Gerald Green help make this worthwhile. He is truly a treasure. He does things that almost no other NBA players can do.

I don't know your viewing habits, but I enjoy being wowed. Every time Green steps on the court I find myself wondering if he's about to enter fire mode on NBA Jam. Markieff Morris (as a random whipping boy) just doesn't do that for me.

Sure, Markieff has been very productive this year. He's been relatively steady, too (2-14 vs. Houston notwithstanding). But Gerald Green is like a trip to Disneyland in comparison to the Markieff Morris root canal.

With Gerald I expectantly await the amazing. He might account for half of the team's best highlights by himself. When Green cuts off a passing lane and breaks into the open court I hold my breath awaiting the impending doom of the opponent's rim. When Dragic or Bledsoe does that, I am very confident they'll make their layup.

Green plays with a contagious passion and energy. Raw emotion.

I've even appointed Green his very own theme music.

But not everything burns bright white for Gerald this season.

Green has seen his minutes wizen from 28.4 per game last season to 21.8 so far this season. This is despite the fact that he is averaging 24.0 points per 36 minutes, good for ninth in the league among players with at least 10 appearances. Marreese Speights is the only reserve above him on the list.

Surely some of this drop off is due to the arrival of Isaiah Thomas, who happens to be tenth in the league in points per 36, but Green has still only averaged 23.7 minutes in the last six games Isaiah has missed.

Green has five games of at least 20 points this season through 21 games. Last season he had 25 such games when he started 48 times and appeared in all 82. Green has yet to miss a game since coming to the Suns.

In his reduced role, Green is still eighth in the league in made three pointers (46) and pacing for 180 on the season. Last season he was fourth with 204.

Just like his backcourt brethren, Green has felt the crunch from the crowded conditions. All four horsemen have seen a reduction in raw production. Like Dragic, Green is in a contract year. Like Dragic, Green is playing for his last big payday.

This is a delicate situation for one of my favorite playes on the team. Green was a starter by necessity for a good part of last season due to injuries to Eric Bledsoe. Green actually played the fourth most minutes per game, behind only Dragic, Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker.

This season Green is eighth.

So what is the plan for Green?

How does one monetarily quantify Green's value as a player who can almost single-handedly carry a team to victory about 20 games a season? What is market value for one of the best and most impactful reserves in the league? How about the entertainment value that is an inherent part of Green's game? Gerald is must see tv.

Including this season, Gerald has made less than $16 million in his NBA career. With the pending escalation of the salary cap I imagine that he is probably looking to double that on a four year deal this summer. While Isaiah was a bargain, will Green have a hard time breaking $30 million?

Two years ago Jamal Crawford signed a four year, ~$21 million contract. He was 32. Gerald will be 29 this summer.

What are Green's ambitions? With the paucity of elite talent at the shooting guard position in the NBA Green could undoubtedly find a starting role with a team this summer. Of the top 30 scoring shooting guards in the NBA only Lou Williams of the Toronto Raptors plays less minutes than Green.

Will money and situation create a rift between Green and the Suns? Will he end up being the odd man out... the green kangaroo?

Possibly.

Which may very well lead to the Suns being a less exciting team... and that would be a shame.

Check out this compilation of all 57 of Green's dunks from last season for a reminder why...