If you asked anyone last month whether Jeff Green deserved a star-caliber $9 million a year salary for four years and they would have said no. The general consensus around Boston at the time of his signing was this: it's good he's back because he has solid potential, but $36 million seems a bit pricey for a player coming off heart surgery and he didn't really wow anyone during his short time here two years ago.
Basically, we all hoped he would be worth every penny, but were still understandably skeptical. Now, after seeing him play eight games, we can all be a little more hopeful that Jeff Green will not be the worst investment since the 2008 stock market.
Throughout the preseason, Green showed everything Celtics' fans have been waiting to see from him since he came to Boston. As the beneficiary of the second most minutes on the team (only behind fellow 26-year-old Rajon Rondo), he was the team leader in points, blocks (tied with Darko Milicic) and free throws attempted, while also finishing second on the team in rebounds behind Jared Sullinger who was just phenomenal on the boards—but that's another story for another time.
However, all of these stats, regardless of how impressive they may be, do not begin to tell the full story of Green's play or why we should be so hopeful for this upcoming season. These stats and Green's great play were a direct result of his improved confidence. During his time as a Celtic two seasons ago, he was hesitant and lacked the confidence to truly take over games.
Now, one heart surgery later, he is no different talent-wise, but his mindset on the court seems completely different. No longer was he camping out in the corner waiting for passes he knew were never coming. He was engaged in the offense and defense more than ever before and it was evident in his play.
On Saturday, he had his best game of the preseason, and as a Celtic, with 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting including three made three-pointers and six rebounds. He was able to do this because of the heightened aggressiveness of his play and more confident mindset.
This style of play and mindset allowed him to excel not only on Saturday, but also all throughout the preseason. Now, he looks to bring that same style and mindset into the regular season and later, the playoffs.
He hasn't earned or proven anything yet, but with what he showed in the preseason, it looks like he is well on his way to earning just about $36 million and proving he is one of the best young forwards in the league.
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