After the departures of Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica this summer, there’s been questions on how the Golden State Warriors would round out their frontcourt rotation. Even with James Wiseman staying healthy in Summer League while setting beefier screens, and after the drafting of project big Patrick Baldwin Jr. in the first round of the draft, there was still a Porter-sized hole on the roster, and that hole was lurking behind the three-point line in the corner. Enter JaMychal Green.
Forward JaMychal Green is finalizing a contract buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder and plans to sign with the Golden State Warriors after he clears waivers, his agent Michael Hodges told @TheAthletic @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 19, 2022
The Oklahoma City Thunder acquired Green from the Denver Nuggets earlier this offseason, along with a 2027 first-rounder, in exchange for the No. 30 pick in the draft (which became UCLA wing Peyton Watson). It was a confusing trade for OKC, who may have though they could flip Green and his $8.2 million salary to a contender who wanted Green’s blend of size, defense, and competent outside shooting. Or maybe they thought three 2022 first-rounders was enough, and they wanted to take a flyer on Denver being bad in the 2026-27 season. Regardless, they found no takers, and with a roster absolutely bursting with young prospects, the Thunder decided to buy Green out.
The Thunder’s loss - and Denver’s - is the Warriors’ gain, as Green is the perfect fit for a team that really needed a reliable veteran to play 15-20 minutes off the bench as a backup big. And the pickings were extremely slim aside from Green. Look at who was left on the free agent market:
- 36-year-old LaMarcus Aldridge, who played exactly zero minutes for the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs last year against the Boston Celtics. Plus, at this point in his career, LMA has been a full-time center for four years, not exactly a Belli/Porter replacement.
- 38-year-old Carmelo Anthony, who even the Los Angeles Lakers decided was too old to re-sign. Melo can still shoot threes, but that’s really all he can do, and he’s declined precipitously from his desert-like defensive “peak”.
- Montrezl Harrell, who won Sixth Man of the Year two years ago but has been traded twice in the last 11 months, and is currently facing charges for felony drug trafficking, though it honestly seems like three pounds of marijuana sounds like a reasonable amount for an NBA player in the off-season. Harrell doesn’t play defense either, he’s only 6’7”, and the Dubs have to question his on- and off-court IQ after the last few years. There’s no one in his entourage who could carry that weed for him?
- Blake Griffin, who the Warriors would only acquire to mentor Wiseman about how to rehab knee injuries. Griffin’s various leg injuries mean he can barely get into a Kia these days, much less leap over one. He would be an excellent addition to San Francisco’s stand-up comedy scene, however.
- Dwight Howard, who...just nope.
Honestly it feels miraculous that a player of Green’s caliber was available three weeks into free agency. He’s got size, and enough mobility to cover wings in a pinch, though obviously not all game. Green’s outside shooting slumped last year - only 27% from deep - but in the three previous seasons he shot 40%, 39%, and 40% from deep. And while he played with quality teammates in Denver, Los Angeles, and Memphis, it’s safe to say that he’s never experienced the consistent wide-open shots that come from sharing the court with Steph Curry.
For his career, Green averages 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21 minutes per game, making 37% of his threes. This isn’t a player who needs a lot of shots, but he can knock them down when the ball comes to him. And he’s very efficient in his shot selection - Warriors fans can expect almost all of his shots to come from behind the arc or within a few feet of the rim.
What else can Green do? He’s a good rebounder, and he’s had success playing as a small-ball center, including against the Warriors in the 2019 playoffs against the Clippers. He’s not much of a passer, but he’s a skilled defender who never lacks in effort. Beyond that, he’s easy to root for. Green went undrafted out of Alabama in 2012, and fought his way into the NBA after two-and-a-half years of playing overseas, in the G League, and at Summer League before finally sticking with the Grizzlies in 2015. Just like Gary Payton II, or Juan Toscano-Anderson, the Warriors love players who clawed their way into the league.
This signing won’t necessarily cut into the minutes for Wiseman or Jonathan Kuminga, but it does provide a huge cushion against injuries, or young players being, well, inconsistent young players. Plus, if the Warriors match up with Denver in the playoffs, that’s more motivation for Green - and a chance for Klay Thompson to yell, “They didn’t want you, JG!” before the series.
It’s not glamorous, but this is perhaps the best possible signing the Warriors could have made for the 14th spot on their roster. And with the final spot being held for Andre Iguodala, this essentially closes the book on the Warriors off-season, aside from the decision on the second two-way contract spot. All we know is it won’t be Forever Warrior Jeff Dotwin.
First OPJ, and now Dotwin. Masai Ujiri, what a copycat.