Photo Credit: USA Today Sports
With the season over and the draft still more than a month away, we're taking a look back and assessing the season that was. That's right - it's report card time! Fifth in the series - Jeff Green.
Stat line: 12.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 27.8 mpg, 46.7% FG, 38.5% 3PT, 80.8% FT
Oh Jeff Green. Inconsistency and potential make for such a frustrating affair.
You know the drill by now – Green has all the length and athleticism to be a perennial All-Star. He also has a nasty habit of disappearing for long stretches and playing without the necessary aggressiveness.
But the story on Green is starting to change. As Celtics’ announcer Mike Gorman continually reminded viewers, doctors said not to expect Green to start looking like himself until mid-March. Low and behold, with his breakout 43 point game in a mid-March loss to the Heat, Green seemed to become – with occasional exceptions – the more aggressive, assertive player the Celtics were hoping for when they signed him to a four-year, $36 million contract last offseason.
Truth be told, Green’s performance really began to improve in February, when he scored 15, 31 and 20 points in the three games following the All-Star break.
Like everything else, Green’s rebounding numbers improved in March and April, though he continues to be a rather poor rebounder, grabbing an estimated 13.4% of the available defensive rebounds while he was on the floor. For comparison, 37-year-old Kevin Garnett had his second lowest rebounding totals since his rookie season and still nearly doubled Green’s rate, grabbing 25.5% of the available defensive boards (per Basketball-reference.com).
Green also seems to struggle rotating on defense, and gets bullied when defending post up 4’s, though he is a very solid one-on-one wing defender, as coach Doc Rivers told ESPN’s Chris Forsberg in January: "[Green] has to improve defensively," said Rivers. "If Jeff has one area, that’s the area. It’s not on the ball, he’s pretty good there. It’s usually in rotations, then stopping the guy he’s rotating to. He’s long and he’s not used to getting down defensively, but that’s an area he has to improve for us.”
Offensively, Green is at his best when going to the rim. His other shots are corner threes and, to a lesser extent, long two pointers along the baseline. While there were still too many nights when Green deferred instead of taking shots, his shot attempts from those hot spots did make up a larger percentage of his attempts. Said differently, he still didn’t shoot enough, but when he did, he did it from the right spots.
Green’s improving shot distribution
While his shooting percentages in these spots are not necessarily higher, they remain his best spots on the floor and kudos to Green and the C’s coaches for recognizing this and tailoring his game accordingly.
Green’s (mostly) improving shot performance
Green continued to play well in the postseason, averaging 20.3 points in 43 minutes per game, and shot a blistering 45.5% from beyond the arc.
So different were Green’s start and finish to the season that an overall grade almost inevitably feels incomplete. His first three months were so underwhelming they barely deserve a D. But he came on so strong at the end and continued into the postseason, when it matters most, that he deserves no less than a B.
Now what? In all, Green made a remarkable comeback from heart surgery and an entire season on the sidelines to become one of the team’s top scorers. That he was able to demonstrate his prodigious talent with some measure of consistency down the stretch should go a long way in reassuring the C’s front office and Boston fans alike, that Green can be a piece around which the Celtics can build.
Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.