Through a pair of preseason games, Jeff Green hasn’t exactly looked the part of the Boston Celtics' go-to scorer.
Not to worry, though, as his minutes and role have been merely a means of conditioning and experimentation. He has shot 6-of-17 and 2-of-10 from beyond the arc, which aren’t thrilling numbers from a supposed star, but take it all with a grain of salt at this point. There is still plenty of time to figure out how he will be effective this season.
What is being requested of Green this year is pretty clear. The Celtics front office has plowed the road for him to be successful. He even has a small personal mantra, courtesy of Kevin Garnett’s foul mouth.
Step 1: Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive
#Celtics F Jeff Green invoked Kevin Garnett several times, said he taught him the need to be 'asshole' on court, noted he's 'enemey' now.— Scott Souza (@scott_souza) September 30, 2013
It is totally possible that that is all Green needs as a blueprint to be successful. It will all wind up stemming from how comfortable he can be playing aggressively in the spotlight. This is absolutely not an easy task, as there are few who can handle it on a nightly basis.
Still, by all accounts and from a healthy chunk of time watching Green play, we can see he has the God-given physical attributes. He has roughly the same body as Kevin Durant and is just a couple pounds lighter than LeBron James. However, Green’s game has never been confused with one of them.
What percentage of that reason has been opportunity, ability or mentality should be discovered before the 2013-14 finale.
So, Green’s blueprint starts with exactly how Garnett so eloquently put it. If Green chooses to embrace the role of a spotlighted player, then we can advance on to the next step.
Step 2: Go Left. No, Really, Go Left
Admittedly, this has probably become a bit overblown at this point, but that it has become so noticeable illustrates that it is indeed a problem.
Jeff Green favors his right hand quite often and can become incredibly predictable. It makes his successful trips down the right side of the paint look more spectacular, as he is typically carving through two or more defenders, but it also expends too much energy.
Simply switching it up a little more often will lighten his load on any particular possession, keeping him fresh throughout the game.
Green is looking at about a 10-minute-per-game increase along with four or five more field-goal attempts. That is a workload his body isn’t accustomed to. Versatility will be key.
Mixing it up will also help his teammates be more involved. They will be attempting to cut out roles for themselves as well. Having a versatile Green will help them experiment with different looks and skill sets.
Step 3: Don’t Be Shy, Utilize Wallace
Moving from Paul Pierce to Gerald Wallace as a position-mate did numerous things for Jeff Green.
Obviously, it opened up a starting and starring role for Green to presumably fill right in.
Perhaps under the covers a bit is another important factor that came out of the Brooklyn Nets trade: Wallace might just be a better role model for Green to follow.
Yes, fans and analysts want Green to be better than Wallace ever was, and they have every reason to think and hope that it will be the case. Keep in mind, though, that with Wallace, we are talking about a well-established 12-year NBA veteran who has put up some very good numbers throughout his career.
We can’t yet say any of that about Green.
What to look at in this step is the stylistic comparisons. Green was never able to really get his game going at peak efficiency and performance with Pierce clogging the depth chart. However, he was also attempting to learn from Boston’s former captain. An admirable try, but maybe not the best route for his career to develop.
Pierce was a crafty offensive player with an ineffable knack for getting to the basket when needed or creating space where there was none to get off a jumper.
Wallace has made a living being hyper-athletic and using reckless abandon in the most graceful way possible to get to the rim and the line.
Now, ask yourself: Which of those two is Jeff Green more likely to resemble?
Step 4: Fill What Is Needed
This step should be for Green to not be something he isn't, but Rajon Rondo’s extended recovery time is throwing a monkey wrench into a great many plans.
The point is: Green shouldn’t try do too much. This isn’t to say Green should shy away from anything. It would just be beneficial to avoid a Buttermaker-telling-Kelly Leak-to-catch-all-the-fly-balls-situation.
Rondo will be the one who sets Boston’s tone. Green can be the team’s go-to scorer without being forced to play like Carmelo Anthony. Once his All-Star point guard returns, Green should focus on filling holes in Boston’s lineup.
That may mean working on his three-point shooting, as there are no elite marksmen on the roster. It may also mean covering a big shooting guard or fleet-footed power forward, as Avery Bradley and Rondo are sometimes too small and Jared Sullinger, Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass aren’t incredibly athletic. Of course, the one people will notice most is filling the lanes on fast breaks.
If he simply finds the holes and spackles them up nicely, Rondo will work the ball to him on offense enough to be labeled a go-to scorer, perhaps without ever looking the part.
That is how Green will prove himself this season—not by taking 20 shots a night to average 25 points per game, but by becoming a steady, reliable option for Boston to use on a regular basis.