How Terrance Ferguson can emulate Danny Green to improve his game

Terrance Ferguson, OKC Thunder (Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images)
Terrance Ferguson, OKC Thunder (Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images) /
2 of 3
OKC Thunder
Terrance Ferguson, OKC Thunder (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Dynamic shooting

For Terrance Ferguson to develop into the kind of player offensively that Danny Green‘s become, he needs to be able to do at least something for himself. Of the 185 buckets he made last year, only ten of them were unassisted; six of the ten were either off putbacks or steals. In other words, Ferguson created exactly eight points for himself last season.

His offense was static. On almost every play, he’d run to the corner, wait for the ball, and hope that the defense forgot about him for long enough that he’d have an open shot. Theoretically, that’s exactly what the Thunder offense needed.

For the longest time, Oklahoma City’s had some of the most cramped floor spacing in the league. And so when Ferguson started hitting three’s with real volume, it seemed like a big revelation for the team. He had all the makings of an elite three-and-D wing who could add a new dimension to the OKC offense.

As you probably know, though, that’s not what happened. Even as Ferguson hit 45 percent of his three’s heading into the All-Star break, nothing about the OKC offense was substantively different. The plays were the same, the rhythm hadn’t changed, the flow was nearly identical; the only major difference was that one player was hitting a few more shots.

When you watch the games, it’s not hard to see why. Whether by design or by the mere inability to do anything else, Ferguson spent most of his time on offense with the Thunder glued to the corner. He’d occasionally crash the rim to cut or grab a rebound, but for the most part, he just sat in the corner and waited for either Russell Westbrook or Paul George to see him.

If they did, then great – he could either take a shot or keep the ball moving. But if they didn’t, he was about as useful as a mannequin out there. So even if he somehow shot 100 percent on corner three’s, he couldn’t really create those looks for himself, and thus his impact on the Thunder offense was inextricably linked to that of his teammates.

Compare that to Green, though, and you see something radically different. Where Ferguson’s only real movement offensively comes at the beginning or end of the possession, Green regularly makes seemingly minor cuts that open passing lanes and make his shooting that much more dangerous. Just watch how he rises from the corner after a Marc Gasol offensive board, loses his man, finds open space, and gets a fantastic look from three:

I fully realize that this is the sort of analysis that people dislike Smart NBA Twitter™ for, but that little cut was vitally important in the context of that possession. Had Green stayed in the corner – like Ferguson – he would’ve forced the offense to totally reset and lose whatever leverage they created in the chaos after the missed shot; had he cut too far up, Jimmy Butler‘s recovery would’ve been a lot easier and the shot would’ve been exponentially harder. He put himself in the perfect position to get an open look – and to create a shot that otherwise wouldn’t have been there.

The thing is, opening up space like that shouldn’t be too hard for Ferguson. We already know that volume has more to do with shooting gravity than efficiency, and we know that minor, unpredictable movements off the ball can dismantle defensive rotations. By simply adding more of that kind of thing to his game, Ferguson could develop into a legitimate offensive weapon for the OKC Thunder.