Jeff Green: Aggression + variety = good offense

Jeff Green of the Boston Celtics dunks on Al Jefferson of the Utah Jazz in the 2012/13 NBA season.
Dayum! Jeff Green dunks on ex-Celtic Big Al in season.

Imagine the crazed Celtics fans out there, analysing the Celtics for all they are worth. Stats, plays, gossip, trade rumours. You name it, someone (or several someones) is probably on it.

I’m nowhere near the sharpest mind on the block, but something that was gnawing at me since this season began has been Jeff Green’s offense.

How the Truth moves

Now Green is unlike Captain Pierce, who is a master at creating space with his body. Give the Truth that tiniest sliver, and he will dribble, swivel and contort himself into getting what he wants somehow, either ending up near the rim or creating sufficient space for his trademark mid-range step back. Not forgetting the deadliest option of all: his patented pump fake that has tricked many an unwary defender into leaping for a block, only to crash into him for a whistle.

How Green is

Green on the other hand, has athleticism and length. He’s not good at using his body the way Pierce is, so he has to be smarter on getting his options. So, what was the problem? He was sticking to an exclusive few options, which made him too predictable.

Green’s early season offense

He would often catch the ball from the baseline arc, then do a jab step to see what the defense was giving him.

Option one: Spot up shot

Option two: Dribble, pull-up after the arc

I couldn’t find a clip of this, but anyone who’s watched enough games this season has seen it before. He dribbles past the three line, can’t find an opening to get inside and pulls up a step into the arc.

Option three: Power drive, two steps and finish with either a nasty dunk or finger roll.

I honestly cringed at times when he did this, because sometimes it felt like one of the two was going to happen:

  • he was going to finish right at the rim, or
  • he was going to barrel into someone, lose his balance and hit the deck. If a blocking foul was called, all was good. If a charge call or a no whistle happened, it meant either a turnover or a turnover plus a fast break less one guy in green. Or in the worst case – he could potentially injure himself.

Examples of the finger roll finish.

Nasty dunk means something like this.

He would be much better offensively if he has a pull up mid-range jumper the way Pierce does. The problem here is that he does not, and has never done so (correct me if I’m wrong). This basically meant the moment he picked up his dribble, the defender would know the bulldozer layup routine was coming.

This in turn created predictability, which is bad. One advantage of the attacker over the defender is that the defender always has to react to the offense. Having your defender know your next move is akin to showing your hand at poker – very, very bad idea.

The evolution (and maturation) of Green

Thankfully, he is beginning to show us a different side to his offensive arsenal.

For example, check out this spin move and dunk. This move is especially impressive because:

  • He began this move in the low post, instead of out at the baseline 3. It creates better offensive spacing for everyone, because we have few enough guys who take the ball at the low post as it is.
  • He braced himself for contact, took it in mid-air and still finished the dunk. Impressive balance.

And then, there’s the nifty finishes, especially on transition. Life is good when he’s out on the break for the finish.

Will we continue to see more of Green’s offensive arsenal as the season progresses? I sure as hell hope so, because like it or not, he is going to be a key contributor on offense. The more he scores (and fouls he draws), the better he will be come postseason.

I’m not a member of the Jeff Green bandwagon right now, but the more polished he becomes, the better our odds on Banner 18.



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