Gerald Green is Brad Stevens’ New Reclamation Project

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When the Boston Celtics signed Gerald Green, they didn’t expect him to contribute more than occasional shooting and athleticism off the bench. However, the swingman’s role has the potential to expand. He has a useful skill-set that will make him coach Brad Stevens’ new reclamation project.

Gerald Green is Brad Stevens’ New Reclamation Project

Since the Celtics hired Stevens as their head coach during the summer of 2013, he has had a knack for getting the most out of his players. Over his three-year tenure as head coach, he has had multiple reclamation projects: he’s picked up players whose careers were in jeopardy, given those players roles in which they succeeded, and turned their careers around — namely, Jordan Crawford and Evan Turner.

2013-14 season: Jordan Crawford

Up until the 2013-14 season, Crawford was a good, but streaky, scorer. Since being drafted in 2011, he played for the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, and Celtics (for part of the 2012-13 season). He started 64 games but came off the bench for the other 87 in his time with the Wizards and Hawks. The Xavier University alumnus was in danger of falling out of the NBA due to his inconsistent role and lack of a home.

Instead of forcing Crawford to play in a role that restricted his freedom, Stevens started Crawford and let him control the offense. In 35 games as a starter, Crawford averaged 14.2 points and 6.0 assists per game. He scored over 20 points in a game a career-high eight times. Eventually, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week once. He averaged 23.3 points and 6.7 assists per game on 61 percent shooting from December 2nd until the 8th in 2013. Once an inconsistent role player, Crawford became a serviceable starter who could run an offense.

Two years later, Crawford still appreciated what Stevens did for him:

2014-2016: Evan Turner

Eight months after trading Crawford, Stevens was in a similar situation with another wing player in Evan Turner. Turner was coming off of a lackluster stint with the Indiana Pacers. The former Ohio State Buckeyes star was supposed to be an enticing free agent, but Turner’s 2014 playoff run, in which he averaged just 3.3 points on 43% shooting in 12.4 minutes per game, damaged his value.

As a result, Turner sat through the dog days of free agency. He waited nearly a month, but the Celtics finally agreed to a deal with him on July 21st, 2014. Stevens utilized Turner as a jack-of-all-trades. Over two seasons in Boston, Turner served as a point-forward who could start or come off the bench. He defended positions one through three, handled the ball, and played off the ball as a mid-range shooter and cutter.

At the time of the signing, the Celtics viewed Turner as low-risk, high-reward. He became an invaluable member of the Celtics. Stevens turned the versatile swingman’s career 180 degrees. The Portland Trail Blazers rewarded Turner’s hard work with a four-year, $70 million contract.

Although Turner was ecstatic, nobody was happier about Turner’s reclamation than his old coach: “When I saw that and came across the deal, I was so happy for him,” Stevens said. “Knowing where he was two years ago and knowing he had come to Boston on the belief that this would be a good thing for his career — that makes you feel good” [Boston.com].

Gerald Green’s History: Inconsistent Journeyman

Now that the Celtics have an established team, they don’t have enough roster space to sign many free agents. However, the newly signed Gerald Green is in a similar position to where Crawford and Turner were when Stevens took them under his wing.

Like Turner, Green was one of the last available free agents on the market. Not many teams wanted to take a flyer on the 30-year-old journeyman; it seemed as if he could’ve headed back overseas. Nearly a month after the start of free agency, on July 23rd, the Celtics signed Green to a contract.

Like Crawford, Green has bounced around the NBA and shown flashes of brilliance. He has played for eight teams in nine seasons.

Over those nine seasons, he has played in more than 40 games just five times. He has averaged over 20 minutes per game just four times. Despite inconsistent playing time, Green has performed when called upon; he averaged 14 points in 24 minutes per game in 156 games over two seasons in Phoenix.

Green has skills that the Celtics need. He can play off the ball as a spot-up shooter and create his own shot in isolation. He is a career 36.1 percent three-point shooter, but hit 40 percent of his attempts in the 2013-14 season, when he played in a fast-paced offense. Last season, 73.1 percent of Green’s jumpers were assisted, but only 42% of his layups were assisted.

2016 and Future: Gerald Green’s Recovery

Despite the Celtics being deep on the wing, with Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and R.J. Hunter backing up Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, Green’s opportunities will come. The Celtics lacked shooting and shot-creating last year; they finished just 29th in the league in three-point percentage.

Brad Stevens already has a plan for utilizing the talented wing. “[Green] can change the course of a game,” Stevens said. “Does he do it every night, historically? No. But he’s had moments and times where he has done that. So I think he brings a spurt-ability to us that we clearly needed from a scoring standpoint” [ESPN].

Unlike with his previous teams, the high flyer will have a consistent role in Boston, which will make all the difference. Green’s coach knows his strengths and weaknesses. Stevens won’t make Green play a role in which he isn’t comfortable, but he won’t sit him on the bench for long stretches during situations in which Green can be useful.

“[Green] can shoot the ball. He’s athletic, something we don’t really have: a knockdown shooter and someone that can create for himself,” teammate Isaiah Thomas said [Boston Globe].

The veteran is yet to find a steady role and home in the NBA. That will change in Boston. Green’s coach has a plan for him, which will turn his career around, just like that of Jordan Crawford and Evan Turner before him. In time, Gerald Green will be Brad Stevens’ next successful reclamation project.

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