The NBA landscape is littered with them throughout history. Players who have the physical skills and who come into the league with much fanfare and many hopes. Some were #1 picks, some lottery picks, but all had one thing in common. They never lived up to expectations.
Some of these include Michael Olowokandi, Adam Morrison, Kwame Brown, Sam Bowie, Robert Swift, Eddy Curry, Kedrick Brown, Sebastian Telfair, and many, many others.
Some players were derailed by injuries, like Greg Oden, but for the most part, these players just didn't have the mental toughness or the work ethic to make it in the NBA. From all reports, Jeff Green has a great work ethic, but I'm hearing little clues that he may lack mental toughness. Doc was on Dennis and Callahan today and had this to say about Green:
Ir you're watching Jeff, Jeff's not going to ever show you intensity even though he may have it, if you know what I'm saying. He's a poker face player. You're just not going to get that out of him. What you want to get out of him is great play and he has to play better. There's no doubt about that. He's proven in stretches that he can play and play well. He did that in the preseason. So far in the regular season we've not seen that and he has to do that.
Is he a guy who can consistently give you 20 points a night or 18 points? It's in him ability-wise but you have to have the ability and the mental.
Last night, according to Mike Gorman's call of the game vs the Wizards at home, KG asked Green to take a technical free throw but Green declined. I can see where KG might have been trying to boost Green's confidence by asking him to take the free throw. I can't think of any good reasons for Green to decline.
This comes on the heels of a report out of practice where Green was late cutting to the basket and a pass from Brandon Bass went out of bounds. Doc then stopped him explained that because Green was late cutting to the basket it messed up the whole set and told him that that they need him to be better. After practice, Rivers shared with the press that Green can be great – but only if he expects to be great.
“I don’t actually think I’m hard on him. I think I’m fair on him,” Rivers said. “I think he’s hard on me. So, we’re going to demand out of him this year to be great because I think he has the ability to be great.”
He showed in the preseason that he can be very good. But the pressure and the physical play in the preseason isn't near what it is in the regular season.
Doc continually stresses that Green has the ability to be great. But, nothing in his career so far leads us to conclude that he has the mental toughness to take that ability and apply it to actually be great and Doc's comments open the door to that possibility. I'm hoping he eventually gets it and becomes the player we all know and hope he can be.