Gerald Green?s locker has Paul Pierce on one side of it and Brian Scalabrine on the other; this placement is certainly by design.
Danny Ainge has never been the kind of GM to shy away from making a big trade, but any trade he makes will not include Green. Media reports firmly and consistently label him as an untouchable member of the Celtics.
Green was just five months old when the Celtics won their last NBA Championship and if the franchise wins number seventeen at some point over the next ten-plus seasons, his fingerprints will be all over the Larry O?Brien trophy.
Leading up to the 2005 Draft, there was no player people buzzed about more. His performance in the McDonald?s game and its dunk contest were quickly becoming legendary. Amazingly, Green had been cut from his high school team just two years before developing into the most sought after senior in the country.
On draft night though, Green kept slipping in a free-fall until the Celtics selected him with the 18th overall pick. Martell Webster and Andrew Bynum, also going straight to the NBA out of high school, were both selected ahead of him.
?I was mad, but I feel like I?m at home right now,? said Green about slipping so far in the draft. ?Everything happens for a reason. I?m in a great opportunity, playing behind one of the best players to ever put on a Celtics uniform, Paul Pierce.?
It was a big win for the Celtics, taking home a player from the middle of the first round, who if nothing else, had top-five upside.
Knowing Green wasn?t physically ready to transition immediately to the NBA as Dwight Howard did in 2004 and LeBron James the year before, the Celtics kept him on the sidelines and in the D-League until the 46th game of the season.
While playing eight games with the Fayetteville Patriots, Green averaged nearly 12 points and 5 rebounds per game.
When asked if he came back from the D-League a better player, Green said, ?Absolutely.?
Green was used sparingly by the Celtics until the month of April, when he averaged nearly 14 points per game in his final nine games.
?I rate my rookie season about a six or seven. The reason I rate it that is because I stuck with it, I never gave up. The team gave me a chance at the end.?
Without significant playing time, his rookie season was an afterthought for many, though he did manage to reemerge on the radar with a couple spectacular end-of-game dunks versus Toronto late in the season.
But his ability to attack the rim with highlight reel abandon was something we had seen just a year earlier in the McDonald?s Game; it was Green?s play in the Vegas Summer League, averaging 18.6 points per game for a Celtics team featuring seven guys currently on their roster, that demonstrated how well he was developing. Most striking was his 55.6 shooting percentage from 3-point territory during his five appearances.
He has come into the 2006-2007 season continuing to shoot extremely well from the perimeter, nearly 53%, which ranks him third in the entire NBA behind Luke Walton and Brent Barry.
?My teammates get me open and they tell me to be aggressive from the three-point line.?
Like his category mate, Brent Barry, a slam dunk championship is something that he would like to tack onto his resume.
?If they invite me, for sure I?ll go,? Green told me on Monday night, about the possibility of entering this year?s competition in Las Vegas. ?I feel my teammates and fans deserve a little show.?
Despite the heavy dose of perimeter shots and showstopper dunks, there is no reason to believe he will not develop a lethal in-between game, similar to Richard Hamilton, though he has a fluidity of motion, particularly with the dribble, that could far surpass the Detroit veteran.
As for the Celtics, despite having Paul Pierce in his prime, they are a long ways away from the elite status the franchise has enjoyed throughout its history until the nineties.
?I want to win a championship title,? said Green.
?A lot of players in the league never won a title,? said Green when asked if anything less would be a disappointment. ?John Stockton never won a title, Karl Malone never won a title, Charles Barkley never won a title. That?s a hard task, but I put it on myself,? said Green.
Boston?s success will be tied to Green, as it appears they will transition out of the Paul Pierce-era with Green as the focal point.
?I just want to be the best player at my position,? said Green when asked what he wants to accomplish individually.
While he has a long list of players to leapfrog to even reach the top-five echelon, he has the tools to become one of the most versatile scorers the league has ever seen.
Christopher Reina is the executive editor of RealGM and may be reached via email at Christopher.Reina@RealGM.com