When the Toronto Raptors made the blockbuster trade on July 18, the main focus was that the Raptors acquired Kawhi Leonard, and rightfully so. Leonard is arguably a top-five player in the NBA and the best defensive player in the league as well.
However, lost in the trade is that Toronto also acquired shooting guard Danny Green from the San Antonio Spurs. Green is entering the final year of his contract, but even as a pending free agent, he will be a key to the Raptors’ success this season.
Green is projected to be Toronto’s starting shooting guard and should play an important role on the offensive and defensive end of the court.
The 31-year-old isn’t flashy, but does the little things right on offence. And when he was given the opportunity to shoot, the New York native made the most of it.
Throughout his career, Green has shot an impressive 41.8% from the field and 39.5% from three-point range. The three-point percentage will be a key stat for the Raptors.
Last season, the Raptors combined to shoot just 35.8% from three, with Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet the only members to have a better three-point percentage than Green did.
Green’s shooting will be a huge benefit to the Raptors who lacked a true three-point specialist last season.
Not only will Green make an impact shooting the ball, he’ll make a biggest impact on the defensive end. Green was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team in 2017.
At 6-foot-6, Green and Leonard were often tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best players on the perimeter. Green has guarded the likes of James Harden, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant, showing his versatility.
With a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Green can get into opponents’ faces and force turnovers or bad shots. Throughout his career, Green is averaging one steal and 0.8 blocks per game – numbers that don’t jump off the page. However, for the past five seasons, Green has led the league in blocks for his position.
On top of everything, Green brings leadership. He has won an NBA championship and played for the best coach in the NBA and played with some of the best leaders in the NBA.
“It’s always been defence with him,” Green told Sportsnet, referring to his former coach Gregg Popovich. “It doesn’t matter that I was just able to shoot threes. He wasn’t trying to make a 3-and-D guy. He’ll make you a defensive guy, a basketball player.”
With the ability to switch onto point guards, shooting guards, or even small forwards, Green will bring value on the defensive end of the floor.
“He’s like the ultimate teammate, right?” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse on media day back in September. “He does everything with a little bit of positivity and a little bit of a smile on his face, ‘come on let’s go’ type of attitude. Those guys go a long way. They’re fun to be around. He’s great to be around.”
“As a fan of the game you just want to learn what those years were like, what those finals were like? You want to ask and learn and we got a food feeling of what Kawhi was going to be like from Danny before we got here,” Fred VanVleet said back at media day. “We want to take as much knowledge those guys have and add it to what we have, and it could be a special year for us.
It very well could be a special year for the Raptors and Green may be a big reason why.