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The Talented Mr. Green

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Danny Green trotted onto the court during the waning minutes of a 2011 regular-season game and I figured he'd be a player I wouldn't remember. After all, the Spurs have had so many guys on 10-day contracts over the years. This tattooed fella was just more roster fill that was soon to vanish from memory.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The twice-cut Danny Green is an NBA champion, the Finals record-holder for 3-pointers, and a key piece of the resurgent Spurs of the last three years. Gregg Popovich considered him valuable enough to fly him home during Spursgate in 2013.

'Icy/Hot' is now entering the final year of his contract. His man-to-man and help defense, 3-point shooting and ability to get open will make him tantalizing to front offices around the league, especially in the NBA's current era of specialists. Danny Green will be 28 next summer and will be expecting a payday. In a world where Jodie Meeks gets a 3-year, $19M contract, Danny Green deserves the bucks.

The Bad

I tend to have a very self-centered outlook when it comes to Spurs fandom. If they win, it's for me. If they lose, it's to spite me. But I managed to gain perspective in the bleak hours following the Game 6 loss to OKC in 2012. I had gone from basketball euphoria to confused despondence in the space of a few days. The Spurs had won 20 straight games and then lost four in a row. I felt like I should have been allowed to sulk. But a tweet posted by Danny Green changed all that.

DGreen_14: "If....only if....@ wuda hit a shot, mighta been a diff series...suppose to b a shooter n doesn't show up on the big stage smh"

You know you're disappointed in yourself when you're tweeting at yourself how disappointed you are in YOURSELF.

Besides the Tim Duncan floor slap against Miami, there hasn't been a time where I felt worse for a Spurs player. I'm sure he thought he was back to Europe or back to the world of 10-day contracts -- destined to be like the minor league baseball player who finally makes it to The Show, cranks a few homers and then crashes and burns back into Double-A.

I didn't think he'd be re-signed. But he was and he enjoyed a good 2013 regular season while picking up the nickname Icy/Hot because of his inconsistent shooting. But his lowest point had to have come in Games 6 and 7 of the 2013 Finals against Miami. After breaking the Finals record for threes, Miami decided they were not going to be beaten by Green and hot-glue-gunned themselves to him. He shot an abysmal 2 for 19 in the last two games. His inability to score in different ways hurt the Spurs. A terrible miss in the lane, and the block by Bosh at the buzzer were painful.

2014 saw a Green similar to 2013. Still no shot-creating ability, and he lost minutes to Marco Belinelli. He had a horrid first five games against Dallas in first round, but that was the end of his struggles. Yes, he is Icy/Hot. His shot comes and goes, but it never gets to him. He'll have his off nights, only to bounce back and catch fire.

The Good

Danny Green told Pop he'd do whatever they needed for him to make a roster spot. He got into the starting lineup by doing the custodial work. He played hard in garbage minutes, he played well when Pop benched the starters -- taking advantage of James Anderson's lack of development and Gary Neal's difficulties. Green is the perfect example of someone working their way up in an organization by doing the little things.

He has became an expert at getting open. Where Bruce Bowen used to stand in the corners and wait, Green runs the D ragged. In Game 1 of the 2014 Finals, he couldn't by a bucket early, but didn't get down on himself and did the little things before dropping three very clutch late 3-pointers.

When you think of the heart and soul of the Spurs, you don't think of Danny Green first. Though he might not be what basketball fans remember about the Spurs in 25 years, his scoring has an appreciable effect whether or not they win. The Spurs have lost 16 playoff games since Green became a starter and in those games he shot 40% or better from the field in only three of them.

Zach Lowe wrote a whole column on Danny's secret superpower, his transition defense. His defense has also changed series that the Spurs have played in. When Kawhi Leonard switched onto Klay Thompson in 2013, Green kept the previously unstoppable Steph Curry in check.

What I love most of all about Danny Green is how he doesn't get discouraged. He's come a long way from the tweet of 2012. In Game 3 of the Finals, Green made an error in running past Ray Allen and not getting right in his chest on a 3-point shot. Pop tore into Green and sat him. Mark Jackson then pointed out that Green was on his feet immediately afterwards, encouraging his teammates. He's a Spur. He is an exceptionally valuable supporting actor.


Also, he made a fun commercial -- pretty indicative of Danny's repertoire, as he misses a dinker from short range, then nails an impossible shot from downtown.

The Rest

The Spurs would have been good the past three seasons without Green, but would they have been champions? San Antonio is at their best when he's on his game, both offensively and defensively. Green is a Spur, through and through. He walked onto the court in 2011 as a player I was sure I'd forget. Now, he's guaranteed to be remembered.