Danny Green entered the 2011-12 season with 28 NBA games under his belt and little success to speak for. Injuries to Manu Ginobili and James Anderson paved the way for Green to earn substantial minutes and he capitalized on the limited opportunity, starting 50 games for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference (including playoffs.)
Perhaps last season will be a harbinger for his future progression and he will develop into a valuable commodity — the classic “3-and-D” player that provides excellent shooting and defense.
Selected in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009 NBA Draft, Green toiled in anonymity. He played in 19 D-League games with the Erie Bayhawks, Reno Bighorns and Austin Toros before finally earning a training camp invite with the Spurs.
Green certainly had to earn his opportunity and in an interview with SLAM, we learn that Green modeled his game after Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury and even Jason Williams (!). He also reflected on his journey and relationship with the amenable Gregg Popovich, who was instrumental in his resurgence.
On who he models his game after:
“(Michael Jordan) was one of them,” Green said. “A lot of other guys, though—I tried to take moves from everybody. Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury. You know Allen had the commercial with his crossover. Even Kobe. A bunch of different guys growing up. Jason Williams, from Sacramento, he was one of my favorites, too. The way he used to pass!”
On his journey from D-League denizen to starter in the Western Conference Finals:
“It was tough,” Green said. “Everything happened so fast, like you said. Manu got hurt, then the next thing you know it was, ‘Oh, they’re looking for somebody to step up.’ And then they threw me in there, I got lucky, and the next thing you know I worked my way up from five minutes, to 10, to 13, to sometimes I’m playing at the end of the game. And I started to gain trust from Pop. Then the next thing you know I’m starting in the Western Conference Finals. It was just a lot happening faster than I expected. I enjoyed it. I had fun.”
And lastly, on Coach Pop:
“He’s very tough, but he’s tough on everybody,” Green said. “I’d say me and Popovich have a great relationship. I’m pretty straightforward with everybody, and I like playing for him. He’s a very good coach, and he knows what he’s doing. He’s also one of the funniest coaches I’ve ever played for. He’s also very disciplined, and he knows what he wants. He tells you exactly what he wants you to do, and he gives you a lot of freedom.”