Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
C’s coach Doc Rivers, who ripped his team’s performance in New Orleans, only played Green 26 minutes and resorted to another off-balanced Paul Pierce isolation jumper in the 87-86 loss. Even Ainge seemed to have questions about those decisions.
“I think Jeff is starting to prove and has proven to Doc that he deserves to be on the court most minutes of the game,” Ainge said. “Doc needs something off the bench, and I think he’s trying to figure all that out.
“And he will. He’s played Jeff at the 2 and the 3 and the 4 this year, and so I think that last night might’ve been a good opportunity for Jeff to play more at the 2. They had two big guys in there. They were killing us on the glass in the second half. I think in one stretch it was 27-9, and that just shows you lack of effort.”
This summer, Danny Ainge took a little bit of a beating for giving Jeff Green, fresh off of heart surgery and statistically less-than-average, a four-year deal worth more than $36 million. John Hollinger, noted patriarch of the advanced metrics revolution, called the deal the worst of the summer. And even though I tried to explain why Danny Ainge had no choice but to make this move, it didn’t stop much of the hand-wringing over the deal.
Now we’ve got people talking about how he should start over Bass (which is probably as much about the disappointment people feel about Bass) and few people are complaining about the money. But has he earned, as Danny said, the right to be on the floor most of the time? Has he earned the contract that had so many people losing their minds last summer?
The first thing to consider with Green is, obviously, the heart surgery. One year ago today, Green was re-learning how to function as a human being. Walking to the bathroom was exhausting. So there’s a process that is necessary for him to get from “cracked-open chest” to “43 points on World Champs.” Nowhere is that more evident than in his defensive rating:
- October: 122.3
- November: 103.9
- December: 100.2
- January: 96.1
- February: 96.2
- March: 94.3
Defense is about effort. And as Green gained more strength and endurance, his defense improved. There are a bunch of different metrics to measure defense, and they all show Green is a pretty good defender. According to Synergy Sports, Green is giving up 0.78 points per possession (PPP). That’s good for 52nd in the NBA. While 52nd might not sound flashy, consider he’s coming off the bench. There are 150 starters in the league. He ranks ahead of a lot of guys. And as Chris Forsberg recently pointed out, Jeff Green was 7th in the league going into the Heat game in opponent’s field goal percentage.
Also, since January 1, the Celtics have been much better with Jeff Green on the floor than without him. When Green’s off the floor, the Celtics are giving up 1.052 PPP and opponents shoot 43.8%. With him, PPP drops to .966 and opponents shoot 41.5% (stats per NBAWowy.com)
Jeff Green can play defense.
And we’ve seen some increasingly good offense as well. The folks at Celtics Hub took a look at that the other day and found that since Rondo’s injury, Green’s offensive PPP is at 1.053… noting that had he done that for a whole season, he’d be in the mix with James Harden and Tony Parker in the league’s top 10.
We can debate why the difference exists without Rondo. Maybe, as the Celtics Hub speculated, he’s just not a catch-and-shoot, “run the offense” kind of guy. Or maybe he’s just getting better and better since the surgery and it, like a few other things, coincided with Rondo’s injury.
Jeff Green’s PPP, per NBAWowy.com, is 1.18 since January 1, a stretch that includes a month of Rondo. The Celtics offense in that stretch is just about even when Green is on or off the floor. So while Green himself is playing better offensively in the new calendar year, his overall impact on the Celtics offense is negligible.
It’s clear that Green has demonstrated that he can play at a high level. He’s significantly impacting the Celtics with his defense, which is what the team is about, and he’s getting better as the season rolls on. He’ll have the highs and lows that you’d expect as he still has a frustrating bout with self-doubt from time to time (which pisses Doc off to no end). But he’s clearly deserves, as Danny Ainge said, to be on the floor a lot of minutes.
I like Doc’s new idea of bringing Green in for Kevin Garnett, since it gets Green in earlier and it changes the dynamic of what the C’s are doing on the floor… forcing the other team to adjust to them. I like Green off the bench because, quite honestly, moving Bass to the bench really seems to deplete it. I think Bass functions better with the starters, but his minutes should be pared down.
As for the money… when you look at Green’s production recently and compare it to guys who make similar money (like Ryan Anderson, Shawn Marion, Thaddeus Young, and Marvin Williams, I think Green’s almost $8.4 million this year isn’t bad at all. Green’s numbers suffer a little bit compared to the rest when you take the full season into account, but when you look at the upward trend, I think the contract is fair. We’ll have to wait and see if this progression continues before making the final judgement. I know today’s world is all about snap judgments and not giving a damn if you’re right or wrong, but things like Green and his contract take time to get the proper read. So far, time is showing it was the right move.
Related links: CSNNE: Don’t expect C’s to make Green a starter
Basketball Reference, Synergy Sports, and NBA Stats were also used to compile statistics for this post. Shout out to the Red’s Army research department, a.k.a. Evan Lazar, for the assist.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Mailbag: Low-flying Jet? | C’s sign Randolph for season | March Madness: C’s brackets | CSNNE: Ryder: reasons behind C’s 2nd half struggles | Numbers adding up for White, Randolph | Doc: Expectations and preparations for playoffs | Bob Ryan: Miami is not going to lose this year | WEEI: C’s sign Randolph for season | Globe: JET returns to Dallas with point to prove… to himself | Herald: Jason Terry looks to bounce back in Big D | MWDN: Terry returns to big D