Celtic fans, what you see with Jeff Green is what you get

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When Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on the Jeff Green, Kendrick Perkins trade that Ainge thought more highly of Green than myself and some others did.

Not that Green is a bad player, he’s just kind of average (not the elite player some think). He’s athletic but his shot selection has always been poor and his defense was never that good. He would play passive at times.

Well, after five weeks Celtics fans have become perplexed by Green. Doc Rivers and the folks at ESPN Boston sum it up pretty well:

“I think he’s too nice,” Rivers said. “He’s trying to please the other guys on the floor. I’ve always thought playing with us is difficult, when you’re new, because you’re playing with Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] and Kevin [Garnett] and [Rajon] Rondo and you almost don’t think like you deserve to be an aggressive offensive player or you should be, and I think he does that way too much.”

Since joining the Celtics late in February, Green has averaged 9.8 points on 7.4 field goal attempts per game. The C’s are counting on Green to provide an offensive spark off the bench, and he’s done just that in certain games, like when he scored 13 of his 19 points in the second quarter in a win over the Indiana Pacers back on March 16.

But there have been other games where Green’s been less aggressive with his shot selection, and as a result, his contributions have been minimal. In his last two contests, he’s averaged just four points on five field goal attempts and two rebounds. Rivers suggested he’s still being too passive at times, but has begun to work his way out of that habit.

Everyone — this is Jeff Green. He was what we thought he was. It’s not like he was some guy coming from a bad team/system who now would see the light of day once in Boston.

Green’s shooting percentage, both inside and outside the arc, have gone up since going to Boston while using about the same percentage of the offense he did before. The shots he’s taking are changing — he is shooting about a quarter as many threes per game yet nearly as many midrange shots as he did in Oklahoma City (his threes per 36 minutes on the court dropped from 3.6 to 1.7, but his overall shot level remains close to the same). What’s more, Hoopdata.com shows he’s shooting much, much better in the midrange (from 20 percent to 46 percent on 10-15 footers).

Green’s offense isn’t bad, it’s just inconsistent. If Celtics fans thought they were getting something else in this deal they should have asked Thunder fans about his play. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder coaching staff hand periods of frustration with Green’s inconsistent offense.

Then there’s defense. Zach Lowe had the numbers at Sports Illustrated.

326 points allowed in 300 possessions, or 108.6 points allowed per 100 possessions. And here we see it happening again: Green’s team is playing far worse, defensively, with him on the floor. The sample size is small — only about 172 minutes — but the fact that we’re seeing this same trend repeat itself in Boston is not encouraging. The Celtics and Bulls have taken turns atop the league’s defensive rankings all season, with both surrendering about 100 points per 100 possessions. With Green on the floor, Boston has defended at about the level of the Rockets and Nets, who rank 20th and 21st in points allowed per possession this season.

Pretty much what happened at the Thunder.

You can rationalize it and say if you play him at different positions (more three than four) or put him in with different lineups you’ll get better results. Maybe. The Celtics are a team that figures things out, and Green provides nice depth off the bench on offense. Players do improve. Sometimes.

But basically, this is Jeff Green. What you are seeing is what you will get.

Rumor: Kawhi Leonard directly told Gregg Popovich he wanted to leave Spurs

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Kawhi Leonard and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich met in San Diego yesterday.

How did the discussion go? Reports have been mixed about even the nature of the meeting, let alone a resolution from either side.

But here’s an update with a reportedly direct conclusion.

Stephen A. Smith on ESPN:

From what my sources told me, Kawhi Leonard met with Gregg Popovich face-to-face, looked him dead in his face and told him “I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be in San Antonio any longer.”

Leonard put out word he wanted to leave San Antonio, ideally for the Lakers, last week. There was some hope Popovich could mend the relationship, but that seems to running thin. There is so much bitterness between both sides.

The next question: What do the Spurs do about it?

Do they keep trying to ease tension with the 26-year-old superstar? Do they trade him? If so, when? Before or during the draft?

No matter what Leonard told Popovich yesterday, San Antonio has big decisions to make and soon. Leonard firmly stating a desire to leave would be clarifying, but it’d hardly make this situation easy to handle.

Brendan Haywood: Former Hornets teammates ‘sick and tired’ of Dwight Howard’s act

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It has become an annual tradition – Dwight Howard getting traded then his former teammates celebrating his exit.

It happened with the Hawks last year. Now, it’s happening with the Hornets, who sent Howard to the Nets.

Brendan Haywood, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

Now retired, Haywood played with current Hornets Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist his final season. He also knows many other players throughout the league.

Howard went to Charlotte and declared himself team leader – despite the presence of Walker, the franchise player. Howard’s immaturity and ego have rubbed teammates and coaches the wrong way for years.

But at least this is progress. Howard’s time with the Magic, Lakers and Rockets devolved into interpersonal strife well before he left those teams.

Rumor: Knicks will take Villanova’s Mikal Bridges at No. 9

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Most mock drafts have the Philadelphia 76ers taking Mikal Bridges at No. 10, keeping the Villanova star in Philly.

But what if he’s not on the board?

Marc Berman of the New York Post reports the Knicks are going to take Bridges at No. 9.

Sources have indicated Bridges still is the favorite to be the Knicks’ selection at nine Thursday — even if Michael Porter Jr. falls. The Knicks are starting to get cold feet on the uber-talented Porter after his latest mishap last week, when he incurred hip spasms before his on-again, off-again, on-again public workout in Chicago….

In the big picture, president Steve Mills and (new GM Scott) Perry need to land a central building block that will contribute next season to show Kristaps Porzingis, a restricted free agent in 2019, there’s a future, and also to entice a 2019 free agent. Point guard Kyrie Irving is squarely on the Knicks’ radar.

While Kentucky freshman forward Kevin Knox opened the Knicks’ eyes with a surprising workout and has gotten consideration late in the process, Bridges is the best bet. Perry said recently adding “a solid rotational player” at nine is as important as shooting for an All-Star.

It’s unlikely Porter is on the board at No. 9. The Cavaliers like him a lot and will take him if he falls to No. 8, the Bulls could grab his one spot earlier, and there are teams farther down the draft board looking to trade up and snag Porter.

Bridges projects to be just what Mills may want — a solid rotational player, and one who can step in soon and contribute.

But the Knicks need talent, and Knox out of Kentucky has the higher ceiling thanks to elite athleticism (he has climbed a lot of teams’ draft boards during workouts). He can play some three or be a small ball four, and if he shows consistency with his jumper, he has the athleticism to be part of a team’s core.

 

Knox may have the higher ceiling, but the Knicks need not to miss, and Bridges is that.

Ayton, Young, Porter and more: PBT’s in-depth draft prospect breakdowns

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In the days before the draft, there’s more smoke clouding the picture around the NBA draft than there is at a Snoop Dogg concert.

What you need to cut through all that is someone who knows these players, has seen them multiple times over the years, spoken to them, knows their game.

That’s where Rob Dauster comes in. The lead writer at NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk, he has seen these players while they were in high school, spoken to them, followed their college careers — and he broke down their games for us at NBC. It’s what you need to know about the top guys in the draft.

Check these stories out:

DEANDRE AYTON

He has the size. He has the length. He has the athleticism, explosiveness, fluidity, and mobility. He can space the floor and, in theory, both protect the rim and handle his own if forced to guard on the perimeter. In theory, Ayton is the total package and an ideal five for the modern NBA.

Whether or not he will live up to his considerable potential is a different story.

MARVIN BAGLEY III

Offensively, he’s everything that you want from a small-ball five. He can dominate in the paint, he can space the floor and he is aggressive and productive on the glass. He was a walking double-double in college and it’s not hard to project him being the same in the NBA.

The problem is that he is not a five on the defensive end of the floor.

JAREN JACKSON JR.

He will fit seamlessly into the modern NBA given the combination of skills that he has while the other four players projected to go in the top five this year have more question marks….

He’s 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan. He shot 39.6 percent from three after shooting 43.8 percent from three on the EYBL circuit in 2016. He averaged 3.0 blocks despite playing just under 22 minutes a night as a freshman. He is as switchable as any big man in this class defensively because of his ability to move his feet. 

MO BAMBA

A 7-foot-0.5 center with a 7-foot-10 wingspan — which will be the longest in the NBA as soon as he steps onto an NBA court — Bamba’s ability as a game-changing defensive presence is at the core of what makes him such an appealing prospect. He finished with freshman season with a block rate of 13.2, averaging 4.9 blocks per 40 minutes and anchoring a Texas defense that finished the year ranked 12th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric…

There are questions about his strength and his toughness and his love for the game. Does he play because he’s addicted to the game, or is it simply because he was blessed with the physical gifts that will makes NBA teams salivate and invest millions and millions of dollars into him in the hopes that he pays dividends as the NBA’s preeminent defensive anchor?

MICHAEL PORTER JR.

He is a tantalizing talent that can do things athletically and as a shooter that 6-foot-11 people are not supposed to be able to do… He was good enough at Hoop Summit and on the all-star circuit that there were people that were projecting him as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft as recently as November.

But all of that changed in the course of the last seven months. It starts with the back injury… And that’s before you get into the questions about his position and his makeup.

Porter has a ceiling as high as anyone in this draft, but when the floor is as low as his is, it makes him a scary — and risky — player to take.

TRAE YOUNG

He became the first player in Division I history to lead the nation in scoring and assists, but he did it as a player that doesn’t like to play defense on a team that couldn’t figure out how to win late in the year.

Is he the second-coming of Steph Curry?

Or is he Jimmer Fredette?