Indiana Pacers' Gerald Green Is the Missing Spark off the Bench

Poch de la RosaContributor IIIFebruary 7, 2013

Gerald Green's numbers are down in 2012-13.
Gerald Green's numbers are down in 2012-13.Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers were excited when they locked up Gerald Green to a $3.5 million contract prior to the 2013 NBA season. 

Here's a guy who can literally jump through the roof and who adds an athletic dimension the Pacers can greatly benefit from. In fact, some fans were salivating at the thought of Green pairing up with recently-named All-Star Paul George to form one of the best above-the-rim duos in the entire league. 

However, this has yet to play out the way the Pacers had envisioned it to be. 

Green has showed some flashes of his old potential in the 41 games he's played this year, but for the most part, he's on a bit of a slide. 

Consider the following:

  • Through February 7, 2013, Green is averaging only 7 points per gamenearly a six-point dip from his production off the bench with the Nets last season. 
  • He's shooting 34.9 percent from the fieldthe lowest it's ever been since his third year in the league. 
  • As much as Green loves to throw down vicious dunks, he also likes to jack up threes, but his shooting clip is mediocre. In 41 games played this season, he's hoisted 141 triples, making only 40 of them for a 28.4 percent clip. 
  • Some scouts labeled him as a poor passer. His current assists per game average stands at a measly 0.68. 

On the plus side, Green is shooting 79.2 percent from the stripe, which is roughly four percentage points higher than the previous year. He's also managed to keep his turnover numbers down. Plus, at roughly 21 minutes per game, he also knows how to stay away from foul trouble (1.2 fouls per game). 

In spite of these, Indy needs more from him if they are to be Finals contenders. As of February 7, 2013, Indiana ranks 29th in bench production, averaging a meager 25.7 points per game. Only the Portland Trail Blazers are faring worse in this department.

At 38.8 percent, the Pacers' bench is also one of the worst in terms of field goal percentage. Their shock troopers are also second-to-the-last in the NBA when it comes to three-point accuracy at 30.9 percent. Green's erratic shooting has something to do with this. 

As of this writing, Indiana is 31-19 and on a five-game tear. Clearly, they are relying heavily on their starters to get the job done. In spite of the team's success, better play from Green and the rest of the bench is needed for Indy to earn home-court advantage in the playoffs. 

A report from Fox Sports released on February 1 says Danny Granger may be back in harness before the All-Star break. Coach Frank Vogel indicated Granger is in good physical shape but not in game shape. 

If Granger does come back during this period and progresses sooner than expected, Green may find himself buried deeper in the bench if he doesn't pick up the slack.

Green provides the athleticism needed at his position, having the ability to body up on opposing scorers and to play lock-down defense. As mentioned previously, he also doesn't turn the ball over and doesn't commit useless fouls.

He is definitely not expected to be the explosive scorer off the bench in the mold of a J.R. Smith. But if he can somehow provide more of these intangiblesgood defense, minimum turnovers and no silly fouls, as well as improve on his shooting percentage and passing, expect him to be a key spark off the bench in the postseason.

And a little more of his amazing, high-wire act wouldn't hurt, either.