Welcome to the 2017-18 season player reviews, where we will be rehashing the performance of all 15 Spurs from this season (excluding two-way players Darrun Hilliard and Matt Costello) and looking towards the future. If you’ve missed any, you can click here to catch up.
2017-18 stats: 8.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 36.3% 3FG
2017-18 salary: $10 million
Contract: 1 year, $10 million remaining (player option)
This was an unusual season for Green. With Kawhi Leonard out most of the season, he was tasked with being the Spurs’ primary perimeter defender. Coming off his first All-NBA defensive team appearance, he was more than up to the task on that end of the court despite spending a career-high 58% of his time at small forward (compared to 22% last season). However, offense was a different story.
Despite showing some improved handles and an ability to drive to the rim that had been lacking in years past, Green suffered his third-worst season from beyond the arc and his worst overall shooting performance (38.7%) since his rookie season in Cleveland. It wasn’t entirely his fault. In a starting line-up that mostly featured Kyle Anderson and Dejounte Murray alongside him, opponents had little reason to leave Green to help on defense, causing him to rarely be open despite LaMarcus Aldridge often being double or even triple-teamed in the low post.
There was also the lack of familiarity factor. After years of starting alongside Leonard and Tony Parker, Green was not receiving the same passes he’s use to from Murray and Anderson. Gregg Popovich experimented some with Patty Mills starting alongside Green on the wing to bring more scoring prowess. He even brought Green off the bench for ten games here and there, presumably to find him more shots, but there was little impact from either approach.
Still, regardless of his offensive dip that can somewhat be contributed to the aforementioned circumstances (not to mention being the third option on offense instead of fourth or fifth and exerting most of his energy on the other end), Green’s defense and leadership remained invaluable to a Spurs squad that had little choice but to win ugly. While it’s easy to knock him for his lack of offense lately, it’s the non-statistical things like contesting shots and shutting down passing lanes that go unnoticed and underappreciated.
Green was tasked with more than usual this season, both as the team’s top defender and a vocal leader (a job that’s usually reserved for stars). He was also one of their more cool-headed voices to the media in the one of the franchise’s most challenging seasons yet from a PR perspective. Some only notice Green when his shots aren’t falling, but he’s much more valuable to the Spurs than that, which he proved yet again this season.
Green has the option to opt out of his contract before July 1, and at this point there’s no telling what he will do. One would imagine he would like to stay with the Spurs, but he could potentially land more lucrative offers elsewhere. The $10 million he would receive from the Spurs by opting in might be the most he’s going to get here, which seems right at face value for a 3-and-D player these days.
Green has always been loyal and doesn’t seem like a player who is seeking money above everything else, but at 30-years-old this might be his last chance for a pay bump before he gets over the hill. That boost likely won’t come from the Spurs, so things will ultimately come down do what is most important to him. We likely won’t know what that is for another month or so, but whatever he decides he’ll always have a place here in San Antonio.
Nov. 7 vs. Clippers: 24 points, 2 assists, 1 block, 4-6 3FG
Final Grade: B-
Up next: Rudy Gay