Is Danny Green a Long-Term Building Block for San Antonio Spurs?

Garrett Jochnau@@GarrettJochnauCorrespondent IIFebruary 23, 2014

USA Today

In San Antonio, the Tim Duncan era is dwindling to an end. Within the next two seasons, it is inevitable that the future Hall of Famer calls it quits. Likely joining him in his retirement is fellow veteran Manu Ginobili, the second oldest component of the team’s acclaimed triumvirate.

But while the current core of the San Antonio Spurs has dazzled thus far, the NBA world has already started to prognosticate about the next chapter in the team’s history. 

Leading the foundation will be Tony Parker, who will likely be joined by Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard—that much is certain.

The status of Danny Green as a long-term building block, though, is not nearly as definite.

He is well-rounded but rather inconsistent, and while performances like his outbursts in the first half of last year’s NBA Finals helped his value skyrocket, plenty of questions have been raised regarding the shooting guard and whether or not he has the capability to contribute to the squad as a primary piece in the upcoming era.


Feb 19, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Danny Green (4) shoots against the Portland Trail Blazers during the fourth quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

On the offensive end of the ball, Danny Green is the ultimate role player.

From certain perspectives, that isn’t necessarily a bad quality. Knowing your role within an offense as well as your limitations is important in ensuring that you benefit the team in the proper way.

Still, being limited is rarely a good thing, and in Green’s case, his offensive repertoire is rather empty around his renowned three-point shot.

His ball-handling and passing skills are anything but refined, and his scoring within the arc is remarkably inconsistent.

Even his three-point shot is rather volatile, and while his overall percentage might suggest level consistency, a quick glance at his game log would tell a remarkably different story.

On some nights, Green’s production from downtown is impeccable. His three-point percentage hovers upwards of 50 percent and his scoring total clocks well into the double digits.

Other nights, he is nearly useless on offense. His lethality from beyond the arc disappears, which essentially renders Green useless on the offensive end.

Especially with numerous other deep threats on the roster, there seems to be little incentive to keep Green on the court during his struggling moments, as least from an offensive perspective.

Still, he's on the rise. Not too long ago he was a little fish in a sea of anonymity. Last year, he was a breakout Game 7 performance away from nearly capturing the Finals MVP.

Developing consistency and a handful of other offensive weapons would help guarantee that his role continues to expand in the Spurs' next chapter, although his recent—and unfortunately, successive—shortcomings on offense are frightening, especially if he fails to fix those flaws in the near future.


Jan 2, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) is defended by San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (4) during the second half at AT&T Center. The Knicks won 105-101. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

With Green's shoddy offense, it's perfectly reasonably to wonder why this debate even exists. 

If the Spurs wanted a three-point specialist, they could turn towards Marco Belinelli or Patty Mills—two more versatile offensive players—right?

Well, Green's situation is a bit difficult due to the fact that he possesses a top-notch defensive aptitude.

At 6'6", he possesses the unique ability to guard numerous positions, while his long arms and quick hands add to his gift.

He can lock down the most talented opponents as he did Stephen Curry in last year's postseason, and remains one of the team's best help defenders.

While Leonard is renowned for infiltrating passing lanes, Green's unique defensive talent is his ability to stop fast breaks, whether through chase-down blocks or simply strong recovery defense.

The team has proven to be significantly stronger on defense while he plays, averaging a defensive rating of 97.2 as opposed to the 103.0 when he sits.

Green is especially effective in tandem with Leonard, as the two present a roadblock to opposing wingmen.

While he may be inconsistent offensively, Green is a strong defender whose presence has been key in ensuring San Antonio success on that front.


Eric Gay/Associated Press

The situation with Danny Green is rather complicated, as his defensive prowess is tainted by inconsistency on offense.

However, his strength as a defender guarantees that he has the potential to be a true building block and important player for the next few seasons. 

He won't be the first San Antonio defensive stud to possess a limited offensive repertoire—Bruce Bowen engraved his name into Spurs history books despite never averaging double-digit scoring throughout his career. However, he did possess a strong three-point shot, having finished his tenure in San Antonio with a 40 percent completion rate.

It was his notorious defense, though, that eventually guaranteed that his time in San Antonio would be long-lived. 

A similar sentiment can be offered regarding Green, whose current abilities bear a striking resemblance to those of Bowen.

And of course, it is important to note that Green is young and inexperienced. At 26, his first few seasons in the NBA were wasted away by frequent DNP's and time spent in free agency.

However, he is among the league's most gifted upcoming three-and-D players, and given the chance, he can succeed as a Bruce Bowen-like player throughout the next chapter of San Antonio's history.


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