Kevin Garnett said last year that Jeff Green has a chance to be one of the greatest players in NBA history. The Celtics are about to test Garnett’s theory, big time.
Green, who spent much of last season as the fourth offensive option behind Paul Pierce, Garnett and Rajon Rondo, respectively, will start next season without at least two and perhaps all three of those players. Pierce and Garnett are in Brooklyn, of course, while Rondo’s goal of returning from knee surgery in time for training camp may be optimistic.
It would fall to Green to carry the scoring load, which he showed flashes of being able to do last season. He is penciled in as the Celtics’ starting small forward, which worked out well for both him and the team toward the end of the 2012-13 campaign. As a starter, Green’s offensive rating was nearly six points better. Whether that was because he was more comfortable playing from tip-off or simply because he was paired with future Hall of Fame players in Garnett and Pierce will be determined very soon.
Green’s four-year, $36 million contract caused a lot of unnecessary hand-wringing last year. After his first full season in Boston, Green has performed in line with his deal, which will pay him less than $9 million this season. But some observers remain convinced that Green is an average player at best and a damaging player at worst. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge does not share that opinion, apparently, and has said he considers the 26-year-old forward part of the rebuilding Celtics’ future.
The trends are positive for those who believe a lot of the criticism directed at Green is unwarranted. His player efficiency rating last season inched up to 15.0 — dead-on the supposed league average — for the first time in his career. His shooting efficiency numbers were career highs, although still not elite, and despite decreased minutes and fewer shots, his scoring average per 36 minutes was a career best. A greater role for Green probably won’t translate into a playoff spot for the Celtics, but it is unlikely to cause them total embarrassment.
Is Green the future of the Celtics or an overrated player who will hinder their rebuilding efforts? Vote in the poll below.
To kick off the official start of the NBA offseason, NESN.com will ask fans whether they think the Celtics should keep or move on from each player. The following day, we will provide the fans’ verdict. Here is the schedule*:
Monday, July 15: Rajon Rondo (Verdict: Keep him, 67 percent)
Tuesday, July 16: Courtney Lee (Verdict: Move on, 52 percent)
Wednesday, July 17: Shavlik Randolph (Verdict: Keep him, 60 percent)
Thursday, July 18: Jeff Green
Friday, July 19: Gerald Wallace
Monday, July 22: Kris Humphries
Tuesday, July 23: Keith Bogans
Wednesday, July 24: Fab Melo
Thursday, July 25: Jared Sullinger
Friday, July 26:
Monday, July 29: MarShon Brooks
Tuesday, July 30: Jordan Crawford
Wednesday, July 31:
D.J. White Phil Pressey
Thursday, Aug. 1: Colton Iverson
Friday, Aug 2: Kelly Olynyk
*Subject to change pending any moves