The common scapegoats for the way Boston’s season ended – abruptly and quietly – were Shaq and the absence of Kendrick Perkins. The man traded for ‘Perk – Jeff Green – doesn’t get mentioned nearly as much, and that’s confusing. But when you think about it, Green hardly did anything that warranted criticism. That’s because he hardly did anything at all. He just wasn’t around, oddly silent.
In 26 regular season games in Boston, Green put up 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds a night. In the playoffs, those dropped to 7.3 and 2.7 as the 24-year-old couldn’t even stay on the floor for 20 minutes a game. That wasn’t the return on investment most of New England thought they were getting when they acquired the forward.
Now with the uncertainty of the lockout, and even whether or not Green will even be back in Boston (he’s a restricted free agent), Green is spending his offseason trying to add more punch to his game.
In an NBA.com interview with David Aldridge, Green said:
Me: If you go back to Boston, what do you expect your role to be next season?
JG: That’s up to Doc (Rivers). I know they wanted me to be more aggressive, so that’s what I’ve been doing, is just working on my all-around game. Getting a little Paul Pierce in me. You know, taking a little characteristics from different players. Kobe, being one. Paul. Being with them for a couple of months now. Just a number of guys. LeBron. I’m just working on my game, trying to get better.
Me: What did you feel at the end of the playoffs?
JG: Disappointment. You know, I wanted more. I wanted more. To have the experience that I had with the guys in Boston, it was tremendous. I wanted more. But I learned a lot. I learned from KG, Paul and Ray. Three of the top legends in the game. I was just mad it was over, because I wanted to learn more and more. But I took what they gave me and just move forward and tried to add it to my game.
Me: Would you say you struggled more at the defensive end than the offensive end?
JG: Most definitely. Their schemes were a lot different from Oklahoma. It was tough adjusting to that, to learn the certain rotations. But I tried to do my best and I gave it my all.
That’s all well and good. Most people see the potential in Green, but he too often floats. He’s just too nice of a guy. There’s no nastiness to his game. He has the talent, has the skills but none of that matters if his mentality doesn’t change.
I think I can speak for some Green fans who saw a lot of him during his time in OKC. When he was there, even though he played with two up-and-comers like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, he was one of the leaders on the team. He was comfortable…confident. But in coming to Boston, he was suddenly surrounded by NBA legends, a locker room with a handful of strong personalities. It was actually predictable how he fell in line and sort of vanished underneath the presence of the Big Three, Shaq & Rondo.
Green is at a crossroads. Does he push forward and find that edge he needs? Or is he destined to be a middling player from here on out, good but never great, a supporting actor instead of a leading one? Will he reach his potential? If we take his word for it, that’s exactly what he’s doing this summer.
What do you think? How good can Green be?
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