The Captain of the Boston Celtics is battling through the twilight of his career, and although he can still put up 30 on any given night, Paul Pierce needs to lighten his load in both minutes and shots taken in order to give Jeff Green a chance at his (hopefully) bright future.
The Celtics’ season has been vigorously up and down to say the least. Pierce has kept them in the fight plenty of nights but his time for doing so is quickly fading. Although he is still averaging around 20 PPG. his shooting touch is not what it used to once be and he’s more then a step slow on the defensive end, not to mention he’s even struggling with his old stand by trick of getting to the free throw line at will. He is still taking every three he sees like it’s 2004 and he shows no signs of any willingness to lighten his load. In other words, Pierce still wants to be “the guy.”
Although he should ’do less’ on the court, he can still help this team by mentoring a younger and less confident player like Green and by being a great locker room presence. Imagine if Pierce only had to play 15-20 minutes per game, but still was given the green light to put up 10-15 shot attempts against the opposing teams bench with fresh legs. It could create some beneficial match-ups for the Celtics.
Yes, in essence Pierce coming off the bench and giving Green 10 more minutes a game would be a step sideways in the beginning, but Green has shown glimpses of something great yet to come. Yes, he’s inconsistent. Yes, he is struggling with his confidence after missing a full NBA season. But what’s more important, developing one of the future centerpieces of this team, or burning every bit of fuel left in the tank of a wily franchise veteran to hold onto an 8th seed in the Eastern Conference?
It’s a tough situation to handle as Pierce has given an immense amount of everything he’s got to the franchise, yet even he would probably admit these days will be his last on the floor. As far as starting Green goes, it would give the Celtics more size, speed, youth, versatility and…defense. Yes, it’s true, in fact this year Green’s individual defense has ranked among the top 10 in the NBA. Green has not only shown the ability to throw down a highlight dunk at will, but versatility in his outside shooting game as well. It may not be pretty at first, but the kid needs reps, and he could learn from one of the best in the history of the franchise.
It’s another tough call for the organization, but it seems inevitable.