With the season dwindling down to an end, its a time for reflection. The Boston Celtics have had a very up and down year–slightly disappointing, even. They brought in a lot of firepower after losing Ray Allen but had their season derailed by injuries and inconsistency on both ends of the floor. The Celtics were a preseason favorite to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals and they were supposed to win the Atlantic division as well. A lot of pundits got it wrong.
One of the most hot topics in the offseason was Jeff Green re-signing with the Celtics. There was a lot of second guessing and speculation when it came to this move. It was fair to question because they gave Green a four year, 40 million dollar contract coming off of a heart surgery. He hadn’t played basketball in over a year. No one knew how healthy Green would be in his return. Its more than fair to say that standing by Green through this process was a noble gesture by the Celtics, but it was also a crap shoot.
For a while at the beginning of the season, it looked like the detractors of the deal were spot on. Not to say that Green was necessarily a bad player, but that he was being paid more than his worth. Green’s numbers before the turn of the year are pretty underwhelming. Green was only scoring 10 points per game on 41% shooting. He wasn’t able to find his niche in the defense either. He couldn’t guard power forwards because he was too small and he couldn’t guard small forwards because he was too slow.
It had gotten to a point where Green’s minutes started dwindling. From the beginning of the season to the turn of the calendar year, Green averaged 23.7 minutes per game as a reserve. Rivers was trying to bring him back in slowly to get him in a groove of sorts, but nothing seemed to be working.
It wasn’t until Rajon Rondo’s injury that Green really started to pick up his play. His minutes were boosted up to 31.2 minutes in February, 33.8 minutes in March and 35.6 minutes in March. Jared Sullinger’s injury had a lot to do with the minute increase, but Green’s production also bolstered as well.
Without Rajon Rondo driving and kicking, the Celtics had to lean on cutting and slashing the defense more frequently than in the past. The pick and pop was no longer the staple of the offense. Now Green’s ability to slash was showcased more than ever.
Green has averaged 16.6 points per game on 49.6% shooting since January 27th. Green is also shooting 41% from beyond the arch since then while taking 2.7 shots per game from there.
Green earned a starting position earlier this month because of his play. He’s had a 43 point game, three 30+ point games and 10 20+ point games since January 27th. While that is very inspiring, it should be noted that that is less than 1/3 of the games that Green has played. And we should also note that he has a usage percentage of only 22.1%. Green doesn’t take a lot of shots and averaged 33.2 minutes per game in that stretch.
Green started the year off slowly, but that should be expected coming off of heart surgery. The question here is which sample do we use? We’ve never seen this kind of play out of Jeff Green–even in his Oklahoma City days he wasn’t this good. When deciding which sample to use, normally you’d go with whatever is closer to the median. That would be the first half of Green’s season in this case.
The second half of the season should be acknowledged, but Green has got to prove himself for more than a 37 game stretch to say that he’s lived up to his contract. He’s played very well, but the Celtics aren’t paying him for half of a season.
If he comes through in the postseason and helps carry the load then his late season success will have more validation than it does now, but the jury is still out on Green. We’ll find out which player he really is soon.