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Ranking the Roster: A.J. Green Mania Halts At 11th

Gather ‘round, all ye of faith

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

There are two ways we can view (and embellish for entertainment value) the results of a “Ranking the Roster” exercise that has given us A.J. Green as the 11th-best player on the Milwaukee Bucks:

  1. There is a strong core of belief among the BH faithful in this player relative to his draft position (UDFA after the 2022 Draft)
  2. Everyone else who ranked beneath him may be borderline useless when push comes to shove

Now, to be completely fair, this whole series of articles is primarily angled towards getting a sense of the value of players for the post-season. As far as having a skill that could be useful in limited playoff basketball cases, being a ~40+% gunner from the three-point line isn’t bad at all. The trouble is, of course, that there isn’t more there there for A.J.

A recap of the story so far: A.J. Green was a four-year graduate of Northern Iowa (go Panthers!) where he would play just shy of 100 games, averaged around 17.9 points a game over his career, and shot 37.1% from distance. Green would go undrafted, although his agent, Matt Bollero, was the senior director of scouting for the Milwaukee Bucks from July 2017 to August 2021 before founding his own agency with Green as an early client. So it’s unsurprising that a home could eventually be found for the young man in Milwaukee/Oshkosh.

Potential favoritism aside, Green would prove himself quite capable of making threes in the NBA his rookie year. In 35 appearances, he’d average 9.9 mpg, 4.4 points (.424/.419/1.000), and 1.3 rebounds, all with a 3PAr of 84%. And that’s about it, although it isn’t nothing!

Improbably listed at 6’4”, I must admit that I’d have guessed he’s six-foot flat. Somehow I assigned myself all the players on the roster who appear much smaller on the court than the ink on the paper says they should. Green is not an amazing defender, hasn’t shown a ton of crazy dribbling ability or passing prowess, and doesn’t get in the paint at all. What he is is a man who knows exactly what his role is: Stand around and wait for someone to give him the ball for a great catch-and-shoot look.

65% of his shot attempts during the 2022–2023 season were C&S threes on which he was good for a 44.4% conversion rate. The rest of these threes came as pull-up jumpers which saw his makes drop to 34.8%. His makes also dropped precipitously the closer defenders got, with showing the percentage go from 65.4% when he’s “wide open,” 37% when he’s “open,” and 28.0% when he’s guarded “tight”.

For comparison's sake to another recent gunner who did next to nothing else besides appear a little manic with a penchant for taking a single step inside the three-point line to drive Mike Budenholzer nuts, here are Bryn Forbes’s shooting numbers from the 2020–2021 season:

A.J. Green v. Bryn Forbes

Shot Types AJ Green ('22-'23) Bryn Forbes ('20-'21)
Shot Types AJ Green ('22-'23) Bryn Forbes ('20-'21)
Overall 3P% 0.419 0.451
3PAr 0.84 0.645
% when Wide Open 0.654 0.507
% when Open 0.37 0.409
% when Tight 0.28 0.439
% when Very Tight 0 0.333
bball-ref and

This isn’t meant to be a direct one-to-one comparison. Forbes was entering his fifth season as an NBA player aged 27 having spent his first four years under Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. Green was a rookie doing his best to find spots to be useful in limited appearances. I do think, though, that Forbes could be a realistic goal for Green if things go well. While Green will never awe opponents with pure athleticism, he can conceivably add to his offensive game bit by bit over the years to avoid becoming totally one-dimensional while continuing to benefit from the amount of space generated by the high-level teammates around him.

The question for now is what he can provide the Bucks in 2023–2024. He signed a three-year deal this past offseason with this season guaranteed at $1.9 million with non-guaranteed years at $2.1 and $2.3 million after that. As far as competition for minutes goes, he’ll be up against the likes of Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton, and Malik Beasley, all established veterans who have carved out roles as occasional starters or reliable bench players.

Is it possible for Green to break through that group? Certainly. In a world of load management, consolidation trades, and the long haul of an 82-game season, not to mention a fresh look and approach from head coach Adrian Griffin, there is a non-zero chance Green can take a moderate step forward as an NBA player this year.

But that’s just my musing. What do you think?


Gut Check: How confident are you that A.J. Green will be in the playoff rotation?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    1 - Not in the rotation at all.
    (46 votes)
  • 41%
    2 - Might play a few rotation minutes here and there.
    (105 votes)
  • 27%
    3 - Will get some minutes, depending on the series.
    (70 votes)
  • 8%
    4 - Will be part of the rotation, playing steady minutes.
    (22 votes)
  • 3%
    5 - Firmly in the rotation, playing heavy minutes!
    (9 votes)
252 votes total Vote Now

And who will be voted off Value Island next?

(Editor’s note: A technical issue is preventing this poll’s results from displaying correctly. Grayson Allen received the most votes, 53-52 over Jae Crowder).

Thanks for reading!