Just how good can Jeff Green be? Even though he entered the league 6 years ago, we still don't really know.
Jeff Green on @Toucherandrich "I do believe I'm one of the elite talents in the league, I just haven't had the opportunity to prove it"— Jay O. (@MrTrpleDouble10) October 10, 2013
Ever since Jeff arrived in Boston there have been perfectly legitimate excuses as to why he wasn't playing up to his full potential.
He was traded mid season and had to adjust to a new role on a team that was saying goodbye to a very popular player in Kendrick Perkins. It was disappointing that he didn't adjust faster but he gets a bit of a free pass because it wasn't easy for everyone to fit in with that group.
The next year was supposed to be his chance but the doctors (thankfully) found something wrong with his heart and he had to miss a full year.
Last year he was awarded a big contract based largely upon his potential and hopes once again were high. Unfortunately he was still recovering his stamina after the surgery so he started off slowly. There would be a good game here or there but far too many where he simply disappeared for much of the game.
Other elements were at play too. How could he get into an offensive flow when he was largely a 3rd or even 4th option on the floor? What exactly was his role? (Sometimes being so versatile can be a curse) He was backing up Paul Pierce, so in order to get enough playing time he had to play a little at power forward (which I don't think he's best suited for).
Still, progressively throughout the year he got better. He had his ups and downs but the general trend was upward. Then when Rondo was lost for the year, he really stepped up his game to a new level. For the first time in Boston he played up to his potential and gave us hope that he could be a major piece of the puzzle going forward.
Now he's had another offseason to work on conditioning and one would hope that he's fully recovered from his heart procedure (or as much as anyone's going to "fully" recover). On paper he's now one of the best scoring options that we've got so he's going to get his touches. He might even become our number one scoring option.... if he can take hold of that role and run with it.
That will be the central question for him this year. Can he do that? Can he walk the walk? Can he attack the game instead of waiting for it to come to him? Does he have that mental makeup? Can he be enough of an [expletive] to make Kevin Garnett and the rest of us proud?
The excuses (one would hope) are over now. There shouldn't be anything else holding him back.
Well, allow me to amend that a little bit. The excuses will be over ...soon. Right now, Green and every other Celtics player is learning a new coach, new teammates, and new roles within a new system. (wjsy covered this topic very well here) You simply cannot judge a player based on a couple of preseason games.
Green himself admitted that the learning curve is holding him back at the moment.
After Jeff Green made only 2 of 7 shots and scored just 6 points in Boston's 97-89 loss to Toronto in its preseason opener Monday, Stevens realized he was asking him to do too much. Instead of expecting Green to play three positions while learning a new system, Stevens decided to have Green focus on one or two positions. But he's not sure which positions those will be yet. Green, who scored 10 points Wednesday, said he'd play whatever position(s) Stevens wants, but he admitted he found it difficult trying to learn how to play shooting guard in addition to both forward positions.
"Most definitely it’s been more difficult," he said. "There’s so many schemes that you have to know. We talked, and I told (Stevens) I still want to take on that challenge, because with my versatility, I can create mismatch problems and put the advantage on our side. It’s all a work in progress. This is our second preseason game. It’s not like we’re 50 games into the season. We just have to keep working."
So once again he gets a legitimate free pass, ...for now.
Soon, say once the regular season begins, there will be no more legitimate free passes. There won't be any more "yeah but" statements. It won't be about potential anymore. His production will be his report card.
If he reverts back to being hot one night and cold the next two, then we might have to rethink our expectations. On the other hand, if he can play somewhere along the lines of what he was doing at the end of last year and into the playoffs, he'll be a bargain at his current salary.
By the end of this year, we should know exactly what we have in Jeff Green. No more excuses.