Danny Green’s championship pedigree is driving the Sixers offense forward

NBA: FEB 21 Grizzlies at Lakers
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 21:Los Angeles Lakers guard Danny Green (14) before the Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Lakers game at Staples Center on Friday February 21, 2020. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)

In the hours leading up to the NBA Draft, Daryl Morey made his first big move as the new GM of the 76ers by ending the Al Horford era and shipping him off (along with a second-round pick and protected first-round pick) to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In return, the Sixers attained Terrance Ferguson, Vincent Poirier, and Danny Green.

While he is not the most eye-popping player, Danny Green has played an extremely important role on the Sixers this season. Green has started a team-high 43 games so far this season and is averaging 9.1 points per game, shooting 39% from beyond the three-point arc, and also ranks 15th in the NBA in defensive win shares.

The corner-three specialist has proved to be a large part of the floor-spacing solution that the team needed and has provided valuable leadership to the youthful Sixers squad. After last night’s chaotic victory over the Knicks, Doc Rivers spoke of Green’s importance to the team saying that, “Danny Green saved the game for us,” and that “he was the only one … that kept his composure.”

This composure showed on the court as Green knocked down a potential game-winning floater with 19.1 seconds left in the 4th quarter. The sniper also added 5 more points of his own in the overtime period.

Why Are People in a Rush to Trade Danny?

The simple answer to this is money. With one year remaining on his contract, Danny Green carries a cap hit of $15.3 million for this season.

If the Sixers are to pull off any sort of major deal, Green’s contract will be needed to make the salaries match. Outside of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris, Danny Green is the only player with above a $10 million cap hit.

If the Sixers actually want to entertain the idea of adding Kyle Lowry or another big name, Green’s contract will more or less be required to match the incoming salary. While this is an option that should be weighed heavily, Green is far more valuable to the Sixers than just a contract filler.

Green also has frustrating moments as he has undoubtedly lost a step at this point in his career. His unique running gait at times looks like he’s waddling up the court, and he also is good for one or two reckless on-court decisions per game. However, these shortcomings are a small price to pay for the overall positive effects that he brings to The Sixers.

What Danny Green Brings to Sixers:

Danny Green is a winner. In his 4 year career at North Carolina, Green recorded more wins (123) than any Tar Heel before him. He led UNC to an NCAA championship his senior year before declaring for the NBA draft.

In his 12 year NBA career, Danny Green has never been on a team with a losing record. He spent the first 20 games of his career on 2009-10 LeBron-led Cavaliers before being waived. The UNC product was then picked up by the San Antonio Spurs where he found his stride for his career and developed into a prototypical three-and-D role player.

Green secured his first NBA championship with the Spurs in 2014, where he scored a career-high 11.7 points per game. Groomed by Greg Popovich, Danny Green formed a true identity at doing the little things to help his team win.

When talking about Danny Green before the Sixers and Spurs recent matchup, Greg Popovich spoke glowingly about Green’s professionalism and will to win. As Popovich put it, “He just kind of steeled his spine to be persistent enough to make it.”

After 8 seasons with the Spurs, Green headed north to join the Toronto Raptors for the 2018 season. This was the same Raptors team that broke Sixers fans’ hearts as Kawhi Leonard buried the fadeaway jumper which touched every square inch of the rim before falling through the net.

After securing a championship in Toronto, Green took a page out of Kawhi’s book and took his talents to LA. Rather than completely following in his footsteps, Danny decided to sign with the Lakers and he won another championship alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The 20 game stint he had with the Cavs as a rookie is the only year that Danny Green has not played playoff minutes in his career. While it is not always reflective in his numbers, Green has proven to be an impactful member of competing teams throughout his career and it is no coincidence that he was on the last two championship winners.

What Does Holding on the Green Mean for Sixers?

If Morey elects to hold onto Green during the approaching trade deadline, that likely means no major deal is made. This would force the Sixers to rely on the buyout market to fill the team’s holes or find more willing trade partners who would accept draft picks and a trade exception rather than picking up a win-now type player, in Danny Green.

Holding on to Danny Green would likely mean the starting lineup of Simmons, Embiid, Curry, Green, and Tobias would remain unchanged. This is far from a bad thing as this lineup holds a record of 16-3 when starting together this season.

With Shake Milton starting to find his stride, Matisse Thybulle finding production on the offensive end, Furkan Korkmaz stroking the ball with confidence, and Dwight Howard looking to have turned back the clock in recent games, there does not seem to be as pressing of an issue in upgrading the bench. While there certainly will still be some sort of roster shape up in the near future, there is no need to change the entire look of the team.

Green has served perfectly in the complimentary role among the other starters and is taken for granted for the little things he does. He is willing to do whatever the team needs and carries himself with the necessary veteran presence and winning mindset. The 33-year-old is averaging a career-high 6.1 three-point attempts per game and still knocking these down at a 39% clip as proof of this.

He also played 50 minutes in a game in which the roster was shortened due to NBA health and safety protocols earlier this season. Green launched 21 three-point attempts in this game and each of those numbers marked career-highs for the veteran. His willingness to do whatever the team needs speaks volumes to his impact and Danny Green should remain in the Sixers’ plans as their postseason run approaches.

Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire