Jeff Green can put the Boston Celtics over the top this season.
Whether he will put the Celtics over the top is very much still in question.
To the casual observer, minimal remnants of the OKC version of Jeff Green have made it over to Boston. However, he also needs to be given a fair chance to regain his mojo after missing a full season due to an aortic aneurysm.
At the ripe age of 26, Green is just entering the prime of his athletic career. Once he restores his body to peak condition, flashes of the promising young small forward should become more consistent.
At the moment, Green is definitely taking his lumps in a rocky return to the NBA. With 75 games left in the regular season and a supportive cast all around him, Green has plenty of time to figure it out.
Once he does, Boston will be ready to run with the Miami Heat once again.
Dynamic Scoring Threat
Doc Rivers and some Celtics veterans are hoping that Jeff Green will be more aggressive on the offensive end. In fact, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Kevin Garnett goes as far as to say that his teammate is too nice.
In any case, the truth remains that Green will reach his potential as a Celtic when he starts to immediately look at the rim after catching the ball. Although a major part of the C's offense revolves around moving without the ball, Green needs to look more to score when he catches it.
During his two years as a starter in Oklahoma City, Jeff Green averaged at least 15 points and six rebounds—albeit in over 37 minutes of floor time.
Boston does not have nearly the same expectations, reflected by Green's average playing time since joining the ranks. This season he's only getting 20.9 minutes on average to do his thing.
Green provided a spark against Milwaukee, adding 10 points in the second half, which allowed the Celtics to pull away and secure victory.
With plenty of bench talent surrounding him, it's not even like Jeff Green has to be the go-to man of the second unit. However, he does possess that ability.
Green creates a mismatch every time he steps on the floor. At 6'9" and 235 pounds, the small forward is surprisingly quick and agile. And at his size, Jeff Green could very feasibly play power forward as well, should the Celtics choose to go small.
That would be a tough cover for the average NBA power forward.
The better part of his size-and-speed combo comes on the defensive end. His height makes him a long small forward, but his quickness keeps him in front of his opponents.
Admittedly, Green hasn't seemed to fully grasp all of the nuances of the Celtics defensive schemes yet. He sometimes misses rotations and is slow to help. This can all be learned in time.
What's more important is that Green does not get beat by his man that often. He generally has good footwork and the agility to stay with most of the talent he matches up against at his position.
And although it gets mentioned too often, having Kevin Garnett as a teammate will definitely boost Green's defensive effectiveness. Garnett is chief among the crowd of Celtics players and staff who truly believe in Jeff Green's potential and will exhaust himself until Green's the real deal.
Green's energy and ability to leak into the transition game will be the most important aspects of his defense. He will be most effective as a scorer if he takes advantage of his guards pushing the ball up the floor.
Jeff Green may still be struggling to fit into the Celtics offensive schemes, but if there's one piece of advice he should heed, it's that for Boston, everything starts on the defensive end of the floor.
Paul Pierce is Getting Old
He plays with heart and still has some of the best footwork in the NBA, but longtime Celtics small forward Paul Pierce is getting old.
At 35, the Celtics stud of this generation isn't quite as threatening as he used to be. More noticeably, Pierce's body has been proven to be unable to handle the same minutes he could five years ago.
The man needs rest so that he may be able to perform at his best during the postseason. That time is still five months away, but every decision made by the coaching staff until then will dictate how he feels.
Enter Jeff Green.
Who else could possibly fill the role that Pierce assumes for the second unit? Green is a younger, faster, albeit significantly less seasoned version of his starting counterpart. At this point, he's more athletic, but with way more to learn.
Pierce is and will continue to be the Celtics main option at the small forward position. Yet, to maintain Paul for the long haul, someone will have to take the burden of some of his minutes.
Something tells me that shouldn't bother Jeff Green too much. When he starts playing with a bit more of a chip on his shoulder, Green will have the Celtics looking ready for battle.