When Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors, one of the most overlooked parts of this trade was that Danny Green was sent to Toronto along with him.
While Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam have stolen the limelight for much of these Finals, Green’s contributions on both of the floor have been overlooked. Despite being overlooked and criticized much of the year, he has shown his true value in the Finals and will be key for Toronto to bring home their first Larry O’Brien trophy in franchise history.
Even before these finals, Danny Green has been an underappreciated and slept-on player throughout his career.
He was not selected until the 46th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and was waived by the Cavs after that season, where he was signed by the Spurs, waived again, spent time in the Developmental League, and then re-signed by the Spurs where he played for their D-League team. He was finally signed to a multi-year contract with San Antonio in 2012.
Despite averaging a modest 10 points per game throughout his career, Green has been an unsung hero on the Spurs teams he has been a part of. It’s not too surprising that this happened, because any individual credit given Spurs players would have gone to Tim Duncan; otherwise, the Spurs played as too much of a unit for anybody else to be hailed as a superstar.
Looking past this, however, we can see what Green really brought to the table.
Just like Duncan in the 2012-13 season, he was extremely efficient, connecting on 48% of his 2-point shots and 43% of his 3-pointers. That year in the NBA Finals, despite falling to the Heat in one of the greatest series ever, Green connected on 27 3 pointers in the NBA Finals, a mark only surpassed by Steph Curry in 2016. When the Spurs won it all the following season, shot 45% from behind the arc while shooting 53% overall.
During this whole time, Green was able to slow down some of the league’s most dangerous guards, leading to his selection to the 2017 2nd All-Defensive team. This season, he was 2nd in the League in three-point percentage.
Green has quietly continued this throughout these Finals.
In game 1, he connected on 3 out of 3-point shots, all of which came at big moments. Combined with making hustle defensive plays, slowing down Curry and Thompson, and spacing the floor, he helped the Raptors claim their first ever Finals game victory. Much of the same was seen in Game 3. Green made 6 triples and his constant movement off the ball helped turn the Raptors offense into a free-flowing machine that allowed each of their starters to score at least 17 points.
Although Danny Green’s game does not get much appreciation from the media, it has helped the Raptors come within 2 wins from winning the title. For his entire career, Danny Green has been a sharpshooter and lockdown defender that we haven’t appreciated. It’s time that we realize and appreciate how much he is doing to help the Raptors topple the Warriors’ dynasty.