At times, Jeff Green can make the game look this easy.
It looked like it when Rajon Rondo was tossing alley-oops to Jeff Green. It certainly looked like it when Green went to the free-throw line 15 times against the Orlando Magic. That had to be the case when Green poured in 39 points against the Washington Wizards.
With Rondo back and injuries thinning the ranks at guard, Green again has the opportunity to be Boston’s primary offensive option. He led the team in shot attempts in three of the last seven games.
So is Boston trying to mold Green into a go-to player or showcase him?
During his time with the Celtics, Boston tried to encourage Green into a prominent role. This year, with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett no longer with the team, Green’s biggest obstacles to greatness were removed. And with Rondo back and able to feed Green in his favorite spots, there’s no reason why Boston shouldn’t see the best of Green.
If Green flourishes, then great. It’s the result Boston has been waiting for since president of basketball operations Danny Ainge traded to acquire the young forward in 2011. The question is will the Celtics consider Green a keeper or is the Jeff Green experiment over?
Thanks to two trades less than two weeks apart Ainge has established that the Celtics will be sellers as the trade deadline approaches. Because of that, it has led to rumors that anyone is available, including Green.
That’s why some NBA executives believe Ainge is shopping Green, according to NBA.com’s Sam Smith. This speculation didn’t make Ainge happy, as he had to talk not just to Green but to Green’s agent, David Fauk.
Ainge said to the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett: “Unfortunately there’s so much garbage out there. So if I feel like it’s affecting a player or a player wants to know about something that’s been written, I’ll talk to him. I’ll usually get a call or a visit from that player or the agent for that player, and we’ll address it head on.”
It can’t be confirmed whether Ainge is or isn’t shopping Green. Trader Dan does an excellent job of keeping his negotiations quiet until deals are on the verge of being completed. But there’s no doubt that Ainge knows Green’s trade value. That’s a guarantee.
Can Green become a go-to scorer? The talent is there. He’s 6’9” with above-average athleticism. He has the versatility to play and defend three positions. He can play inside and outside. And when Green is locked it, he’s practically unstoppable.
That’s what Green showed Boston last year when he almost single-handedly beat the Miami Heat by scoring a career-high 43 points. That Green showed up last Wednesday as he carried the Celtics to an overtime win over the Washington Wizards with 39 points.
Unfortunately that Green doesn’t come to play every night. The next three nights after his career high Green scored 13, 10 and 12 points.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder in town, Green could had made a statement to his former team of what they are missing. With the opportunity for an encore to his Wizards game, Green settled for eight three-point attempts, making just one, en route to 16 points.
Going into the fourth quarter against the surging Brooklyn Nets, Boston still had a chance for an upset. Head coach Brad Stevens played Green just 2:22 in the fourth. Chris Johnson, an NBA Developmental League rookie signed to a 10-day contract, played more in the fourth than Green.
Embarrassing? It should be for Green, though not as embarrassing as being benched for the entire fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets.
For a player so talented, does Green just lack the killer instinct that propels good players to greatness? He could be so much more. Green could be an incredible scorer. He could impact a game in numerous ways. With his physical gifts, Green should be a much better rebounder.
If Green can’t become the player the Celtics believe he should be, Boston has to find that player. Fortunately, Boston is in a great position to conduct a search.
Thanks to the 16 draft picks over the next five years, Boston has plenty of currency to make multiple blockbuster trades. The more likely route initially is through the draft. If the ping-pong balls bounce Boston’s way, the Celtics will have the opportunity to select a potential alpha dog with a top-five pick.
One out of Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker or Rodney Hood or international prospect Dante Exum could be the next Celtics star.
Not that any of the above mentioned is guaranteed to become a star. But trying someone new is worth a shot because Green is yet to show Boston he can be one.
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