Jeff Green is far more than a replacement-level player, so give him the minutes.
The Boston Celtics' Jeff Green isn't having a bad year. He's also not being given the opportunity to produce as his $8.1 million contract demands.
Green has to make some strides if the C's are to emerge as legitimate threats in the Eastern Conference. But mostly, Green just needs more minutes. So far this season, Green is averaging 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 22.1 minutes of play.
Green has been cleared as healthy to play basketball and now has 20 games under his belt. The car has been test driven and appears to be in working order.
So far this season, Green is posting a PER of 12.17. During his peak with Oklahoma City, he posted a PER of nearly 14 per game.
Green's usage rate has actually increased to 19.8 percent this year with the Celtics, up from 19.5 during is peak usage rate in OKC. So the regression Green has made is clearly mostly one of playing less minutes.
Provided Green's body is able to handle a bigger load, Doc Rivers must give him one.
It is up to Rivers to give Green the minutes necessary to return his production to the days when he played power forward alongside Kevin Durant. Perhaps that is the real caveat in the Green conundrum: Could Green still play some power forward for the Celtics?
Green always had a lot of trouble covering the big bruising power forwards, but Kevin Garnett is one of the best help-side defenders (and communicators) in the league. This isn't to suggest KG would come swatting away shots every weak-side rotation, but he would cover some of Green's blunders. He's been doing that his entire career.
Green can handle the ball well enough to drag opposing 4-men out onto the wings. From there they are given the option of either denying him a three—and getting blown by—or laying off of him and paying the consequences.
Green's versatility is what makes him attractive as a player. It wouldn't work against all teams; some of the bigger teams would eat the Celtics alive trying that. But against a lot of teams in the NBA, Green could adequately play power forward and flourish.
If it didn't work, he's a fine small forward too. It's really just about giving him more minutes. Green has scored 16 or more in four of his last five games, but he saw just 24.2 minutes per night over that span (Nov. 30 through Dec. 8).
Wake up, Doc. Green's knocking, and he's ready for more.