When Javonte Green was thrown into the three-team trade between the Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls during last season’s trade deadline, I didn’t think much of it (no offense, Javonte). A 27-year-old sophomore in the NBA, Green was an undrafted free agent in the 2015 draft class out of Radford. He went to play multiple seasons overseas before the Celtics gave him a partially-guaranteed deal to ride the bench in 2019.
Green played in a total of 48 games for Boston during the 2019-20 season, averaging just 9.8 minutes per appearance. Before the deadline, he found the court in only 25 games. So to see this acquisition as nothing more than salary cap maintenance wasn’t too absurd. After all, Green was on an expiring deal, and the additions of big man Daniel Theis and former lottery pick Troy Brown Jr. felt far more important as the Bulls pushed for the postseason.
However, jump forward one offseason and Green is still in a Chicago Bulls uniform. In fact, he is on a fresh fully-guaranteed two-year contract worth roughly $3.5 million. This re-signing suggested that Green was much more than just a flyer to this front office, and he showed us why in Tuesday night’s preseason opener.
Head coach Billy Donovan tagged Green to move into the starting lineup with second-year forward Patrick Williams on the sideline. It was a surprising decision … until it wasn’t. From the moment the ball tipped-off Green looked like the human embodiment of a Red Bull. He was fighting through screens, swooping in for the deflections, sprinting in transition, and cutting to the rim. With 13 points, 8 rebounds (four offensive), 4 blocks, and 2 steal to go along with 0 turnovers and only 2 fouls, he made his case for a spot in this new rotation.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 6, 2021
Before Green’s showing it felt like the Bulls *healthy* nine-man squad would look something like this: Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, Nikola Vucevic, Alex Caruso, Coby White, Troy Brown Jr., and Tony Bradley. Expand things out to a 10-man look, and it felt as if Derrick Jones Jr. would be the next man up. I still have to imagine this is the group of front-runners, but what if this becomes the norm for Green over the next few preseason games? Can you even justify keeping him off the floor?
On an undersized team with multiple ballhandlers and offensive weapons, Green looked like a potentially perfect compliment. He focused on being at the right spot at the right time, stirring up havoc on the defensive end, and simply staying out of the big dogs’ way. Not to mention, his hustle and athleticism fit perfectly with this fast-paced, transition-based system.
We are talking about one preseason game. I get it. But the fact Donovan felt compelled to give Green the start – and the fact this front office demonstrated clear belief in his potential this summer – suggests we could see far more of Green than initially expected. Let’s keep our eye on how he does the rest of the preseason.