At 14-28, the Boston Celtics just passed the halfway point of the 2013/14 season. Even though team expectations weren't high to start the year, a lot was expected of from some individual players in terms of player development. Some fans thought Kelly Olynyk that would have tremendous success like he did in the summer league, and others believed that Jeff Green would immediately replace Paul Pierce. Unfortunately, neither has happened.
To report on the State of the Celtics, I asked our team of writers six questions about the season so far. In the fourth part of our series, I asked:
Which player has failed to meet your expectations so far this season?
Interestingly, our seven respondents answered with only three different players: Jeff Green, Kelly Olynyk, and Gerald Wallace.
Look, I'm the biggest Jeff Green advocate around, sometimes to a fault, but what's bothered me is that he refuses to be aggressive on a night to night basis. One game he's posting up and looking for his shot early (like he did against Golden State), the next he's no where to be found (like 75% of this year's games). As fans and writers, I think we have the right to be frustrated with Jeff. Nobody's asking him to lead us to a championship this year, but I think he's more than capable of scoring in the high teens while pulling down 6-8 rebounds per game. The only problem is, he just doesn't.
Jeff Green's scoring has decreased every month, and I think most people expected Green to take the role of first option and primary scorer heading into the season. He hasn't filled that role like we thought. To me, he seems very much like the same player we've come to know in his time in Boston. He's taking a lot of jump shots and getting to the free throw line at four attempts per game. For someone with his ability to get to the rim and on a team that needs an assertive scorer, Green's underwhelmed. Perhaps my expectations were unfair and Green is who he is. But it's frustrating to see him not be something more in a situation that couldn't be better suited to bring that out.
I know I'm being hard on the rookie, but I expected him to be a little bit more ahead with his game on the offensive end of the floor. Kelly Olynyk was a stud posting up at Gonzaga, but has looked extremely passive when doing so in the NBA. He has converted on only 16 of his 23 post-ups, for a terrible 30.4 field goal percentage. He's also shooting only 35.4 percent from mid-range, where, he also played very effectively in college. Will Olynyk come around? Probably, but I think it's all on his head right now. Once he gets past the rookie jitters, he'll be fine -- maybe his 25 point performance against the laughable Ryan Kelly will help them finally go away.
This may seem a bit harsh, but Kelly Olynyk's gotten off to a slower start to begin his career than I expected. He has been banged up and fighting for minutes, which have prevented him from making any sizable impact. But when Olynyk has played, the game has seemed a bit fast for him at times, and it's clear he needs some work on the defensive end. I do think he still has loads of potential, and I can certainly see him taking a big step forward in the next few months. He has a rare skill set for his size, and once he gets used to the NBA's speed, I think we'll see Olynyk become a valuable contributor for the Celtics.
Until the recent Laker game, Kelly O has definitely failed my expectations. That game he showed a flash of promise. I have not closed the door on him, but he needs to be tougher. I am just not seeing him being the best selection in the draft for the Celtics at this point in the season. Time always tells the truth. Time reveals all. Jeff Green? I just can't go there right now...Ughh.
It is tempting to say Jeff Green here, but I think he's at about where I expected him to be. So I guess I'll go with Gerald Wallace, for a number of reasons. I knew his skills had deteriorated but I didn't realize by how much. He flat out refuses to shoot now. Plus I'm not a big fan of his style of leadership. I know his heart is in the right place but I don't like the way he goes about it. So he's a disappointment to me.
This season my only real gripe has been Crash's performance. Gerald seems utterly lost, stuck somewhere inside his own head, unable to free himself from people's expectations and personal fears. Perhaps his drive to get the most out of his team-mates is getting in the way of his own game. Trying to set the right example can be a thin line to tread, and it's easy to put "inspiring others" ahead of your own performance, in turn making you seem like ... well ... a bit of a blow-hard.