Jeff Green has never been the focal point of a team during his time in the NBA. He hasn't asked for that kind of role, and frankly, he hasn't needed it. Instead, Green has been happy to master a number of skills and take a backseat approach to his time in the NBA.
A role player in its simplest sense, Green has been a valuable asset to every team he has been a part of during his NBA career. Now, after a year away from basketball while recovering from surgery to repair an aortic aneurism, Green is set to become a role player for a Boston team looking to win its 18th championship in 2012.
During his brief stint in Boston in the 2010-2011 season, Green averaged 9.8 points per game, averaged 3.3 rebounds per game and had a 48.5 field goal percentage. He was just beginning to settle into his role when the Celtics' season ended. While most experts point to Green's average PER during his career, what he brings to the table for Boston in 2012 is a lot different than what he brought to the table for Boston the first time around.
With a roster largely filled out at the power forward position, Green will likely be relied upon to backup Paul Pierce at the small forward position. While Green isn't an All-Star talent at the position, being able to devote all of his focus to playing behind Pierce has a chance to free him up to become a much better addition to the Celtics rotation.
When commenting on what he is hoping to bring to the Celtics this season, Green has noted time and time again that he wants to be more aggressive when he's on the court. For much of his career, he has been regarded as a slasher with the ability to finish around the rim and use his size to play multiple positions on the floor. Now, it seems as if the Celtics have given him a definitive vision as a player. That vision seems to have created a motived, eager version of Jeff Green.
The 2012 version of the Celtics has yet to take the court as an entire group, but with Green being the most likely option to man the small forward spot with the second unit, he will have to be the aggressive player he has talked about being. The Celtics' second unit struggled at times in 2011 to find points and defend with consistency. The work Green has put in in his time working back to playing condition has a chance to be a vital asset to the second unit.
Danny Ainge noted earlier in the summer that Green's perimeter defense is something the Celtics valued greatly when the front office considered whether or not to sign Green during the offseason. While not the most sexy part of anyone's game (unless your name is Avery Bradley), the effort Green can add to the Celtics' already potent defense could be a highly underrated addition to the 2012 Celtics.
Lastly, rebounding is an area where Green has an advantage over a number of players that play the small forward position. However, he has never been a prolific rebounder. That has to change. The second unit for Boston is likely going to consist of a number of unknowns when it comes to rebounding, and Green has to be ready to dig into the paint and fight for boards on the offensive and defensive glass.
Green has said all the proper things leading up to the 2012 season. He has come across as a player ready to get back on the court, prove his worth and give back to a Boston Celtics organization that was there for him during some of the toughest months of his life this past year. Whether or not he has changed enough as a player or is more comfortable in the Celtics rotation to make a positive impact remains to be seen. Green is ready to prove his doubters wrong, and what a welcomed, happy sight it would be.