Brian Scalabrine has taken less time than Darko Milicic in carving out a niche for himself in his new job at TV analyst for the Boston Celtics. His commentary gives a player's perspective as to what's happening on the floor without being full of cliches or locker-room lingo. His player comparisons are either dead on or close enough to provoke further thought.
Case in point:
Comparing Jeff Green to James Worthy.
If Worthy is frozen in our minds swooping in from a wing to catch a no-look from Magic Johnson on his way to a thunderous dunk, then his signature move was more nuanced and artistic. I remember Worthy catching the ball, still on a wing, but not necessarily on a fast break, pausing, evaluating his options, and then driving the ball to the hole, encountering one or more defenders, only to dipsy-do his way around them, ball stuck to the palm of his hand, as his arm moved right, left, up, and down until he had freed himself just enough to let loose the rock at some crazy angle off the bank board. I don't ever remember him missing one of those.
The first time Jeff Green did his best impersonation of "Big Game" James, Scalabrine called him out immediately. Whoa! That looked like James Worthy! Repeating the move time and again over the course of the next two games, Green had play-by-play guy Mike Gorman invoking the ghost of Worthy.
James Worthy was a seven-time all-star, three-time NBA champion, and a Finals MVP. He was also named one of the 50 greatest players of all time. Ho hum. Comparing Jeff Green to James Worthy is not quite the same thing as comparing Greg Steimsma to Bill Russell. The Steamship came out of nowhere in his mid-20s, and, now that he's been exiled to Minneapolis, may soon return to obscurity. Jeff Green, by contrast, went to Georgetown, where his coach, John Thompson III, told Sports Illustrated: "You'll stop and think when I say this, but it's true: Jeff Green is the smartest player I've ever coached. You would know this better than most: that's a hell of a statement."
According to Wikipedia:
Jeff Green won the 2005 Big East Rookie of the Year award along with Rudy Gay of the University of Connecticut. In addition, Green was named to the All-Big East Second Team in 2006 along with teammate Roy Hibbert. In 2007, Green and teammate Roy Hibbert were unanimous selections to the All-Big East First Team. After his 30-point performance in the 2007 Big East Tournament semi-final against Notre Dame and his 21-point performance in the championship against the Pittsburgh, Green was also named Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 Big East Tournament as the Hoyas went on to claim their first Big East title since 1989.
Green was named the 2007 Big East Player of the Year. Jeff Green led the Hoyas on an impressive, relentless run to the Final Four in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, beating Belmont and Boston College in the first two rounds. Green would be remembered for beating Vanderbilt off a game-winning shot in the game's closing seconds as well as fearlessly leading the Hoyas to victory against #1 seed UNC, in a stunning second-half comeback victory and bringing the Hoyas back to their first Final Four since Patrick Ewing led them to the 1985 National Championship game.
So it’s not as if Green flew into Boston from Mars when they drafted him #5 in the 2007 NBA draft. Nor is it any big mystery why Green didn’t always excel in OKC, where he was typically playing out of position, forced to defend bigger, taller power forwards like Zach Randolph. But when given the opportunity to play ball at a position more amenable to his style of play, no one doubts the man has exceled.
Doc may have found just a position for Green this year. On a second unit that, depending on how it shakes out, might actually be better than the first unit, Jeff Green’s role will be to simply “do his thing” – run, pass, catch, drive, and dunk. If he can add some smothering defense, the comparison may shift from James Worthy to Scottie Pippen.
I wouldn’t say Green is the leader of the second unit, and possibly not even the go-to guy if Jason Terry winds up joining him on the bench. He doesn’t need to be either to have a monster of a season, and that very well could be the case for Green this season, a career year. But if we’re gonna compare him to Worthy, then when the stakes rise, #8 is gonna need to come through with Big Games of his own.