Gerald Green’s skill set is completely different than Evan Turner’s
The departure of Evan Turner leaves big shoes to fill for the Boston Celtics. During his two seasons in Boston, Turner revived his career and became the sixth man on a 48-win team. His ball-handling was a big reason why the Celtics were so successful last season as he became an integral part of their small ball lineup.
Turner’s all-around skill set didn’t put up flashy numbers, however the 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists and one steal per game last season earned him a hefty contract this offseason. While the Celtics were smart not to offer Turner the four-year, $70 million deal that the Portland Trail Blazers gave the 27-year-old wing player, his loss will still be felt.
Along with his all-around play, Turner provided the Celtics with 28 minutes per night off the bench, including averaging 30.6 minutes per game over the final two months of the season. His role increased even more in the playoffs once Avery Bradley went down in Game one and Turner stepped up and started four games while seeing a remarkable 35.7 minutes per contest.
In the end, Turner was someone the Celtics could turn to and ask him to excel in a different area every night. He was never asked to carry the team on offense, mostly due to his horrid shooting percentages, but he would create opportunities for teammates, rebound the ball, do the dirty work that goes unnoticed and provided solid defense.
Rather than re-signing Turner or trying to find his replacement, the Celtics saved their money to try to land a star next summer. Instead, they drafted Jaylen Brown and turned to their 2005 first round draft pick, Gerald Green.
Simply put, the Celtics didn’t bring in a player to replicate the production Turner gave last season. Instead, they focused on some of their weaker areas – three-point shooting, rim protection. Boston would have paid a healthy price to bring in a talent like Turner was off the bench, but they trusted their homegrown talent instead to step up.
Despite Green being brought in to add more depth to the shooting guard and small forward positions, expecting any more than what he’s shown throughout his nine NBA seasons is crazy. Boston isn’t expecting him to be in contention for Sixth Man of the Year or be the all-around juggernaut Turner was last season, but solid three-point shooting and athleticism would add a new dynamic to Boston’s offense.
In fact, Gerald Green and Evan Turner’s style of play aren’t similar at all. While Turner isn’t a great defender, he did average one steal per game during his time in Boston. His defensive versatility was his calling card on that end of the floor. On the other hand, Green has never averaged one steal per contest in his career, and that’s why the Celtics drafted Jaylen Brown.
As inconsistent as Green’s defense has been in his career, the Celtics don’t care that he’s not a shut down defender. With Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier and Brown in the back court, adding a scoring wing was needed. As big of an impact as Turner was on offense last season, he wasn’t a scorer, and that’s something the Celtics greatly lacked.
Sure, Turner had a big game here and there, but his 24.1 three-point percentage made it hard for him to be considered a reliable scorer night in and night out. He has never shot over 43 percent from the field in his career and his field-goal percentage drops below 40 percent (39.1 percent) from 16 feet and farther. He made a living on his mid-range shot, although that has become a dying breed in the NBA.
When considering the Celtics attempted 26.1 threes per game – 11th most in the NBA – it’s crazy to think Boston didn’t have a reliable three-point shooter. Statistically, Smart had the worst shooting season in NBA history, Bradley was too inconsistent from three to be considered a team’s best option and Rozier rarely saw the court.
Despite Gerald Green coming off a relatively poor shooting season – 32.3 three-point percentage – he is a couple of seasons removed from shooting 40 percent from deep with the Phoenix Suns. Although, the Miami Heat‘s slower pace could have caused his production to drop as he didn’t see as many open looks in transition and wasn’t able to showcase his athleticism as often.
During his breakout season with Phoenix in 2013-14, the Suns owned the eight fastest pace in the NBA. However, last season, Miami was the sixth slowest team in the league. That’s a big change of playing style for a guy who thrives on outrunning his defender and making highlight dunks and transition threes.
Therefore, while Green might not rebound, pass or defend as well as Turner, there’s a good chance that he’ll re-find his shot in the Celtics’ faster tempo. As important as Turner’s all-around game was, finding specialists are just as important when forming a championship team.
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That’s why Kyle Korver has stuck around on winning teams for so long, and why teams would love to bring Ray Allen out of retirement. Sometimes specialists off the bench are more important to a team than a player who is a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none.
When it comes down to it, Green has been in-and-out of the league and up-and-down from the D-League and NBA throughout his basketball career. With that being said, he’s not going to change his game at 30-years-old. Besides, the Celtics brought him in to hopefully be their shooter off the bench and add more athleticism to a team that improved greatly in that area by drafting Jaylen Brown.
If his shot doesn’t return to form then they only paid him the veterans minimum, although, if he does find his shot and thrives in the fastbreak-esque offense, he could be one of the biggest steals this offseason.
It’s insane to think Green will contribute much else than athleticism and scoring, but with Rozier and Brown quickly developing, a three-point shooter like Green could end up being more valuable than Turner, especially for the price. He doesn’t need to be Evan Turner because he’ll fail if he tries, Gerald Green just needs to do what the Celtics brought him back for.