As everybody, Raptors and Spurs fans alike, finally wrap their heads around exactly what Masai Ujiri pulled off just two short weeks ago, we can finally digress and start to understand the trade that shook the NBA landscape.
If you’ve been living under a rock, or just haven’t checked Raptors HQ lately, the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors made a trade for the ages. The Spurs sent disgruntled superstar Kawhi Leonard and sharpshooter Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for fan favourite DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 protected first round pick.
Now, we all know what Kawhi Leonard brings to the table as a former Finals MVP, but the addition of Danny Green is one that Raptors fans may not be talking about now. That will likely change once he hits the floor in October.
Who is Danny Green?
Green, now entering his 10th season in the NBA, started as a 2nd Round Pick (46th Overall) with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The UNC product only suited up for 20 games in his rookie season, and was eventually waived by the Cavs. In 2010 Green signed with the San Antonio Spurs, and has been in their organization ever since. Green has quickly developed into one of the best “3-and-D” role players in the league as a key cog in the Spurs lineup when they won the NBA Finals back in 2014.
Over his nine-year NBA career, the 31-year-old, 6’6” and 215 point swing man is shooting 39.5 percent from beyond the arc, with over 60 percent of his shots coming from 3-point range. And even though there isn’t an exact stat to grade defense in the NBA, Green was selected to the NBA All Defense Second Team in 2017, and is widely regarded as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA.
Green also brings a certain toughness and winning pedigree with him. You think I’m just saying that? Well, Green played the entirety of last season with a groin tear that went undetected by Spurs medical officials. The entire season. With a torn groin. So no, I’m not just saying he’s tough.
How Will Green Fit With Toronto?
Along with the on-court intangibles, Green also fits into the Raptors roster like a glove. It gives them a serious deep threat in their starting lineup, and the spacing to allow Kyle Lowry and Leonard to penetrate and use pick-and-rolls. So often you heard Raptors fans saying they were sick of the “ISO Ball” offense that the Raptors ran, especially in the playoffs, and their inability to score like some of the other teams in the NBA. Those proclaims led to the trade that brought in C.J. Miles, but we learned very quickly that we’d need more than just C.J. In the new-look NBA, a team can never quite have too much shooting.
Barring injury, you’d presume the starting lineup on opening night would be: Lowry, Green, Leonard, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas. With Green’s ability to not only shoot from deep, but catch and shoot, it makes him an ideal fit here in Toronto. Over his career Green has been deadly from the corner, shooting 42.6 percent from the “most efficient” shot in basketball. And if you want to talk lineups, how about teaming him with Miles who has shot 43.1 percent from the corner throughout his career as well.
Imagine this: Lowry, Green, Miles, Leonard, Ibaka. I think Nick Nurse is already salivating.
Green’s shooting ability is well-documented, but his most welcome presence may be on the defensive end of the floor. His ability to guard positions 1 through 3 at a high level is uncanny. More importantly he’ll spell Lowry the responsibility of guarding the opposing team’s best guards. With the Raptors’ driving force now at 32 years of age, the team will take any rest they can get for Lowry. That rest (on the defensive end at least) can allow Lowry to have less stress on his body, be more effective offensively, and ultimately keep him in better shape for the stretch run leading into the playoffs.
The addition of Danny Green coupled with Kawhi Leonard can be one that may just put the Raptors over the top. Obviously, a lot of things (mainly Kawhi) need to go right, but if all is flowing well then Green will soon become a fan favourite here in Toronto.