There has been so much worry and so many words wasted over Jeff Green, who he is and what he is capable of, that most people miss the straightforward reality.
This is who Green is.
He’s not a superstar laying in wait and he’s not a bit player who can do the little things on a great team. He’s neither a go-to guy nor someone who can not see the ball for five straight possessions and suddenly deliver a nice play on the sixth. That’s not who he is, and wondering whether or when he’ll ever be that type of player is a waste of perfectly good synapses that could be fired for more constructive thoughts.
No. 8 did his “Good Green” impression for most of Friday. He scored a team-high 24 points and hit several big shots to keep the Celtics close with the high-powered Golden State Warriors. He teased the fans who wonder why he can’t play like that every night. Then, after Warriors guard Stephen Curry shrugged off an off shooting night to give Golden State the lead with two seconds left, Green dribbled the ball off his foot. He literally kicked away a chance to take the game-winning shot as the Celtics fell 99-97 and extended their losing streak to a season-high seven straight games.
Twitter and TV were abuzz after the game with this main question regarding Green: Which one is real? Is he the guy who dropped 24 on a surging Warriors squad or the guy who has nearly as many single-digit scoring games (six) as 20-point games (eight)?
The answer is simple. He’s both.
Green is never going to be the ideal player. He’s not even going to be that close to a marginally efficient player, probably. He’s developed too many bad habits on bad teams, either due to his own faults or being miscast by coaches, to drastically change now. This is the player you get in Green, a player just as capable of scoring eight points as 28. A player who can deliver game-winning baskets in Cleveland and Miami but who will also dribble the ball off his foot in the clutch.
There is no mystery with Green. He is what he is. If you still find him confounding, you’re not really paying close attention.
Speaking of players fulfilling their potential, the real Kris Humphries showed up Friday.
Celtics fans might have found Humphries’ 16-point, 14-rebound, three-block performance shocking, but that’s only because they most likely never watched his career outside of reality TV all that closely before. When Humphries has gotten the minutes, he’s been a double-double machine. He proved that in two years in New Jersey, where he averaged at least 10 points and 10.4 rebounds in back-to-back seasons, not to mention throughout his career. In 10 NBA seasons, Humphries has averaged 13.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Nothing Humphries did Friday was out of the ordinary for his skillset. He drilled elbow jump shots, which are right in his wheelhouse, and devoured the glass. The defensive reputation that preceded him to Boston wasn’t glowing, but he was on point against the Warriors. On one second-half possession, Humphries rotated multiple times to cut off driving angles and came up with a huge block to keep the Celtics’ deficit to one possession.
Humphries has forced his way into the starting lineup and with play like that, it will be hard for coach Brad Stevens to justify moving him out. The Celtics lost on Friday, but the reasons they almost stole a win started with Humphries.
And please, no more Kardashian jokes.