Life often has a way of bringing you full circle. The rookie who was more known professionally for dancing with LeBron James on the sidelines in 2010 once again finds himself a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 35-year old Danny Green is a much different player than he was when we last saw him in wine and gold. He’s become a three-time champion while being the poster child for the highly coveted three-and-d wing that every contender needs.
How much of that player he still is remains to be seen. Green has only played three games this season since returning from the ACL and LCL tear he suffered in the deciding game of the Philadelphia 76res’ second-round series against the Miami Heat. We are only nine months removed from that injury.
Speculation about who he could be this year aside, the version of Green the Sixers had last season is the type of player the Cavs have been missing. Especially on the offensive end.
Green was an exception catch-and-shooter shooter last season in Philadelphia. He knocked down 41.4% of his 3.7 catch-and-shoot threes a game. This was on top of connecting on 44.1% of his wide-open threes.
Green has made a living as a corner specialist. Last season, 84.5% of his field goal attempts were threes. Of those, 45.3% were corner threes which was the highest percentage for any wing in the league.
The former Tar Heel knocked down 40.6% of his corner threes last season. That was his sixth consecutive season of connecting on 40% or more of his corner triples. On his career, Green is a 42.3% corner three-point shooter in the regular season and a 41.6% shooter in the postseason.
How Green generated and knocked down those corner threes is what’s exciting when projecting his fit in Cleveland. He often hangs out in the short corner before dashing to either of the corner three locations to generate an open look.
Below is a good example of something you saw from Green repeatedly last season. Here we have an empty corner post-up from Tobias Harris. Green hangs out in the short corner at the start of the post up. Green’s defender, Max Struss, doubles when Harris gets to the middle of the paint. Green then sprints to the strongside corner and knocks down the open three.
The veteran is also comfortable attacking a closeout, passing out of it and then quickly relocating back to the corner for the three. We see him do exactly that below. Kyle Lowry’s late close out has little affect on the shot.
While the above examples are his bread and butter plays, Green can also be used to generate shots in a wide variety of ways depending on the personnel. Here, we see him slip a pindown screen to create an open look for himself as the defense was focused on Joel Embiid.
Green only played in three games for the Memphis Grizzlies this season, but his instincts for finding shooting angles were still present. Here, we see Green simply move to space from the corner to the wing as Tyus Jones sets a half-hearted screen on Damian Lillard.
Being able to hit threes while moving off-ball in a variety of ways is something the Cavs desperately need. Even with Isaac Okoro’s improvements, Cleveland is still 17th in corner three-point percentage (38.1%) and 18th in volume (8.8%). Green will help with both when he’s on the floor.
Defensively, Green is likely best used similarly to Okoro or Caris LeVert. When the Sixers were fully healthy last season, Green primarily covered the main point of attack guard or the shooting guard depending on the matchup. He was more than capable of switching onto wings but likely isn’t someone you want being the primary matchup on someone like Khris Middleton or Jayson Tatum.
Trying to predict what type of a role Green will have on the Cavs is difficult. Like Doc Rivers last season, a healthy Green is someone J.B. Bickerstaff would lean on heavily in a playoff series over guys like Cedi Osman, LeVert and Okoro. Whether or not he’s able to show that he’s the same useful player this season is an open question.
The Cavs will likely bring Green along slowly similar to what they’ve done with Ricky Rubio. His workload will be light out of the gate as the coaching staff gets an understanding of what he’s capable of at this point in his recovery.
The version of Green we saw last season with the Sixers is someone that would immediately be apart of the the Cavs’ best five-man grouping. Conceptually, he fits perfect with the core four. Whether or not he’s able to fill that role remains to be seen.