Is Gerald Green the Solution to Boston’s Shooting Problems?

Dec 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Heat guard Gerald Green (14) reacts against the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter at Philips Arena. The Heat defeated the Hawks 100-88. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Heat guard Gerald Green (14) reacts against the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter at Philips Arena. The Heat defeated the Hawks 100-88. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Gerald Green is coming off a shaky season with the Miami Heat, but many think he could still help the Boston Celtics

After being drafted 18th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, Gerald Green has bounced around the NBA, D-League and overseas following being a part of the Kevin Garnett trade. At 30-years-old, Green is still in the NBA and signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the team he started his career with, the Celtics.

With the notion that there are no bad one-year deals, especially when considering he’s only projected to be the 11th man in the rotation, it’s a low-risk, high-reward signing by the Celtics. Green is coming off a shaky season with the Miami Heat in 2015-16, but was finally able to find his footing in the NBA just a couple of seasons prior with the Phoenix Suns.

The Celtics fast-paced offense is more similar to how the Suns played when Green played there from 2013-15. Green had his best NBA seasons with the Suns, shooting 38 percent from three and averaging 14 points per game. His athleticism and 40 percent shooting over 82 games with the Suns in 2013-14 led many believing he finally found his footing in the NBA.

It may have been due to new teammates or a slower pace on offense, but Green was not the same player last season. He only appeared in 69 games, shooting 32.3 percent from three and 39.2 percent from the field. Also, Green contributed 8.9 points per game. Following two solid seasons it was disappointing, especially since his coveted three-point shooting fell by 7.7 percent in just two seasons.

It’s been well-documented that the Celtics struggled shooting the ball last season. They shot 33.5 percent from three (third-worst in NBA) during the regular season and their 27.5 three-point percentage only ranked higher than the Houston Rockets in the postseason. Relying on your seven-foot center to be your three-point specialist is never good and, with R.J. Hunter coming off a disappointing rookie campaign, the Celtics had to look at other options.

Therefore, they turned to their former first round draft pick, Gerald Green.

With the Celtics deep roster and back court, there’s no guarantee that Green will see much playing time. He saw just 22.6 minutes per game with the Heat last season, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see his playing time dip under 20 minutes per night with Boston. The Celtics have plenty of options in their back court, but their lack of an offensive spark off the bench hurt them last year and will give an opportunity to Green. He doesn’t need to be a prolific scorer, rather a reliable shooter who can give Avery Bradley or Jae Crowder five minutes of rest and score quickly.

If Green gets a chance in the Celtics rotation, his small role and shooting ability gives him a chance to become one of the best free agent signings this offseason. However, even though everyone loves to imagine him getting back to the 40 percent three-point shooting he showed in 2013-14, Green isn’t going to be the savior of the Celtics poor three-point shooting.

Despite Green exploding onto the scene in 2013-14, he has never shown that kind of production in the NBA before over a long period of time. People always believed that it was possible Green could develop into an offensive force or three-point specialist, but other than his highlight dunks Green didn’t offer much. His 36.1 career three-point percentage is respectable but, prior to the 2013-14 season, he had only played in 60 games or more in two seasons.

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

In his second NBA season with Boston, Green shot 36.8 percent from three over 81 games, and 31.4 percent with the Indiana Pacers in 2012-13. 36.8 percent isn’t bad, but that’s just a smidgen above what Avery Bradley shot in 2015-16 and no one wants him spotting up for three after three.

Green did shoot over 38 percent two other times in his career, but both seasons he only played in 30 and 31 games. It does show that he’s capable of getting on a hot streak, however the Celtics need a reliable threat. The problem the Celtics have faced is relying on someone in their back court to get hot, rather than owning a consistent outside threat.

In the playoffs, Marcus Smart shot an impressive 34.4 percent from three. That’s similar to Green’s 2007-08 and 2011-12 seasons – the two seasons mentioned above. Smart was able to get hot from behind the arc, however there is no less concern about his outside shot going forward.

There is always a chance that Gerald Green finds the shot that he had in Phoenix and the Celtics small gamble pays off. Although, nothing in Green’s career signifies that’s a likely outcome. This is the first time Green has played in at least 65 games in three consecutive seasons, and his shooting has gone down drastically during that time.

Plus, Green will become a liability on offense quickly if he shoots poorly from deep, quickly dropping him from a crowded rotation. Over his 497 game career, he has attempted 15.4 shots per 36 minutes. His focus on being a three-point shooter has gone up recently, though, as at least 44 percent of Green’s shots have come from behind the arc in each of the past four seasons.

Having someone not afraid to shoot will be refreshing, but it could also cause problems if Green’s shot selection is as poor as it’s been his whole career. 15.4 shots per 36 minutes would have ranked second to only Isaiah Thomas last season. It did go down from the 19.4 shots per 36 minutes he attempted with the Suns in 2014-15, however it’s also no secret that Green isn’t afraid to shoot from anywhere or at anytime.

That type of mentality is great for scorers but, if Green is going to be the three-point threat the Celtics need, he needs to think more like a three-point specialist. The notion that Gerald Green doesn’t think any shot is a bad shot has been true throughout his career, but Boston’s offense was able to flow nicely last season because they didn’t own a ball-stopper.

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Green has always had the mentality that he needs to find his shot, but he needs to think more like Kyle Korver with Boston. Since entering the league in 2003-04, Korver has been one of the league’s best three-point shooters. Although, in each of his four seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Korver has averaged fewer than 10 shots per 36 minutes. He knows his days of being a top option on offense is over, rather he helps space the floor and is a great kick-out option for driving guards. That style of play is what the Celtics need from Green, but his shot selection has held him back from that in the past.

Boston’s lack of pure athletes and consistent outside shooting last season caused a lot of their scoring droughts, and it hurt them on fast breaks when defenses were able to get back. The Celtics either would have to kick it out to an inconsistent outside shooter because they didn’t have someone who could throw down a dunk like Gerald Green or Jaylen Brown, making the defenses move out of the way.

It’ll be refreshing to see athleticism on the court, but Gerald Green’s ability as a three-point specialist is in question. He’s been declining the last couple of seasons, has reached 30-years-old and doesn’t have a long successful career to back up the thought that he’ll solve the Celtics shooting problems.

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He’s been in the league since 2005-06 and he has just three seasons in which he shot at least 35 percent from three and played in at least 70 games. Also, earlier in his career, he was out of the league playing in Russia because his shot was so bad. There is very little risk involved for the Celtics, but fans need to slow down on thinking that Green will be the answer to the Celtics shooting woes.