The Biggest Surprise of the Preseason: Jeff Green

Jeff Green was an athletic freak during the preseason. His athleticism and the way he played led some people to compare him to Los Angeles Lakers great James Worthy, who was an athletic freak and built like Green himself. Hell, even Worthy acknowledged Green’s talents, but the humble Green didn’t want to hear that and felt he wasn’t worthy enough (pun intended!) of that standard. That’s the promise Green showed this preseason.

After not playing one single game last year because of heart surgery, and playing a mediocre 2010-2011 season; Green was the biggest surprise.

Many people wondered what his play would be like after missing last season. Some fans even scratched their heads wondering why GM Danny Ainge would cough up a 4yr/$36 million contract to keep an unknown commodity in Boston. Experts and people from around the NBA said Green’s contract was the worse in the league.

However, he shut up many of those “experts” with his play on the court.

What was different? Athleticism.

His athleticism was the main difference and could be seen sprinting up and down the floor. Baskets were being dropped and he was second on the team in scoring to Paul Pierce averaging out at 13.4 PPG.

He was also rebounding and blocking shots too. Yes, he was blocking shots and at a regular rate. Against the New York Knicks he blocked two shots and against the Philadelphia 76ers he blocked four more. That was something he hasn’t shown since his college days at Georgetown University.

Rebounding has always been a weakness for Green, but this preseason he was among the team’s top rebounders averaging about five a game. In fact, he pulled down 10 of them against the 76ers as well.

I’m not saying Green will win a scoring title, but his youth and athleticism at the small forward and even the power forward position will give the Celtics a weapon they haven’t seen during the Pierce and Kevin Garnett era. Green will provide quality minutes off the bench and will give Pierce a good breather during the regular season. Look for Green to play 20-25 minutes every night. If he keeps his play up during the season he’ll keep getting valuable minutes.

Believe me when I say this, if Green is really good off the bench, I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts games over Pierce. I think the Celtics’ plan is to integrate Green into the starting lineup in hopes that he’ll be Pierce’s heir at the small forward spot for many years to come.

Photo (cc) by Keith Allison and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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