Blakely: Green not built for No. 1 option role

Blakely: Green not built for No. 1 option role
February 6, 2014, 12:45 am
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Jeff Green had 36 points while playing 35 minutes.

Now that's efficient!

This is the Jeff Green that from time to time - okay, once a month is more like it - shows up.

He makes 3s look like layups, and layups look like well, layups.

Jeff Green morphs into this unstoppable scoring monster that does anything and everything he wants on the basketball floor.

And the scary part?

He makes it look so damn easy.

Because of that success, expectations of being able to do that, or something similar to that, are increased exponentially it seems.

But here's the thing.

As much as Green can elevate his play to ridiculous heights on any given night, being able to do that on a night-in, night-out basis isn't going to happen; not this year anyway.

When you look at when Green has played at a high level with a certain amount of consistency, there was a constant: another dominant, superstar-caliber player.

At Georgetown, he was the Big East Conference Player of the Year. But he'll be the first to tell you that having a fellow first-round pick -- Roy Hibbert -- at center helped him a lot.

And when he was in Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant's offensive prowess took much of the pressure off him.

Even after the trade to Boston, Green had Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce as well as Rajon Rondo to shoulder much of the pressure while he waited in the wings.

And then came Rondo's torn ACL injury.

And this summer, Pierce and Garnett were sent out to Brooklyn.

That left Green for the first time as a pro, the undisputed, go-to guy.

It was a role that Green talked about glowingly as one he felt he was ready for; one that he wanted.

Still, as we have seen, what Green wants and what's best for him and the Celtics may not necessarily be the same.

On a great team, Green is your third option. On a good team, he's the man next to the man.

But primary scorer is a role that Green just isn't built to handle.

There's nothing wrong with that.

The NBA has more than 400 players, the vast majority of whom are role players of varying degrees who aren't go-to scorers.

As a player, that is who Jeff Green is.

That's why figuring out what to do with him is a tough, tough call for the Green team front office leading up to the Feb. 20 trade deadline.

Teams looking for a solid second- or third-option player will love Jeff Green, and are sure to make their interest known in the coming weeks.

But if you're Boston, do you make a deal like that knowing you will get the short end of the stick in terms of talent, just to add a few more assets to the already-stacked satchel of draft picks and expiring contracts?

Or do you keep Green around, hope that Rondo continues to improve, and that your own first-round pick this year is an Andrew Wiggins- or Jabari Parker-type in this top-heavy, star-to-be draft pool?

Because adding one of those highly regarded rookies with an improving Rondo would make Green one of the best No. 2/3 option-type players in the NBA.

Still, there's no guarantee the Celtics will land one of the top picks, just as there is no certainty Green will continue to deliver a 30-point outburst every month or so.

However, you will be hard-pressed to find too many rebuilding teams that have a guy that goes off for 30 or so points every 30 days, and who isn't the franchise or go-to player.

And that is what Green's true value can be to the Celtics going forward.

There is this overwhelming desire for the Green that lit up the Sixers for 36 points, to be on display every night.

With that kind of talent, he has to be able to do it every game right?

Clearly, that is not the case with Green.

He is a very good player with tremendous skills that on any given night can elevate him to best-on-the-court status.

We saw that on Wednesday.

But as talented as he may be, it's clear that Green is not the kind of player that can put a team on his back and carry them for long stretches.

He can do it from time to time, but never for the long haul.

"Jeff, he's not a guy that's going to dominate scoring," Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told "What he's shown is he's a terrific transition player, terrific spot-up player."

And those are talents that on some nights will pose major problems for opponents.

When that happens, Green plays well and then expectations are once again raised to a level where such production is viewed as a tease to what fans expect him to do all the time.

Rather than continuing to spin our wheels as to what Green isn't as a player, it makes more sense to remember who he is: a talented player who is a solid No. 2 or 3 option, but who should not be looked upon as a go-to, build-your-team-around kind of player.

Only time will tell if Green's once-a-month flashes with greatness will make him a keeper in Boston, or yet another Celtic shipped out.