Jeff Green is no James Worthy. Green made that clear during the preseason, when he declared that anyone who drew comparisons between the two multi-dimensional forwards had to ask permission of the seven-time All-Star first.
The Green-Worthy talk has subsided somewhat now that Green has slowed down from a stellar preseason. He was averaging only 7.8 points and a career-low 21.8 minutes through four regular-season games as he has tried to find his niche alongside Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. But it turned out the comparison was fairly apt when Green admitted on Wednesday that Worthy was one of several players he patterned his game after as a kid growing up in Hyattsville, Md.
“I liked Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen — Michael Jordan, of course — and James Worthy was actually one of my favorites,” Green said. “I followed those guys, but I never wanted to be those guys. I always wanted to be myself, make my own footprint. I would see what those guys did and put it into my own game, but in my own way.”
As a 6-foot-9 forward weighing around 230 pounds, Green seems to have a natural link to Worthy now due to their similar body types. Yet Green never even considered those players’ positions or physical attributes until college, when he first started using a computer to look up their vital statistics. He was about 6-foot-4 as a high school sophomore and sprouted to 6-foot-7 by his senior year, then continued growing to his current height at Georgetown. Once Green discovered that he was about the same size as Johnson, Pippen and Worthy and three inches taller than Jordan, he realized that he could copy certain aspects of their games, if he worked at it.
Georgetown’s system made it easier for Green to expand his array of skills. The Hoyas’ Princeton offense made it vital for frontcourt and wing players like Green to take part in distributing the ball, rather than watching a pure point guard direct the sets. He averaged more than three assists per game in his three years at Georgetown, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers has tried to help Green rediscover his passing abilities as a positionless sub in Boston.
“When you’re always handling the ball in the Princeton, you tend to put yourself in that [guard] category,” Green said. “But I never considered myself a ‘guard.’ I was always just a ‘player.’”
Whatever type of player Green strives to be, he could do worse than to imitate a quartet of Hall of Famers. The Celtics would be glad if Green flashed just a few small traits of one of those players as they struggle to develop chemistry with the many new, disparate pieces of the roster.