The Mavericks’ lack of shooting stuck out like a sore thumb for the entire season. The team’s leading three-point shooter was Ryan Broekhoff who shot 40 percent but appeared in only 42 games in minimal playing time. While adding a shooter of Kristaps Porzingis’ caliber is a step in the right direction, having multiple players who stretch the floor is paramount.
Enter Danny Green, who might be the best available two-guard outside of Klay Thompson.
Green is the definition of a seasoned NBA veteran. After playing four years under Roy Williams at the University of North Carolina, Green was drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers before being waived and scooped up by the San Antonio Spurs.
Green rose to relevancy under Greg Popovich’s tutelage where he played eight seasons before the Spurs traded him to the Toronto Raptors with Kawhi Leonard. After three subpar (by his standards) shooting seasons in San Antonio, Green has experienced a career shooting year with the Raptors connecting on 47 percent of his field goals and 46 percent of his triples on nearly 5.5 attempts per game. On the season he contributed 10 points and four rebounds while playing 28 minutes per game.
Green’s resume speaks for itself. He owns career averages of nine points and 3.5 rebounds, but his reputation is that of the archetypal 3-and-D wing. The sharpshooter has canned 40 percent of his three-point attempts for his career and regularly guards one of the opponents best perimeter players. He was a member of the 2016-17 All-Defensive Second Team, has more than 110 playoff games under his belt, and was an NBA champion with the Spurs in 2013-14.
Green’s strengths are two of the most valuable commodities in the NBA: shooting and defense. In four years at UNC, the New York native shot 37 percent from deep and has only improved as a shooter since being drafted. In fact, Green’s three-point percentage has submarined under 38 percent only twice in the past eight seasons, and this season, only Joe Harris bested Green’s 46 percent clip from deep.
Green’s ability to spot up and catch and shoot puts tremendous pressure on defenses. This season he ranked in the 98th percentile as a spot up shooter, scoring 1.33 point per possession on a 69 percent effective field goal percentage. Similarly, nba.com tracked Green connecting on 40 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts giving the Raptors a lethal option in both the half court and in transition.
Green’s contributions extend beyond the box score, most notably on the defensive end. At 6 feet, 6 inches, he possesses the size to guard multiple positions, which provides his team extreme lineup flexibility. It’s important to note on a team with players like Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry, Green led the team with a 17.3 on/off net rating making him an invaluable piece to one of the league’s best, most complete teams.
Big picture it’s hard to pinpoint Green’s weaknesses because he is a high value, complementary role player. But in a granular view, Green’s a fairly one-dimensional offensive threat. Outside of spacing the floor with his court-stretching range, he won’t create for others in the traditional sense. He won’t get to the free-throw line as evident by his 44 free throw attempts this season. For reference, Dirk Nowitzki shot 50. In fact, only Corey Joseph shot less free throw attempts for any player who played 2000 or more minutes. And before this career-shooting year, Green had been in a slump in San Antonio shooting 36, 38 and 32 percent from three in the past three seasons illustrating a bit of streakiness.
The fit in Dallas is undeniable. The Mavericks lack of shooting was painfully obvious and Green would likely step into and exceed the Wesley Matthews role in the blink of an eye. Think back to how many times Luka Doncic probed his way into the teeth of the defense and fired a pass to a shooter in the corner only to see the ball clank off the rim. Now look at Green’s shot chart:
Pairing Green’s sharp-shooting with a Doncic/Dwight Powell pick-and-roll action would force the defenses into a pick your poison type situation. And and the other end, Green’s defensive prowess makes him an ideal fit with Doncic and any combination of lineups Rick Carlisle could deploy.
Fortunately for Green and and unfortunately for the Mavericks, the 32-year-old’s exceptional season will likely parlay into a nice pay day, especially considering he’s made a modest $10 million the past four seasons. It shouldn’t be surprising at all to see Green’s annual salary surpass a player like J.J. Redick’s $12.5 million deal, even though he’s been willing to play on a one-year deal, considering the former is younger and is a plus defender.
The Mavericks can certainly afford Green, but with the team being multiple pieces away, the front office will have to determine if the cost of prying him away from contenders with an enticing offer is worth the large contract it will require.