Jeff Green's journey to this 2013-14 season was long and winding. Starting with the 2007 NBA Draft when the Celtics actually took him with the fifth pick overall and now culminating in a rebuilding process that may allow him to claim his place as the foundation of a new Celtics movement.
The middle of the story puts Green in Seattle then enduring the franchise's move to Oklahoma City. In 2011 Green ended up back in Boston following a highly unpopular trade. Kendrick Perkins was dealt out of Boston. Green had a rough introduction to basketball in Boston. He was relegated to a bit player, and did not seem welcomed by his teammates considering who he was replacing. He went from playing 37 minutes and scoring 15 points in OKC, to only seeing the floor for 12 minutes in Boston. His confidence was lacking, he looked like a dear in the headlights during the Miami playoff series, dropping vital passes at the end of game 5.
Then just after signing a one-year $9 million dollar contract, Green found out he had an aortic aneurysm and would miss the lockout shortened 2012 season. Many fans were excited to see what Green could do when given a chance to settle into a role. He showed flashes the prior year, and also had some great moments in Oklahoma City. His season was lost, and his return to the sport was not a sure bet. Some were distraught at the bad luck Green had found. Others were upset at the bad luck he had brought with him to the Celtics.
After 10 months of recovery, Jeff Green returned for the 2012-13 season. Once again, he looked outstanding at certain times, while other moments he was tentative and nervous.
Green's success seemed to be tied with who he was sharing the floor with. He seemed at home after Rajon Rondo was hurt. The improvement is quite striking. Rondo missed February, March, and April. In those months Jeff Green averaged 15.3, 17.6, and 17.1 points per game, respectively. Before Rondo was hurt, Green's best month, December, saw him score 11.4 points. December was the only month he averaged more than 10 points. Green's 20 PPG and superb playoff series against the New York Knicks may have been the only bright spot for the Celtics in a strange and inconsistent series.
Green's FG%, 3FG%, rebounds, and assists all went up too.
Rondo defenders could always argue that Green's role became more meaningful following Rajon Rondo's injury. His minutes went up drastically, also adding to the improved stats. The eye-ball test went beyond the numbers, and many fans saw the Jeff Green they had anticipated seeing. He was aggressive and his shooting percentages proved he was getting the ball in better places to score.
His buzzer beater against was a prime example. Here's the video:
Green's face and intensity in that moment was shocking, and it showed what he is capable of. Even Doc trusted him and drew up a play for him.
Now Green gets to write a new chapter in his long and winding road. He has leapt from the fourth or fifth best player on the team to the second best player. He's going to have the ball going through him in the offense more. He will have an opportunity to take it to the basket, something he did extremely well toward the end of the season when he was more assertive on offense. According to Synergy Sports, 40% of Green's offense came from isolation and spot up jumpers. If Rondo gets him the ball where he wants it, and the floor is spaced properly (read: if Rondo has a jumper that his defender has to respect) Green could fulfill his potential as a 18 PPG scorer while playing also playing good solid defense.
Green has been the little brother behind players like Kevin Durant, James Harden, Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo. Now only one of those players remains, Rondo. Maybe this is the year Celtics fans realize that dealing Kendrick Perkins (now a Thunder albatross) might have been a good move. Sometimes, you're not supposed to evaluate a trade until a few years down the road. Now the fans will get to see if Green is the foundation of the rebuilding process. It's his chapter to write, maybe he can get Rondo to co-author it with him.
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