Paul Pierce is the guy that has to guard the league's best scorers. He has to guard offensive nightmares like LeBron James, Carmello Anthony, and Kevin Durant. But at the same time, he also has to be guarded by the league's greatest defensive nightmares like LeBron James, Luol Deng, and Andre Iguodala.
In the Celtic-Miami series last season, Paul Pierce struggled a lot. It couldn't be an easy task to not only guard LeBron James, but to also have LeBron James guard you. If that wasn't enough, once James would go to the bench, you have Shane Battier to worry about. Paul Pierce averaged 18.9 points for the 2011-2012 post season. It's his second lowest point average in his playoff career. He also shot 39% from the field, also his second lowest field goal percentage in his playoff career.
People can blame it on his age, but I feel that Paul Pierce still has some good basketball left in him. Without a productive Small Forward to back him up, Pierce had to play more minutes than anybody would've liked which had an effect on his game, especially Game 7 of the Miami series, where he averaged 40 minutes a game, and where the Celtics couldn't muster up the offense to even keep Game 7 close down the stretch of the fourth quarter.
This is why I believe Jeff Green can be an extremely vital part of the Celtics (if he gets officially signed). Rest is the most important thing you can give to an aging veteran that can still give you 17-20 points a game. Jeff Green wouldn't even need to necessarily score like Pierce to prolong Pierce's resting time, Green would just need to give the Celtics 12 points and 5 rebounds and defend the opposing team's Small Forward, which Green is more than capable of doing.
In the event that Pierce gets injured, Green can fill in at the Small Forward position and give quality starter minutes to the Celtics. Fans rememeber the bad year that Green had with the Celtics, but I know that if Pierce gets injured, Green has the ability to be the 15-20 point scorer he used to be in OKC (Green averaged a solid 16 points and 6 rebounds on 45% shooting from the field as Oklahoma City's starter). In addition, with a point guard like Rondo you can expect Green's offensive stats to take a slight jump. You can also expect Green's rebounding numbers to take a light jump as well because in OKC he shared a front court with Nenad Krstic. It'll take time, but it'll happen.
When I look at the money he may be offered, I don't ask "Will the impact he'll have on the game as an individual, be worth the money he's being offered?"
Instead I ask "Will the impact that he'll have on the team as a whole, be worth the money he's being offered?". It doesn't have to be all about points, or rebounds, it could be about things that don't show up on the stat sheet such as attitude towards criticism, the willingness to learn and expand your game, the willingness to help lead the younger players, while being led by the veterans. Green still has much room to grow, and if he stays with Boston, he'll be the one in the starting line up when Pierce retires.
What are your thoughts? Can Green live up to his potential contract? Or am I giving him too much credit?