At age 26, Jeff Green has not been a good NBA player yet. For some reason, this fails to cease the relentless, indefatigable hyping of Jeff Green. I don't understand it, as Green has not demonstrated an elite, tangible NBA skill.
He has above-average size for a small forward, below average for a power forward. He can dribble a bit, and he can jump with a running start. Beyond that, he's not a good shooter, passer, rebounder or defender. This list comprises much of professional basketball, I'm afraid. In the offensive aggregate, Jeff Green has never posted an above-average player efficiency rating—and his offense is much better than his defense.
He's also coming off heart surgery and a year away from the game. While I'm sure the Rise of Green would make for an inspiring tale, so too would many unlikely events that people don't bother predicting.
It would be fantastic if the energetic Ronny Turiaf completed his bounce-back from heart troubles with a Defensive Player of the Year award. I'm sure we'd all go nuts over Greg Oden's late entry into stardom. It's certainly time for the struggling Evan Turner to make that MVP case.
But the hope for Green as a "versatile" and "athletic" star soldiers forward, undaunted by five seasons of contrary evidence. He was paid $36 million to guard LeBron, it's often said. His teams have never performed better defensively with Green on the court, but for some reason the Celtics are supposed to find value that Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti couldn't. For some reason, Jeff will guard LeBron differently from how he guarded Blake.
For example, Brian Scalabrine is comparing Jeff Green to James Worthy in Celtics broadcasts (via BDL). ESPN responded by posting the statement, and leaving it up for discussion in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
I'll take the bait. While conceding that there is room for subjectivity in many a comparison, let me respond this way: It is sheer, bald, barking lunacy to compare Jeff Green to James Worthy.
Big Game James made seven All-Star teams and averaged over 50 percent from the field in his first eight seasons. Jeff Green has averaged .445 from the field from the power forward spot, and he was traded for the hollowed-out husk of Kendrick Perkins.
Perhaps the two bear a physical resemblance, but Worthy would actually make off-ball cuts to the basket, and move to various spots over the course of the game. Green languidly trudges away from the ball during offensive possessions, letting the action unfold without his imprint.
To Jeff Green's credit, he handled the foolish comparison with aplomb, engaging in a humble, cheerful, respectful dialogue with Big Game James. This is what Green is reputed to be excellent at. He's a fine person and teammate. If only there was as much reason to expect success for Jeff Green as there was to root for it.