Jeff Green has had his share of highlight reel dunks during the Celtics recent win streak, but he’s good for more than a few posters and the occasional corner three. According to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg, Jeff Green’s defense has been excellent this season:
Green’s individual defense has quietly been fantastic. According to Synergy Sports data, Green is allowing a mere 0.721 points per play this season, ranking him in the 91st percentile among all players. But narrow that list down to all players with at least 200 defensive plays this season and Green actually ranks ninth overall (only teammate Jared Sullinger — 0.718 points per play, seventh overall — is better for Boston this season).
Before we go celebrating Jeff Green’s development as a lockdown defender and the second coming of Scottie Pippen, it’s important to remember that stats are nothing with out context. Green’s physical gifts make him a good defender in isolation, but he has still struggled as a help defender, something Doc Rivers was quick to point out:
“He has to improve defensively,” said Rivers. “If Jeff has one area, that’s the area. It’s not on the ball, he’s pretty good there. It’s usually in rotations, then stopping the guy he’s rotating to. He’s long and he’s not used to getting down defensively, but that’s an area he has to improve for us.”
“That’s his next step, though.”
The stats back Doc up too; according to NBA.com the Celtics are 1.5 points better defensively when Green sits (they are also 3.6 points better offensively with Green on the bench, a more concerning number, but not an entirely unexpected one given Green has only played 50% of his 757 minutes with Rondo). Green is still working on becoming a better help defender in the Celtics system, and that may take some time. He isn’t the first person to struggle with it, and he won’t be the last. But Jeff Green was brought back for one reason this year: to
stop slow bother LeBron James. If Green’s individual numbers are any indication, he may be able to do just that, and that would be an invaluable asset for any team that has championship aspirations. If he can keep up his recent scoring pace, even better.
Follow Jordan on Twitter: @OffensiveG