Jeff Green has had quite an interesting career in the NBA as he seems to be a player that fans either love or hate and, lately, the growing sentiment has been toward the latter. The Boston Celtics own his rights as a restricted free agent, but his name hasn't been popping up all that often during the first few days of free agency.
The biggest issue with Green is perhaps his tweener status as nobody seems to know exactly where to play him to get optimal efficiency out of the 6-foot-8 forward. At one point it looked like he might be a match-up problem as a three-point threat, but after shooting just 30 percent from beyond the arc between the Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder last season, that ship has probably sailed.
Where Green may excel, however, is as a perimeter defender -- something ESPN's John Hollinger looked at in his profile of Green this offseason.
The idea behind the trade to Boston is to recast Green as a wing defender who can post-up smaller 3s and make 15-footers. His shot chart changed dramatically with the Celtics, with more tries at the rim and mid-range jumpers and a dearth of 3-pointers. Overall, however, his efficiency hardly changed.
What changed were his defensive results. According to 82games.com, 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. He won't be a great player at either position, but he can defend the wing well enough to be a solid rotation player even if his offensive output continues to be relatively pedestrian, and that explains Boston's logic in acquiring him.
Tom Ziller isn't quite as sold on Green, however, as was noted in his recent list of the top NBA free agents.
Given how hard the pendulum of public opinion has swung back on Uncle Jeff, one looks very hard at the evidence to see whether the widespread detraction oversteps reality.
It does not. Unless Green becomes a lockdown defender or greatly improves his jumper, he might not be worth the mini mid-level. I, for one, hope he figures it out. (I'm glad hope does not cost $3 million.)
Green will likely end up with the Celtics again this season considering they traded the beloved Kendrick Perkins to get him there. One never knows what might happen by way of trades and the like, though, so anything is possible.