However, head coach Doc Rivers still has not found enough reason to insert Green into the starting lineup.
It’s easily Rivers’ most baffling move—or lack thereof—this season.
Through 43 games, the Celtics’ playoff hopes were already in jeopardy. The team was 20-23 and in the midst of a six-game losing streak. Not to mention, All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo had just suffered a torn ACL that would sideline him for the remainder of the season.
Boston was a near lock to suffer its first losing season since 2007.
But Green was not having that.
In the 25 games since, the 26-year-old has averaged 15.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over 31.3 minutes per game. Green has also shot 50 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from three-point range.
That production only skyrocketed when he was in the starting lineup.
In four starts, Green has averaged 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. That includes performances of 31 and 43 points, respectively. He’s also shot 61.8 percent from the floor and 61.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Green is a large reason the Celtics are 16-9 over that stretch and headed to the postseason for the sixth straight year.
What else does he need to accomplish before he gets rewarded with a starting spot?
A Team-First Mentality
Boston has reaped the benefits of Green’s recent play.
However, it’s not until he’s off the floor that his true value to the team becomes abundantly clear.
Since Jan. 26, in the 750 minutes Green has been on the court, the Celtics have posted an offensive rating of 100.3 and a pace of 94.3. They also have a defensive rating of 95.4, allowing opponents just 89.8 points per game—41 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent from distance.
In the 437 minutes he’s been off the court, Boston has posted an offensive rating of 103.7 and a pace of 93.2. The team also has a defensive rating of 99.5, allowing opponents 94.1 points per game—45.4 percent shooting from the floor and 34.4 percent from three-point range.
Green has also been a tremendous asset to the Celtics’ fast break.
With him on the court, Boston averages 15.9 fast break points per game. Without Green, that average drops to just 9.7 per game.
But his most important contribution to the team is his high level of play during close games.
With the Celtics either ahead or behind by five points or less, Green has posted an offensive rating of 103.1 and a defensive rating of 91.9. He’s also shot 48.8 percent from the field during those situations, while connecting on 48.3 percent of his attempts from deep.
And if Green's number is called at the end of games, he's not afraid to step up to the occasion.
So it comes as no surprise that when Green thrives, so does Boston.
According to Hoopsstats.com, the team is 8-2 when he attempts 13 or more field goals and 10-4 when he makes six or more of those attempts. The Celtics are also 9-2 when he dishes out three or more assists and 6-2 when he logs in 34 or more minutes.
Need I say more?
Success Is Contagious
But Green is not the only one getting in on the fun. When he’s on the floor, the rest of Boston’s starters seem to raise their level of play as well.
All across the board, each player posts a significant increase in net when Green is on the floor compared to when he’s not.
Green’s athleticism and double-threat ability has a lot to do with that.
With a solid reputation as an outside shooter—34 percent from three-point range over his career—Green’s shot demands respect. Countless times, he’s been able to utilize this to his advantage with a simple pump fake to blow by his defender. As a result, now another defender has to leave his man to come help out.
This plays out one of two ways: 1. The defender becomes the latest victim of one of Green’s posterizing dunks or 2. Green kicks it out to a teammate for a wide-open shot.
It’s one of the aspects that makes playing against Green so frustrating for opponents.
On the other hand, let’s take a look at the effect that current starter Brandon Bass has on the team.
With Bass, all the starters still put up high offensive ratings. However, their defensive ratings are just as high. In the case of Courtney Lee and Kevin Garnett, they’re actually slightly higher.
That’s not good.
Without Bass on the floor, every player’s net takes a significant jump. Impressively, every starter posts a defensive rating under 96 except Lee.
So can Bass really be that much of a negative influence on the team?
Going by his stat line—7.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game—his lack of movement on the court and his ineffectiveness inside the paint, I’d say the answer is yes.
Why, Doc, why?
Summing It All Up
At the beginning of the season, resting Green proved to be both the smartest and safest route for Rivers to take.
After missing an entire season due to heart surgery, it would be best to ease Green back into playing. There was no need to risk rushing in one of the Celtics’ most promising young players back too soon.
Besides, Green probably had a lot of rust to shake off.
However, there comes a time when that has to stop.
Green has displayed that he can successfully endure prolonged minutes on the court. He’s also proved that he can handle the pressure of starting by scoring 30 or more points in two of his four starts.
So what’s the delay?
I could understand if it had been anyone else in that starting position. I really could.
But Brandon Bass? Really?
That’s like owning a 2013 BMW M3, yet taking your wife’s Volkswagen Beetle to complete all your errands.
But hey, to each his own.
Unless otherwise stated, all stats used in this article were taken from NBA.com's Media Central (subscription required)
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