Green ready to make most of starring role

Green ready to make most of starring role
September 25, 2013, 6:00 pm
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Celtics Talk TV: Predicting the season for Jeff Green

(USA Today Sports)

The pillars of the Celtics' recent run of success,  Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, are gone now.

Rajon Rondo is still present, but presently unable to do anything but cheer on his teammates as he continues to recover from a torn right ACL injury.

Their absences have certainly dimmed the white-hot spotlight that usually centers around the Celtics heading into the regular season.

Still, lost in the lack of attention are the benefits that come with increased opportunity.

And when you look at this Celtics roster, no one seems to be more on track to reap the potential rewards of this new-look Celtics team, than Jeff Green.

Heading into his sixth NBA season (he sat out the 2011-2012 season after heart surgery), he has a chance to take center stage now after what has been a career spent primarily in the shadows of other great players.

In Oklahoma City, Green was a solid player, averaging 16.5 points a game in his second NBA season.

But Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, were better.

Green came to Boston two years ago and once again found himself playing second fiddle, this time to future Hall of Famers Ray Allen, Pierce and Garnett.

Green is well aware of not just the opportunity that awaits him, but the reality that he will be a player that the C's will have to build around this season regardless of when Rondo returns.

"When you start playing basketball, that's what you want, that's what you work hard for, to be called one of the go-to guys," Green said. "This is what I dreamed about, this is what I work out for and it's all coming into fruition right now."

C's rookie coach Brad Stevens has made it clear that Green's play will be pivotal to the team's chances this season.

"Jeff's a really important player for our team," Stevens said. "He's a guy with obviously a high ceiling, as anybody can see. He's very good in the open floor. He can get even better in the open floor and in the half court. He's hungry to do well."

Part of that hunger comes from having a taste of what it's like to be the C's go-to player, a role he found himself in during most the first-round playoff series with the New York Knicks.

Although the C's were eliminated in six games, it was more than enough time for Green to showcase an all-around game that gave the Celtics some glimmer of optimism heading into a season with so many unknowns.

Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk has been working with Green for a couple of weeks at the C's practice facility.

"He's a really good player," Olynyk said of Green. "He can do a lot of things out there on the floor, both ends of the floor too. He's going to be  great guy to learn from. He's had a few years in the league now. So hopefully he can teach me a few things."

Green averaged 12.8 points per game last season, but increased his numbers to a team-best 20.3 in the playoffs.

The 6-foot-9 forward was often praised for his versatility at both ends of the floor, something Stevens says the Celtics will have to take advantage of this season.

"The thing that Jeff also brings to us that's really unique is he can play 2 [shooting guard] through 4 [power forward] in a given scenario for us," Stevens said. "Especially with Rajon out early in the season, you can see him all over the place. That's going to provide some challenges for him because he's going to have to be that much ahead of everybody else in one, two and three positions. But it also provides ample opportunties for a number of guys, because then it's who can best fit with him and we can figure out how to go from there."

Green added, "whatever Brad says go, I'm going to do."