While Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball have headlined the Bulls’ turnaround on defense this season, reserves like Green and Derrick Jones Jr. remain unlikely heroes doing the dirty work and doing it often out of position.
DENVER – Javonte Green doesn’t just try dunking on opposing players with authority, he wants to put them on a prayer list.
That’s been on display all season long.
But that same aggressiveness he displays when he takes to the rim is also the way he likes to play defense. Even more impressive, who the 6-foot-5 forward is asked to defend.
Green, along with the likes of Derrick Jones Jr., are both wings that have spent a good part of the road trip not only guarding opposing wings and guards, but also centers.
“Position-less basketball, right?” Green said on Friday, when explaining why he’s embraced that challenge. “That’s our job. We’re not here to completely shut down anybody. We’re here to do our part in making life hard on [opposing bigs] while [Nikola Vucevic] is out. That makes our other guys have an easier job on the offensive end.
“We’re just trying to slow opposing big guys down, put some wear and tear on them as the game goes on so maybe it comes easier for us come the fourth quarter. We think we’re a very well-conditioned team so we’re trying to wear guys down.”
Green’s importance on the defensive end can’t be understated. While Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball are those headliners on the defensive end, and rightfully so, Green is one of those defensive players that does the dirty work simply because of who he’s asked to guard.
All-Star Zach LaVine praised Green yet again last week, pointing out the energy he brings to the floor, and in Green’s eyes that means mission accomplished so far.
“That’s always been my role. Just bring the energy,” Green said. “That’s what Coach wants from me. Bring it on both sides of the ball, and I take pride in that.”
A few other things he takes pride in? Green buys most of the shoes he wears on the court, and he couldn’t dunk until his junior year in high school, so feels it necessary to make up for lost time.
“Since I could dunk that’s what I try to do,” Green said. “I still think dunks bring that electricity. I didn’t start dunking until my junior year in high school. I’m not going to say everybody around me was dunking, but I felt behind. So once I started dunking I just haven’t wanted to stop. I try and dunk everything.”
What will get interesting is what kind of minutes Green will get when Vucevic gets back?
Tony Bradley will move back to the bench, but will Green go back to his starting role over Alex Caruso? Billy Donovan wasn’t ready to address that, especially with some uncertainty on when Vucevic will get out of the health and safety protocol.
Green insisted he will remain ready either way.
“I’m here to do whatever I’m asked,” Green said.
According to veteran DeMar DeRozan, the one Bulls player that’s usually the most vocal in film sessions when it comes to breaking down strategy? Of course it’s Caruso. That’s why DeRozan can see him having a second career in the NBA someday.
“Alex will definitely be a head coach in the NBA after he finishes playing,” DeRozan said. “You’d think he’s been in the league 15 years the way he speaks about the game, gives advice. He’s the loudest voice in the locker room at times, especially in film, and that’s big. He’s very experienced.”