What's Next For Jeff Green?

Is he a building block? Or just a brick?

I'm doing my best to disassociate Jeff Green with Kendrick Perkins.  It isn't Jeff's fault that Perkins was dealt.  If you still have angst over that deal, blame Danny Ainge.  That said, I also find it hard not to be very disappointed in what we got from Jeff Green in the postseason.

The stat guys will tell you that Green actually played about his same game on a per-minute (or per 36 minutes) basis.  He's an inefficient scorer that doesn't rebound much but can do a lot of things fairly well.  For me the most glaring thing was his inconsistency.  Perhaps it was because he was under a microscope, but it seemed like he would give us a good half then disappear.  Or coast for 2 quarters, burst out for the 3rd, and then not be heard from again.

But the question remains: Did he help the Celtics win?  Chris Forsberg has some pretty sobering stats for you.

Report card: Jeff Green 

But here's an undeniable fact: The Celtics were 7-1 overall in games Green played under 20 minutes in and he averaged a mere 6.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in those contests. Boston was 8-10 when he played 20 minutes or more, averaging 11.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game (though, take away that 15-rebound effort vs. Washington and that rebound number dips to 3.2 per game).

It is somewhat telling that my lasting memory of Green is that fumbled pass in the 4th quarter against the Heat.  Even more telling, going back to the previous year against the Lakers: Pau Gasol got a tip in basket to seal a close win over the Thunder.  Guess who didn't block out Gasol and still blames himself partially for that loss?  You guessed it.

What is done is done though.  We can't hope to change the past.  One of the major reasons Green was brought in was to bridge us to the future.  It is Danny's first big move to avoid the slow, steady decline that he witnessed in Boston 20 years ago.  Jeff has the youth and athleticism and potential talent that this team desperately needs going forward.

If Rajon Rondo is the foundation (another question for another day) then is Jeff Green a building block?  I hope so.

First of all, I'm taking it as a given that he'll be signed this offseason.  The Celtics will find some way to make it happen and with the restricted status, they hold most of the cards.  Insert the already getting old disclaimer here of "depending on the new CBA rules."

The first question would be "how much better can he get?"  He's 24 years old which means he's not exactly an elder statesman, but he's no young buck either.  I think he can improve upon his defense and spacing, but overall I think he is what he's going to be at this point.  His real value to the team appears to be on the break, where he can get out in front of slower players and finish at the rim in traffic.  This is music to Rondo's ears because he needs some young legs to run with.  However, 2 guys alone can't start a fast break.  We'll need more rebounding to start the outlet.  We need another athletic wing to help fill the lanes.  And of course we'll need to do this largely while the Big 3 are resting on the bench.

That's the thing with Green.  He wasn't a very good fit for the Big 3.  Maybe with a full offseason and training camp Doc can find a more consistent role for him but I wouldn't count on it.  Much of what we need Green for is to use his versatility to fill in the gaps.  He's a bit of an overqualified utility infielder waiting for any one of the older fielders to need a day off or a pinch hitter.  Sometimes he's out guarding 2's, other times he's checking Carmelo and LeBron, other times he's filling in on the post.  It is hard to find consistency when your role is undefined by nature.

Consistency is key too.  Take Rondo as an example.  He was always capable of a big night or a jaw dropping pass or even a stretch of games where he looked unbeatable.  Still, it wasn't until he started doing it consistently (late season slump withstanding) that he really made The Jump.  Many players never get to that point and fade away before their talents can be fully realized.  Hopefully Jeff can put things together, find a role, and contribute to a championship contender here in Boston.

I don't really picture Green becoming one piece of the next "big 3" that comes along.  I see him more as a solid, do all the little things starter (eventually) that fills in the gaps for the other stars.  Of course, that is what he was supposed to do off the bench this year.  Still, he's got that power packed "P" word attached to him.  He's got potential.  If we can get him to realize that potential on a consistent basis, we'll have a good building block for the future.

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