Our series of ‘A Study in Green’ reflects on the 2012/13 season that was, breaking down each player’s season. This week, comeback king Jeff Green is our focus.
First and foremost, returning to the NBA in 2012 was an achievement in itself for Jeff Green. After undergoing open-heart surgery and missing the entire 2011/12 season, the ‘Iron Man’ was welcomed back to Boston for a remarkable comeback.
Although Green’s season started slowly while finding his role for the team off the bench, a dunk over Utah’s Al Jefferson in November signalled his second arrival in the NBA. It was to become just one of many posters for Green over the course of the season, enjoy some of his best work here.
(Alternatively, check out the Celtics Down Under Facebook album for some of Jeff’s 2012/13 poster dunks.)
The turning point for Uncle Jeff occurred at the TD Garden in March, when Green went for a career high 43 points on 14-of-21 shooting against the Miami Heat. A buzzer-beating layup to defeat Indiana in March, and a game winner against Cleveland in front of his heart surgeon, were other season highlights for the Iron Man.
Green’s overall game improved immensely after the All-Star break. It seemed as though he was now comfortable with the team, and career highs in field goal percentage (46%) and 3-pointers (38%) helped to illustrate his improved confidence. Green averaged 17.3 points per contest over the last 29 games of the regular season.
It was over this period that Green established himself as a permanent starter through effort and a much-improved consistency, especially on the scoring end. As head coach Doc Rivers told ESPN:
“We weren’t going to give it to him, he had to be more consistent to do that. Starters have to be consistent. Bench players are the inconsistent guys that go up and down. Jeff has earned that. And I’m really happy because he makes everyone better.”
It is also worth noting Green stepped up to produce 20.3 points per game over the Celtics’ short, six-game playoff run, while he appeared in 81 of a possible 82 games for the season.
One of the tags given to Green over his career was the label of being an underachiever, so many fans and commentators couldn’t believe the Celtics signed him to a 4-year contract worth $36.2 million, especially after missing the entire 2011/12 season. While this seemed to be a concern for many over the early stretch of the season, the Jeff Green that finished the season more than justified such a contract.
The biggest area of worry early in the season was Green’s lack of aggression, with Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett two people pulling for him to attack the rim. Rivers noted at the time he was being harsh on Green, only because he knew of how good he could be (looks like Doc was right yet again!).
KG had another approach to explaining Green’s play in November, telling CSNNE:
“Jeff’s a really, really nice guy,” Garnett said. “Some nights, you just gotta be an a******.”
Green’s improvement as the season went on suggested he had indeed taken on Doc’s advice, and maybe a little bit of Garnett’s too.
While the early season struggles were well-documented for Green, the way he played in the second half of the season was outstanding, gaining recognition along the way and showing us all why he received a big contract. We look forward to seeing Uncle Jeff sustain the play he showed over the final stretch of the season, and become a key player for the Celtics over the next few seasons.
Let us know your thoughts on Jeff Green’s season, and if you think he can be a big part of the future in the comments section.
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