Green ready to prove his game is priceless

Green ready to prove his game is priceless
October 25, 2012, 4:02 am
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WALTHAM He wears No. 8, but the only numbers associated with Jeff Green as of late are four and 36 million.
Green signed a four-year, 36-million deal with the Celtics prior to this season, a move that raised plenty of eyebrows around these parts.
Why the skepticism? Well, Green didn't show much in his 26 games with the Celtics. He was looked at as being soft, and immediately known as "the player the Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins for". Perk's toughness was well documented, and Green was no Perk. The Celtics fell apart shortly after, which certainly didn't help matters.
But that was then, and this is now. Now, there's more hope for Green, who stood out above every other Celtics player during preseason. Green is moving past the "then."
"You have to," Green said. "I mean, I came in a situation where the team was already solid. They had been together for five years. So it was tough to come in and try to pick my spot where I'm supposed to be and know my role. It takes time to do that when you're coming into an organization like this with players like Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo. So it took time and I had to sit out a year. It allowed me to sit back and watch and pinpoint where I could be with this team. Now I'm able to play again and I'm using things that I saw and putting them together on the floor."
The NBA seems to be getting away from the traditional positions its used to trotting out. Heck, the All-Star ballot just eliminated the "center" position. Teams are going smaller. They're putting in players who are interchangeable.
Green is that player, and the Celtics are better off now than with Perkins because of it.
"There's a lot of teams playing small ball right now," Green said. "You got to be able to match up with them if you want to be able to win. We have the ability to do that and like I said we can match up with any team, if that's what they want to do we'll be prepared."
When the Celtics went all the way in 2007, they found success with James Posey in with the starters. Last season, the Heat went with their best five players as well, throwing positions out the window.
With that mentality, it's looking like Green will wind up as one of Boston's most-used players. Before he was traded to the Celtics, he was logging 37 minutes a game. He should be back up in the 30-minute range again this season, switching between the two forward positions, as Doc Rivers has been experimenting with all camp.
It also helps that he's now earned the trust in his coach and teammates.
"He's been great. Getting better every day," Rivers said. "Our guys' confidence in him skyrocketed from the beginning. They didn't know, like you guys, I didn't know when you asked me what to expect. So it's been good."
It's true, we didn't know. We went with what we saw, and clearly, we didn't see enough. The only person who did know was Green himself.
"I mean, I've been working hard, that's all I can say," Green said. "I put in the work, and the results came. I was ready to play. I was prepared, I prepare myself I had eight months to do that. This is the first time you guys have really seen me play, so I think that's why everybody is like, 'he's doing this, he's doing that'. But I'm just going out there and playing hard."
It certainly helps that he's on the court with a group of players that are just as talented in their own ways as he is. But when asked why he stuck around last year and really wanted to play for Boston, he told everybody to turn around and look at a player taking shots on the court.
"That guy, right there. Rajon. I wanted to play with him," Green said. "He's the best point guard in the league. I mean, who doesn't want to play with a good point guard? Then you got guys in the locker room like KG (Kevin Garnett), Paul Pierce, with the addition of JT (Jason Terry) and Brandon Bass coming back. And you got Courtney Lee."
The respect from Rondo is mutual, who should have plenty of fun running the floor with Green for the foreseeable future.
"Jeff's always had talent. He's always had a lot of expectations, high expectations, and it's no different this year for us," Rondo said. "He's been playing very good for us, he's buying into the system, buying into his role and he's working hard every day."
He's working hard for himself and for his teammates. He's working hard to show he's not the player we once thought he was. But most of all, he's working hard with the ultimate goal in mind.
"We have a hell of a team, man," Green said. "I mean who doesn't want to be a part of something special like this? We have a great opportunity to win the championship. I want to win, and this is a great chance for me to do that."