Lex and I have been going back and forth about how Jeff Green will fit into the rotation and what to expect from him this season. I'm willing to throw out what he has done in the past and start with a clean slate. He will be playing his natural small forward position for the first time in his pro career. He also is coming off heart surgery that could have been fatal if not caught in time. A near death experience has a way of changing a player's approach to the game, as it did with Paul Pierce all those years ago. He has vowed to be more aggressive and I believe that he will.
Lex has some videos of Green dunking and blocking shots and showing how athletic he is. He's going to give the Celtics a very long and athletic small forward who will be tough for a lot of teams to match up with. He will also be able to play the four when the Celtics choose to go to a small running lineup. He's quick, athletic, has good hands, has good footwork, and can shoot the ball.
The knock on Green was that he was a terrible defender. But, as Lex pointed out, he was playing defense mostly against the likes of Zach Randolph. Thinking of Green trying to stop Zach Randolph makes me feel like going up to Z-bo and telling him to pick on someone his own size. He was playing out of his regular position and against players much stronger. I think he will be a decent defender when matched up with other small forwards. Again, from Lex's post, we have already seen flashes of Jeff Green the defender.
But although more offense from Green would be nice, his job against the Heat is largely to bother LeBron James as much as he can. Green was 5 pounds tougher at both ends of the court Saturday, but his part (along with Paul Pierce) in holding James to 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting was most appreciated by his coach.
"He was huge," Doc Rivers said. "I mean, it's a great example where probably in Jeff's career he's been judged on points scored, and maybe for the first time in his career he was as valuable as he's ever been without scoring. He scored a couple points, but his defense, his pressure, getting up, his deflections, him running the floor, stretching the floor for other people — that's the Jeff Green we want to see every night. It was great. He has to keep doing that."
Now that it's settled that Jeff Green will have a break out season at both ends of the court, I'll start on my rotation musings. Last season when given the opportunity, Avery Bradley emerged as a defensive presence and Doc had to make a choice. Realizing that our best starting five was with Bradley in the lineup, he moved Ray Allen to the bench. Ray didn't like it, but went along with it. A couple of times, he voiced his displeasure with coming off the bench, even though it was obviously the right move for the team.
Then came the off season and Ray bolted for Miami. In my opinion, this was a spite move on his part. The Celtics offered him twice as much and they offered him a no trade clause. What they couldn't promise was the starting spot back again. Even though Ray will be coming off the bench in Miami and making half as much, I think his ego had been bruised in Boston and he was going to stick it to them by joining their biggest rival in the East, even though 3 teams, including the Celtics had offered him more money and two of the teams would even give him a starting spot.
Now, fast forward to this season. Jeff Green is out-playing Paul Pierce. It's not such a stretch to imagine it, either. Last season, Pierce had clearly lost a step or two at the end of the season. Yes, he had a knee injury, but nobody really knew how bad it was. Paul Pierce has a lot of miles on him and Jeff Green is young, athletic and has a lot to prove. Almost like the situation with Avery and Ray last year. What if Jeff Green clearly outplays Paul Pierce and it's obvious that our best starting five has Jeff Green in it?
Would Doc make the move to bring the Captain off the bench? Would Pierce accept a roll off the bench? How would Rondo and KG respond to a request to move Pierce to the bench? All good questions that may need to be answered this season. Or, maybe not, but they are worth thinking about.
I've been mulling this over and it's an intriguing thought.
I can see a front line of KG, Bass, Green, Bradley, Rondo
Or maybe Wilcox, KG, Green, Lee, Rondo
Both would be good defensively - both would have players that could run with Rondo. I see plenty of offense in both lineups.
Key off the bench would be Terry, Pierce, Sully, Wilcox or Collins, Lee or Bradley. Christmas would possibly get some run as well. Plenty of offense there, especially if Pierce is coming in fresh. Terry is a scorer. Lee or Bradley can also score. Wilcox would be in for offense, Collins for defense. Sully for rebounding.
It gives Doc a lot of options. Even if Pierce is playing well, if Green is playing exceptionally well, it may be a smart move to make. I would hope that Pierce would be more of a team player than Ray and embrace the role as Hondo did.