The Curious Case of Jeff Green
Real talk: Time to pick it up, Jeff.
The Legendary Legend trade of 2013 left the 2013-14 Celtics with a vacancy in leadership and a dearth of shooting guards & small forwards. With Rajon Rondo still on the sidelines recovering from ACL surgery, all eyes have shifted to Jeff Green, not only as heir apparent to Paul Pierce, but as a young veteran who has shown flashes of brilliance since he was traded to Boston in 2011.
There are a million factors that go into determining who the leader of a franchise should be, but for the sake of this argument, let’s focus on three of them.
Belief: Can you buy this person as a leader?
Performance: Is their nightly performance something a coach can build around?
Support: Does the team look like they trust this guy?
Jeff Green possesses all of these attributes, but he’s not being flashy with them at all.
At the midpoint of the preseason, the Celtics are 1-3 and despite a steamrolling of the New York Knicks this past Friday, their play has been littered with question marks. Who is the leader of this team? Who told Vitor to jack threes? Will Chris Babb get signed? WHERE THE HELL IS JEFF GREEN?
No one is expecting banner 18 to be hanging from the rafters come this time in 2014, but with the door open for a new era to be rushed in, I speak on behalf of Celtics fans everywhere when I say I am expecting Jeff Green to play a huge role in the new look Celtics.
ESPN’s Chris Forsberg’s full column is worth a read, but here are the highlights in which he breaks down what we’ve seen from Uncle Jeff thus far:
Getting into the paint: Green has only six field goal attempts around the basket (non post-up variety). He's missed four of those six shots. Getting in the paint should also increase the likelihood of getting fouled, but Green has generated just two shooting fouls of the 49 total offensive possessions he's finished.
Posting up: Green is credited with seven post-up possessions through four games, generating seven points total out of that play type. That's actually an excellent number, albeit in a small sample, and suggests that Green needs to be exploiting his height and athleticism against undersized wings more often.
Getting in transition: Green has only six transition possessions this preseason. That's a meager number on its own (consider that MarShon Brooks has seven transition plays in 56 less minutes of floor time). What's more, Green is averaging just 0.333 points per play in transition, an abysmal number as he has converted just one of four shots, drawn no fouls, and turned the ball over twice. Running the floor is where Green needs to thrive most for Boston to be a serviceable offense without Rondo.
Getting an and-1: Green's only and-1 of the preseason came Saturday night when Iman Shumpert got whistled for fouling him on a baseline make out of a post-up situation (Green missed his next four shots, including three from 3-point range). Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger each have three and-1s this preseason for Boston. Just getting to the line would be a good start for Green, who has attempted just five free throws (by comparison, diminutive rookie point guard Phil Pressey has shot more than twice as many freebies -- 11 overall -- in 27 minutes less of court time).
Getting an offensive rebound: Green has a mere six total rebounds this preseason (six!) And zero (zero!) have been on the offensive glass. Rebounding has never been a strength, but that's unacceptable on a Boston team lacking pure center size.
I refuse to call this a rebuilding year. Instead, I am calling it a reboot. In the easiest terms possible, this is just like when my internet goes out. The easiest way to reboot is by unplugging the router and plugging it back in. Whether we like it or not, Danny Ainge unplugged the Celtics router. What we need is for Uncle Jeff Green to take the next step and plug everything back in.
Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor
Source: ESPN Boston; Chris Forsberg
Photo Source: AP/Charles Krupa