Last night, the Associated Press reported that cornerman Jeff Green, who sat out all of last season, has re-signed with the Celtics. Now the question becomes: Should he start at the four, or should Brandon Bass?
This analysis operates on two assumptions.
First off, it assumes that the Kevin Garnett-at-the-five experiment will continue for one more season. This analysis also doesn't consider that the possibility of converting longtime Celtic Paul Pierce into a Hondo-style bench swingman is a good option at all.
So how do Bass and Green stack up against each other?
Though Jeff Green’s overall numbers took a hit in a Celtic uniform, this was mostly due to playing 14 fewer minutes a game. His per-48-minutes numbers in points and rebounds were almost the same as those of his last season-and-a-half in Oklahoma City, his field goal shooting percentage went up and his assists were the only stat that took a hit.
However, Bass has good numbers, too. His points per 48 minutes over the last two seasons are no worse than Green’s. Bass is much better both overall and per 48 in rebounds and blocks, and also shoots better from the field than Green.
Bass’ career player efficiency rating is 15.2; Green’s, 12.8. Obviously, Bass had a better last season than Green, who sat the entire time.
The Boston Celtics had a pretty decent season and playoffs, but them not having even better ones is unceremoniously (and unfairly, in my opinion) laid at the feet of Bass. True, Bass isn’t Big Baby Davis. Jeff Green isn’t, either. However, Bass has a body type and style of play that is more in line with Davis’ than Green’s is.
And the loss of Kendrick Perkins (who was traded for Green) is at least as much to blame for the Celtics woes in the middle as the loss of Davis (who was traded for Bass).
I know Brandon Bass isn’t the most popular guy on the Celtics right now, but I’ve got to give credence to his being in the starting lineup. Part of this is due to the flexibility the cornerman Green could bring coming off the bench.
But mostly it boils down to the fact that Green has gone a full season without playing in the NCAA or NBA. I don’t consider it the best of ideas to take a fair-to-middling player like Green, who’s sat out a season, and then instantly throw him in the starting lineup.
And when you have a guy in Bass that’s just as good—maybe even better—who you can start instead (and you were winning when you did), you should.