Celtics coach Doc Rivers is hoping to get the most out of Jeff Green this season.WALTHAM, Mass. -- Jeff Green took the floor for his first official practice in over a year on Saturday, poised for a fresh start, both as a basketball player, and, more specifically, as a Boston Celtic.
Green missed all of last season due to a heart ailment, but that came after his first go-around in a green and white uniform gave way to mixed results. Appearing in 26 games for Boston at the tail end of the 2010-11 season, Green averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds, shot 48.5 percent from the field, and never quite found a specific role.
Green was traded to the Celtics with the promise of being a versatile wing player, but head coach Doc Rivers admitted at the team's media day on Friday that jostling Green between the small forward and power forward spot might have made for too harsh of a learning curve.
"Trying to do that on the run, with 25 games left, is nearly impossible," Rivers said. "Trying to learn two positions, and ingratiating yourself with a group of guys, if I could have rethought that I probably would have just left him at one position and let him figure it out."
That doesn't mean Green won't see time at both spots this season, though. Rivers said having a full training camp and preseason will give him the necessary time to figure out how best to utilize Green when he's at each position, and he already has some ideas in the oven.
"When he’s at the 3, I want him to be a power player, I want him to post more," Rivers explained. "That’s one of the things I thought I let him down when he was with us the first time, I didn’t think we posted him enough. I thought in the Miami series, if you remember, he had a little stretch in the post.
"I don’t have a big body of work to go with on Jeff. When he’s at the 4, I want him to be the fastest player in the gym. I want him to outrun [his defender and] one of the things we have been working on the last three weeks, is throwing the ball ahead to him on the break at the 4, and tell him to attack the basket. There’s a 4 guarding you that probably doesn’t want to guard you. We want him to be uptempo 4, power 3."
If the right balance is struck, Green could emerge as of the Celtics' top weapons. An athletic 6-foot-9 forward, Green will need to rebound better than he has in the past, and look to score more around the rim. But Rivers' ideas seem to cater to some of Green's most natural talents: using his size against smaller defenders, and his speed against bigger ones.
"That's [Rivers] using me to the best of my abilities, being able to play multiple positions, and guard multiple positions," Green said. "Me playing the 3 at times, me playing the 4, is what I can do, and what he's going to put me on the floor to do. I'm looking forward to it."
Green said after Saturday's first official practice of the year that he spent the majority of the practice at the small forward spot, and acknowledged that his comfort level is already beginning to grow. Several of his teammates commented after practice on how impressed they were with Green's first workout, including Kevin Garnett.
"I don't think we've seen the best of Jeff. I think J-Green -- he has a lot of skill, man," Garnett said. "I think, at times, like all of us, we think a lot. He's no different from that. But you see the skill level and you see that confidence coming and it's a process. But, you're kind of marveled at how good he is. So, I don't think we've tapped into that resource yet."