Boston Celtics: Why Jeff Green Is the X-Factor for Boston in 2012

Pranav TadikondaCorrespondent IJuly 13, 2012

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 10:  Jeff Green #8 of the Boston Celtics shoots over Mike Miller #13 of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on April 10, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

After a season that could have been the beginning of the end, the Boston Celtics have retooled and improved upon their 2011-12 squad that went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 playoffs. 

The Celts drafted two young talents in the 2012 NBA Draft in Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, re-signed key free agents in Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass and signed former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry. Even though they lost an instrumental piece of their success over the past five years in Ray Allen, Boston is primed for another deep postseason run.

Boston also re-signed former No. 5 overall pick Jeff Green to a 4-year, $36 million contract, which will keep him with the team until the 2015-16 season. 

Although it seems that Green, who is coming off of heart surgery, was overpaid, the signing may end up being the most important signing over the past offseason.

People forget how good Jeff Green can be. With the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2010-11, Green averaged 15.2 PPG in about 37 minutes per game. This was on a team that had big-time scorers in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden (although Harden was still developing that season).

When he came to Boston via a trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder in late February of 2011, Green averaged nearly 10 points, playing about 23 minutes per game. He played in 26 games. During the lockout over the 2011 offseason, it was discovered in a routine physical check-up that Green had an aortic aneurysm. He would miss the entire 2011-12 campaign, halting his growth as a player. But all was not lost.

This season, Green will have a great opportunity to show Boston fans that he was worth trading away Perkins.

With Ray Allen gone, there will be more points to pass around the line-up, and with his versatility, Green could give breaks to aging stars Paul Pierce at small forward and Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass at power forward. 

On top of it all, Green will only be 26 by the time the season starts, so he'll have plenty of opportunities to get out on the floor and play significant minutes. Green could end up playing about 28-30 minutes, night-in and night-out. 

Green also plays exceptional defense, and has shown that he can match up against some of the best in the NBA. He will thrive on a team that prides itself on its gritty, up-in-your-face defense.

The opportunity is there for Jeff Green. The talent is there for Jeff Green. The system is there for Jeff Green. If he can step up and take on a significant role on an experienced, contending team, the Boston Celtics will go far next season.