Monday, September 30, 2013

What to expect from Jeff Green this season

Jared Wickerham/ Getty Images
We have been asking the question since the day the Boston Celtics traded the beloved Kendrick Perkins for him. What can we expect from Jeff Green?

There has been a lot of chatter this offseason about Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyc. The “core four” if you will, but with Rondo’s knee injury a lot of people forget that Green is going to be the best player on this team on opening night, and potentially a major building block towards the future.

Jeff Green clearly has All-Star potential; the fans have all seen it. Remember that 43 point game head to head against LeBron James? Green is an athletic 6’9 combo forward that can handle the ball, get to the hoop and shoot from outside. So what is it that separates him from the other stars in the league? There is one factor that defines individual success in the NBA, consistency, and Jeff Green lacks it.

For every All-Star type performance, there was also a six point game, but looking back, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Green has played behind Kevin Durant and Paul Pierce, not to mention an open-heart procedure that he probably just fully recovered from this past summer. Maybe the surgery is to blame for a scattered first year back on the court?

So lets wipe the slate clean for Jeff Green. This can be a fresh start for him, not to show us what he is capable of, but to show us he can do it night in and night out. It is not unreasonable to expect Green’s 12.8 PPG in 2012-13 to improve to 20 PPG this year. Under contract for two more seasons, Green needs to prove that he can be the 20 PPG scorer he was drafted to be.

If his consistency issues remain, Jeff Green could be a trade chip in the 2014-15 season that helps Boston further rebuild, or simply a player they let walk in the summer of 2015. Either way the time is now for Jeff Green, his play will determine how long his stay in Beantown will last.

Follow Julian on Twitter @BleedGreenBlogs

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

John Wall predicts playoffs for the Wiz... who finishes 6-8 in the East?

Red Hubard/ Orlando Sentinel
This is no crazy talk by John Wall; the Washington Wizards have as good a shot as any team in the East to head to the playoffs in April. Like Chris Broussard hints at in this video clip, there are five teams all but locked into a postseason birth: the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Indiana Pacers.

This leaves three seeds wide open for the remaining 10 teams in the conference to battle for. Take a glance at the teams and their rosters… can we really count anyone out? Well sure we can, we can count the abomination that is the Charlotte Bobcats out. But that’s about it! 

Unfortunately, the Boston Celtics have all the talent that it may require to grab one of those last three seeds (even if Rajon Rondo doesn’t debut until December). Looks like I gave away my stance on the 2013-14 season, get a top pick! Loaded drafts like 2014 do not come along often, let alone come on the first year you decide to go into a rebuild. I think Danny Ainge knows this, and will put the C’s in the best position he can for the future, and not for this season. Jordan Crawford at point guard? Why not.

With that said, in no particular order, here are the three teams out of the East that will prove they have what it takes to sneak into the playoffs… and who knows, maybe even make some noise:

David Liam Kyle /NBAE/ Getty Images
The Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs are returning their entire young core, which even after only 24 wins last year, showed impressive flashes. They only got 59 games out of their superstar, Kyrie Irving, who was still able to average 22.5 PPG and 5.9 APG. Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Tyler Zeller round out the rest of the young studs that contributed last season. Lets not forget about rebounding machine Anderson Varejao either.

But the Cavs bulked up their roster significantly during the offseason; first by adding Andrew Bynum, a risky move. Personally I am not a Bynum backer, I do not think he can stay healthy nor do I like his attitude. Still, lets say he gives them 50 games at 80%... that will surely make a difference. On top of Bynum Cleveland also added Anthony Bennett with the number one overall draft pick in June. The 6’8 power forward has a lot of developing to do, but can at least be expected to contribute right away. And finally the Cavs reinforced their backcourt, bringing in the veteran Jarrett Jack to keep pressure on Irving and Waiters.

The Detroit Pistons: We have a completely unrecognizable team in the the motor city. So without getting too deep into it, let me just go over the roster the Pistons will be rolling out on opening night.
Getty Images/ NBA

Detroit has retained their two-headed monster in the frontcourt with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, the building blocks of this team. Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva have stuck around. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tony Mitchell have been drafted. Oh and Corey Maggette, Chauncey Billups, Brandon Jennings, and Josh Smith have all been added. Don’t worry about last year, this is a new team.

Mark Duncan/ AP Photo
The Washington Wizards: Ask and you shall receive, John Wall. But in all seriousness the Wiz are absolutely talented enough to go out and get it done this season. Last year they posted a 5-28 record without Wall and a 24-25 record with him. So we are already talking about a .500 team with Wall healthy.

Give me a healthy Emeka Okafor and Nene and now we’re talking. We will have to wait and see what Bradley Beal and Otto Porter turn into, but in the meantime Trevor Ariza and Al Harrington are there to cover for them. Glen Rice Jr. could be a sleeper on this team.

Although not as deep as our previous two teams, the Wizards seem top heavy enough to fight their way in when healthy.

Follow Julian on twitter @BleedGreenBlogs

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Training Camp Spotlight Sure to be on Pressey

With training camp right around the corner, a whole lot of fresh faces are going to get good looks at the Boston Celtics 2013 training camp. Legends will be replaced by kids fighting for roster spots - looking to become the faces of a new era in Boston.

One of those faces that could be called upon more heavily is twenty-two year old Phil Pressey. Pressey went un-drafted in 2013 despite leaving Missouri after his junior year. But Danny Ainge (a teammate of Pressey's father in Boston) had his eye on Phil for a while. Ainge called Pressey to bring him to Orlando to play for the Celtic's summer league team just moments after the draft ended.

In Orlando Pressey averaged 9.4 PPG and 6.6 APG, going over 10 assists in each of Boston's final two games - a nice surprise. With Rajon Rondo's return still uncertain, Pressey is the only true point guard that will be at Boston's camp. Assuming Pressey can make the team, his ball handling skills could play a big role to open up the regular season. Although Avery Bradley seems like the overwhelming pick to start at the point during Rondo's absence, Pressey is the dark horse.

Bradley has always been uncomfortable handling the ball, something that comes natural to Pressey since his days at Waltham High School. Despite being only 5'8, Pressey makes up for size with speed, court vision and a smooth jump shot. Click here to see Pressey's latest interview about making this Celtic's team.

In all likely hood Pressey is not going to be a long term star for this franchise. But it is not too much to ask of him to be a solid backup to Rondo, something the Celtics lacked in recent years. It's a long shot, but Phil Pressey may get a chance to be very important to this team very early.