Gerald Green has not played one minute of NBA basketball, yet coaches and fans are excited about the rookie forward. Everyone seems to recognize the potential in Boston's 2005 first round draft pick.
Green too is excited, despite having no official playing time this season.
"It felt good, you know? Even though I didn't see the floor, it still felt good." Green says after dressing with the team for the Nov. 25 game against Charlotte. "[I was] just real happy just to get out there, see the environment and see how it feels to put the jersey on. It felt good."
Green has had some growing pains in the process of maturing as an athlete, yet he is working on getting his body ready for the NBA game with the help of Strength and Conditioning Coaches Bryan Doo and Walter Norton, Jr. Both coaches agree that improving Green's physique from his high school playing days was essential for the rookie. His body oozes potential, and Doo and Norton, Jr. are determined to help prepare Green for the NBA.
"He is incredibly athletic," Norton Jr. says. "He has a long frame, a frame that can hold weight, a frame that will hold muscle...He just came in incredibly weak, he has had to pay attention to his body because he is so naturally gifted."
In the short amount of time that Green has spent with the team, he has transformed some of his body fat to roughly 24 pounds of muscle. Green is currently on an off-season style workout regimen that Doo and Norton, Jr. have designed. The Celtics organization, especially Danny Ainge, is in full sport of Green's unique training and preparation.
Green's training program is similar to off-season workouts. He is lifting and conditioning five days a week, sometimes twice a day, with flexibility training in the mix.
Assistant Coach Paul Pressey is training Green as well. Green is learning the systems of the team on both offense and defense. He has made tremendous improvements and continues to show his potential to become a dominant player in the NBA.
Coach Pressey believes that Green has the talent to become a valuable player in the league.
"He is going to be a scorer in this league, there is no doubt about that," Pressey says. "I can see him developing much like [Kendrick Perkins]. Perk didn't play a whole bunch his rookie year, then he gradually started to see more game action in his second year."
Green realizes that he needs more time to understand the offensive and defensive systems on the floor.
"The most difficult transition is probably the defensive rotation, the systems, the aspects of the game. That's probably it. In high school I was a lot better than everybody and we didn't have a lot of players other than me," said Green, laughing. "So it's just trying to see what I can do to change that."
Pressey agrees with Green.
"It's been kind of tough for him because he's always played in a system where the ball came to him." Pressey explains. "Now he has to learn to play in a system where the ball might go two or three passes, and then he might have an opportunity to touch the ball and do something. He is taking on the challenge of learning."
Green is far from alone in his development process; he has the assistance of his coaches and veteran teammates.
"Basically the whole team has helped me out," Green says. "Everybody is a veteran on this team and I think that along with Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis, a lot of players have tried to help me."
Green has endured his share of bumps and bruises in the growing process through practice, matching up against Davis and Pierce. Pressey sees Green improving and believes his tremendous work ethic is the explanation.
"The key thing for him is to learn from the veterans, to improve his game. His game is not going to be exposed on the game floor, it's going to be exposed in the practices. He is doing a good job of coming in after practice getting the extra work in. That is how he is going to get better." Pressey notes.
Green undoubtedly has the potential to be a strong player in the NBA. His work ethic shows that he is dedicated to become a valuable asset to the Celtics program. The coaching staff has faith in Green to become that player, yet they realize that Green may not be able to contribute right away. When all is said and done, Green will be worth the Celtics' wait.