After being ousted in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in five years, the San Antonio Spurs have decisions to make on Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli and Matt Bonner (all free agents this summer), but not to be forgotten is Danny Green.
Green shot 44 percent on the season, but shot almost 42 percent from the three-point line, bumping his true shooting percentage to almost 60 percent. However, all of his attributes aren’t as polished as his three-point shooting, and the Spurs need to decide what the magic dollar amount is for Green that allows them to retain the sharp-shooting, soon to be 28-year-old shooting guard.
Few players combine the efficiency and volume from the three-point line that Green does. In fact, only 11 players attempted more than four threes per game and shot better than 40 percent on the season, and Green was one of them finishing at 42 percent on 5.6 attempts per game.
This isn’t exactly what a coach envisions when thinking of a drive-and-kick scenario, but these are the types of plays you live with when Ginobili is handling the ball for you. Thankfully, Green was there to end the play successfully.
Green thrives off his catch-and-shoot ability, and does so better than almost any player in the league. Among guards who played significant time this season, only the truly elite shooters finished higher than Green in catch-and-shoot three-point percentage, per SportVU. (Well, and Cody Zeller, interestingly enough.) At 45 percent, Green strikes fear in opposing defenses when catching the ball behind the line.
The other elite skill Green possesses is his defense. While Kawhi Leonard receives most of the attention for wing defense in San Antonio (and deservedly so), the Spurs defense wouldn’t reach the levels that it does without another on-ball defender at the level of Green.
As the primary defender, Green forced opponents to shoot under 45 percent from inside the three-point line, per SportVU, compared to almost 48 percent for the same players when he wasn’t the primary defender. Green’s defense is extraordinary, but his superpower is his transition defense:
Blake Griffin is one of the best big man ball handlers in the league and is headed at Green with a full head of steam in this clip from early November. Green makes him look like a young deer learning how to walk and strips him before Griffin can perform one of his signature dunks:
Tyreke Evans is a very good finisher around the basket, but Green blocks his shot before Evans is able to score the two points:
Jarrett Jack isn’t one of my favorite players, but he’s crafty in isolation and transition settings. Unfortunately for Jack, Green and Leonard aren’t the defenders that one should try to challenge individually, much less as a duo.
Steals and blocks aren’t the best indicators of great defense, but the list of players who averaged one block and one steal per game seems like strong evidence of good defenders, and Green is the only guard on the list. His defense on Chris Paul was almost enough for the Spurs to overcome the Clippers in the first round this year, and despite his poor shooting, he showed his value to the Spurs in that round, as well.
Green is a great shooter on catch-and-shoot threes, but asking him to dribble the ball before shooting is reason enough to cover small children’s eyes. During the regular season, Green had an effective field goal percentage of 65 percent with no dribbles, per SportVU (the league average for effective field goal percentage on all shots is 50 percent), but with one dribble that number plummeted to 40 percent, and after two dribbles the number dropped below 40 percent. It’s no secret that Green isn’t a creator off the dribble, but these numbers allow poor defenders to close out hard on Green with almost no concern of him putting the ball on the floor:
After a typical Spurs’ possession that involves ball and player movement, the ball ends up in the hands of Green at the top of the key with Chandler Parsons – who isn’t exactly best known for his defense – guarding him. Green takes two dribbles, spins into Richard Jefferson and leaves his feet to throw a pass across his body to the team not wearing white jerseys. As bad as this turnover is for him, this isn’t Green’s biggest weakness on that end:
Green’s propensity to not shoot after dribbling is probably due to his inability to actually dribble the ball. As good as he is on defense in transition, Green is possibly worse on offense in transition. Even in this semi-transition play against the lowly Knicks, Green makes a move similar to the one shown above against the Mavericks. He takes two dribbles, jumps and heaves a pass at Cole Aldrich‘s flailing arm. These are the plays that cause Pop to play the shooting guard only 29 minutes per game in a competitive playoff series.
Green is a fantastic on-ball defender, but he still has lapses when he’s not guarding the primary ball handler:
I don’t know much about the Spurs’ defensive system, but I can guarantee that it doesn’t rely on four defenders trying to stop a driving Paul with Matt Barnes standing free in the corner. Green tries to stop Paul, a job already being done by both Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, instead of following Barnes out to the corner.
Green compares favorably to Kyle Korver. Both are players who can be knock down shooters and very good defenders, but have deficiencies in other areas. While Korver has $17 million guaranteed over the next three seasons, the increasing salary cap will inflate Green’s dollar amount enough for the Spurs to have to consider letting Green go to the highest bidder this summer. Of course, the most likely outcome is the Spurs signing Green to an incredibly team-friendly contract where he becomes the second coming of Manu Ginobili.