With Patrick Williams coming back from an ankle injury, it seems logical that preseason backup Javonte Green is back on the defensive.
But Bulls coach Billy Donovan said on Thursday that the 6-foot-4 Green is where it belongs.
“I think he must be four years old, that’s just my feeling for now,” Donovan said. “It doesn’t mean he can’t play on the wing. But I think the four of them allow him to gain his flexibility in defense.
“Sometimes that junior forward position can get a little tight with the players, but I think it was in the fours where he could create a good niche for this team.”
The Bulls’ regular season rotation will be interesting because Green played well as the first power forward in three exhibition games. Green, Alize Johnson, Troy Brown Jr., Derrick Jones Jr. and it’s going to be tough for Donovan to get minutes for reserve center Tony Bradley.
“I’m here to do whatever it takes to win a game,” said Green. “I’m all about the challenge. We play positionless basketball in this team. I feel like anyone can fill this role, not just myself.”
Many NBA players have taken long, winding roads to reach the league, but Green probably had more ground than most to make up for.
Green, who graduated from high school in Southern Virginia, had two choices: play basketball for Radford or play football for James Madison. He was a statewide basketball player and running-weight quarterback at Brunswick High School. His basketball coach was former NBA guard Bryant Stith.
“I definitely worked 90% of the time, but I can throw a little,” he said about his QB days. “Where I come from, we had great athletes. We did things out of position. Sometimes I would play wide ball, sometimes I would be the quarterback.”
It was a tough choice, Green said, but Radford offered a full trip and only a partial scholarship to JMU. That’s why he chose basketball at Radford.
Four years later, Green began his professional basketball career in Spain. Not for Real Madrid or FC Barcelona, but for Marín Peixegalego in the Spanish third division. NBA dreams were definitely pale and blurry from the west coast of Spain.
But Green went to a senior team in Germany for two years in the second division of Italy to stay tied to the Boston Celtics for the 2019-20 season.
“I just starved. I just tried to perfect my craft. I tried to be a better player, but also a better person,” said Green.
“I had a great support system. They took care of me in every country I’ve been to. There were a lot of great Americans on the team who showed me the way, showed me how to get over loneliness, miss your family and things like that.”
Green joined the Bulls as a throw-in last year when they moved Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison to Washington and Luke Cornet to Boston.
The Bulls discovered that Green was high-powered on and off the court. They may also have the versatility to turn into the type of multi-role player they need.
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