Danny Green's Resilient Ride From Castoff to NBA Finals History Books
Danny Green isn’t hiding behind either the San Antonio Spurs or Miami Heat's Big Three. He has instead revealed his presence with each of the NBA-record 25 three-pointers he has connected on through five games of the NBA Finals.
This is a player who was once dismissed for a lack of athleticism and an erratic shot. He faced cuts from two different NBA teams, including his current one. He's played in Slovenia and worked through the D-League.
Yet here he is on the league's biggest platform, in all his behind-the-arc glory.
He isn't one of the "superstars" of these finals, but Green’s ability to hit from long distance has made him into a legitimate NBA Finals MVP candidate.
Here are his numbers through five games:
And here's Green's very green shot chart from deep thus far in the series:
Green is averaging 51.5 percent from three-point range this postseason. The fourth-year guard is a product of the Spurs' overwhelming number of weapons and his ability to meander into open spaces as a result of misdirection or help on a driving Tony Parker.
Tony Parker on Danny Green: "Danny has been playing great. He's making shots. I can't believe he's still open at this moment of the series."— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 17, 2013
It wasn't that Green was a non-factor in the regular season. He ranked eighth in the league in three-pointers made (177) and was seventh in three-point percentage (42.9 percent).
Still, where did this guy come from?
Green is a Tar Heel product. He played four seasons at North Carolina, ending with his best numbers in his senior season in 2008-09 when he averaged 13.1 points and shot 41.8 percent from three.
Green was drafted with the No. 46 pick in the 2009 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He played 20 games his rookie season, averaging just 5.8 minutes and 2.0 points per game. Notably, he only shot 27.3 percent from three-point range.
Green was waived following four preseason games heading into his second season with the Cavaliers. The cut was in favor of undrafted rookie Manny Harris out of the University of Michigan. Harris currently plays in Ukraine, but perhaps he's on Gregg Popovich's "secret treasure" radar.
As Green searched for a team, he landed in San Antonio in November 2010 before being cut after six days. In that short stint, he played in just one game, actually shooting 2-of-4 from three against the Cavaliers.
The Spurs gave him another shot that following March, playing him in three games before sending him to the D-League. He was recalled back to the Spurs in April and appeared in three more games. Any momentum for Green was nullified due to the 2011 NBA lockout, and he took his talents to Slovenia on a contract that provided an opt-out clause if and when the lockout ended.
In August 2011, he tweeted thanks to Spurs fans, not knowing if he'd ever return to the organization:
Wana thank all spurs fans for ur support for the few months I've been here,I will b bak wen lockout ends if organization wants me bak— Danny Green (@DGreen_14) August 13, 2011
Once the lockout ended, the Spurs wanted him back.
Green immediately took on a valued role, playing in all 66 games, including 38 starts. In the shortened season, Green averaged 9.1 points and shot 43.6 percent from three-point range in 23.1 minutes per game. He even finished tied for ninth in the Most Improved Player voting.
That offseason, the Spurs committed to Green for three years and $12 million. He's obviously proving to be a steal both as found treasure and that he comes at a valued price. And his production continues to increase.
Danny Green has more points (90) and threes (25) in the Finals than he did in the 2010 and 2011 seasons combined.— Justin Phan (@jphanned) June 17, 2013
Danny Green remains mediocre as an athlete by NBA standards, but he is pesky and intuitive on defense, he will rebound and he has fully bought into Popovich's team defensive concepts.
Offensively, Green is the beneficiary of a Spurs system that complements spacing and ball movement. The rhythm of his jump shot is dramatically improved—a testament to the Spurs coaching staff and Green's work ethic.
Talk about a success story. Now, Green is lighting up the NBA Finals.
He's the darling of a Spurs team that could win its fifth title in 15 years thanks to the shooting of a once youthful journeyman.
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