So, are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced? Well, Jeff Green is, because the Boston Celtics used the 2013 season as a developmental year, and the 27-year-old forward was their leading specimen. Green was a featured scorer for the first time in his career, so that new role came with unfamiliar responsibilities.
One fresh play that Green frequently ran this season was the pick-and-roll, which accounted for a career-high 15.2 percent of his offensive possessions. Before this season, the 6-foot-9 forward had very little experience as the pick-and-roll ball handler, so this was his first chance to take control of the offense.
But Green wasn't very productive using that play this season, since the Celtics scored only 0.797 points per possession (PPP). When Green took a shot himself, he scored only 0.686 PPP, according to Synergy Sports.
This overall production ranked him 106th in the NBA out of the 115 players with a minimum of 200 attempts. Even though Green is new to this, let's not split hairs, because these numbers are horrible when compared to his peers. Of those 115 players, Green also ranked 105th in eFG%, 107th in %FT, 109th in FG%, and 112th in Score%.
Stats used: eFG% accounts for the increased value of the three-pointer; %FT is the percent of possessions the team is awarded free throws; Score% is the percent of possessions the team scores at least one point.
It's obvious that Jeff Green needs to get better in the pick-and-roll, especially if he'll continue to be used in it at a high rate next season. Fortunately, Green and the team are aware of the problem.
In a recent interview with Basketball Insiders, Jeff Green was asked about which areas of his game he wants to improve and the first play he said was "pick-and-rolls."
This is a sign that head coach Brad Stevens and the rest of the staff have told Green that the pick-and-roll is a place he must develop, since they sat down with each player during their exit interviews to determine what everyone should work on over the course of the offseason.
So, how can Jeff Green get better as a pick-and-roll ball handler and what will he work on this offseason?
Hit the Film Room
"I'll try to review film as I take time to rest my body," Jeff Green told Basketball Insiders. "There's a couple areas that I feel like I can improve in." One of those areas, of course, is as a pick-and-roll ball handler.
According to Synergy Sports, Green was involved in 178 pick-and-rolls over the first five seasons of his career, but he exceeded that number in only 82 games this year, with 226 total. Now that Green has the on-court experience, he can spend the summer watching film to see what he specifically needs to do better.
Looking at the stats, it's interesting to see how little Green gets to the line out of the pick-and-roll. The product of Georgetown was amongst the best in the league at drawing fouls in transition and isolation, getting to the line on 21.1 percent of his transition opportunities (22nd in the league with minimum 100 chances) and on 14.7 percent of his isolation plays (ranked 23rd, min 100).
Yet, Green struggles as the pick-and-roll ball handler, with fouls drawn on only 5.8 percent of his attempts (ranked 84th, min 100). This low rate is likely due to the fact he attempted a pull-up jumper on over 50 percent of his single covered pick-and-roll plays (105-of-201 opportunities).
Green pulls up so often, probably because of his unfamiliarity in making a read on the play. When he's in transition or isolation, he's in the wide open, and has spent the majority of his career learning when to attack the paint, step back for a three, or pull up for a two.
But this is a new part of the game for Jeff Green, so he must spend countless hours reviewing film to enhance his already learned on-court experience. Once Green does that, what he needs to progress will become obvious.
The Left Hand Must Improve
It's no surprise that Jeff Green is superior driving to the basket when going to his right, but his split stats as the pick-and-roll ball handler are staggering. On pick-and-rolls that start on the left side of the court, Green scored a very good 1.057 PPP in 35 total possessions.
But on right side pick-and-rolls, he scored a subpar 0.774 PPP on 62 possessions. He was even worse on middle pick-and-rolls, at 0.673 PPP on 104 possessions. The reason for this dip in production is because defenders regularly force him to use his left hand on right and middle pick-and-rolls. Whereas, when he starts on the left side, he can easily dribble to his right into a jumper or all the way to the paint.
Green's inability to use his off-hand has stifled his consistency throughout his career, but this could be the summer he finally improve his left. If that happens, his scoring efficiency will increase dramatically next season.
Consider this, if Green was equally effective from the right and middle as he is the left side (1.057 PPP), he would've scored 212 points out of single covered pick-and-rolls as opposed to his actual 155 points. Even that seemingly tiny amount would've increased his season average of 16.9 points per game to 17.5.
Green also needs to advance his technique going to his left for jumpers. On left side pick-and-rolls (when he normally drives to his right), Green was an efficient 9-for-19, but he was only 11-for-34 from the right side (when he goes to the left). And from the middle, he was a terrible 12-for-50.
When a player doesn't have experience with the ball in their hands, it's awkward for them to attempt shots they don't normally take, but that was the point of throwing him out there to do that this season. Before this year, he was primarily a spot up jump shooter, but in-game repetitions are required to build a player's skillset, so now he has the potential to be something more.
Did it lead to efficient production this year? Certainly not, but it gives Jeff Green experience that he has never received before, which will only help him in the future.
If you're worried about Jeff Green actually taking his game to the next level after such an inefficient season, it's worth giving it a chance. Think of 2013 as the qualifier -- which Green passed, proving he is capable -- and 2014 as the actual test, where Green will prove if he is able. Give it time and let him prove it to you.