Throughout the offseason, we’ll be counting down the Top 50 players in the NBA from 50 to 1. Who will just miss the cut? Which names do you expect to see? Regardless, you’ll be able to find them all right here.
Why He’s Great: It’d be hard to become a better defensive player with limited athletic talent than Danny Green has. His technique is virtually flawless. He’s always active and disrupts passing lanes consistently. He doesn’t watch the ball and never gives up free points. He’s a bit slow for the shiftiest of point guards. Stephen Curry has given him trouble in the past, but Curry gives everyone trouble. A defender who can handle most point guards is rare. One who can also hang with LeBron in the post without giving an inch is rarer.
And one who makes 40 percent of his three-pointers is rarer still. Green is the consummate three-and-D player, a wing who can cover any wing and three-point shooter who never needs the ball. Green could go a month without touching it and he’d move just as precisely through San Antonio’s motion offense as ever. He steals points on back cuts almost every night and he’s a better screener than most guards.
Championship teams need Danny Greens. He is the perfect glue guy.
Why He’s Below No. 48 (Avery Bradley): Avery Bradley’s three-point shot is getting better. Danny Green’s is getting worse. Bradley reached 39 percent this season, a number Green hasn’t touched since 2014-15. There’s not a good explanation for why Green has fallen beneath the 40 percent perch he held for the four seasons prior to last, but at 660 attempts the sample is growing concerning. Bradley is only 26. He’s just entering his prime. Green is 30. He’s probably about to leave his.
The trade rumors that have surrounded Green for the past few years are really concerning. The Spurs don’t trade players by accident and if leaks are getting out of their discussions they must be happening so often that they can’t be contained. If the Spurs don’t want someone, that’s a big problem.
And even for a three-and-D player, his lack of ball-handling is egregious. A great motion offense like San Antonio’s can mitigate that to an extent by putting Green in situations where he never has to run a pick-and-roll, but how would he fare on a team that holds the ball? What does Green do if he gets the ball with six seconds left on the shot clock and nobody doing much to get open? Green’s value is tied to San Antonio to some degree. We don’t yet know what that degree is, but it’s high enough to keep him at No. 49.