Streaky-shooters are a many-splendored thing.
The notion that Jeff Green is the most inconsistent player in the NBA has been covered extensively by beat writers and bloggers in the past, something that fans of the Celtics, Grizzlies and now Clippers exasperatingly all agree with. Unlike previous examples of players who show amazing potential but can't get all the gears to click, Green's problem doesn't seem to be his attitude towards the game (Andrew Bynum), his attitude towards coaches/authority (Markieff Morris, Zach Randolph too but he got it together) or even, as his name might suggest, a proclivity towards marijuana (Michael Beasley). He's a study in bewildering play; Jeff Green is the basketball version of that gigantic math problem Matt Damon solved at the start of 'Good Will Hunting'.
But, maybe to Green's pleasure, there's a new sheriff in town. A sheriff that'll give you 22/8/5 one night and then 8/1/2 for the next three. And that sheriff's name, is Arron Afflalo.
Before we even discuss his stats, take a look at his name. How many "Arron"'s do you know who spell it with a double-R? Probably not many, probably because they're not insane and spell it with two-A's like the goddamn pronunciation dictates. This might be a trivial issue for some, but this spelling inconsistency is just one of the ways Afflalo has been fighting the fight since day one. From the moment he came out the womb and his mother said, "No, I want it spelled with two R's on the birth certificate" to a no-doubt perplexed doctor, 'Arron' has been a paragon of being inconsistent.
Now, let's take a look at his numbers.
The first 8 games of the Knicks' schedule this year saw Afflalo being rested due to hamstring issues; he would make his Knicks debut on November 11 against the Charlotte Hornets, recording 12 points and 6 rebounds in a losing effort. From that, his play would actually become fairly consistent, if not underwhelming. Ten games into the 2015-16 season, Afflalo was averaging 11.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, with double-figure scoring in nine out of ten such games. It was only in a November 29 performance against the Rockets, where Afflalo poured in 31 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal on a very-efficient 13-19 shooting split, that the narrative changed.
Every player looking to contend for the Jeff Green MVP needs a "Whoa, is this guy actually good" game every so often to really cement his position as a guy with all the tools but no idea how to use them. This Rockets match was definitely it. The Knicks would not play again for another 3 days as eyebrows were raised in anticipation, wondering whether this was a sign of consistent, fringe-all star play to come, or if Afflalo would truly take his inconsistency game to the next level.
Knicks fans didn't have to wait long. Afflalo would follow this up with a truly-shaky 5 game stretch of scoring 13, 18, 13, 6 and 4 ppg, respectively. Then tragedy struck. Another 5 game streak, perhaps triggered by the December 10 matchup with the defensively-deficient Sacramento Kings, saw Afflalo maintain a double-figure scoring average, with 19.6 ppg during this particular stretch. You could feel the hearts of the Knicks fanbase sink; just when we thought we had a streaky-shooter to replace the hole Jamal Crawford left during those glorious Isiah years, he spits in our face with his efficiency.
But as people are want to do, Afflalo saw the end of 2015 as a time to pause and reflect on who he was. As a player, as a person, as an individual. His introspection, soul-searching and hard work was made clear in the first two games of 2016, wherein Afflalo played an unremarkable 29 minute game against Chicago, scoring 4 points and grabbing 1 rebound, then followed it up with a godly performance against Atlanta, scoring 38 points off of a 14-17 shot selection. The five games that would follow this saw Afflalo lighting it up for 23, 9, 8, 11 and 24. His reputation as a player who you truly did not know what to expect from was at this point, carved in stone.
We're approaching the end of the season now, and i'm pleased to report that Afflalo is still transcending what we already know about player consistency. Since the firing of Derek Fisher as coach and the woefully-incompetent Kurt Rambis being installed in his place, we've seen Sasha Fucking Vujacic receive significant minutes over Afflalo. That's right, Afflalo is so inconsistent down to his core, that opposing shooting guards don't even know if they'll be PLAYING against him in the night's match.
To this day, Jeff Green is still the name most associated with inconsistency. It may take years of all-star play followed up with truly dogshit performances by Afflalo to dethrone the king. But, much like Jordan had to power through the Bad Boy Pistons, I have no doubt Afflalo will put in the effort and work to become the greatest and most inconsistent player of all time.