Boston Celtics’ Jeff Green claims to be amongst NBA’s top defensive players
“That’s my calling. I’ve got to be a guy who can go out there and guard the best player on the opposite team,” Jeff Green stated of his defensive capabilities, “whether it’s Carmelo (Anthony), LeBron (James), Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant — doesn’t matter.”
“I see myself as being one of the top defensive players in this league,” continued Jeff Green, “and I’ve just got to go out there and prove it.”
However, it can hardly be said that Jeff Green’s presence in the front court has bolstered the Boston Celtics’ defense. In fact, the Boston Celtics’ defense seems to comparatively thrive with Jeff Green on the bench.
Jeff Green’s individual defense was better in the 2010-2011 season after joining the Boston Celtics since he allowed opponents only a 7.8 PER (near half of NBA’s player average) at small forward, according to 82games.com. Playing defense at power forward for the Boston Celtics, with 15.9 PER allowed to opponents, showcased Jeff Green in a slightly worse light than the NBA’s player average, but it was still above his 18.0 PER with the Oklahoma City Thunders the same season.
Nonetheless, individual numbers can be misleading since an overall perspective and effectiveness of Jeff Green’s defensive capabilities can only be established by including the team stats. If Jeff Green had such a huge impact on the Boston Celtics defense, why were they still at a very unproductive 4.72 points score per 100 possessions with him on the court? And so to speak, Jeff Green’s defensive rating was third worst in the NBA at 107.95, with Portland Trail Blazers’ Sasha Pavlovic and Minnesota Timberwolves’ Chris Johnson leading the way.
The most prominent reason for the defensive mess lies with the fact that Jeff Green shares the position with Boston Celtics’ 14-time All-Star Kevin Garnett. You only need to picture that with Kevin Garnett on the bench, the Boston Celtics’ defense will be inevitably inferior. However, the issue is far beyond Jeff Green’s defensive capabilities and guarding his opponent. The NBA’s top defensive players’ post high rebounds, which is Jeff Green’s Achilles heel. And at times, Jeff Green even struggles to keep up with the Boston Celtics defense.
There’s even no consistency in Jeff Green’s role as a solid individual defender and contributing on that side of the court, which was evident in his time with the Oklahoma City Thunders.
The big question remains, can Jeff Green transit into a team defensive role, which is more important on the long-shot.
The Boston Celtics defense allows for even struggling defenders to come across as good on the job. While Jeff Green can immensely continue to the defense by starting off with memorizing the team’s schemes, and producing on that side of the court, he’s still a long way from becoming the NBA’s top defensive players.