Stats show Jeff Green to be “horrific defender” | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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Stats show Jeff Green to be “horrific defender”

Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe wonders “What does Boston see in Jeff Green?”:

Green has ranked as a horrific defender for most of his career, at least by the numbers. The Thunder and Celtics were consistently worse on both ends of the court with Green on the floor versus on the bench, but the damage was usually more dramatic on defense — and especially when Green played power forward. His rebounding numbers are in the dreaded Andrea Bargnani/Hedo Turkoglu range for big men, opposing players bullied him in the post to the tune of just about 50 percent shooting over 2009-10 and 2010-11 combined (per the stat-tracking service Synergy Sports) and he generally failed most of the “guarding the perimeter” duties that came with his job.

Overall, Synergy ranked Green 429th in 2010-11 among all NBA players in points allowed per possession on defense — an attempt at a catch-all metric that considers every play in which a guy is directly involved. It’s not perfect; Synergy sometimes blames the wrong player for a spot-up basket, and few easy baskets have only one individual culprit in a complex five-man game.

As most of you know, I’m not all-in on these new era stats. There are too many intangibles in the game to have player assessments be so black-and-white. But these numbers are tough to dispute.

Lowe isn’t entirely down on Green. There are some positives:

Green’s feet are pretty nimble, and he generally stays in a nice crouch that allows him to slide side-to-side with his man. He keeps his feet on pump fakes. He has a good sense of his size advantage — the knowledge that if Manu Ginobili gets a step on him, he can still ride Ginobili’s hip and contest a floater from just a bit behind him.

Boston has one of the half-dozen greatest defensive anchors in league history in Garnett, a savant and talker extraordinaire, and Green presumably won’t be guarding as many stretch power forwards in Boston, anyway.

We heard similar defensive criticism of Ray Allen in 2007 and Brandon Bass in 2012 and they turned out all right (thanks to Doc Rivers and KG).

If a guy with Jeff Green’s athleticism wants to play defense (and in Boston he will have no choice), I guarantee he will be better next season.

Green’s true value to the Celtics will be on offense. He must (and will) bring scoring off the bench.

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  • Felix

    I am so sick of statistics. They will prove anything you want to prove. Let the man play.

    • KY Celts fan

      Pfft. Facts. You can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true. Facts shmacts.

      • mrchumpy

        Bah, these facts are always shoving the truth in my face. Give it a rest, facts.

  • Richard

    I am tired of all the hating on Jeff Green, and I’m even mored tired of using his short time in Boston to prove anything. the whole team was out of sync after the Perkins trade and Green had to learn a complex defensive system on the go, off the bench, and with almost no playing time. This guy still has great potential on both ends of the floors and I can’t wait for him to prove all doubters wrong.

    • felix

      i totally agree with you. i wonder where this comes from….can find it on any boston blog. a lot of teams would be happy to have uncle jeff as a starter!

  • Quest

    This guy is not a rookie so if he doesn’t get it together this season good bye. Time to find players that can contribute and go the distance. Like plug the revolving door.

    • Drew

      Amen. I’m hoping all this Jeff Green talk is filler because there isn’t anything else happening. Dude was a complete joke the half season he played for us. Completely pathetic. It was obvious that Paul Pierce was teaching him to how to draw those beautiful fouls in the post. And every time the kid tried to do it, he’d flail his arms like a moron and turn the basketball over igniting fast break dunks. How many times did he do this? 50-70 times in that half year………yeah, not a Jeff Green fan. Dudes a scrub……..

      • Chulinho

        He’s only 25 which means he can still improve. I’m not saying he’s going to be Paul’s replacement, but I think he’ll be solid off the bench. Like Chuck said, critics talked about Ray and BB’s defense, but they’ve done a decent job on the C’s. I agree for 4-years and 30+ million he should play his ass off; but, if you want the next Pierce, LBJ, or KD, you should look elsewhere. Who is better and around the same age than Jeff Green that would come to Boston and play off the bench?

      • KY Celts fan

        oh yeah, because that driving the lane and flailing your arms works so well Pierce also. How many times did he draw a foul that way? If your answer was 0.0none then you are probably close to correct.

        • Drew

          Pierce gets that drive the lane hand flail call more than anyone in the league. It’s a strong part of his game and always has been. And he’s smart enough not to do it against teams that will strip the ball and run down court and dunk. Jeff Green, not so much………maybe half a season of trying to copy Pierce moves and failing should tell Jeff something. Stop trying to find a new game and rediscover what worked worked for you in OKC. He seemed to be doing fine there.

  • Jim

    He was trying to do all the things mentioned above while also unknowingly suffering from a serious heart complaint.I’m sure Jeff must have suffered from serious doubts about his ability and potential.Finding out about his heart problem and having it treated successfully must have lifted a tremendous weight off him.I’m hoping he feels like a new man, and gets down to work like a true Celtic, and shows us how great he can be.

  • Brian

    The Problem with this whole story is he is not a Power Forward he is a small forward. I bet Paul would have issues playing Power Forward as well… Check out what John Hollinger Said at Espn. he is actually a pretty good Small forward on the defensive end.

    “According to, opposing small forwards mustered only a 7.9 PER against Green with Boston and a 12.2 PER against him with Oklahoma City; the problem was that opposing power forwards shredded him for a 21.6 mark. Similarly, Green’s Synergy stats with Boston were strong, whereas with the Thunder they were awful. All of which points to the fact that Green is much better at guarding 3s than 4s.”

    • KY Celts fan

      exactly. OKC misused Green for the entire time he played there. As long as we keep him at SF, I expect him to be a really good player. Maybe even great.

    • Chuck – Red’s Army

      Agree 100% with both of you.

  • Lee in Oregon

    It’s not like they brought him in to play D. I’ve never heard the words “Jeff Green” and “stopper” in the same sentence. Guy’s tend to improve defensivly on this team and I bet JG does the same.

    I hope Green has a solid year. He’s taking alot of crap due to the size of his massively overpaid contract, but I’d like to see him settle in and shut some of the doubter’s up.

    • KY Celts fan

      Jeff Green is not known as a defensive stopper. There ya go. Fixed that little problem for ya.

  • The savior

    The success/failure of the 2012-13 season hinges on reaching the finals, thus in effect can be simplified to defeating Miami in a 7 game series. If we are eliminated by any other eastern conference team, it will not be b/c jeff green failed, but rather the rest of the team failed as even an avg green should suffice against any other conference foe.

    That being said, to me, the jeff green success/failure/value on the defensive end comes down to his defensive prowess against lebron. In a small sample size, he showed me his build/athleticism is effective against the freak that is lebron. In fact, I believe he has the potential to be our most effective defender on him.

    With Bradley/Lee on wade and pierce/green on lebron, I’m ready to go to war. I could care less (for next season) if he gets torched by Joe Johnson or Danny granger or whoever as long as he can matchup against lebron b/c if he does prove to be capable, he will always be the guy who slowed down lebron (much like JD drew will always be the guy who hit that grand slam). Similarly, the addition of artest for the lakers proved futile against many a small forward, however his ability to matchup against pierce, made his $30+ mil contract worth it.

    – The Savior

  • mrchumpy

    Am I the only one that sees in that picture Green and Melo locking eyes during an uncomfortable moment of accidental dong-touching?

    • Lee in Oregon

      That is indeed a disturbing photo…….each guy thinking some weird shit like “is he wearing a cup?”

    • Chuck – Red’s Army


    • RedsLoveChild

      He`s cock-blocking Melo…very good defense!

  • JM

    These stats are skewed because he had a bad ticker.

  • chris

    Put simply, OKC misused Green. You can’t blame them, Kevin Durant can play 42 minutes a night with ease if he gets the easier defensive assignment. Green was good enough to get court time and take the fall guarding the opposing teams’ best forward. Being the only guy playing for the Celtics who didn’t fully understand the defense also made him a target while in Boston. I maintain faith that a full training camp to learn the defense and a season spent playing his proper position will result in a huge statistical improvement.

  • RedsLoveChild

    Jeff Green is to the Celtics what Carl Crawford is {was} to the Red Sox….an overpaid/underproductive player with health issues.

    Yesterday, the Red Sox finally took the appropriate action in correcting their “mistake”.

    Ainge will do the same thing before the 2013 trade deadline.

    • Larry Legend

      Listen can we at least give the guy a full season as a Celtic before we judge the guy? Enough about Jeff Green already. Let’s talk in November.

  • Art

    I have a lot faith in Danny, and Doc (not all the time). Even with all Green’s struggles, they still sign him to a big contract. Let’s take the “wait and see” approach. Green has a lot to prove. His C’s roster inspection before committing attitude, for someone that’s still a nobody, did not sit well with me.

  • hebertofnh

    Easy to be bad statistically on D when you were sandwiched by Durant and Krstic as an undersized PF in Scott Brooks’ horrible, terrible non-existant systems. Look at what Miami did to their defensive system, and it was improved just on Perk/Ibaka getting them to try harder…

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  • Cal

    Green can’t guard power forwards- both Green and Bass are Xavier McDaniels type small forwards.

  • paul

    Facts are opinions with an the stamp of approval from some authority.

    Those who worship ‘facts’ are in fact worshippers of authority.

    Think about it. Every ‘fact’ relies on the blessing of some authority.