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The curious case of Jeff Green

It's been two pre-season games--PRE-SEASON GAMES--and fans are already jumping off the Jeff Green bandwagon. He raised expectations after being the best Celtic in last year's playoffs and with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett gone and Rajon Rondo on the shelf, he was supposed to be the man. He's vowed to bring back the "a**hole mentality," but we've yet to see it.

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OK, I'll play the part of irrational fan/blogger who has his finger on the panic button: Jeff Green is being sorely outplayed by Gerald Wallace right now.  If this continues, Wallace's remaining three years of his $30 million contract makes Green's deal look like a trade chip.  At Media Day, he promised us that he'd channel Garnett and be an a**hole again.  In two preseason games, he's been more Tony Stark and less Ironman.  Argghhhh, I'm so frustrated!

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Last night, he technically was the most aggressive player on the floor; he lead the team in field goal attempts in 21 minutes of play, but 6 of his 10 shots were threes and 2 more were in transition.  He was a -14 (worst on the team) and didn't get to the free throw line.  Numbers don't lie, but they certainly don't tell the entire story.  Let's take a look at all of Green's touches last night:


  • On his first touch, Green played pick and roll with Humphries and missed on a pull up mid-range jumper.  You can argue that he should have taken it to the rim, but fresh off the bench, the shot seemed fine.
  • OIynyk drove and kicked it to Green for a corner three.  He needs to take that shot because he can make that shot.

  • Pressey drove baseline and found Green at the free throw line.  He pulled up and missed a mid-range jump shot.  Again, it was an opportunity to penetrate with the defense sucked in.  A**hole Jeff Green, the one that reminded us of James Worthy during last year's preseason, would have drove that ball and forced the issue.
  • Green rebounded on the defensive glass and threw a long, pin point outlet to Humphries for the lay up.  Great vision, nice pass.


  • MarShon Brooks drove and kicked it out to Jeff for three.  That's his sweet spot.
  • A wing touch with Humphries on the post and Olynyk at the high post.  Humphries wasn't open and neither player gave him a pick so he rotated the ball to Olynyk.
  • Another wing touch, but this time, Green dumped it down to Humphries for the lay up.
  • With Wallace in the lineup, Green got the favorable match up against the smaller defender, cut back door on the baseline, and got a pass from Wallace for an easy lay up.
  • Finished with a flush in transition after a turnover.
  • With the shot clock going down, he got a screen from Faverani between the circles and drifted for a missed three.   This was possibly another opportunity to force the issue, but the Knicks iced the pick and launching a jumper was his only option.


  • After a series of screens, Green had Felton in the post but passed out of it after getting double teamed.
  • With a horns look with Sullinger and Bass, he used a screen and settled for a three.  It was early in the shot clock, so it's fair to be a little critical here.
  • In more defensive switching by the Knicks, Green posted Prigioni in the high post, was triple teamed, and just missed Bass in the paint.  He made the right decision, but a poor pass.
  • Missed a three in semi-transition from Lee.
  • Again found Felton in isolation and was immediately wrapped up.  It was the third time that Green found himself in a mismatch and he never shied away.  It would have been better had those matchups ended in free throws, but he was never given the chance to turn the corner.


  • Posted up a smaller Tim Hardaway Jr., but with the defense sucked in to prevent the drive, he passed out of isolation.
  • Made a sideline three with the ball rotating from strong side to weak side.

Sure, Jeff Green could have been more aggressive last night.  There were a handful of times when he could have driven in favor of a jumper, but I think it's a matter of it being preseason basketball and him taking it in stride.  Stevens has assured us that Green has been great in practice and Stevens is focusing Green's role to 2-3 positions rather than 3-4.  Last night, Green played a bulk of his time at shooting guard and it's possible that it was just an experiment.  Nonetheless, these are preseason games, in effect, pick-up games or practice scrimmages with referees.

However, people will still question Green's mentality and mindset.  Is he ready to make the jump?  It's too early to tell, but let's cut him some slack.  He knows that when the regular season starts, he'll have to shoulder most of the scoring load and public scrutiny if the team is losing.  Why burn yourself out now during the preseason when your team is trying to figure things out?  The shots he's taking aren't necessarily bad, they're just a) not going in and b) not Faverani dunks.

Big picture: Green's game is more complementary and that's OK.  I've said over and over again that he's more a #2 than a #1.  Two months from now when Rondo comes back, it'll be clearer.  Instead of Green trying to create for his teammates, it'll be Rondo finding Green as a finisher.  And maybe right now, Green's holding back.  Maybe he is saving his best stuff for when it matters.  Maybe we all need a little perspective.  He's still one of the most versatile players on the team and there hasn't been a reason to flip the switch.  As a veteran, he understands that it's a long season, especially considering the team is in rebuild mode, and he has to pace himself.

Until then, we're all on Jeff Green watch: