First and foremost, Jeff Green is still more than capable of the type of play we saw from him in the latter half of the 2012-13 season. During that amazing stretch, he was surrounded by an almost completely different cast of teammates to who he is surrounded by now. Losing mentors, and scoring threats like Paul Pierce, and in particular, Kevin Garnett, the man largely responsible for finding the ‘asshole’ inside of Jeff Green, has to take a natural toll on an emerging Jeff Green’s confidence, and his standing in the team.
He has now become one of the main focal points of this team, and, with the exception of Rondo, I don’t see anyone else on the Celtics roster with more pressure on them to perform. Jeff’s preseason minutes have been largely the same as his minutes last season, 24.6mpg and 27.8mpg respectively, so he’s getting the court time. His shooting percentages have dropped significantly from last season, shooting a poor 32%FG in the preseason compared with 46%FG last season, and his go-to shot from last year, the spot-up 3 point shot has dropped from 38%, down to 23% in this preseason. Without Paul Pierce, and to a lesser extent, KG, Jeff has been taking more pull-up, mid-range jumpers, which still look over-extended and awkward. Obviously practice will improve this area.
A lot has been made of Jeff’s lack of rebounding in the preseason. In 2012-13, Jeff averaged just shy of 4 rebound per game at 3.9RPG. These were low numbers for a 6’9” forward. His numbers have dropped even lower this preseason, averaging 2RPG. We could argue this can be contributed to Sully, Humphries and an improved Bass snatching a fair swag of rebounds, however, Jeff still has to use his incredible hops and length, and needs to get into that painted area, and battle for the boards against some big boys. We can only wait and see if he puts in more effort in this department.
As far as scoring goes, Jeff has averaged 10PPG in the preseason, compared with 12.8 points in season 2012-13. So whilst he is still scoring, albeit at a lower clip, the drop off isn’t nightmarish just yet. I expect once Brad Stevens settles down his player rotations, and Jeff builds up the confidence in himself as a number 2 or 3 scoring threat, and the team manufactures more isolations plays, and pushes the ball on offence, we should see a reemergence of the Iron Man we all knew and loved from last season. Then again, we may not. Let’s be honest, how many scoring weapons does Jeff Green have in his arsenal?
Obviously he’s a tremendous finisher on the fast break. He was solid last year from the corner 3 point shot. Depending on his defender, he has a terrific first step on isolation plays taking it to the rack with authority. Cutting back door to the hoop on the receiving end of a well-executed assist. And his low-post turnaround fade-away can be affective. Is Jeff Green as capable of creating his own shots as he should be, or we would hope him to be? I’d have to say no, not at this current stage of his career, however this will continue to develop.
But, as we did last year, we over-looked Jeff’s early troubles, and kept our faith in him, and in the end, ultimately, he rewarded us with some truly stellar play. Let this team settle and find its feet. Then let’s see how high Iron Man can fly this year.