Beyond a brief stint in the G-League after a not-so-great rookie year with the Cavaliers, Danny Green has lived a charmed NBA life, constantly finding his way onto the best teams with the best superstars. He instantly became LeBron James’ best friend in Cleveland and has continuously started alongside the likes of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. He was quickly snagged up by he Lakers in free agency last summer to reunite with James, along with Anthony Davis.
However, it’s not just luck that has Green leading a Robert Horry/John Sally-type career that could see him become just the third player to win a championship with three different franchises; it’s all about the type of player and teammate he is.
An excellent article by The Ringer goes over what makes him the ultimate sidekick for superstars, which mostly centers around his ability to space the floor, play defense, and be a leader, all of which makes him work in almost any style of offense. That was never more apparent than with the Spurs, when he essentially went through three different “eras” of playing style and never blinked when having to adapt.
A low-usage, high-efficiency shooter who can and will check any perimeter opponent and is almost never absent from the lineup (Green’s played 89 percent of all possible games since 2011) is exactly the kind of player most teams would love to have playing wingman to a superstar or three. Perhaps that’s why San Antonio held on to him for so long, and through so many on-court identities.
When Green arrived in San Antonio in 2010, the Spurs were still based largely around Tim Duncan’s brilliance, which meant running things through the post a lot of the time. As they reoriented around Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, it meant shifting to a pick-and-roll-based system in which players had to make decisions as quickly as possible, oftentimes while on the move. Eventually the team reoriented again, first around Kawhi Leonard and then around Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge; those shifts brought a return to a more static style of offense, with more post-ups and isolations than ever before.
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(The ability to adapt and adjust) kept Green in San Antonio for eight-plus years, a tenure that cemented his status as the Spurs’ quintessential role player. From the beginning of Duncan’s career in 1997 through the moment the Spurs shipped Green to Toronto along with Leonard in 2018 (mostly as a way to make the salaries work), the only players who played more minutes for the Spurs than Green were Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, and Bruce Bowen, who was essentially the Danny Green of the first half of that star trio’s run.
There’s a whole lot more in there, so be sure to check it out.
Reading this article reminded be of two summers ago, when the Leonard trade went down. I remember by then I was more relieved than anything that it was just finally over when the news popped, but then I was instantly saddened not to see Leonard gone, but that Danny had to be included to make the salaries work. He will always be one of my favorite Spurs of all time, even if he wasn’t the most impressive. He was the Spursiest of Spurs and will always have place in San Antonio’s heart.